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Is Economics the way to solve Poverty?

   Hey guys, I’ve been reading this book called Spin-free economics lately (and will post a review of it once I’m done. It’s an interesting piece.) and the view expressed in it is quite different from what an ordinary person thinks.

   Everyday, we see advertisements, calls, urges for donations, to save the poor to build houses to help educate and deliver medicine to the poor and those banners and calls for change strikes our sympathy, making us pulling off our wallets and donate some money.

   And then there’s the volunteer, when young teens from the developed countries (from US/Australia/UK and such) that goes to the Less Developed Countries (usually in China or Sub-Saharan African Countries to participate in service learning activities, to know more about the world and to serve.

    Now, before I move on, let me clarify this: I value aid; I value volunteerism. I am a part of the Global Issues network and I’m proud of it. But here’s the thing, I think it’s inefficient and sometimes even damaging.

   Here are the reasons why:

  1. Corruption: How much of the money you put in end up in the hands of the real poor people? With the extremely high level of corruption in mainly the African countries, you can never be sure. Examples can be seen from Haiti when after 1 year and most of the rubble aren’t cleared yet, preventing hundreds of thousands from going back to their houses.
  2. Distortion. How many times do you see the sort of such as: Food Aid and Clothes Drive? While it is true that the poor DO need those things, I’m doubtful the way we’re helping is going to help them in the long run. Think of it this way: Susie, living in Zimbabwe is producing tomatoes (suppose tomatoes can grow in Zimbabwe without any difficulties.) Susie sells her tomatoes to the locals with a meager return but enough to keep her going. Now suddenly, an NGO brings to the village hundreds of kilograms of tomatoes and rice in the program of “food-aid” now that everybody can have the food for free, Susie can’t sell her things anymore. She soon runs out of money and is turned into Poverty. What could have been better may have been to use that money to teach the inhabitants about farming and provide limited amount of seeds so that they can start making and selling their own food.
  3. The moral dilemma of volunteering: The detailed post can be found HERE. In short, volunteering (especially International volunteering) may not always be very helpful to the poor and the unfortunate.
  4. The reasons for poverty: Have you ever heard of the Common Agricultural Policy(CAP)? No? here’s the Wikipedia article Wikiwiki 😀. Here’s my description of CAP: A form of subsidy, paid by the EU to the farmers so that they can sell their crops cheaper. Sounds pretty noble right? Maybe not so, especially when we consider the fact that because of this, many African farmers can’t compete with the European farmers, forcing them out of business and into poverty. The same can go for the US Cotton subsidy. So the problem here is not that the poor can’t help themselves out of poverty. The problem here is that the poor are prevented from helping themselves out of poverty, by the very countries whose citizens donate money to pull them out of poverty, interesting isn’t it?

   I’m not saying that my opinions are absolutely right and I am more than happy to receive criticisms and comments for further improvements. But the point I’m getting into is that the LDCs may not need more aid. What they need is free trade and globalizations. Remove all those trade barriers, remover all those tariffs, remove all those subsidies.

   This may sound ridicules but in economics, we have something called Comparative Advantage: an idea that a country can produce something more efficient than the other. With globalization and free trade, countries can exploit this “advantage” and produce their goods in the most efficient ways resulting in us consumers getting the lowest price. In addition when there is free trade, there’ll be a greater degree of economic dependence between countries (because in order to exploit their comparative advantage, a country would need to import things they don’t produce and export things that they produce in large quantities) which is highly likely to lead to peace and stability (just like how EU has held Europe in peace for more than 6 decades now.)

   So my question is: Aid or Trade? Let me know (IF anyone even reads this) in the comment.

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A bit of update on Natura

Economy is complicated, don’t pretend to understand it

   Now a days, everybody talks about Economics, from an average guy (like me) to economists at Harvard. Everybody is interested in how it’s doing how it will turn out. They ( well, most of the times the average people) have a really strong opinion about it, without fully understanding them. For example, a person has a brilliant idea that countries can decrease their deficit by printing a lot of money! Yay! Well, the only problem is that if you print money, the debt will go up. (simple law of supply and demand).

   This looks pretty straight forward eh? Well, not to some people, at least not to the Brazilian government back in the days (not now though, they’re great now). So here’s the thing, there are only a few percentage of people who lives in our planet actually understand how it works. Graphjam makes it quite clear:

http://graphjam.memebase.com

   But here is the bad new, ordinary people who have “strong opinions on the economy” IS part of the… wait for it economy. And without proper knowledge, people can seriously mess it up. The entire real estate bubble thing? The banking and financial system screwing up? All those are due to our imperfect knowledge of the market (in my opinion). If we have truly understood what the entire banking and fiddling around with money means, the recession may not have been that severe. Better, an entire country may not have gone bankrupt (yeah, I’m referring to Ireland and Greece. No offence but the economic policy is just not well thought out enough.)

