Small facts I always forget: US has no restrictions on dual citizenship

Anticipating Nov. 6 election when many of my fellow citizens will vote their preference to live under a right-wing autocracy that uses mass media to boil blood just because they are mad about a trans kid in Nebraska whose gender identity bothers them (never mind the kid is suffering) and a Guatemalan woman who wants to clean houses in San Diego for $12 an hour… Up in Arnold, CA this weekend, a guy wearing a t-shirt, ‘Stomp on my flag I’ll stomp on your ass” I really was sorely tempted to ask, “Erm, excuse me sir isn’t that just a little bit of a contradiction isn’t the whole point of the flag the freedom to do what you want and not have your ass stomped?”

Section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that “the term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.” Therefore, U.S. citizens are also U.S. nationals. Non-citizen nationality status refers only individuals who were born either in American Samoa or on Swains Island to parents who are not citizens of the United States. The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a national of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own nationality laws based on its own policy. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. national parents may be both a U.S. national and a national of the country of birth. Or, an individual having one nationality at birth may naturalize at a later date in another country and become a dual national.

The official source.

Posted in United States

Recent experiences with minimum wages

A nice The New York Times story on Seattle that prompted this roundup (HT:Bill Sundstrom): “In their latest paper, which has not been formally peer reviewed, Mr. Vigdor and his colleagues considered how the minimum-wage increases affected three broad groups: People in low-wage jobs who worked the most during the nine months leading up to and including the quarter in which the increase took effect (more than about 600 or 700 hours, depending on the year); people who worked less during that nine-month period (fewer than 600 or 700 hours); and people who didn’t work at all and hadn’t during several previous years, but might later work. The latter were potential “new entrants” to the ranks of the employed, in the authors’ words. The workers who worked the most ahead of the minimum-wage increase appeared to do the best. They saw a significant increase in their wages and only a small percentage decrease in their hours, leading to a healthy bump in overall pay — an average of $84 a month for the nine months that followed the 2016 minimum-wage increase.”

Mercury News story on minimum wage rise in San Jose: “So in 2015, he eliminated the option for tipping and instead raised menu prices 20 percent in order to increase wages across the restaurant well above the minimum required by law. Without having to tip, customers could better absorb the price increases, Sassen said, and he could afford to boost the base pay across his work force instead of relying on customers to “subsidize” his front-of-house staff while his kitchen staff struggled. Chris Hillyard, who owns coffee shops Farley’s in San Francisco and Farley’s East in Oakland, said when minimum wages increase, he sometimes has to raise menu prices to compensate. It can be a “challenge,” he said, but customers have been supportive so far.”

A 2016 policy brief about likely effects of minimum wage increase in San Jose area: “Increasing the minimum wage to $15 would increase earnings for 115,000 workers, or 31.1 percent of the city’s workforce. Among those getting raises in San Jose, annual pay w
ould increase 17.8 percent, or about $3,000 (in 2014 dollars) on average. These estimates include a ripple effect: some workers who already earn $1 5 will also receive an increase.
96 percent of workers who would get increases are over 20 and 56 percent are over 30
—with a median age of 32.  The proposed minimum wage increase would disproportionately benefit Latinos, who represent 53 percent of affected workers.”

Posted in Burkina Faso, United States

Some readings on the economics of private prisons

Here is a Brookings Institution report:  “The 2016 Nobel prize-winner in Economics, Oliver Hart, and coauthors explained that prison contracts tend to induce the wrong incentives by focusing on specific tasks such as accreditation requirements and hours of staff training rather than outcomes, and noted the failure of most contracts to address excessive use of force and quality of personnel in particular.”

A Wharton student blog briefing: “Today private prisons house about 126,000 federal and state inmates. Orders issued under the Obama Administration to phase out the use of private prisons are now being reversed under the Trump Administration, which has caused some debates over the efficacy of private prisons to resurface.”

Briefing from The Sentencing Project: “In 1996, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) looked at four state-funded studies and one commissioned by the federal government assessing the cost benefits of private prisons. The outcomes of the research varied, leading the authors to conclude that “…these studies do not offer substantial evidence that savings have occurred.”) Similar conclusions were reached in a 2009 meta-analysis by researchers at the University of Utah that looked at eight cost comparison studies resulting in vastly different conclusions. The analysis led the researchers to state, “…prison privatization provides neither a clear advantage nor disadvantage compared to publicly managed prisons” and that “…cost savings from privatization are not guaranteed.”)”

