S Aufrecht

Adams, Macroeconomics For Business and Society, Chapter 6

  • Three kinds of economies in the Cold War era: mixed market/socialist, command, and third-world.
  • Two modern prescriptions for growth: unfettered free market, free market plus some government protection and support for key industries.
  • p 142. From an information design perspective, Table 6.1 is abysmal.
  • pp 141-151. A very breezy tour through "Growth and Development Politics", covering the entire world over the last 50 years or so in ten pages. Hence, basically worthless. Completely ignores the most fundamental criticism of foreign capital, exchange rates policy, privatization, etc: that they are often (or, in the strong version I don't subscribe to, always) subverted into mechanisms to transfer wealth from people in developing economies to rich first-world investors. A few pages on industrial policy highlight how horrible state-owned enterprises are. Perhaps Adams would claim that Singapore's state-owned companies (Singapore Air, among others) are the exception that proves the rule?
  • p 154: Discussion questions include "Is privatization always a useful way to advance the economy?" Gee, how could it ever not be?

Osborne and Plastrik, The Reinventor's Fieldbook, Chapters 8 and 9

  • pp 279-286. A description of the battle about school reform, and in particular vouchers, in Milwaukee since 1991.
  • For a contrary view of Howard Fuller, see the report Community Voice or Captive of the Right? A Closer Look at the Black Alliance for Educational Options from People for the American way, a liberal advocacy group founded by Norman Lear. They argue that the American Right has taken up the cause of charter schools in order to undermine publicly funded education and that the Right co-opted Howard Fuller through the BAEO. At the same time, I would note that I have friends who are by no means conservatives who have taught at and founded charter schools. Note also that Edison Schools has a controversial record. This is not a black and white issue, especially not of a sclerotic Teachers Union fighting any kind of progress.
  • Another source cited in the Pioneer Institute. Some quick Googling shows that PFAW and Sourcewatch list them as "conservative". On p 286, the book cites a 1998 study by the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) unit of UC Berkeley; the study describes whether or not school districts had a "response" to charter schools but not whether or not charter schools caused improvement. Googling PACE gets us this:
    The National Charter School Alliance, the Center for Education Reform, and other charter school advocates have come out against a working paper released by Policy Analysis for California Education on inequality among charter schools. Based on census data and a national survey of 86% of operating charter schools, the study was conducted by researchers at the University of California and Stanford University.

    Among the study's main findings are that charter schools, on average, employ more uncredentialed and less experienced teachers than other public schools; charters run by private companies employ more uncredentialed and less experienced teachers than those run by nonprofits; there is a high degree of concentration of African American and Latino students in a small number of charters, and these schools are more likely to hire uncredentialed teachers and less likely to develop Individualized Education Plans than predominantly white charter schools.

  • Chapter 9. This chapter is a lot less objectionable. Starts with an explanation of the US Social Security Administration managed to improve phone answering rates to 95% of calls answered within 5 minutes.

Brinkerhoff, Policy Change: Implementation Perspectives and Challenges. "Citizen Participation in the Policy Process"

  • p 53. "We argue that citizen demand for participation opportunities can be effectively met without a corresponding increase in capacity of government to supply those opportunities and to respond to external stakeholder input."
  • p 54. Types of participation: information-sharing (one-way information flows; e.g. articles from gov't; opinion polls from citizens), consultation (town hall meetings, round tables, ...), collaboration (public review, working groups), joint decision-making (advisory council, task force, ...), empowerment. Empowerment seems much fuzzier than the others: "transfer of control over decision-making, resources, and activities from the initiator to other stakeholders." Examples: water user associations, civil society seed grants. Huh?
  • p 61. "Corporatist participation ..., in which the government interacts with a selected set of stakeholders, for example, trade unions and the formal private sector, is one approach governments use to set limits on external input to the policy process. Corporatist arrangements are common under one-party regimes and some authoritarian systems, but variants are also found in democracies." Yeah, there are some variants found in democracies. They don't work too well, though.
  • p 68. "Shared decision making ... begins to address the power differentials among the collaborating parties..." By implication the first three levels, information-sharing, consultation, and collaboration, do not. Is that necessarily a problem for them, or are there many areas in which the power differential is appropriate? This perhaps relates to the point in Chapter 9 of the Reinventor's Fieldbook that compliance-enforcing agencies can't quite treat the people they are seeking compliance from as pure customer. You may want to consult with taxpayers to figure out how to make it easier to pay the right taxes, but the IRS shouldn't share its Congressional authority to make decisions about how to collect taxes with taxpayers.
  • p 80. "strategies of noncompliance (including foot dragging, feigned ignorance, false compliance, or sabotage) provide a means by which stakeholders outside and inside government can 'critique' policy without drawing the government's wrath."

Ho, Shared Responsibilities, Unshared Power, Chapter 9

  • p 327. "Given the paternalistic, elitist, and hierarchical nature of the Singapore political system, one is tempted to jump to the conclusion that the citizen's role in policy-making is very limited. I believe the issue is much more complicated than what has been generally reported ..."
  • This is a very interesting chapter.
  • p 332. "Rights mentioned in the Singapore Constitution are essentially negative liberties, i.e. they define a sphere of activity of the individual into which the state is not allowed to encroach. Positive liberties — what an individual can exercise — however, are much more difficult to implement and enforce." This confuses me; surely "all citizens of Singapore have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms" is a positive, not a negative right? If not, what would be a positive right? Ho doesn't go anywhere with this and I don't think he even should have brought up positive vs negative.
  • p 333. "Out-of-bounds markers" tacitly understood to be taboo subjects in Singapore because even talking about them will cause damage. Race, religion. Criticism of the government is not strictly OB but "You can criticise us and we would treat you as though you have entered the political arena. If you do not wish to do so; you want to hide in sanctuaries to criticise the Government, to attack the Government, we'd say even though you don't want to join a party, we would treat you as though you have entered the political arena." That's some impressively vague yet threatening language, borrowing a page from China's snake in the chandelier.
  • p 340. Hierarchy of political involvement in Singapore, three tiers with five levels each: Gladiatorial (e.g. running for office), Transitional (holding political discussion groups, writing to the papers), Spectator (attending a rally, talking to friends, "exposing oneself to political stimuli").