There’s No Such Thing As A Free Market

Freedom is an illusion.  Control or, more gently, regulation is the reality.  Here’s an example:

“talk of a `free market’ notwithstanding, there’s no more heavily regulated aspect of our life.  The market is regulated by law not just in its elements–it is law that enforces contracts, establishes property, and regulates currency–but also in its effects.  The law uses taxes increase the market’s constraint on certain behaviors and subsidies to reduce its constraint on others.  We tax cigarettes in part to reduce their consumption, but we subsidize tobacco production to increase its supply.  We tax alcohol to reduce its consumption.  We subsidize child care to reduce the constraint the market puts on raising children.  In many such ways the constraint of the law is used to change the constraints of the market.”  (Lawrence Lessing, Code 2.0, Basic Books, 2006, p. 127.)

In Code 2.0, Lessig discusses how we’re controlled/regulated by code when we’re online.  Code controls/regulates.  Writers of code–coders–are controllers/regulators of cyberspace.  Offline, online, there’s no freedom.  Control is the reality.

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Internet Effects On The Poor

The Internet is affecting almost everything, including programs for assisting the world’s poorest people.  Check out this Wall Street Journal article.

So, if you want to assist poor people in the best possible way, do it via the Internet.  You gotta move–to the Internet!


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Hypocrisy In Christianity

There is much hypocrisy in Christianity. Consider the Vatican: “The Vatican alone is estimated to be worth $10 billion to $15 billion, not counting the value of its art or land.  Dedication to poverty is apparently a good business.” Ronald Allen, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Also relevant on Christianity; what I call, The Christian Fiction:

Religions Are Human Fabrications

Christianity Has Given Up On Jesus And Gone To The Dogs

Do You Really Want To Know: About The Life Of Blacks Living In The Only Nation Conceived In Liberty? So, Do You? Then Read James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time 

Review: Koran

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Government Is Not A Service

Government is not a service and government officials are not servants, public or otherwise. Governments are influential organizations that acquire money from individuals and organizations (e.g., businesses), fund and implement some programs and not others (thereby benefiting some, others to a lesser degree, and some not at all), wage war, and imprison more than a few.  Government personnel, rather than servants of the citizenry are its rulers, readily admitted when describing personnel in government–as Hobbes named them–“misliked.”

Also relevant to this point is a statement by Benjamin Franklin Bache, who wrote in a 1794 Philadelphia Aurora editorial: “All governments are more or less combinations against the people . . . and as rulers have no more virtue than the ruled.”


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Efforts To Make Answers Reliable Fail

Survey researchers/askers are always trying to make their always-unreliable answers reliable and always fail to do so.  Answers are always unreliable because answers are always affected/skewed by questions (e.g., wording), askers (e.g., gender affects answers), respondents (e.g., their memory), and settings in which questions are asked and answers given (e.g., different answers given to online pollsters than to friends at the bar or on the street).  Efforts to make always-unreliable answers reliable–e.g., by inserting attention checks (see No. 106 below)–always fail because they also always affect/skew, or to use No. 106’s word, “influence” answers.  To ask, with or without attention checks, is to affect/influence answers; that’s just the way it is!

In the newsletter below, which I received from a university research center, I have put the most relevant parts in bold and I’ve placed my comments in bold and brackets [  ] .

“No. 106
Using Attention Checks to Identify Poor Quality Data

With the ever increasing popularity of self-administered modes of survey data collection, particularly online, attention checks have become a common approach to verifying that respondents are in fact giving due attention to the survey response task.  Also known as “Instructional manipulation checks” (IMCs), or “screeners,” attention checks are intended to identify individuals [respondents]who satisfice when responding, typically by not reading questions carefully and hence failing to correctly follow instructions. Respondents unable to “pass” attention   questions are believed to provide poor quality data that is less reliable, [BELIEVED; survey researchers don’t KNOW because the only way to KNOW if answers are or are not reliable is to check or verify them with data from non-asking sources.  Survey researchers do not have this data; therefore, they DON’T KNOW.]  and those respondents are often excluded when conducting data analyses.

However, more recent empirical research is inconclusive regarding these assumptions about attention checks and the value of excluding those who “fail” attention checks when analyzing the study data. There is concern that, because failure of attention checks may be correlated with some sociodemographic variables, deleting these cases may have a detrimental effect on the composition of final samples, which may also affect data quality. There are additional concerns that attention check questions may influence subsequent respondent behavior in ways that can also damage data quality by increasing respondent mistrust of researchers and by decreasing motivation to carefully answer subsequent questions. Consequently, recent research now advises against using attention checks and removing these respondents.”  [HOWEVER, by NOT using attention checks, answers remain unreliable because there’s no way to know if respondents are “giving due attention to the survey response task”; no way to know if they’re “reading questions carefully”; if they’re correctly follow[ing] instructions.” TO ASK,WITH OR WITHOUT ATTENTION CHECKS, IS TO AFFECT/INFLUENCE ANSWERS; THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS!]

If you want to find out what’s really going on, don’t ask.  That’s the theme of my book, The Problem with Survey Research.

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Internet+ Effects: Making Money Online

One of the effects of Internet+ is the increasing the ability of people  to making money online.  In a Chicago Tribune article, it’s pointed out that many ways of making money–e.g., marketing–can be digitalized. And there are many virtual positions in a variety of industries; see, for example,, a site for remote workers.  “No matter what your skill set, says, Arianna O’Dell, “you can find a way to monetize it online.”

Using Internet+ to solve the problem of poverty should be a top priority.

You gotta move!–to the Internet.

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Survey Researchers Find Use For Data From Non-Asking Sources

Some survey researchers find use for data from non-asking sources.  This is a positive development!  Three cheers for survey researchers! Reliance on survey research is weakening and this erosion of confidence in the asking method will  lead them to accept and use other methods of research, such as direct observation,  observation of behavioral traces, and content analysis.  Excerpts from Newsletter No. 102 (below) describe the use of content analysis of administrative records.  I have put the most relevant parts in bold.  (I received this newsletter from a university survey research center.)

“No. 102
Using Survey Data in Combination with Data from Other Sources: Data from Administrative Records

Over the last several bulletins, types of data that are often combined with survey data have been described. In SNB #102, we finish this series with a discussion of incorporating data from administrative records with survey data. Administrative records include any data that is kept by a business, government agency, or other organization for the purposes of their work or function. For example, it might include school records of students’ grades, medical records, or financial or tax records for an organization or business. . . .

As with many other external sources of data, data from administrative records can also be used to estimate nonresponse bias. For example, in a survey of the parents of children in a specific public school district, researchers could use administrative records to assess whether response rates are different across school or grade level. Similarly, given access they could compare the grades, test scores, or attendance records of students whose parents did and did not participate.

Administrative records can also contain useful substantive information. Medical records checks can be used to assess the accuracy of survey self-reports or to incorporate additional specific medical information with survey data. Similarly, administrative records of voter turnout, for example, are sometimes used as an objective measure of whether a respondent voted in an election. These records are used both to check the accuracy of respondents’ self-report of voting (because respondents tend to overreport turnout) and as a measure of turnout. . . .”

For a further discussion of the need for non-asking data to check or verify self-reports, and for a complete statement of the weaknesses of survey research, see The Problem with Survey Research.

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