quinta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2014

Aumenta o número de loucos nos Estados Unidos (para ganhar uma graninha)

Muitos governos no mundo acham (ou dizem que acham) que podem diminuir a desigualdade entre as pessoas simplesmente dando dinheiro, não precisa deste negócio chamado trabalho.

Bom, nunca na história dos Estados Unidos, por conta da recessão que se alastra desde 2008 e por conta das políticas contra produtivas do governo Obama, o País teve tanta gente que recebe ajuda do governo se declarando deficiente.

Pior: um estudo mostrou que a grande maioria dos beneficiários por deficiência nos Estados Unidos  (35,5%), não conseguindo mostrar nenhuma deficiência física, se declara doente mental. Dentre dos doentes mentais, o mais comum é o tipo que tem alteração de humor (mood disorder)

Vejam texto abaixo da CNS News

35.5% of Disability Beneficiaries Have ‘Mental Disorder’; 43.2% in D.C.
28 January 2014
January 28, 2014 - 2:07 PM
By Ali Meyer

(CNSNews.com) - “Mental disorder” is the leading “diagnostic group” for disabled people receiving federal disability insurance benefits, with 35.5 percent of all disabled beneficiaries having such a disorder, according to the latest Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.

The report provides a statistical profile of the 10,088,739 disabled beneficiaries who were receiving federal disability benefits as of December 2012.

Those 10,088,739 disabled beneficiaries were almost double the 5,044,388 disabled beneficiaries who had been in the program as of December 1995.

In Washington, D.C., according to the report, 43.2 percent of disabled beneficiaries as of December 2012 had been diagnosed with a mental disorder.

In Massachusetts--which led the nation in this metric--50.1 percent of disabled beneficiaries had been diagnosed with a mental disorder.

Within the “mental disorders diagnostic group,” the most common specific diagnosis for disabled beneficiaries was a “mood disorder.” According to the report, as of December 2012, 14.1 percent of all disabled beneficiaries in the United States had such a disorder.

In Massachusetts--which led in this category also--22.7 percent of the disabled beneficiaries had been diagnosed with a mood disorder.

Washington, D.C., lagged slightly behind the national percentage, with 13.8 percent of its disabled beneficiaries having been diagnosed with a mood disorder.

However, Washington, D.C. led the nation in the percentage of disabled beneficiaries who had been diagnosed with “schizophrenic and other psychotic disorders.” 10.8 percent of the disabled beneficiaries in D.C. had received that diagnosis. 

As of December 2012, according to the report, there were 10,088,739 disabled beneficiaries receiving federal disability insurance benefits. These included 8,826,591 disabled workers; 1,006,676 disabled adult children; and 255,472 disabled widows and widowers.

A disabled worker, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), is a “beneficiary who worked in covered employment long enough to be insured and who had been working recently in covered employment prior to disability onset.”

“Individuals are considered to be disabled only if their physical or mental impairment(s) are of such severity that they are not only unable to do their previous work but cannot--because of their age, education, or work experience--engage in any other kind of substantial gainful activity (SGA) that exists in the national economy,” says SSA.

“If something happens to a worker,” says SSA, “benefits may be payable to their widow, widower or surviving divorced spouse with a disability if the following conditions are met: he or she is between ages 50 and 60, their condition meets the definition of disability for adults and the disability started before or within seven years of the workers death.”

“A disabled person aged 18 or older--a son, daughter, or eligible grandchild of a retired, deceased, or disabled worker – whose disability began before age 22” can also qualify for disability benefits, says SSA.
Of the 10,088,739 disabled people receiving federal disability benefits in December 2012, according to the report, 3,576,844—or 35.5 percent--were diagnosed with a mental disorder.

The second largest diagnostic group for disabled beneficiaries was “musculoskeletal system and connective tissue” problems.  Of the 10,088,739 disabled people receiving federal disability benefits in December 2012, 2,730,100—or 27.1 percent—had been diagnosed with a problem in this category.

The ten states (and the District of Columbia) with the largest percentage of local disability beneficiaries diagnosed with a “mental disorder” include: 1) Massachusetts, 50.1 percent; 2) New Hampshire, 49.5 percent; 3) Hawaii, 47.5 percent; 4) Rhode Island, 47.2 percent; 5) Minnesota, 46.9 percent; 6) Vermont, 45.3 percent; 7) Connecticut, 43.9 percent; 8) the District of Columbia, 43.2 percent; 9) Maine, 42.9 percent; and 10) Washington, 40.1 percent.

The ten states with the lowest percentage of local disabled beneficiaries diagnosed with a mental disorder include: 1) Alabama, 29.2 percent; 2) Georgia, 29.5 percent; 3) Arkansas, 30.1 percent; 4) South Carolina, 30.2 percent; 5) West Virginia, 30.3. percent; 6) Louisiana, 30.3 percent; 7) Florida, 30.7 percent; 8) Nevada, 31.0 percent; 9) North Carolina, 31.5 percent; and 10) Delaware, 31.7 percent.

