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aries1988 : inequality   18

Housing and the Chinese middle class
I have thought for a while that China’s privatization of urban housing is one of the most important and least understood events in its modern economic history.…
housing  inequality  china  1990s 
september 2019 by aries1988
Michel Houellebecq: Populism's Prophet - Quillette
Houellebecq reasons that the liberalisation of sexual relations, due both to changing societal attitudes and the invention of the birth control pill, have led to widespread sexual inequality; the attractive, more biologically fit elite have more sex than ever, while biological proletarians lead markedly less pleasurable lives, without even the consolation, as in previous eras, of a virtually guaranteed marriage supported by societal institutions. Rather than an isolated phenomenon, Houellebecq sees the sexual marketplace as a natural extension of the competition inherent in the capitalist market system, in which value is assigned to goods, services, and even people, to facilitate trade.

Houellebecq argues that the social structures which maintained Western hegemony by checking the societally harmful excesses of this competition, namely religion and the family unit, have been gradually lost to individualism and the market.
Houellebecq is sceptical that the social stabilising force of Christianity can be called upon anytime soon, and he accepts the decline of religion’s influence over society as a logical consequence of scientific progress.

For Houellebecq, nature is a term that can be used to sanction the most despicable behaviour.
This behaviour may be natural for select human beings, shaped by the right kind of society, but Houellebecq is certain this behaviour is not produced in nature.

humans to create a separate species of asexually reproducing proto-humans, thus freeing the species from the incessant sexual desire and competition that he believes will be the cause of societal collapse.

the old-fashioned institution of marriage did not alter the fact that some were born more physically attractive than others.
the intense pessimism of Houellebecq’s novels often leads one to wonder whether Houellebecq is merely a critic of modern society or, like his idol Schopenhauer, of life in general.

Houellebecq’s view of human nature implies that even if income inequality were reduced, human vanity would find other ways of using choice and taste to perpetuate differences. Natural competition, as a function of unchecked individualism, would continue to dominate, and we would still be left with an inequality of lived experience.

decisions we make in our personal lives, such as where we study, whom we marry and where we live, have an effect on public life and contribute to this inequality in lived experience.
Individually reflecting on the broader consequences of one’s actions, doing one’s best to be humble about the advantages one possesses, and having a genuine compassion for the suffering and insecurities of others may sound banal, but these points are also rarely discussed—possibly because they place a responsibility on all individuals, especially the most privileged among us.
from:rss  français  writer  populism  inequality  society  sex 
september 2019 by aries1988
F**k Jared Diamond

Diamond won a Pulitzer Prize because he made this ridiculous, racist argumentsound like common sense. His books do not merely sanitize a history of colonialviolence; they are its disinfectant. They offer compelling and seemingly intuitivearguments that serve as the “ideology of an imperial capitalism,” as geographer DickPeet called it.B

Cold northern climates produce hardy and thrifty people who thus flourish. Meanwhile, the unrelenting heat along the equator produces lazy people condemned to forever languish in patterns of poverty as predictable as the trade winds.
paper  opinion  determinism  geography  racism  polemic  history  west  colonialism  inequality  human  continent  anthropology 
august 2019 by aries1988
文明大国的条件
撰文:吴介民 本文选自《东方历史评论》第1期,回复“购买”了解如何购买…
taiwan  essay  china  beijing  society  quartier  inequality  civ  question 
february 2019 by aries1988
Jared Diamond: ‘Humans, 150,000 years ago, wouldn’t figure on a list of the five most interesting species on Earth’

It was a painful thought for someone who recalled being told, by an admiring teacher at his Massachusetts school, that one day he would “unify the sciences and humanities”. Clearly, he needed a larger canvas. Even so, few could have predicted how large a canvas he would choose.

1997’s Guns, Germs and Steel – which ask the most sweeping questions it is possible to ask about human history.

Diamond, who describes himself as a biogeographer, answers them in translucent prose that has the effect of making the world seem to click into place, each fact assuming its place in an elegant arc of pan-historical reasoning.

Why? Because 8,000 years ago – to borrow from Guns, Germs and Steel – the geography of Europe and the Middle East made it easier to farm crops and animals there than elsewhere.

vicious jousting between Diamond and many anthropologists. They condemn him as a cultural imperialist, intent on excusing the horrors of colonialism while asserting the moral superiority of the west.

In person, Diamond is a fastidiously courteous 77-year-old with a Quaker-style beard sans moustache, and archaic New England vowels: “often” becomes “orphan”, “area” becomes “eerier”. There’s no computer: despite his children’s best efforts, he admits he’s never learned to use one.

What changed, Diamond argues, was a seemingly minor set of mutations in our larynxes, permitting control over spoken sounds, and thus spoken language; spoken language permitted much of the rest.

It won a Pulitzer prize and has sold more than 1.5m copies in 36 languages. Mitt Romney quoted it admiringly in his 2012 presidential campaign, garbling its message entirely.

he found himself accused of “geographic determinism”: in his critics’ opinion, his arguments squeeze out any role for human agency and decision-making, thereby sparing history’s colonisers – and today’s elites – any responsibility for having created our grotesquely unjust world.

