Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Sounds a bit crazy...
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
"In 2006, when ScentAndrea, a scent marketing company in Santa Barbara, put chocolate scent strips on 33 vending machines in factory break rooms in Ventura (plus a sign that said it was Hershey's candy people were smelling) the brand's sales tripled."
What's next? Maybe stores can send undercover henchmen with clubs to circulate through their stores and knock out unsuspecting customers (victims?), forcing products into their hands, and taking money from their wallets...You may say, "well that is a bit extreme" but really current methods of marketing are getting pretty close. We are bombarded daily with images and sounds and now smells that are all contrived to sway us to buy a certain product or eat at a certain fast-food restaurant or wear a certain type of jeans or else you won't be cool and you won't have any friends and high school and then girls won't like you (I'm still trying to figure out what those magic jeans are...so I can go out and buy them!).
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I was thankful this summer for the release of the movie "Blood Diamond", hoping that it would reveal the true human costs of the diamond trade. But alas, it seems to have had no lasting impacts on the public conscience. It seems that Hollywood is only expected to produce non-fictions, and movies any semblance of truth or fact in movies are dismissed by the public as not having any possibility of being so. Regardless, the diamond trade continues to brutally harsh. Maybe if a little disclaimer were placed next to the price tag: "(number) of poverty-stricken people were killed or injured in the production of this overpriced symbol of opulence. (number) of people were also displaced from their homes and (number) of families were broken up. Lives are transitory, but diamonds are forever."
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The movement towards a peaceful world is necessarily slow, and the path is ridden with obstacles. But there is a great wall that stands near the end of this path. If peace is to come, this wall must be abolished. It is the wall that stands between the rich and the poor, the can do's and the can't do's, the economic north and the economic south. It is the wall of prosperity, and unfortunately in this world some people cannot traverse this wall. For many, the wall is too high, and they are too short. They cannot afford the ladders or ropes to climb over it. They also do not hold the means or abilities to destroy this wall. This is up to the rich, the can do's, the economic north. They have the means and abilities. There can't be real justice without economic justice. People will be hungry as long as they can't feed themselves. They will be poor as long as the north consumes without abandon. They will perish as long as they are perceived to be less-than-human. Our nation is founded on the ideas of freedom. The economic south is not free. But to rule over them, to absorb their resources, and to exploit their poverty to the profit of the north will never make them free.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
"What is true is that there is most definitely still is a 'mainstream' set of assumptions that are somewhat difficult to challenge and which translate into economists are conditioned as to 'what to think'. Try for instance to present a seminar where agents in your model have and exercise any form of market power and you will be immediately and repeatedly challenged (as the Card discussion above suggests). Economic rents are just not supposed to survive, and your audience will grill you until you surrender (if not in this seminar, in the next paper you choose to write).
But present the same seminar and begin with a likely even more improbable statement such as 'I will assume free entry, competition and zero profits in every sector' and it will probably slide by without challenge."
One could continue to question why the heretical challenges brought up by heterodox economists are quickly dismissed, while obvious impossibilities (boundless rationality) can be so easily accepted.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Why then, if we all have these altruistic tendencies hard-wired into our basic neurological make-up, why isn't the whole world holding hands around a camp fire singing "Kumbaya"? Studies show that external factors - social, political, and religious - can override the fundamental empathic tendencies of humans. That is, we can be trained or manipulated to refute our natural behavioral inclinations.
One line, while really insignificant in the context of the articles purpose, really struck me: "We know from neuroscientific empathy experiments that the same affective brain circuits are automatically mobilized upon feeling one’s own pain and the pain of others". I find the fact that the same exact part of the brain is stimulated in cases or both personal pain and in the case of being conscious of the pain of others is very interesting, and speaks about the natural response to suffering - that no matter who may be suffering it, it really affects us all the same. This means that there must be very intense belief systems that overwhelm the natural empathetic feelings towards others.
A huge conclusion that may be drawn from these studies is that "the insidiously effective scapegoating of human nature that claims we are motivated by greedy, dog-eat-dog “individual self-interest is all” is undermined. Stripped of yet another rationalization for empire, predatory behavior on behalf of the capitalist mode of production becomes ever more transparent". If we all have this basic, underlying drive towards altruism or compassion, then any sort of avaricious nature must be a product of the system which we currently interact in. This, of course, assumes that there is another similar yet opposite drive for self-interest or self-preservation that is neurologically fundamental and always acts in opposition to the empathic drive. It is very possible that these conflicting drives exist as products of evolution and at times cooperate or act in harmony, but at other times act in dissonance. Either way, psychological studies are having an increased impact on economic studies, to which I say, "It's about time!"
Developing countries seem to have obstacles in every possible sector that stand in the way of further growth. Despite the numerous problems they face, many people (economists, but the general population as well) focus on only a few issues, such as health, education, lack of free markets, and especially poor/corrupt governments. To focus solely on one issue, or even only 2 or 3 of these issues, misses the big picture. Development can't be pursued one sector at a time. It is trying to build a house of cards vertically instead of horizontally. When your building it, you lay down one level, then you slowly move up one level when the foundation is secure and complete. If you tried to build off a weak or incomplete foundation, the whole house will likely fall.