   So guys, here’s my advice. Don’t pretend to know economics. The truth is, nobody fully understands how it works. Not me, not you, not even the Harvard scholar sitting and analyzing the data, not the bankers that’s sitting in the Wall Street, not Barack Obama, not Osama Binladen, not David Cameron. We’re a part of it sure, but we would never be able to understand it FULLY (we do understand it partly, at least the Harvard scholar and most of heads of the state do).

   Having realize that we don’t know anything is the first step. Because we don’t know anything, we can be Cautious (Or you may decide that there’s no risk so jump in anyways…) when you are, you either try to understand it or take less risk. Either way, it’s going to get better.

   We’re a part of the mechanism so don’t pretend to know it. Try to understand it instead. It’ll make it much much better.

Anyhow, song of the day:

all copyrights goes to respected authors.

Christmas, on a negative note….

What would you expect on a Christmas night?

Watching a Christmas family movie with your family?

Partying with friends?

Having a family dinner with turkey?

Sitting around the Christmas tree and have some intimate family times?

Probably you would be imagining something like this:

from http://blog.pv-holidays.com.

 

But here are some facts:

– Haiti is still devastated by after earth quake effects with water diseases

– People living in Pakistan is still threatened by Talibans.

– Child labor goes on

I’m not trying to destroy Christmas but to be honest, even on the best days there are still some bad things going on. So what if you make Christmas have a new meaning?

Instead of just having a family reunion and having fun, how about trying to help the world AS A FAMILY?

You can all go volunteer, donate help out in anyways being a family.

I believe that would be a much better way to spend the holidays Smile

The Day After: Sick and tired

   So yeah, I’ve been sick yesterday. A good level of fever with a lot of different other bad things and spent the entire afternoon in my bed. I had some miso soup so that’s pretty good Open-mouthed smile though.

Frrom haveyouhadyourricetoday.blogspot.com

   Anyways, I’ve been doing a lot of college stuff recently and my only problem was that before the school ended, I’ve got some problem with Naviance (for anyone who doesn’t know, Naviance is this entire website dedicated for sending high school transcript and stuff for colleges. Good stuff) and wasn’t able to send all those requried documents in time. Which made me contact those universities to consider me submitting these documents late. Luckily, NYU already replied and said that they would accept the late materials. Phew. Not sure about those two other universities though.

   So yeah, there hasn’t been anything noteworthy around the news these days (except for NK SK tension rising up, Ireland bailing out and possibly the entire EU collapsing but oh well Smile with tongue out). So nothing to cover in “In the news” section sadly. I’ll post something when something that catches my eye turns up on the news.

   Music:  IT’S CHRISMAS TIME so down here will be my recommendation for the next few days.

   Yesh, Rudolph is and will always be awesome, to most people Open-mouthed smile

That’s it for now!!!

Review: The Last Remnant

   So this has been one of the few PC friendly J RPG game out there. I have had my try and surprisingly, I really like this epic tale Square Enix made.

Always good with creating a good world: from tom’s game

Cons:

  • Great character development: There are literally dozens of playable and talkable characters within this game and each has a unique story. This fact alone is worthy for you to try to talk to every characters and solve their life problems.
  • Great settings: The entire world filled with Remnant was interesting, especially when each of them is so unique and serves a specific purpose. The world builds itself beautifully and convincingly around these Remnants. A great world is made up literally from scratch, “humans” aren’t called “humans” at all. They’re called mitra.
  • Great visual orientation: As being said earlier, the Remnant has made such a grand appearance within each city. Normally in the very middle of the city and gigantic enough that you can only see it from afar (and still have to look up), each and every Remnant will captivate you. In addition, each city has a unique “feel” to it that goes well with its base Remnant. Outside of the city, you are faced with a diverse and beautiful dungeon environment which builds itself on natural feel (and sometimes artificial depending on the place) that sets the mood.
  • Great and unique battle style: The Last Remnant, as expressed has dozens of unique playable characters (which, would be in your party). This would mean that they can’t use the conventional style of battle system where you control each and every person. That just doesn’t work. So Square Enix came up with a new idea: Put 5(maxmimum) units into each “party” and have 5 party at total and let the player control those parties instead!!  So now, instead of giving a detailed “order” to each and every character, you have the option to choose a general action: “Finish em off will mean players use all there skills, Attack with mystic art which means they would use their magic skills”, which adds an interesting strategic point to this game. In addition, the formation also adds a bit to the outcome of the game playing a vital role in the amount of damage you deal and take.

