Wednesday, April 1, 2020

¿Qué hacer para sobrellevar la crisis financiera producida por el Covid-19? II

Resulta plausible que la solución sanitaria para contener el virus sea la misma que para contener la economía: pruebas diarias del virus. Asumamos que el costo mensual de estar paralizados es el cinco por ciento del PIB (cifras de esta magnitud se han publicado al referirse al costo económico en otros países paralizados por el virus), es decir cinco mil millones de dólares. También, supongamos que el costo de realizar una prueba del Covid-19 puede llegar a ser tan bajo como un dólar y tener resultados en diez minutos (así lo afirma una empresa británica que quiere empezar a producir estas pruebas en Senegal).

Entonces, pruebas diarias. Todos quienes necesiten salir a trabajar obtienen una prueba cada día que salen. Estas podrán ser administradas en su lugar de trabajo o en sitios estratégicamente colocados por el Ministerio de Salud. ¿Si dan positivo? A la casa por dos semanas. ¿Negativo? Reciben un botón "libre de virus", y a trabajar. Un mes de esto y nadie infecta a nadie más.

Considerando la población laboralmente activa en el Ecuador (siete millones según el INEC), este programa no debe costar más de 15 millones de dólares diarios, o unos 300 millones de dólares al mes. Aún tomando en cuenta el rudimentario cálculo de las cifras, es un ahorro para el Ecuador.

¿Qué hacer para sobrellevar la crisis financiera producida por el Covid-19?

Hay que empezar mencionado el admirable espíritu filantrópico de muchos ecuatorianos.  Se ha podido apreciar como muchos se han organizado para ayudar a los más vulnerables, como por ejemplo con canastas básicas.  Sin embargo esto no es suficiente, y el gobierno tiene la posibilidad, a pesar de la crisis presupuestaria, de ayudar a sobrellevar la crisis financiera producida por la pandemia.  

Primero, eliminar el control de precios ya que esto elimina el interés de producir y aumentar stock. Más aún, si la gente sabe que se imponen controles se apresura a comprar más de lo que necesitan y esto resulta en la escasez.  

Segundo, el desplome del precio del petróleo y la ausencia de uso de vehículos presenta una oportunidad perfecta para finalmente eliminar el subsidio a los combustibles. Aunque esto no tendrá un beneficio inmediato, sí ayudará a pagar la financiación del estímulo que se debe efectuar inmediatamente en forma de préstamos estatales.  El estado debería ofrecer a todo ciudadano la cantidad de $350 mensuales sin intereses (la mitad del costo de la canasta básica familiar) mientras dure la pandemia.  Idealmente el repago de estos montos se los haría como parte del pago de impuestos en 2021.

Este estímulo a la economía de forma directa a los que más lo necesitan no solo servirá para asegurar que ecuatorianos no pasen hambre ni les falte medicina, si no que también ayudará a mover la frágil economía ecuatoriana y prevenir una depresión económica total.  

Con suerte, esta experiencia comprobará que la mejor ayuda que deben recibir los más vulnerables es dinero en efectivo.  

Friday, March 27, 2020

Narcos: modernity’s conquistadores?

The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing people around the world to stay home and, well, watch television.  Netflix’s Narcos, a binge-worthy series, tells the story of history’s most famous drug lords: From Pablo Escobar to El Chapo Guzmán.  While thoroughly enjoying this fantastic production, I couldn’t help but notice parallels between the modern drug lord and the conquistadores from the bygone Age of Discovery.  

The first thing that comes to mind is the origin of both groups, as both conquistadores and narcos ventured from a more organized society to establish their own domains in the periphery.  In the case of the former, in lands claimed by the Spanish Empire; and in the case of the latter, within lands of the Spanish Empire’s republican offspring: Colombia and Mexico.  Both sought to establish their own hierarchies, borders, rules, and militias, and did so with great success and considerable disregard for any overseers.  