Within the mental disorders diagnostic group, the SSA reports numbers for eight subgroups. These include autistic disorders (37,445 or 0.4 percent of all disabled beneficiaries), developmental disorders (12,193 or 0.1 percent), childhood and adolescent disorders not elsewhere classified (11,621 or 0.1 percent), intellectual disability (845,189 or 8.4 percent), mood disorders (1,424,681 or 14.1 percent), organic mental disorders (341,209 or 3.4 percent), schizophrenic and other psychotic disorders (518,752 or 5.1 percent), and other (385,754 or 3.8 percent).

A mood disorder, otherwise known as an affective disorder, says SSA, is: “Characterized by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the whole psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation.”

To be determined to be suffering a disabling mood disorder, a person must exhibit a combination of multiple factors. These include such things as “appetite disturbance with change in weight; or sleep disturbance; or psychomotor agitation or retardation; or decreased energy; or feelings of guilt or worthlessness; or difficulty concentrating or thinking; or thoughts of suicide; or hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking.”

The states in which the highest percentages of local disabled beneficiaries have been diagnosed with a  mood disorder include: 1) Massachusetts, 22.7 percent; 2) New Hampshire, 22.0 percent; 3) Rhode Island, 20.5 percent; 4) Minnesota, 18.1 percent; 5) Vermont, 17.2 percent; 6) Connecticut, 16.9 percent; 7) Arizona, 16.8 percent; 8) Maine, 16.7 percent,; 9) Hawaii, 16.6 percent; and 10) Ohio, 16.1 percent.

The states in which the lowest percentages of local disabled beneficiaries have been diagnosed with a mood disorder include: 1) North Dakota, 9.0 percent; 2) Louisiana, 9.7 percent; 3) Montana, 9.9 percent; 4) South Dakota, 10.2 percent; 5) Georgia, 10.3 percent; 6) Alaska, 10.3 percent; 7) Wyoming, 10.6 percent; 8) North Carolina, 10.7 percent; 9) West Virginia, 10.9 percent; and 10) South Carolina, 11.0 percent.
In 1984, Congress made amendments to the disability program that according to a history of the program posted on the Social Security Administration’s website, increased the number of beneficiaries with “mental impairments.”

“Disability benefits could not be discontinued unless there had been medical improvement,  the beneficiary was capable of performing substantial gainful activity because of medical/vocational therapy or technology; or the initial determination was in error,” the SSA history says in explaining the 1984 amendments.

“The Secretary was required to revise the criteria under the Mental Disorders category in the Listing of Impairments used to make disability determinations, and SSA was prohibited from conducting continuing disability reviews in mental impairment cases until the revisions were published in a final regulation,” says the SSA history.

“One significant pattern that emerged following the 1984 Amendments involved beneficiaries with mental impairments,” says the history. “Changes in the medical listings had the effect of increasing this category of disability beneficiaries. The revised listings for mental impairments reduced the weight given to medical factors and put a greater weight on functional capacities, such as the applicant's ability to perform activities of daily living. They also required that evidence provided by the applicant's health care provider be considered first, before a consultative examination. Between 1985 and 1986, the proportion of awards for mental impairments increased from 18 percent to 30 percent of all awards, and has remained at approximately the same level ever since.”

(Agradeço a indicação deste artigo do CNS News ao site Weasel Zippers)
35.5% of Disability Beneficiaries Have ‘Mental Disorder’; 43.2% in D.C. - See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/ali-meyer/355-disability-beneficiaries-have-mental-disorder-432-dc#sthash.xzHOC0vH.dpuf
35.5% of Disability Beneficiaries Have ‘Mental Disorder’; 43.2% in D.C. - See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/ali-meyer/355-disability-beneficiaries-have-mental-disorder-432-dc#sthash.xzHOC0vH.dpuf
35.5% of Disability Beneficiaries Have ‘Mental Disorder’; 43.2% in D.C. - See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/ali-meyer/355-disability-beneficiaries-have-mental-disorder-432-dc#sthash.xzHOC0vH.dpuf

quarta-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2014

Roubo de Carros no Brasil faz Empresa Israelense lucrar alto.

O texto da Bloomberg diz que o Brasil é o país que mais tem roubo de veículos entre 34 países pesquisados no mundo. Estes roubos tem dado muito lucro para uma empresa israelense chamada Ituran. Foto acima da valorização das ações da Ituran em 1 ano (subiu 57%). Brasil e Israel representam 45% das receitas da companhia.

O texto diz que o roubo de carros está relacionado com o tráfico de drogas e de armas.

