n-co technology management http://www.seea-china.com a side-trip to the human park Mon, 15 Jun 2020 06:20:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Mass Mobilisation as an Instrument of Political Coercion http://www.seea-china.com/2020/06/14/political-coercion/ Sun, 14 Jun 2020 13:17:37 +0000 http://www.seea-china.com/?p=1691 Read more >]]> Mass mobilisation refers to mobilisation of civilian population as part of contentious politics. Contentious politics is the use of disruptive techniques to make a political point, or to change government policy. Examples of such techniques are actions that disturb the normal activities of society such as demonstrations, general strike action, riot, terrorism, civil disobedience, and even revolution or insurrection. Social movements often engage in contentious politics.

Mass mobilisation is often used by grassroots-based social movements, including revolutionary movements, but can also become a tool of elites and the state itself — as seen during the corona “crisis” by the heavy concerted use of mass media by some governments (and vice versa — today’s forms of political engineering in Western civilisation).

Media coverage of coronavirus disease: Abysmal journalism (image source: ? wallpaperhd.wiki)

Media tend to link mass mobilisation and democracy. However, it risks obscuring the character of mass mobilisation, the (most likely diverse) goals of the population and the potential impact of contentious politics on future power dynamics and democratic processes. Journalism would serve the population better by separating the analysis of mass mobilisation from democratisation, and by not engaging in contentious politics through their biased reporting. Howard and Walters (2015) wrote about overcoming key misconceptions and about how the two phenomena of mass mobilisation from democratisation are supposedly linked:

  1. “Mass mobilisation leads to democracy”
    Historically, democracy has been a rare outcome of mass mobilisation. Mass mobilisation often supports anti-democratic regimes.
  2. “Mobilisation is an expression of democratic norms”
    This kind of media narrative has more to do with the hopes and normative commitments of the writers than the character of the movements themselves. Media frame the study of mass movements more in terms of their own hopes and normative visions than empirical realities (—> see last post about framing).
  3. “Mass movements are democratic by definition”
    Journalists often assume that in order to successfully mobilise, masses must be unified around a pro-democratic ideology articulated by prominent intellectuals (the “democratizing bias”). However, prominent intellectuals have historically supported various forms of governance ranging from communism to liberal democracy to fascism. While some intellectuals have played a key role in supporting democratisation (for example, Vaclav Havel in post-communist Czechoslovakia), others have embraced non-democratic regimes (for example, Carl Schmitt in Nazi Germany). In short, intellectuals are not inherently democratic, and neither are protesters.
  4. The concept of “pro-democratic” movements
    This ignores the inherent complexity of mass movements and the latent tensions that often arise in their wake. It also tends to ignore the role of non-participants, who are generally the overwhelming majority. Mobilisation does not naturally lead to — and often works against — democratisation.

Mass media have long been recognised as powerful forces shaping how we experience the world and ourselves. Media coverage and political instrumentalisation in the wake of the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has not only supported mismanagement of the issue, but also created an economic downturn and loss of democracy (dedemocratisation) not seen for decades.? The instrumentalisation of the media for political purposes and the unholy alliance between media and governments for mass manipulation continues, and this becomes increasingly evident in Western civilisation in the case of public service broadcasters (e.g. Switzerland, Germany, Austria).

Further Reading:

  • Hobbes, T. (2016) Leviathan: Or, The Matter, Forme and Power of Commonwealth, Ecclesiasticall and Civill. Longman Library of Primary Sources in Philosophy. Routledge
  • Tilly, Ch. (2004) Social Movements, 1768—2004. Paradigm Publishers
  • Tarrow, S. (2015) War, states, and contention: A comparative historical study. Cornell University Press
  • Howard, M. M., & Walters, M. R. (2015) Mass mobilization and the democracy bias. Middle East Policy, 22(2), 145-155
  • Ilpyong, K. J. (1996) Mass Mobilization Politics and Techniques Developed in the Period of the Chinese Soviet Republic. University of Washington
Climate Change http://www.seea-china.com/2019/11/09/climate-change/ Sat, 09 Nov 2019 13:20:01 +0000 http://www.seea-china.com/?p=1633 Read more >]]> In the last half century, some sociologists (e.g. Giddens, 1990; Beck, 1992) have suggested that our concerns with risk have shifted largely from what nature does to us to what we do to nature. Rather than being concerned with natural risks, we are increasingly concerned with manufactured risks.