Each of the two books has the unusual distinction of having another book dedicated largely to demolishing it: Yali’s Question, which offers a different answer from Diamond’s New Guinean acquaintance, and Questioning Collapse, which calls the Easter Island “ecocide” a myth.

Whenever I hear the phrase ‘geographic determinism’,” he says, “I know I’m about to waste time discussing with someone who has no right to be discussing [how human societies developed]. Because the fact is that geography has a strong influence on humans. It doesn’t determine everything, but it has a strong influence
bio  book  leader  human  development  inequality  world  history  biology  environment  debate  theory  geography  opinion 
october 2018 by aries1988
‘Why Nations Fail’

the geography hypothesis

our revisionist take on the Neolithic Revolution, based on the idea that sedentary life and social complexity came before farming, suffers from a complete absence of evidence when in fact it is now the conventional wisdom amongst archaeologists.

Diamond suggests that, by eschewing geographic determinism, our theory is as if institutions appeared randomly.

our book explains how institutional variation today is largely a systematic outcome of historical processes

characteristics of diamonds and oil notoriously promote corruption and civil wars more than do characteristics of iron and timber.

Although their letter describes institutional variation today as a systematic outcome of historical processes, much of their book is actually devoted to relating story after story purportedly explaining how institutional variation developed unsystematically and at random, as a result of particular events happening in particular places at critical junctures.

cannot account for differences in prosperity today, which are huge within Eurasia

Acemoglu and Robinson are correct that the timing of the Neolithic Revolution doesn’t account for prosperity differences within Eurasia today;
theory  debate  inequality  world  economy 
october 2018 by aries1988
What the Rich Won’t Tell You - The New York Times

We often imagine that the wealthy are unconflicted about their advantages and in fact eager to display them. Since the economist Thorstein Veblen coined the term conspicuous consumption more than a century ago, the rich have typically been represented as competing for status by showing off their wealth.

Yet we believe that wealthy people seek visibility because those we see are, by definition, visible. In contrast, the people I spoke with expressed a deep ambivalence about identifying as affluent. Rather than brag about their money or show it off, they kept quiet about their advantages. They described themselves as normal people who worked hard and spent prudently, distancing themselves from common stereotypes of the wealthy as ostentatious, selfish, snobby and entitled. Ultimately, their accounts illuminate a moral stigma of privilege.

American culture has long been marked by questions about the moral caliber of wealthy people. Capitalist entrepreneurs are often celebrated, but they are also represented as greedy and ruthless. Inheritors of fortunes, especially women, are portrayed as glamorous, but also as self-indulgent.
rich  usa  mentality  society  book  money  inequality 
september 2017 by aries1988
What Makes Countries Rich or Poor?

Acemoglu and Robinson, generalize from these examples of bordering countries and deduce that good institutions also explain the differences in wealth between nations that aren’t neighbors and that differ greatly in their geographic environments and human populations.

why have some countries ended up with good institutions, while others haven’t? The most important factor behind their emergence is the historical duration of centralized government.

The various durations of government around the world are linked to the various durations and productivities of farming that was the prerequisite for the rise of governments.

the reversal of fortune,

in formerly poor countries with sparse native populations, such as Costa Rica and Australia, European settlers had to work themselves and developed institutional incentives rewarding work.

In the New World the two north temperate countries (the US and Canada, average incomes respectively $47,390 and $43,270) and the three south temperate countries (Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina, respectively $10,590, $10,120, and $8,620) are all richer—on the average five times richer—than almost all of the intervening seventeen tropical countries of mainland Central and South America (incomes mostly between $1,110 and $6,970).

biological characteristics of the responsible microbes have made it easier to develop vaccines against major infectious diseases of temperate areas than against tropical diseases; we still aren’t close to a vaccine against malaria, despite billions of dollars invested.

glaciers repeatedly advanced and retreated over temperate areas, creating young nutrient-rich soils.

It costs roughly seven times more to ship a ton of cargo by land than by sea

Young fertile volcanic and alluvial soils are exceptions

inclusive institutions are required for sustained growth based on technological change.

Acemoglu and Robinson’s view of history is that small effects at critical junctures have long-lasting effects, so it’s hard to make predictions. While they don’t say so explicitly, this view suggests that good institutions should have cropped up randomly around the world, depending on who happened to decide what at some particular place and time.

In their Chapter 5, Acemoglu and Robinson use one of those exceptional patterns (that for the Fertile Crescent) to assert, in the complete absence of evidence, that those particular hunter/gatherers had become sedentary because, for unknown reasons, they happened to develop innovative institutions through a hypothesized political revolution.

They take these maps to mean that the ancestors of barley and wheat were distributed along a long arc beyond the Fertile Crescent, hence that the Fertile Crescent’s unique role in agriculture’s origins was not determined by the availability of plant and animal species.