No Brasil, a lei é fraca e o rigor das investigações policiais e risível, mas seguramente, estes roubos de carros no Brasil tem a ver com o estado ainda pior de nossos vizinhos (Paraguai, Bolívia, especialmente).

Vejam texto da Bloomberg abaixo:

Brazil’s Auto Theft Explosion Is Boon for Ituran Location
  Jan 29, 2014 10:51 AM GMT-0200  

Brazilians such as motorcycle owner Richard da Silva Tardochi are fueling a boom in Ituran Location and Control Ltd. (ITRN)’s stolen auto tracking business.

Sales in Brazil, home to the world’s highest auto theft rate according to a 2013 ranking of 34 countries, are climbing so fast that the South American nation now contributes as much revenue to Ituran as its home market Israel. Ituran’s stock soared to a record this month and has climbed 57 percent over the past year, rewarding international investors from hedge fund Baupost Group LLC to Aberdeen Asset Management Plc.
Tardochi bought a tracking device, at a fraction of the cost of theft insurance, after shelling out $7,100 for a jet black Honda CB-300R three years ago. The decision paid off a few months later, when Ituran’s system thwarted thieves who had pulled the bike out of his garage in the outskirts of Sao Paulo.
“The company has managed to gain traction in a huge market with a burgeoning middle class and some of the world’s highest rates of car crime,” William Scholes, who helps oversee $318 billion at Aberdeen in London, said in an e-mail on Jan. 23. “We are encouraged by the rapid rise in subscriber numbers.”
The stock’s rally beat the 30 percent gain in the Bloomberg Israel-US Equity Index of the most-traded Israeli stocks in New York over the past 12 months and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s 19 percent. Ituran rose 1.9 percent to $22 in New York yesterday. The shares in Tel Aviv added 1.4 percent to 76.80 shekels at 2:48 p.m., the most in three weeks.

Record Sales

With crime climbing in Brazil, the Azur, Israel-based company is telling investors to expect record sales and profits of tracking devices in 2013. Brazil and Israel each accounted for 45 percent of revenue last year, Ituran’s co-chief executive officer Eyal Sheratzky.
Ori Licht, head of research at Israel Brokerage & Investments Ltd, said the company’s revenue may be weakened by the depreciation of the Brazilian real, which has plunged 18 percent over the past 12 months against the dollar. Business may also be hurt by Brazil’s faltering economic expansion and the expiration of tax incentives for new car sales, he said.
“They have exposure to the real and the real is not performing well, and the tax relief will not continue into 2014,” Licht, who has a neutral recommendation for the stock, said by phone Jan. 23 from Tel Aviv.
Brazil’s economy probably grew 2.3 percent last year, following a 1 percent expansion in 2012 and 2.8 percent growth in 2011, according to economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Not Optimistic

Ituran’s Sheratzky said the company has been waiting for years for Brazil to implement a law that would require auto manufacturers to install tracking devices in new cars. Implementation of the law is now supposed to occur in July 2014, according to Anfavea, Brazil’s association of car manufacturers.
While the law would be “the cherry on the cake,” Sheratzky says he’s “not very optimistic” that the regulation will be implemented, because of bureaucratic hurdles.
“We continue forward,” he said by phone from Tel Aviv on Jan. 14. “Market potential is huge without this regulation.”
Brazil had the highest car theft rates among 34 countries in 2012, with 140 of every 10,000 vehicles stolen, according to a report bySecured By Design Ltd., a consultancy specializing in vehicle security based in the U.K. South Africa, the country with the second-highest car theft rate, saw 101 of every 10,000 vehicles stolen in 2012.

Drugs, Firearms

Brazil’s car-theft rate improved from 2000 to 2008, but it has climbed each year since 2009, as car jackings and stolen car sales that fund other illegal activities such as drugs and firearms fuel demand, according to Secured By Design’s report, which analyzed statistics from the Brazilian government.
Car thefts in the state of Sao Paulo rose about 10 percent from the year-earlier period to 197,639 in the first 11 months of 2013, according to Sao Paulo state government’s website.
Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin approved a law this month requiring auto-parts dealers in the state to register with the government in a bid to quash the market for stolen parts.
Ituran’s overall subscribers increased about 10 percent in 2013, from 667,000 at the end of 2012, according to Sheratzky. The company now has about 300,000 subscribers each in Brazil and Israel, another 100,000 in Argentina, and about 30,000 in the U.S., he said.

