Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 22nd, 2014

 

What Meritocracy looks like in the US and elsewhere?

Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong

America is the land of opportunity, just for some more than others.

That’s because, in large part, inequality starts in the crib. (And the socio-political system)

Rich parents can afford to spend more time and money on their kids, and that gap has only grown the past few decades.

Indeed, economists Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane calculate that, between 1972 and 2006, high-income parents increased their spending on “enrichment activities” for their children by 151% in inflation-adjusted terms, compared to 57 percent for low-income parents.

October 18

But, of course, it’s not just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s also a matter of letters and words.

Affluent parents talk to their kids three more hours a week on average than poor parents, which is critical during a child’s formative early years. That’s why, as Stanford professor Sean Reardon explains, “rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students,” and they’re staying that way.

It’s an educational arms race that’s leaving many kids far, far behind.

It’s depressing, but not nearly so much as this:

Even poor kids who do everything right don’t do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong.

Advantages and disadvantages, in other words, tend to perpetuate themselves. You can see that in the above chart, based on a new paper from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s annual conference, which is underway.

Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne’er-do-wells. Some meritocracy

What’s going on? Well, it’s all about glass floors and glass ceilings.

Rich kids who can go work for the family business — and, in Canada at least, 70 % of the sons of the top 1 percent do just that — or inherit the family estate don’t need a high school diploma to get ahead.

It’s an extreme example of what economists call “opportunity hoarding.” That includes everything from legacy college admissions to unpaid internships that let affluent parents rig the game a little more in their children’s favor.

But even if they didn’t, low-income kids would still have a hard time getting ahead.

That’s, in part, because they’re targets for diploma mills that load them up with debt, but not a lot of prospects.

And even if they do get a good degree, at least when it comes to black families, they’re more likely to still live in impoverished neighborhoods that keep them disconnected from opportunities.

It’s not quite a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose game where rich kids get better educations, yet still get ahead even if they don’t—but it’s close enough. And if it keeps up, the American Dream will be just that.

Note: Kids of struggling and hard working parents learn to save money and appreciate the value of hard work. Kids of very rich families fail to learn the value of money and work hard when young.

Unless the rich kid  go to work for his parents’ business and given countless second chances, he is unable to make it on his own.

It is not the rich parents fault as much as their inability to convince the kid, who see wealth of his family surrounding him, in the house and things coming his way the easy way, that the notion of hard work is not believable.

Devil in the details: Israelis diverge on details of a Palestinian State

Would Israeli support for a Palestinian state (60%) be dramatically lower when they are presented with specific details rather than being asked to support the basic idea?
Rightwing think-tank jumped at the occasion with a biased poll to confirms the argument that Israelis who support theory of two-state solution recoil from concrete details.
in Jerusalem in The Guardian, Monday 20 October
 Jerusalem
The Jordan Valley
The Jordan Valley, which Israel considers to be its eastern border. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

A poll has found that 75% of Israeli Jews oppose the creation of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders if it means withdrawing Israeli troops from the Jordan Valley.

The survey, conducted by a rightwing thinktank headed by a political ally of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, makes for stark reading, contradicting previous polls showing up to 60% of Israelis in favour of a two-state solution.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is making a concerted diplomatic push for a UN security council resolution seeking an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories by November 2016.

Of the 60% of those polled who described themselves as rightwing, opposition to a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines rose to almost 92%, while 72% of those who identified as leftwing would support it.

That opposition rises further still if the issue of dividing Jerusalem is included, with 40% of leftwingers opposing the division of Jerusalem.

The poll was commissioned by a think-tank run by a former policy advisor to Netanyahu and initially published in the free newspaper owned by the Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson, one of the Israeli prime minister’s biggest backers.

Leftwing commentators suggested the polling was likely to be an accurate reflection of Israeli public opinion.

“The poll published in Israel Hayom is obviously meant to serve Netanyahu’s agenda,” said Mairav Zonszein, writing for the +972 website.