When the battle is epic by Ludwig Kietzmann

Pros:

  • Weak story presentation: By this I mean the cut scenes. The voices are good but the actors don’t rarely move and in addition, most of the scenes are really rushed and just goes into the “meh” level without inducing any kind of thought. And so, player is often left being confused as of what to do. This doesn’t get much better with side quests as upon entering the quest, you’re directed to the dungeon and told to “find” the thing without any general idea of where it might be. A little bit more movements/emotions/directions would have made the story presentation much better
  • Steep learning curve: By this I mean REALLY steep. The battle system may seem really simple at first, until the first time you lose. You realize that this is not only about smashing the “attack”. You really need to take time to think, even before the battle as of which formation are you going to use. Add into this factor character advancement (levelling up), and other things, and you can literally spend half the first game trying to learn different things. It’s well worth it though
  • Dreadful Battle system: Wait, didn’t I just praise the battle system as being really epic and things? Well, the battle system really shines are big battles and boss battles but it’s literally a double edged sword. Each fight with small creatures can become a drag that you find yourself using the “slow time” skill, in which helps you to fight MORE enemies, to ESCAPE from them. Each time you encounter, you have to select individual commands (except just attack) since all these actions will help in character advancement that you can’t ignore. And so, the battles (especially with petty monsters) become easiliy boring. This however is offset by constant unique battle offered with “rare monsters” and side quests.

One of the “Remnant” The Valeria Heart by Ign.com

Overall:

This is a good JRPG game with a few problems. People seem to have balancingand technical issues in Xbox360 version but luckily, SE has fixed it in this PC edition. Should check out JRPG.

7.5/10

Review: The Sims 3 Late Night

So here’s my review of the third expansion pack for The Sims 3 saga: Late Night.

   First of all, let me clarify one thing that I have played nearly all of The Sims 2 and all of The Sims 3 game and thus, this review will be written from a view of a long time Sims player.

   The graphic: It was a nice addition for LN to add new sky scraper and certain new light effects to the game. Otherwise, LN still retains the cartoonish style of graphic from the vanilla game. This although makes the game familiar but in no way “exotic” or fits into the concept of LN entirely. Since for most of what we remember, The Sims 3 has focused onto a more “suburban” feel rather than a big city feel with its graphic. It’s done a decent job however.

   The new game play: There is a nice sets of addition to the game play. However, not all are developed as fully as it should. The first notable addition is the reputation system. In my personal opinion, it is still too easy to gain high reputation living normally. (My farmer guy who plays some piano got to 5 stars just by talking to some celebrities and getting married.) It would have been much more challenging if Maxis has incorporated many more random events to increase the significance of this system. However, the cost of doing so would be to lose the “macro” feel of the game, when you control the entire family, in which was already somewhat jeopardized by the sheer large size of the world and unpredictable behavior of the computer “auto” feature.

   The big feature introduced was night club and bars. Generally speaking, the addition was good. However, it’s not perfect. You still can’t “operate” a bar as a household business as well as order and eat something. Bar is still only a place where you hang out (nearly mostly like a park) to talk and spend your time. One more irritation with bars and night clubs are its closing time. With the fast flow of time in The Sims, it would appear that closing down the bar at 2 a.m sounds a bit silly. Luckily, there is a modification available to extend the opening time for the bars and night clubs.

   Other features include: Vamparism, new musical instruments/ extended parties/ pent houses/ new careers. All of these features could have been developed further and more in depth.

   Building/Buy: First disappointment: You won’t be able to tweak the pent houses unless if you type two distinctive cheats in the console box. Secondly, you have to be extremely careful when tweaking this buildings since if you’re not, the apartment will be unplayable  and freeze at the time of Sim arrival.

   That being said, the hot tub returns, with the “under the floor” style. I would have much preferred the over the floor style but oh well, gotta live with what’s given.
Other than that, the addition includes new “vampire beds”/”elevators” (return from The Sims 2 Open for Business) and picture height adjuster (return from The Sims 2 Apartment Life). The build/buy addition is pretty neat and well sorted out (although the object addition is, as usual was insufficient for my taste)

   Bottom line: Good try, well sorted out game play but could have gone in a lot more depth than what has been executed.