Online Sales

In 2011, Ituran changed its strategy in Brazil to focus on online sales and car dealerships, instead of selling its products through insurance companies’ policies. The company now makes about 80 percent of its sales in Brazil without insurers, something that has allowed it to reach a broader swath of customers and improve margins.
“We started reaping the fruits of this change in the end of 2012,” Sheratzky said. “This will continue in 2014, and I believe we can show growth in all parameters.”
Ituran’s sales rose 15 percent to $42.4 million in the third quarter. The company is scheduled to report annual earnings on Feb. 19.
Tardochi, the Honda owner, said crime is soaring in his neighborhood, making the 50 reais ($20.65) he pays Ituran each month for the service a necessary expense.
“It’s getting worse,” he said. “Everyone I know has been robbed.”

sábado, 25 de janeiro de 2014

Mãe Solteira = Pobreza, Pai e Mãe = Riqueza

Novo estudo da Universidade de  Harvard mostra mais uma vez o impacto da família na desigualdade de renda de um país. O estudo mostrou que o fator mais forte para prevê problemas para melhorar de vida é ser criado por mãe solteira, e o fator que melhor prevê crescimento econômico pessoal é ser criado por pai e mãe. Se você nasceu paupérrimo, mas seus pais ficaram juntos e cuidaram de você com responsabilidade, você tem alta probabilidade para  subir na vida. Vocês podem acessar o estudo clicando aqui.

Claro que eu nem os autores estamos dizendo que todas as pessoas criadas por mães solteiras irão ser pobres, apenas relatamos que ser criado por mãe solteira é o grande fator para medir a pobreza da criança no futuro.

Enquanto muitos governos, inclusive nos Estados Unidos, acham que podem curar a pobreza dando dinheiro, muitos estudos têm mostrado que o principal fator é a família.

Que tal um programa publico para incentivar os pais a serem responsáveis e cuidar de seus filhos? Que tal incentivar o sexo dentro do casamento para evitar que uma "família surja em qualquer de repente"?

O Washington Examiner descreveu o trabalho:

Harvard study: Single parents a hindrance to social mobility

By Ashe Schow | JANUARY 24, 2014 AT 12:32 PM
A new study from Harvard University on the ability of low-income children to achieve social mobility found that the largest hindrance to moving up the income ladder is being raised by a single parent.

“The strongest and most robust predictor [of social mobility] is the fraction of children with single parents,” the study said.

Further, the study found that “[children] of married parents also have higher rates of upward mobility if they live in communities with fewer single parents.”

Now, obviously there are cases of successful children who were raised by single parents, but the study suggests that it is more likely for a child to climb the income ladder if they are living with both parents in a community of married parents.

The study found the prevalence of single parents to be a much larger factor in determining social mobility than income inequality -- something President Obama and Democrats speak of ad nauseum.
In fact, the study found that income inequality was not a statistically significant predictor of social mobility.

But don't expect Obama and company to admit that. If the president was truly concerned with rescuing the American dream, he would extol the benefits of marriage rather than playing the class warfare card.

(Agradeço a informação ao site  Weasel Zippers)

sexta-feira, 24 de janeiro de 2014

Terrorismo e Tráfico de Drogas

Eu já comentei aqui no blog sobre a relação do banco HSBC com a máfia russa e terroristas da Arábia Saudita e também do banco Standard Chattered com o Irã. Hoje, leio que a Austrália descobriu ligação de grupos terroristas com o tráfico de drogas.

O mercado e a baixa moral do mundo financiam sua própria destruição.

Bom, o assunto não é nenhuma novidade para quem conhece o assunto, mas não custa mostrar a questão mais uma vez. A informação sobre a Austrália saiu no jornal The Jerusalem Post. O artigo menciona que há também relacionamento entre terrorismo e drogas na América Latina e África.

Vejam abaixo:

Australian money-laundering investigation reveals Hezbollah gaining profits from drug money

Probe uncovers that Australians were unknowingly aiding laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars abroad.

Sydney, Australia. Photo: REUTERS
Australia’s largest money-laundering investigation reveals that Hezbollah and other terrorist groups are gaining some of the profits from illegal drug sales.

The investigation, called Project Eligo, uncovered that Australians were unknowingly aiding the laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a report on Thursday in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It was just never-ending…We were regularly finding bags of $500,000 and $400,000,” said Australian Crime Commission’s acting operations manager Col Blanch.

So far authorities have seized $26 million in cash, $30m. in assets, and over $530m. in drugs.

Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former terrorism finance analyst at the US Department of the Treasury, told The Jerusalem Post that “there are many other operations like this around the world. Some have been discovered – including a handful two years ago in Latin America and West Africa that even had a link to businesses in the United States – but many have not.”

“These schemes have been of increased importance to the group in recent years as Iran’s disposable income has dried up, due to financial sanctions imposed in response to the Iranian nuclear program,” Schanzer said.

He went on to add that “the nexus between organized crime and drugs represents a real liability,” as it is “difficult to claim one is fighting in the name of God while simultaneously engaging in mafia activity.”

This could become a public relations liability, Schanzer said.

The overlap between organized crime and terror financing of radical Islamic groups has long been a known fundraising method.