Quick examples are not too hard to come by.  In 1524, after having led the Spanish conquest of Mexico, Hernán Cortés wrote the fourth of his five letters to King Charles I of Spain.  In it he describes many squabbles and betrayals, specifically mentioning other conquistadores such as Don Diego Colon, Diego Velasquez and Francisco de Garay, who according to Cortés, had “agreed amongst themselves to go there with the hostile intention of doing me [Cortés] all the mischief they could”.  This letter proves conspiracy or paranoia, which in any case are common themes surrounding the capos who have run the Latin-American drug empires.  

The Spanish conquest of Peru saw Francisco Pizarro as the original patron, having under his command El Adelantado Diego de Almagro, and Sebastián de Benalcázar, two of history’s foremost conquistadores.  While distributing orders over the conquered Incan domains, Pizarro and his hierarchical organization wielded great wealth and power.  Deciding who lived or died, or who was able to conduct business in his territories, Pizarro paid off rival conquistadores like Pedro de Alvarado to leave South America altogether.  

But eventually, Benalcázar would disregard Pizarro and set forth to claim Quito for himself in the name of the Spanish Empire.  De Almagro also entered in conflict with Pizarro when Pizarro went back on his word of distributing the spoils of conquest in an equal manner.  These spats eventually resulted in a series of assassinations not unlike those between members of the drug cartels.  In this case, Hernando Pizarro, Francisco’s brother, ordered the killing of De Almagro in 1538, which resulted in the slaying of Francisco himself in 1541 by El Mozo, De Almagro’s son.  

These brutal clashes are reminiscent of the several bloody vendettas we can appreciate in the Netflix series.  After Escobar fell, power transferred from the Medellín Cartel to the Rodriguez Orejuela siblings and their associates, also known as the Cali Cartel.  And just as the desire for dominion over conquered lands led to the transfer of power from conquistador to conquistador, drug lords’ desire to control the drug trade ultimately led to Guadalajara (Miguel Ángel Felix Gallardo), Juarez (Vicente Carrillo Fuentes), Sinaloa (El Chapo), and many in between.  


There are many different historical circumstances that determine the fate of societies and the groups within, of course, but historians should consider the conquistador idiosyncrasy as being a cause in the development of the drug reigns of recent decades.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The World does not want President Bernie Sanders

Americans heading to the polls in 2020 should be aware that their election is not only about healthcare or the "one percent of the one percent". They should be conscious of the fact that their vote will have repercussions around the world. They should understand that humanity has enjoyed the greatest period of peace and prosperity because of the attributes of a globalized free society with a free enterprise system. And they should acknowledge that the United States of American leads, even if they want to or not. 

The Americans' international brethren do not wish to see the most powerful state on Earth pivoting towards greater regulation and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. They pain at the thought of having the leader of the free world eschewing free trade. They abhor the thought of having the President of the United States praising Fidel Castro, the Soviet Union, and China. This is something this candidate has done; this is something this candidate represents. 

Sanders glorifies the Scandinavian model. His references to Denmark are many. But voters must see that his ideas are not those of the capitalist Scandinavian countries. These countries are flourishing free democracies because of their embrace of individual freedom and the free enterprise system (like the USA). To give just one example of the candidate's contradiction is the fact that while his policies to curb "Wall Street greed" mark his campaign, Scandinavian countries have worked to cut back on corporate taxes and regulations. If voters want the United States to resemble Scandinavia, they should look to emulate those countries in the things that make them successful. 

In the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, at least one Scandinavian country ranks better. In the Economist's Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index all of the Scandinavian countries rank better. In the Cato Institute's Human Freedom Index at least one ranks better. In the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index at least one Scandinavian country ranks higher. In the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report, the United States sits atop all Scandinavian countries. The leading economic superpower has room for improvement, but voters should see that it is by further developing what made it great in the first place, and not by shifting towards what it has spent its existence fighting against. 

The World needs a President of the United States that understands the problems facing humanity. Someone who understands that fighting climate change is not about increasing the national debt to astronomical levels in order to fund bureaucratic programs, but rather by leading a worldwide plan to put a hefty price on pollution that strongly incentivizes the development of cleaner technologies. Someone who understands that protectionism hinders economic growth. Someone who understands the power of the idea of freedom. 