Unlike natural risks, the risks that we manufacture are affected by how we perceive them. For example, consider the following apparent paradox. Road traffic increased thirtyfold in the last century, and common perceptions of the dangers of roads changed from roads as relatively safe places to roads as dangerous places. Yet the road-death figure per motor vehicle fell by about 100% (Adams 1995, p. 11, and statistics below).

The ‘objective’ measure of road safety is in contrast to perceptions of roads as unsafe. As social perceptions of road risk have changed, so too has our behaviour. Parents no longer allow their children to play in the road and they teach them to exercise greater vigilance when crossing the road. The risks we construct as a society are changed by our beliefs about them.

Stomach cancer causes more deaths than motor accidents by a ratio of more than two to one. Yet most people believe motor accidents cause more deaths. The news media are more likely to carry vivid accounts of motor accidents. Hence, we tend to overweight the incidence of motor accidents.

Rudolf Hausner, 1976, Adam objektiv, Novopanplatte mit Papier beklebt, Acryl, Harz?lfarben

For much of our evolution we have developed a range of cognitive mechanisms to cope with adverse environments in which resources are scarce. These include a range of simplifying and confidence-sustaining mental short cuts (heuristics) that help us to make quick decisions when pausing to undertake a full analysis would be unwise (Gigerenzer et al., 1999). However, these evolved modes of thinking also create some major traps:

  • Framing the problem
    • Medical decisions can be affected by whether outcomes are framed as likelihood of deaths or of saving patients.
  • Using information
    • First, we pay more attention to information that is easily available (availability heuristic).
    • Second, we overweight memories which are more easily retrievable – usually because they are emotionally vivid or have personal relevance (retrievability heuristic).
  • Problems of judgement
    • From birth, we start learning to filter information out and to prioritise, label and classify the phenomena we observe. This is a vital process. Without it we literally could not function in our day-to-day lives.
    • Many decisions need revisiting and updating as new information becomes available. However, most of us make insufficient anchoring adjustment: this is the tendency to fail to update one’s targets as the environment changes (Rutledge, 1993).
  • Post-decision evaluation
    • A common way in which we distort our understanding of events is to assume we have greater control of events than we really do. When we suffer from this illusion of control, we are likely to underestimate the risks of our actions and decisions and have problems in learning from experience as we discount information that suggests we are not in control (Fenton-O’Creevy et al., 2003).

While some risks can be quantified, many are unknown. In the face of such uncertainty our approach to risk depends on fundamental assumptions about the way the world works. Different social groups have different approaches to uncertainty. Schwarz and Thompson (1990) characterise these in terms of what they describe as four myths of nature. Adams (1995) has conceptualised them in terms of a ball on a surface. Imagine a ball on a surface. A small push on the ball has different effects depending on the shape of the surface.

Myths of nature (adapted from Adams, 1995, p. 34)

Those subscribing to the myth of nature as capricious see the world as essentially unpredictable. A small action could have entirely unpredictable consequences of unknown scale. Those who see nature as benign believe strongly in equilibrium. However strong the disturbance to the world, the status quo tends to be restored. Those who subscribe to the perverse/tolerant myth believe that, within limits, the world is predictable and tolerant of shocks to the system. However, pushing beyond those limits risks catastrophe. Those who see nature as ephemeral take a profoundly pessimistic view. Even small disturbances can lead to profound and potentially catastrophic changes. The world is fragile and precarious, and equilibrium can be overturned by even small actions.

For example, the different stances taken by different groups over climate change can be understood in these terms. Combined with some of the traps mentioned above, we can imagine why the topic is so hotly debated and with so little intelligence. Instead of taking heuristic shortcusts like the media, we should allow ourselves to consider more creative and effective soloutions, like birth control or new approaches to carbon-?neutral fuels. Actions against climate change need to be enforceable by reason and law – there is little point in blaming each other.

Swiss Law instead of Foreign Judiciary? http://www.seea-china.com/2018/11/03/swiss-law-instead-of-foreign-judiciary/ Sat, 03 Nov 2018 10:24:02 +0000 http://www.seea-china.com/?p=1562 Read more >]]>

Is Swiss sovereignty being eroded by foreign judges? The promoters of the “Self-Determination Initiative” argue that Switzerland’s constitution and its laws should take precedence over international treaties. The People’s Party targets the bilateral treaties with the EU and the European Court of Justice in particular, according to political experts. Opponents of the initiative say the rightwing proposal would undermine Switzerland’s international reputation and its role as a reliable trading partner, as well as deal a blow to human rights.