Matthew Levitt, author of Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God and a senior fellow and director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Stein Program on Counter- terrorism and Intelligence, writes that the Shi’ite group is able to tap into the Lebanese diaspora for financial and logistical support.

For example, its operations in Africa “operate with near impunity because crime and corruption are endemic to Africa,” he says.

“In several African countries, a 2010 US Federal Research Division survey found, Lebanese with suspected or known ties to Hezbollah were associating themselves with key military and government officials and even heads of state, to become financial advisers and confidants,” said Levitt.

quinta-feira, 23 de janeiro de 2014

Os números falsos da Economia. Calculando Desemprego e Inflação

Um consultor econômico de Wall Street disse que a taxa de desemprego real da economia americana não é 6,7% como diz o governo, mas 37,2%!

Uma grande diferença, não é? Mas a abordagem dele tem todo sentido. Costuma-se calcular o desemprego considerando apenas pessoas que estão procurando trabalho, as que desistiram de procurar e se acostumaram com as benesses do estado estão fora da conta.O consultor, que se chama David Marotta, também criticou o cálculo de inflação.

Sobre estes assuntos de cálculos econômicos ou não feitos para ludibriar as pessoas (muito comum em pesquisas sociais), eu gosto do blog de William Briggs. Recomendo fortemente o blog dele. Ele é um estatístico que mostra as enganações que usam estatística.

O texto que fala sobre o David Marotta é de Paul Bedard e foi publciado no Washington Examiner. O texto vai abaixo.

Wall Street adviser: Actual unemployment is 37.2%, 'misery index' worst in 40 year

by Paul Bedard

Don't believe the happy talk coming out of the White House, Federal Reserve and Treasury Department when it comes to the real unemployment rate and the true “Misery Index.” Because, according to an influential Wall Street advisor, the figures are a fraud.

In a memo to clients provided to Secrets, David John Marotta calculates the actual unemployment rate of those not working at a sky-high 37.2 percent, not the 6.7 percent advertised by the Fed, and the Misery Index at over 14, not the 8 claimed by the government.

Marotta, who recently advised those worried about an imploding economy to get a gun, said that the government isn't being honest in how it calculates those out of the workforce or inflation, the two numbers used to get the Misery Index figure.

“The unemployment rate only describes people who are currently working or looking for work,” he said. That leaves out a ton more.
“Unemployment in its truest definition, meaning the portion of people who do not have any job, is 37.2 percent. This number obviously includes some people who are not or never plan to seek employment. But it does describe how many people are not able to, do not want to or cannot find a way to work. Policies that remove the barriers to employment, thus decreasing this number, are obviously beneficial,” he and colleague Megan Russell in their new investors note from their offices in Charlottesville, Va.

They added that “officially-reported unemployment numbers decrease when enough time passes to discourage the unemployed from looking for work. A decrease is not necessarily beneficial; an increase is clearly detrimental.”

Then there is the Misery Index, which is a calculation based in inflation and unemployment, both numbers the duo say are underscored by the government. He said that the Index doesn’t properly calculate how Uncle Sam is propping up the economy with bond purchases and other actions.

“These tricks, along with a host of other dubious accounting schemes, underreport inflation by about 3 percent,” they wrote, adding that the official inflation rate is just 1.24 percent.

“Today, the Misery Index would be 7.54 using official numbers,” they wrote. But if calculations tabulating the full national unemployment including discouraged workers, which is 10.2 percent, and the historical method of calculating inflation, which is now 4.5 percent, ‘the current misery index is closer to 14.7, worse even than during the Ford administration.”

(Agradeço o texto ao blog Drudge Report)

quarta-feira, 22 de janeiro de 2014

Os Limites do Livre Mercado e a Moral

Há muitas coisas boas que são incentivadas pelo livre mercado, como trabalho duro, a atitude de assumir riscos, inventividade, mas o livre mercado também incentiva coisas perversas ou não incentiva o que é certo. O livre mercado precisa ter limites, dados pela moral e também pelo governo. É o que escreve com maestria James Stoner no site do The Whiterspoon Institute.

Isto ficou muito claro na série do History Channel sobre os grandes industriais dos Estados Unidos que falei aqui no blog

Leiam o texto de Stoner abaixo:

Is There a Moral Basis for the Free Market?

Is there a moral basis for the free market? As libertarian and traditional conservatives debate the best tactics for breaking the current wave of government expansion and its assaults on freedom, this is a question worth asking—both to make a cogent case to the public in favor of free markets and to clarify to one another the extent of agreement among free-marketers of different stripes.

In American political thought, the case for market freedom rests on the right of individuals to pursue their own happiness and to decide for themselves how to achieve it. The freedom of thought and action that lets people take charge of their own affairs entails freedom to exchange goods and services in an open market.

As Michael Munger has pointed out, if the exchange is truly voluntary, both parties will necessarily be better off as a result, at least in terms of their needs and desires at the moment of sale.