My overall assessment of the authors’ argument is that inclusive institutions, while not the overwhelming determinant of prosperity that they claim, are an important factor.
review  critic  book  debate  economy  inequality  question  instituition  environment 
september 2017 by aries1988
Southeast Asia enters the danger zone
what is good about Southeast Asia — including kindness to strangers, humour, inclusiveness and flexibility — but rather that he sees these very qualities being eclipsed by a mixture of old-fashioned tyranny and baneful new influences from abroad.

inequality — and the selfishness of the business-political elites that have benefited disproportionately from economic growth both before and after Asia’s financial crisis.

America, in Brexit Britain and in oligarchical Hong Kong, so the 40 per cent of Indonesians clustered around a poverty

the 40 per cent of Indonesians clustered around a poverty earnings line of $2 a day are easy prey for demagogues. It is true that prosperity has also swollen the ranks of Asia’s middle class, but this aspiring and increasingly educated bourgeoisie is governed by the same set of authoritarian leaders and their coterie of tycoons. “This is not a sustainable paradox,” the author writes. It sounds like a recipe for revolution.

As for religion, the increasing influence of extremist Sunni interpretations of Islam over the past 30 years is startlingly visible in the dress codes and religiosity of the Muslims who make up 40 per cent of the region’s population
asia  banyan  geopolitics  today  book  opinion  economy  politics  religion  numbers  crisis  inequality 
july 2017 by aries1988
Joan C Williams on Trump, elitism and the white working class
Progressives often confuse them with the poor — an entirely separate class. Williams defines the working class as households that earn more than the country’s bottom third but less than the top 20 per cent, plus some slightly better-off families that include no college graduate. This group is “the middle 53 per cent of American families”, whose family incomes in 2015 ranged from $41,005 to $131,962.

Many stereotypes about WWC men came together in the hapless cartoon character Homer Simpson. American progressives showed respect to ethnic and sexual minorities, not to the WWC. But then the WWC made Trump president.

“I think Trump just needs to keep on being Trump. That’s the sobering fact. The irony is that Trump is the most hysterical, emotional president in living memory, he’s like a caricature of a woman out of control, but following his gut connects him to the white working class. His continuing gestures of disrespect to cultural elites, through Twitter and other means, are just inestimably delicious.”

So far she’s unimpressed. “Just read the frigging New York Times, listen to NPR [National Public Radio], key outlets of the progressive elite: story after story of an outpouring of compassion for immigrants.

“Do I feel sorry for immigrants? Yes. But that’s not the point. An outpouring of compassion for immigrants, in the absence of offering dignity to the white working class, will hurt immigrants because it’s just another expression that elites have ‘feeling rules’ — who you should feel sorry for.” Elite “feeling rules” ordain compassion for ethnic and sexual minorities and “perhaps women”, she says, “but the white working class are just ‘fat, stupid and ignorant’. So the elites are saying, ‘Oh, my God, we just heard this cri de coeur from the white working class, let’s express sympathy for immigrants!’ Talk about a recipe for Trump’s second term.

Generally, says Williams, progressives need to tone down the PC talk. They can still fight (albeit more quietly) for women and minorities, but they will achieve nothing unless they can build the black-and-white working-class
politics  working-class  usa  society  inequality  immigration  thinking  2017  trump 
may 2017 by aries1988
Thomas Piketty : « De l’inégalité en Chine »

Exprimé en parité de pouvoir d’achat et en euros de 2015, le revenu national par habitant est passé d’à peine 150 euros par mois en 1978 à près de 1 000 euros par mois en 2015. Si le revenu moyen du pays reste entre 3 et 4 fois plus faible qu’en Europe ou en Amérique du Nord, les 10 % des Chinois les plus aisés – soit 130 millions de personnes tout de même – disposent, eux, d’un revenu moyen équivalent à celui des pays riches.

En 2007, seule l’Italie avait un capital public négatif (avec des dettes supérieures aux actifs). En 2015, c’est le cas des Etats-Unis, du Royaume-Uni et du Japon (la France et l’Allemagne ont un capital public à peine positif). Autrement dit, les propriétaires privés détiennent non seulement la totalité du capital national, mais ont également un droit de tirage sur les recettes fiscales futures. Cela grève sérieusement la capacité régulatrice de la puissance publique.
china  numbers  economy  inequality 
february 2017 by aries1988
南方周末 - 【热点】“谁的孩子上北大”已经没那么重要了
其实,谁的孩子上北大这个问题已经没那么重要。当穷孩子还在为考上重点大学奋斗时,很多中上阶层家庭的孩子已经不将北大作为选项了,他们在大洋彼岸的美国上大学,甚至上高中。
instapaper_favs  education  society  class  inequality 
april 2016 by aries1988
The Ford Foundation’s Quest to Fix the World
Walker at the Ford headquarters. “In the sixties, when you came to see the president,” he says, “it was meant to be intimidating.” Credit Photograph by Andrew…
project  philanthropy  inequality  world  instapaper_favs  leader 
january 2016 by aries1988

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