The question of primacy between national and international law has been simmering for years in Switzerland and elsewhere. Human rights are of course international. We use the terminology that they are universal. This is obviously somewhat inconvenient for the government of nation-states, who have traditionally claimed absolute power over their citizens. The extent to which we have international human rights, or a court of international human rights, is necessarily going to interfere with the kind of claims that a national government can make. Additionally, these rights may be inconvenient in relation to what a nation state might intend to do. These rules and standards bestow upon the nation-state — one of the major violators of human rights — the responsibility of protecting human rights. It is called the “paradox of human rights”. International human rights rely on the nation-states to put rights into effect. And yet nation-states are often reluctant to countenance human rights because those human rights will necessarily put a limitation to the kind of power they have as national governments; their state sovereignty. These themes run through all human rights law. They run through the European Convention on Human Rights as much as through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, or any other body of human rights.

It is worth stressing that with the European Convention on Human Rights we are looking at a system where individual petitions can be submitted to a court. As a citizen, I can take a case to the European Court of Human Rights, and the court may award remedies. Hoffman and Rowe (2010) argue that the Convention was an extremely radical innovation. Never before has there been a system of international law which holds states accountable to some superior court in respect of actions against their own citizens. Previous international courts and tribunals were constituted solely to settle disputes between states, or in the case of the Nuremberg tribunal, to try individuals for their own criminal responsibility. Coming back to the so-called Swiss “Self-Determination Initiative”: if my government violates my human rights and has no more obligation to protect them, where can I go?

Image credits: Stan Wayman, extracted from IPTC Photo

[Hoffman, D., & Rowe, J. J. (2010) Human Rights in the UK: An Introduction to the Human Rights Act 1998, Pearson Education]

Welcome to the Machine http://www.seea-china.com/2018/10/08/welcome-to-the-machine/ Mon, 08 Oct 2018 10:58:44 +0000 http://www.seea-china.com/?p=1547 Read more >]]>

“I kind of felt powerless… I do have extensive experience in terms of playing the game of Go, but there was never a case as this as such that I felt this amount of pressure.” (Lee Sedol, after playing against AlphaGo in March, 2016)

McAffee and Brynjolfsson (2017) describe phase two of the second machine age as the time “when science fiction technologies – the stuff of movies, books, and the controlled environments of elite research labs – started to appear in the real world”: winning at Go, diagnosing disease, interacting with people, engaging in creative work. The authors envision three great trends that are reshaping the business world:



including AI, boosted by:

      1. Moore’s law
      2. Cloud computing has opened relatively inexpensive computing power required to execute a machine learning project.
      3. An endless supply of data (and GPU‘s to process it). Machine learning systems need to be exposed to many examples in order to perform and improve in their tasks.
Human Mind
According to Kahneman and Egan (2011):

  • System 1: Evolutionary ancient, fast, automatic, intuitive
  • System 2: Evolutionary recent, slow, conscious, and a lot of work

“System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.” [Kahneman, D. and Egan, P. (2011) Thinking, fast and slow (Vol. 1), New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.]

that people use to access a product or service, like Uber or AirBnB, but don’t actually produce anything or provide the service to the end customer.
Products and Services
For example, the big gains of electrification (one of the most disruptive technologies ever) came not from simple substitution of steam engines, but from the redesign of the production process itself. The process lens typically reveals many tasks that can be eliminated, or as Hammer and Champy (1993) put it, obliterated. According to Grant (2010) a firm increases attention to process innovation as it seeks to reduce costs and improve product reliability. The tendency over time for product life cycles has become compressed (p. 275).
The Crowd
e.g. GE’s FirstBuild, a “co-creation community that is changing the way products come to market”.
Organisational Capabilities
Prahalad and Hamel (1990) coined the term “core competences” to distiguish those capabilities fundamental to a firm’s strategy and performance. They also criticised U.S. companies for emphasizing product management over competence management.