“And while it is dangerous to rely solely on a single poll to back up any claim, this specific poll – no matter how flawed or skewed – happens to be an accurate reflection of the Israeli government’s policies, much of its rhetoric, and the reality on the ground.”

Although historical polling has suggested solid Israeli support for a two-state solution, Zonszein argues that the latest poll more truly reflects both how Israelis vote for political parties – and those parties’ agendas – and how they talk about the peace process.

Even though many polls over the years have shown and still show that a majority of Jewish Israelis support a two-state solution based more or less along the 1967 border with land swaps, such sentiment is reflected less and less in the way Israelis vote and talk. This new poll seems to provide a much more honest assessment of the reality on the ground and the reality in the halls of government,” she said.

The latest poll reflects what appears to be an ever-diminishing appetite for a two-state solution on both sides. (Yes, right. And study done by a US think-tank?)

Two sets of polls earlier this year – one of Palestinians for the right-leaning US thinktank Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a Pew Research poll in the spring – both identified growing pessimism that a peace deal could be done.

Note: But the details are known if you are interested, though we are under the belief that all the details are secrets because that’s what Israel wants you to believe.

Is there such a thing as an “Average War”?

The law of average is confusing, and basically the mean of a distribution has no concrete meaning to explain. Unlike the median which represents the cut-off point between the 50% lowest and 50% highest points in any data.

Actually, the Mean is basically used as a mean for further mathematical transformations of other statistical information such as standard deviations and other values.

Nassim Taleb warns: “Don’t cross a river if it is on average 4 feet deep. The river might transform into a raging torrent a few feet away from the middle…”

For example, receiving an average ultra violet rays one day may not be harmful. Getting this average doze several days per week and you have got a problem.

This article wants to focus on  whether any one can dare put forth what can be considered an average war.

Consider all the wars waged during the last 3 centuries, as cannon improved in mass killing and greater distance.

Mind you that a war is a series of field military battles, siege of cities and economic sanctions and blockades.

War can be a civil war, a colonial expansion adventure or between contiguous countries or alliance of nations, genocides, displacement of people, massive refugees exodus

Mind you also that sieges and economic blockades harvest more casualties than field battles: Due to famine, malnutrition, dissemination of diseases, lack of medicine, high infantile mortality, polluted and infected water supply… and the casualties are essentially non-combatant people.

For example, think of the blockade against Iraq for an entire decade (1993-2003) and the million of kids who died from lack of milk and basic medicines.

Think of the blockade of Iran since 1983.

Think of the blockade and sanctions against the Syrian people since 2011.

Think of the recent blockade of the Western African countries suffering from the Ebola epidemic: No border crossing, no meaningful trades with these poor countries…

Think of the siege of Homs, Aleppo, the Yarmouk Palestinian camp near Damascus, and the latest of Kobani (Ain Arab city)

Think of the conditions and the 3 consecutive preemptive wars on Gaza, this enclave constituting a big concentration camp

Now plot in a timeline fashion all the kinds of casualties (killed, injured, handicapped…) for each field battle, siege and blockade of entire region during the war until a treaty of stopping military confrontation takes hold.

How would you analyze the distribution graphs of all these wars, and how would you categorize the seriousness and level of danger of each war?

Frankly, the average of any distribution where any one of the tails over-dominate the set of data is practically worthless.

For example, studying the distribution of wealth when billionaires are included in the set.

Or studying the average population size in cities when we include cities like Tokyo (35 million) the 11 cities with size between 20 and 30 million, the 15 cities with size over 10 million and the 48 cities between 5 and 10 million….

There is no average wars simply because the distribution of wars follow the power law: How can we study a distribution of casualties when we add the WWI ad WWII wars or the genocides committed during Stalin, Cambodia, Rwanda., and the enduring civil wars in the Congo for the last 3 decades and yet not terminated, the situation in Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan..?


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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