From The Nation: “Hedging their bets in light of significant sentencing reforms sweeping the country, Geo Group and CoreCivic are diversifying into running reentry programs, halfway houses, drug-treatment centers, electronic-monitoring companies, and providing an ever-growing list of services to those who are part of the criminal-justice system. In fact, GEO Group boasts on its website that it “is the world’s leading provider of correctional, detention, and community reentry services with 98 facilities, approximately 87,000 beds, and 20,500 employees around the globe.””

Posted in Burkina Faso, United States

Did capitalism reduce global poverty?

You will find that questions being asked, rhetorically, all over the Internet and especially academic Twitter. I think many people conflate “recent small policy change towards market liberalization” with capitalism. What is missing in these discussions is an agreed upon time series for something called “capitalism”…. so while “poverty” has an enormous measurement apparatus, and environmental quality also has a big measurement apparatus, and life expectancy, and other things (well, maybe not nature deficit disorder)…. “capitalism” is always mentioned and never measured. It is as if people think somehow by simply knowing the name of a country and a year, they can proclaim it “capitalist”… So play a game: Is Nicaragua in 2014 more or less capitalist than Nicaragua in 2002? Than Nicaragua in 1952? Than Nicaragua in 1852? What metric among the metrics that go into the multidimensional index changed ? Tired already? Imagine now doing that for 150 complex countries over 200 years (and why do we not think that the Roman Empire was or was not “capitalist”?)… Remember that selecting on the dependent variable (as Marx did) is a big problem (the countries that got rich in 1850 are the capitalist countries…)….

If we have no such measure, we can’t even start to attribute credit or causality….

Commentators also often overlook that many people think that the United States, the global leader for most of the 20th century in poverty decline and income growth, had an indicator of “extent of capitalism” that declined, sometimes sharply, over the entire 1930-2000 period, with some upticks maybe in early 1980s but even that is debatable if one had a comprehensive measure rather than a simple rhetoric…

And by the way maybe rhetoric rather than measurable policies or practices is  important: the main attribute of “capitalism” might indeed be that people think they are actually in a capitalist economy…. pop-writers have a field day with that kind of stuff, that people need to be like Uber and just “do it” rather than “ask permission” from the bureaucrats…

Posted in Development thinking

Great story on gender equality (er, lack thereof) in professional labor markets in Japan

Yuka Ogata, one of the few women in the Kumamoto municipal assembly in southwestern Japan, petitioned the council last year to let her breast-feed during sessions. Her request was rejected. She then asked for day care to be provided and was denied again. So, at one session last November, Ogata carried her 7-month-old son into the chamber and held him on her lap. Her male counterparts reacted angrily, forcing mother and son to leave, a display so common that Japanese even have a name for it: matahara, or maternity harassment. “I wanted to represent all of the parents who are struggling to raise children in Japan,” Ogata wrote later in a column for The Guardian newspaper. “It is time for the Japanese workplace to change to accommodate the needs of working parents.”

Full article is here.

Posted in Gender

More annals of correlations wrongly attributed as causation: The more equal women and men are, the less they want the same things

I can’t believe that Science published this without referees strenuously objecting and recommending that the language be modified. But I guess in academia clickbait is becoming the norm, too. And nothing is more clickbaitable than “men from Mars, women from Venus.”  Here’s the summary from LA Times, it has a link to the paper.

The findings, published Thursday in Science, suggest that on the contrary, gender differences across six key personality traits — altruism, trust, risk, patience, and positive and negative reciprocity — increase in richer and more gender-equal societies. Meanwhile, in societies that are poorer and less egalitarian, these gender differences shrink.“Fulfilling basic needs is gender neutral,” said Johannes Hermle, a graduate student in economics at UC Berkeley who worked on the study. However, once those basic needs like food, shelter and good health are met and people are free to follow their own ambitions, the differences between men and women become more pronounced, he said.

And maybe Hermle was misquoted or selectively quoted, but to say something like: “Fulfilling basic needs is gender neutral” sounds like something someone who has never lived in a poor country would say. His idea of poor people in poor countries is that they have been dropped on a Pacific island as in Survivor or Naked and Afraid.

I do like how the reporter used two sentences to say the same thing.

Source: The more equal women and men are, the less they want the same things, study finds – Los Angeles Times

Posted in Gender

In happened sooner than I thought: Baobab beer in microbrewery in New Jersey

The couple says they are creating uniquely flavored drinks based on their backgrounds, with Leo Sawadogo working on a beer made from baobab tree fruit from his native Burkina Faso in western Africa.

Source: Long-awaited microbrewery opens in Montclair | The Telegraph

Posted in Burkina Faso