Society & Governance

  • A Few Certainties About Covid-19
    There is plenty that we do not know about the coronavirus. But let us take stock of the things that we do know for sure, and of some other things that we will soon know. Real-world Exponentiality By now, a child understands exponential growth. If you start with one apple on March 1st and double every … Read more A Few Certainties About Covid-19
  • The Pandemic as a ‘Gray Rhino’ Event, with Michele Wucker
    “The paradox of the Gray Rhinos is that the further they are down the road, the less likely you are to do something about them. But that is the time when it will cost the least and you are most likely to be successful.” ____ Michele Wucker Sami J. Karam speaks to best-selling author Michele Wucker about … Read more The Pandemic as a ‘Gray Rhino’ Event, with Michele Wucker
  • 2020 Election: Democrats Heading to a Brokered Convention?
    An occasional commentary on the 2020 US Presidential Election in which demographics and identity politics play a bigger role than ever before. Here, we explain why primary and convention rules make it difficult for a frontrunner to emerge in a crowded field. Today, President’s Day, is as good as any to draw some lessons from … Read more 2020 Election: Democrats Heading to a Brokered Convention?
  • De-Politicizing Climate Activism
    Or how Greta Thunberg can create more converts. “Nature is not a temple. It is a workshop, and a human being is the worker in it.”                               _                           … Read more De-Politicizing Climate Activism
  • Talking About Cities, with Aaron Renn
    “You go to some of these places [Midwestern cities], the question they ask when they meet you is ‘where did you go to high school’?… The fact that where you went to high school is a social marker places you in a community. You go to Washington DC and nobody cares where you went to … Read more Talking About Cities, with Aaron Renn
  • Tech Giants Should Pay Users
    A user’s content and browsing history are monetizable assets. Rather than tax, regulate or break up Facebook and Google, we should ask that they pay for the monetizable assets that they have so far mined for free. These assets are a user’s content and browsing history. As with all types of mining, the tech giants … Read more Tech Giants Should Pay Users
  • The Cure for Inequality is More Laissez-Faire
    That means less cronyism and more competition. “Inequality is not necessarily bad in itself: the key question is to decide whether it is justified.”____ Thomas Piketty in Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Piketty’s words read like a premise that is only half right, followed by a problematic corollary. Reasonable people will agree that some inequality is … Read more The Cure for Inequality is More Laissez-Faire
  • Purity or Universalism?
    This article first appeared at Quillette. A few days after his recent passing, the Manhattan Institute reposted a speech by V. S. Naipaul from October 1990. The title, “Our Universal Civilization,” captured the triumphal and optimistic spirit of that moment, nearly one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In order to render this … Read more Purity or Universalism?
  • Soccer for Americans
    Three rule changes to turn American soccer into a big money maker. The experience of watching a soccer game rarely lives up to the anticipation. You go in hoping for a 4-3 cliff-hanger (as with Argentina vs. France recently) but too often you end up with 1-0 or worse, a draw, or much worse, a … Read more Soccer for Americans
  • Fertility and Literacy in India’s States
    Higher female literacy is a reliable predictor of lower fertility and improved prosperity. In a previous article, we highlighted a clear connection in sub-Saharan Africa between a country’s total fertility rate (TFR = average number of children per woman) and its young female literacy rate. The data showed that higher literacy may set off a chain reaction … Read more Fertility and Literacy in India’s States
  • Future Hubs of Africa and Asia
    On UN projections between 2015 and 2050, the world population will grow by nearly 2.38 billion people, from 7.35 billion to 9.73 billion. Although this 32% growth is a big increase, it marks a slowdown from the 66% growth rate recorded in the preceding 35 years (1980-2015). Total Fertility Rates (TFRs) have come down all … Read more Future Hubs of Africa and Asia
  • Cronyism and its Scapegoats
    Cronyism destroys trust and assigns the blame to scapegoats of its own creation. Only a fiercely committed left or right-winger would fail to recognize that there is today a social and political divide that does not easily fit within the traditional mold of left vs. right. If, loosely speaking, the left leans socialist and the … Read more Cronyism and its Scapegoats
  • Immigration and Trust
    Do we only really trust people who are like us? And if so, is that a mistake? Distrust of the unfamiliar and the foreign is a natural survival mechanism for most species, including the human species. But, if empirical evidence is worth anything, a reflexive distrust of the foreigner cannot be said to be equally benign. Distrust … Read more Immigration and Trust
  • Cronyism Damaged Venezuela before Chavez
    Venezuela is bankrupt, having just defaulted on three interest payments. And much of the world is pointing fingers at the socialist policies of Hugo Chavez and those of his successor, the incumbent Nicolás Maduro. This laying of the blame is not wrong but it is incomplete. The kindest thing you could say about Mr. Chavez … Read more Cronyism Damaged Venezuela before Chavez
  • Notes from the Wharton Africa Business Forum
    The Wharton Africa Business Forum took place in Philadelphia on November 3-5, 2017. Present were the Finance Minister of Nigeria, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines and other business leaders (notably from lead sponsors McKinsey & Company and the Boston Consulting Group) and educators. The event was attended by hundreds of participants including Wharton faculty, students … Read more Notes from the Wharton Africa Business Forum
  • Africa: 800 Million Jobs Needed
    African economies are in a race to get ahead of the demographic boom. Let us share without fear the journey of migrants and refugees. #ShareJourney — Pope Francis (@Pontifex) September 27, 2017 “Let us share without fear the journey of migrants and refugees.” Pope Francis (@Pontifex) tweet on 27 September 2017. While some people in … Read more Africa: 800 Million Jobs Needed
  • A Different Kind of Border Wall
    To slow mass migration, stop the illicit capital flight from poor to rich countries. An asset manager called ____ Capital recently sent out this email seeking referrals: The US Investor visa program allows one to invest $500,000 U.S. in a government licensed fund for a period of about five years and in around 18 months, a … Read more A Different Kind of Border Wall
  • Capitalism Did Not Win the Cold War
    This article first appeared at Foreign Affairs. Why cronyism was the real victor. When the Soviet Union collapsed 26 years ago, it was generally agreed that the West had won the Cold War. This was affirmed by the prosperity and possibilities awaiting citizens of Western countries, as opposed to the political and economic stagnation experienced … Read more Capitalism Did Not Win the Cold War
  • New Infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa
    This post will be continuously updated as we learn about new projects. Go to the bottom of the page for new entries. On the three main vectors of wealth creation, African countries have lagged other developing nations for several decades. Sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest region of the world and suffers from poor infrastructure, uneven … Read more New Infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Why Buffett Won His Bet Against Hedge Funds
    QE had a lot to do with it. Active fund manager billionaires Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have been critical of active fund manager millionaires for their very high fees and chronic underperformance. It is not unusual for the ultra wealthy to trash the merely wealthy for their avarice. After all, ultra wealth is so rare that it can be … Read more Why Buffett Won His Bet Against Hedge Funds