The basic goodness of free exchange has been ratified by success. Market economies in the modern world dramatically reduce the material poverty endemic to the human condition, battling hunger, cold, disease, and isolation. We have seen such progress in Western societies over the past five hundred years and, in recent decades, in China, India, and a host of other nations as well. By allowing individuals freedom to acquire and sell, markets tap unexplored sources of human activity and inventiveness.

A century ago, advanced opinion treated this as a one-time effect of modernization and demanded redistribution of the bounty. Now it appears that the dynamic is ongoing: global markets seem to be the most efficient way to distribute modern plenty to all places, and technology continues to develop and amaze.

Now, “If men were angels,” as James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, or “if angels were to govern men”—that is, if we were perfectly rational beings seeking innocent ends, or were governed by such—then the logic of the market might be sufficient to guide our social relations. But we aren’t, and government isn’t, so the morality of markets cannot rest only on the logic of voluntary exchange. For a market to be free, there has to be protection against coercion or fraud. Accordingly, defenders of free markets are rarely anarchists, but instead insist upon strict justice.

Justice cannot be bought and sold—or, rather, we know that doing so is corrupt. Rights should be accorded equally and impartially, following law and equity; they don’t belong only to the wealthy or the well-born or the popular, but to everyone, simply by virtue of his humanity or his citizenship.

How, then, are rights defined, adjudicated, and enforced? According to American thinking, the origin of government is in the consent of the governed—consent in part to custom and tradition, embodied in common law; assent to reforms to make the law more reasonable as circumstances change and society learns; and election of representatives to make formal changes in law and to administer common affairs. Though we vote as individuals, voting is not like buying a product, because as voters we are concerned, or ought to be concerned, with achieving the common good, not just our individual values. While markets work to distribute the kinds of goods that we can hold individually, justice is a common good. Like many other common goods, such as protection from foreign enemies who would raid our markets and depose our freedoms, we secure justice through government.

Citizens give consent as members of a community, or rather, since ours is a federal constitution, as members of overlapping communities. This is not an easy process; we often disagree about how to define the common good, about what justice is, about what dangers and opportunities the world presents us, and much more. But through long experience as a self-governing people, guided by the wisdom of those who fashioned and refashioned our institutions, we have arrived at various settlements, whose imperfections we tolerate because they remain open to improvement.

Often, when we talk about government in relation to the market, we focus on bloated and inefficient bureaucracies, but I am referring to the constitutionally designated institutions through which we rule ourselves as a free people. We grow frustrated with them when we fail to understand their purposes and limits, and when we grow impatient with the very social diversity that is the natural consequence of the individual freedom we cherish. Thus, the first limits on market freedom are those that political freedom itself entails.

Actually, for the most part, market freedom and political freedom nicely complement one another: Success in the market gives one the independence to concern oneself with the common good, and experience gained in civil society helps one exercise civic responsibilities well, even if only in the protection of market freedom. But the responsibilities of citizenship, the need for civic fellowship if we are to govern ourselves together, and the imperatives of equal rights provide a reason for a social “safety net” to insure against the misfortunes that are the inevitable concomitants of a dynamic free economy.

To my mind, this was put most memorably by Ronald Reagan, who asked, in his first inaugural address,
How can we love our country, and not love our countrymen, and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they are sick, and provide opportunities to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?

What the elements of such help should be is a matter for political decision—old-age and unemployment insurance was the choice of the 1930s, medical coverage in cases of serious need was the choice of the 1960s, and so forth. Many programs have gone too far, becoming a hammock for everyday sloth rather than a true safety net to break a fall. They have certainly gone too far when they hamper economic development by draining resources, suppressing opportunities, and enervating the will to succeed. But the abuse of a power or policy is not a decisive argument for its abolition. A burgeoning welfare state is a threat to economic liberty, but a decent safety net ought to enhance it, or at least ensure the political liberty with which it must go hand in hand.

If provision of a decent social safety net is one restriction on the simple functioning of a system of free exchange, a second is the need for coordination so that we don’t always get in one another’s way. Traffic laws are a prime example of regulations we can all agree are necessary.

Of course, some forms of regulation go beyond what is reasonable. Nevertheless, if we think of market regulations as desirable when they enhance our freedom and as undesirable when they unduly restrict it, we have a principle that can guide our choices. Since people will differ in their opinions about what enhances and what is undue, there will be politics here, too. I’ve been impressed over the course of my lifetime by how many things have benefited from deregulation—for example, the price and availability of air travel and energy—but we also need to be aware of ways that progress has created new risks that require wise regulation—for example, protecting privacy on the internet, not least from government itself.