Furthermore, if comparable politics like that of the United Kingdom are a meter by which to gauge the 2020 election, a candidate who positions himself to the extremes of the ideological spectrum will most probably find himself losing to the incumbent. 

In the 2016 election, the United States fell prey to the demagoguery of a populist. Voters should not fall for the same thing twice, even if it is coming from a likeable one. As memorably said by an ex-President, "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice… Let's just not get fooled again!"

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Aphorisms

Compiled throughout a period of time...


The paradox of believing in God. Why believe in a sadist god? But then again we must believe in God if he is to make a difference in our reason and morality.

Socialism, Marx, is inherently a romantic proposition because as Baudelaire pointed out, "Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in the way of feeling.”

Socialism works because it is based on demagoguery.  If the IMF wants the underdeveloped world to develop, they need not throw money at said countries, but rather ideas.  Ideas of freedom will go much further to create wealth via capitalism than cheap credit or financial aid.

Communism is a religion. It is based on positive feelings, rules by autocratic ruler, and always adapting explanations to justify errors in their rhetoric.

Socialism is like religion. People get convinced through feelings, and a new excuse pops up every time it's proven wrong.

Cubans are like the battered woman.  They welcome and help, treat like brothers all who come and appear to help.

Castro: Luckiest man on earth.

Beethoven accompanies in our most human experiences.

John Foxe’s book of martyrs is an example of failed network eradication just like the drug cartels are today.

Civilization is slow to adapt to communicating/network building technologies.  Technologies of this sort produces excitement in the beginning and many ideas are accepted.  When schisms in Christianity occurred before the printing press but one religion spawned. When schisms occurred after it, Lutheranism multiplied and we now have many protestant denominations.  Ferguson?

Break your 25-hour fast with a vodka-martini.

Los gitanos son como los hippies... pero con mejor música.

La sobriedad está sobrevalorada. Y solo se la aprecia después de haberte sacado la madre con muchas cosas.  La ley de retornos decrecientes aplica de sobremanera en ciertas actividades... sabio darse un tiempo.

El gusto musical debe entenderse como el gusto en tragos.  Tragos siendo entendido como bebidas alcohólicas.  Uno siempre tiene sus preferidas, pero de vez en cuando se antoja algo diferente.  Por ejemplo, uno gusta del whisky, el vodka, el vino, o un martini.  Pero si uno está rumbo a la costa, un buen aguardiente con cumbia es lo que se requiere.

Oscars 2019: I perhaps would have voted for another, probably Roma.  But Green Book is an excellent film and all the bickering is nonsense.  Spike Lee is a cry baby, and all the loud-mouthed social justice warriors never miss a chance to ruin everything with false and annoying arguments.

M.I. Finley (The Ancient Economy) talks about the absence of economic thought and theory in Ancient Rome.  He says markets and economic motivations played little if any role on ancient economies: Bollocks!

Paul Krugman advocates for government protection of certain industries in order to produce worldly competitive industries.  Nonsense!.  The Chaebols in South Korea, which are prime examples of government sponsored monopolies should be the forefront example against Krugman’s assertion.

GMOs are to food what drugs are to the religious experience.

Our profession in this world is to suffer and die, and yet we still need money to do that.

True effect of technology: ennui at the expense of being more efficient in completing tasks.

Aletheia: The end of female human sexuality… to open without retreat.

Nietzsche was a liberal: His life affirming (excellence, individual development, nobility) vs life denying (self-sacrifice, compassion, equality) philosophy is that which favors the risk and total liberty sought by true liberals.

I see no “public intellectuals” giving opinions on theoretical physics.  Why are public intellectuals, like Chomsky, entitled to give opinions on economics?

It seems to me that as society progresses in technology, it experiences devolution in our humanity.  We have invested so much time and effort into becoming more productive that we have forgotten to invest time and effort into our humanity.

We dream to remember.  When we dream about a possible future outcome based on real events, the dream is an indication of correct connections.  Prophecy? if you dream it, it can be true.  Not really...