Russ Roberts on inequality and poverty

Our age right now – this might change – is obsessed with inequality. And it disturbs me deeply that inequality is conflated with poverty. They’re not the same thing. A lot of people blame the condition of the poor on inequality as if the world was a zero sum game. If you press the person who says that [they’ll say]…

Podcast Recommendation: two interviews with Raj Chetty

I really enjoyed listening to these two interviews with Raj Chetty. By all accounts (I’m not qualified to judge!) he is a good economist. He also comes across as someone who’s interested in people and working for policies that help actual people in the real world, rather than as an economist only interested in theory and abstraction. These episodes are…

Clayton Christensen, Efosa Ojomo and Karen Dillon on integrating inputs

The question still remains, why does Tolaram [makers of Indomie in Nigeria] need to invest in electricity, water, education, logistics, and so on, in order to deliver a pack of noodles to the average Nigerian? Surely, it wouldn’t need to do this if it were operating in, say, the United States. The answer to that question—on when and whether a…

The innovation in your head…

… isn’t an innovation yet. Our definition of innovation refers to something rather specific: A change in the processes by which an organization transforms labor, capital, materials and information into products and services of greater value. Clayton Christensen, Efosa Ojomo and Karen Dillon – The Prosperity Paradox It’s simply an idea. It’s an innovation when you’ve done the hard work…

Old buildings

I love old buildings , and I usually feel a strange sort of curiosity mixed with nostalgia for the people and cultures that made them. Just in the UK I’d love to see the castle garrisoned by knights and squires, the barn full of hay and animals, the old mill humming, the Tudor pub in its heyday, the telephone exchange…

Seeds (2): bikes, planes and automobiles

Many of the seeds of the automobile industry came from bicycle manufacturers (I touched on this in Use, Copy, Repair, Make), and on a visit to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu I learnt some more of the story. Karl Benz, widely credited as the maker of the first practical automobile, started in mechanical engineering and ironwork and started experimenting…

On inequality

Inequality is inevitable (because we’re all different), and it isn’t necessarily wrong (if we value the freedom to make meaningful choices) and doesn’t necessarily have to be corrected (because we value diversity). Once we’re clear on this, we’re forced to be specific. We can ask which kinds of inequality we’re not prepared to tolerate, making sure that we’re clear about…

Podcast Recommendation: Econtalk with Alain Bertaud on Cities, Planning, and Order Without Design

This is a great episode of Econtalk. Bertaud uses labour markets as a lens for thinking about cities. Helpful examples of emergent order and the challenges (impossibility?) of planning in complex adaptive systems. Highlights (coming up) include: Discussion of the importance of culture and context in how cities develop; Bertaud’s explanation of his broader-than-usual understanding of labour markets; When planning…

The Onion (3): exemplar interesting problem – learning to read

Problems gain (or lose) interestingness as their context and scale changes. Take teaching a kids to read as an example. It’s almost inevitable that a child will learn to read given the following ingredients: A supportive family A strong reading culture at home A steady supply of good books A reasonable curriculum or methodology for teaching An well educated, motivated…