A third set of limits on market freedom concerns the kinds of things that can be bought or sold. I already said that it is wrong to sell justice. I would say the same about sex and freedom—prostitution is rightly criminalized, and of course we don’t allow anyone to sell himself into slavery. There is a certain moral order that any decent society ought to support as essential to the basic dignity of human beings, and the duties of equal citizenship require us to be more demanding of each other in this regard than are monarchies or dictatorships.

Other things cannot in their nature be sold—for instance, love or virtue—and although we can buy and sell the products of knowledge, knowledge itself escapes private ownership, unless kept secret. What about beauty—can that be bought or sold? Beautiful objects, of course, can be, unless they are persons, but not beauty itself. Sometimes it is fleeting, but once seen or heard, the beautiful sight or song is in one’s memory, perhaps even a part of oneself.

All these observations about what can’t or oughtn’t be bought or sold have implications for public policy and lawmaking: If we can’t buy or sell sex, can we rightly buy or sell reproduction? Do the copyrights and patents that protect and encourage writers, artists, and inventors also inhibit the free quotation and progressive creation that seem to characterize great cultures in the past?

Acknowledging “blocked exchanges,” as the economists call them, points to a related, but distinct observation about the limits of free markets, a fourth limit. If not all human goods or activities are rightly marketable, the habits and virtues encouraged by the market also have their limits. These virtues, often decried as the bourgeois virtues, are not to be scoffed at. They include, most notably, hard work and the ability to keep promises, self-control and friendliness, toleration and inventiveness, even elementary things such as cleanliness and punctuality. You have to be good at all of these to get and keep a job, or at least most jobs. The entrepreneurial virtues are similar—all or most of these, plus creativity, confidence, and an ability to take risks and withstand the criticism and the skepticism even of one’s friends. Besides, everyone in a market society needs prudence in the administration of his own affairs, as well as simple thrift.

At the same time, there are virtues that a commercial society does not encourage, or may scoff at outright. Military courage and other sorts of physical bravery are examples. Market behavior is successful when its practitioner has a keen sense of self-interest, but every true soldier is ready to sacrifice his life for his buddies. Generosity is another virtue ill at ease in commercial society; sociologists find that people with lower incomes actually give a higher percentage of their meager mite away. Doesn’t the commercial society create all sorts of pressures against the stability of families, even as it provides their sustenance? Opportunities often require mobility, but children (and the elderly) need a settled home. And how do you explain marriage for life to people inured to chasing opportunities and getting whatever they want? What about piety more generally: are those trained to punctuality attuned to eternity? What about friendship—not just networking, but the genuine friendship that in its nature lasts for life? Are those best at business best at these?

So is there a moral basis for the free market?

Sure, but it is part of a complex moral environment that rightly limits market freedom even as it supports it. The morality of the market, important as it is in a free society, should not be mistaken for the only kind of morality that matters in common life. It certainly should not be allowed to undermine, as I fear it is beginning to do, the political culture of America. That political culture gave birth to our dynamic free economy in the first place, in part by its insistence on limiting government, in part by developing means in an imperfect world for protecting rights and finding what good we have in common.

Let us reform public policy that weakens freedom and undermines virtue. But let us not speak ill of government per se, as if it could be replaced, not just in some peripheral functions, but in its core, with the mechanism of the market. Government is necessary because we are not angels, and it is possible because we are not brutes.

James R. Stoner, Jr., is Garwood Visiting Professor (2013-2014) in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University and Professor of Political Science at Louisiana State University.

terça-feira, 21 de janeiro de 2014

Legalizando Bordel na Holanda. Resultado: Tráfico de Mulheres, mais violência, destruição de bairros, mais drogas, lavagem de dinheiro...

Ontem, eu falei aqui de um excelente texto de William Bennett sobre liberalização da maconha. Um comentário em um outro artigo sobre o assunto me levou para um excelente artigo sobre os resultados da liberalização de bordel na Holanda.

O texto de Julie Bindel no jornal The Spectator fala sobre a lei de 2000 na Holanda que legalizava os bordeis, com as declaradas intenções de legalizar a prostituição, cobrar impostos dos bordéis,  tornar o sexo mais seguro e diminuir a violência dos cafetões. Resultado: aumentou a violência dos cafetões (que agora se auto-denominam gerentes), espalhou-se bordeis pela Holanda, o país se tornou o bordel da Europa, aumentou-se o tráfico de mulheres, trazendo mulheres da África e do Leste Europeu, a lavagem de dinheiro e o tráfico de drogas também cresceram.

Em resumo, o país eliminou a decência, o que se esperaria disso?

O governo holandês, segundo a reportagem, quer voltar atrás. Será que conseguirá? Parece-me que para que a lei retroceda teria que haver uma revolução moral no país.

Leiam artigo abaixo:

Why even Amsterdam doesn’t want legal brothels

The Dutch experiment in legalised prostitution has been a disaster

Do you remember the rather brilliant comedy sketch featuring Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse in which they played laid-back police officers in Amsterdam, bragging that they no longer have to deal with the crime of murder in the Netherlands since the Dutch legalised it? Don’t laugh too hard. In 2000 the Dutch government decided to make it even easier for pimps, traffickers and punters by legalising the already massive and highly visible brothel trade. Their logic was as simple as it was deceptive: to make things safer for everyone. Make it a job like any other. Once the women were liberated from the underworld, the crooks, drug dealers and people traffickers would drift away.

Twelve years on, and we can now see the results of this experiment. Rather than afford better protection for the women, it has simply increased the market. Rather than confine the brothels to a discrete (and avoidable) part of the city, the sex industry has spilt out all over Amsterdam — including on-street. Rather than be given rights in the ‘workplace’, the prostitutes have found the pimps are as brutal as ever. The government-funded union set up to protect them has been shunned by the vast majority of prostitutes, who remain too scared to complain.

Pimps, under legalisation, have been reclassified as managers and businessmen. Abuse suffered by the women is now called an ‘occupational hazard’, like a stone dropped on a builder’s toe. Sex tourism has grown faster in Amsterdam than the regular type of tourism: as the city became the brothel of Europe, women have been imported by traffickers from Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia to meet the demand. In other words, the pimps remained but became legit — violence was still prevalent but part of the job, and trafficking increased. Support for the women to leave prostitution became almost nonexistent. The innate murkiness of the job has not been washed away by legal benediction.

The Dutch government hoped to play the role of the honourable pimp, taking its share in the proceeds of prostitution through taxation. But only 5 per cent of the women registered for tax, because no one wants to be known as a whore — however legal it may be. Illegality has simply taken a new form, with an increase in trafficking, unlicensed brothels and pimping; with policing completely out of the picture, it was easier to break the laws that remained. To pimp out women from non-EU countries, desperate for a new life, remains illegal. But it’s never been easier.

Legalisation has imposed brothels on areas all over Holland, whether they want them or not. Even if a city or town opposes establishing a brothel, it must allow at least one — not doing so is contrary to the basic federal right to work. To many Dutch, legality and decency have been irreconcilably divorced. It has been a social, legal and economic failure — and the madness, finally, is coming to an end.

The brothel boom is over. A third of Amsterdam’s bordellos have been closed due to the involvement of organised criminals and drug dealers and the increase in trafficking of women. Police now acknowledge that the red-light district has mutated into a global hub for human trafficking and money laundering. The streets have been infiltrated by grooming gangs seeking out young, vulnerable girls and marketing them to men as virgins who will do whatever they are told. Many of those involved in Amsterdam’s regular tourist trade — the museums and canals — fear that their visitors are vanishing along with the city’s reputation.

I was last there with Roger Matthews, a professor of Criminology at Kent University and a renowned expert on the sex trade. The politicians he spoke to confess that the legislation has made a total pig’s ear of an already unsavoury situation. So the repair work is starting — for what good it will do. Women who rent the windows will soon be obliged to register as prostitutes. This will be as ineffective as the obligation on them to pay tax. When the fake and government-funded union supposedly representing those involved in prostitution did a massive membership recruitment post-legalisation, only a hundred joined, and most of those were strippers and lap dancers.

Rather than remove the sleaziness of the red light district, it made the area more depressing than ever — full of drunken sex tourists who act as window shoppers, pointing and laughing at the women they see. Local women pass the streets with their heads down, trying not to see the other women displayed like cuts of meat in a butcher’s shop. Men can be seen entering the brothels, trying to barter down the price. Others come out zipping up their jeans. Many of the women look very young, all of them bored, with the majority sitting on stools in underwear playing with their phones.

Nowhere else in the world is street prostitution legal, because people do not want it in plain sight. Where there is a street sex trade, women are accosted on their way home by punters, and often condoms, drugs paraphernalia and pimps are visible. But the Netherlands decided in 1996 that street prostitution was a decent way to earn money and created several ‘tolerance zones’ for men to safely rent a vagina, anus or mouth for a few minutes. Cars drive into cubicles. This being the Netherlands, there is a special section for cyclists. Keep prostitution green.

The day after the Amsterdam zone opened, more than a hundred residents from nearby neighbourhoods took to the streets in protest. It took six years for the mayor to admit in public that the experiment had been a disaster, a magnet for trafficked women, drug dealers and underage girls. Zones in Rotterdam, The Hague and Heerlen have shut down in similar circumstances. The direction of travel is clear: legalisation will be repealed. Legalisation has not been emancipation. It has instead resulted in the appalling, inhuman, degrading treatment of women, because it declares the buying and selling of human flesh acceptable. And as the Dutch government reforms itself from pimp to protector, it will have time to reflect on the damage done to the women caught in this calamitous social experiment.