Now where does all this leave us? As Haidt (2006) argues, “judgment and justification are two separate processes” of the mind. Judging, performed by System 1, happens almost instantaneously. It is then justified in rational and plausible arguments delivered by System 2:

“This finding, that people will readily fabricate reasons to explain their own behavior, is called ‘confabulation’. Confabulation is so frequent in work with split-brain patients and other people suffering brain damage that Gazzinga refers to the language centers on the left side of the brain as the interpreter module, whose job is to give a running commentary on whatever the self is doing, even though the interpreter module has no access to the real causes or motives of the self’s behavior. For example, if the word ‘walk’ is flashed to the right hemisphere, the patient might stand up and walk away. When asked why he is getting up, he might say, ‘I’m going to get a Coke’. The interpreter module is good at making up explanations, but not at knowing that it has done so.”
[Haidt, J. (2006) The happiness hypothesis: Finding modern truth in ancient wisdom, Basic Books]

At Microsoft, the acronym HiPPO (“Highest-Paid Person’s Opinion”) was created to summarise the dominant decision-making style at most companies.It illustrates the example given above of System 1 and 2 at work. HiPPOs too often destroy value. In a decades-long assessment Tetlock (1984) found that “humanity barely bests chimp” at predicting possible outcomes of politics, economics, and international affair. Today, machine learning – the science of building systems that can detect patterns and formulate winning strategies after shown many examples – is starting to accomplish interesting results. The “science fiction stuff” is just starting now…

Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism, the First Computer http://www.seea-china.com/2018/09/12/the-antikythera-mechanism/ Wed, 12 Sep 2018 09:26:30 +0000 http://www.seea-china.com/?p=1537 Read more >]]>

Over 2’000 years ago, the churning ocean below the cliffs of the Greek island Antikythera swallowed a massive ship loaded with a trove of luxuries — fine glassware, marble statues and, famously, a complex geared device identified to be the earliest computer. Three flat, misshapen pieces of bronze are all shades of green, from emerald to forest. The proverbial ‘contraption’ has astonished archaeologists and scientists alike, by virtue of not only its advanced workmanship but also its fascinating (and rather enigmatic) purpose. To that end, the artifact is often also stated as the world’s oldest gear ‘machine’ (based on the workings of the differential calculator) – crafted to predict various complex astronomical observances, including planetary positions and eclipses. Nothing else like this has ever been discovered from antiquity. Nothing as sophisticated, or even close, appears again for more than a thousand years.

[You may read the full Smithsonian article here…]

Rook At This Mess: French Park Trains Crows To Pick Up Litter http://www.seea-china.com/2018/08/20/rook-at-this-mess-french-park-trains-crows-to-pick-up-litter/ Mon, 20 Aug 2018 08:21:58 +0000 http://www.seea-china.com/?p=1522 Read more >]]>

Six crows trained to pick up cigarette ends and rubbish will be put to work at a French historical theme park, according to its president.

The story by The Guardian is good: A bunch of park rangers have taught crows in western France to pick up trash by rewarding them with food. Simple enough. But what’s really great here is the writing. “Rook At This Mess” for the headline. Rook, a member of the crow family of birds that also includes the carrion crow, jackdaw and raven, are considered to be “particularly intelligent and in the right circumstances like to communicate with humans and establish a relationship through play”. The fact that the writer goes on to quote actual animal experts only adds to the amusement.

[You can read the full story —> here…]

Major Quantum Computing Advance Made Obsolete by Teenager http://www.seea-china.com/2018/07/31/quantum-computing-advance/ Tue, 31 Jul 2018 21:09:03 +0000 http://www.seea-china.com/?p=1517 Read more >]]>

A teenager from Texas has taken quantum computing down a notch. In a paper posted online earlier this month, 18-year-old Ewin Tang proved that ordinary computers can solve an important computing problem with performance potentially comparable to that of a quantum computer.

Usually the benefits of quantum computing are difficult to understand – unless you are actively working in the field. But one of the most relatable problems that quantum algorithms could solve better than classical algorithms is the “recommendation” problem. Basically, the question of how services like Netflix or Amazon can find new things you will like based on your viewing/browsing habits and community ratings in a reasonable amount of time. Previously, it was believed that quantum algorithms were the only way to solve this problem, but an 18 year old MIT student has developed a way for today’s computers to solve it just as fast.

[You can read the full story —> here…]

Switzerland: Folk Economics bottled into “Sovereign Money Initiative” http://www.seea-china.com/2018/05/19/folk-economics/ Sat, 19 May 2018 10:58:02 +0000 http://www.seea-china.com/?p=1409 Read more >]]>

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”
(Friedrich von Hayek, 1988)

Irrespective of the quote above, there is a further difference between what economists know and what non-economists know. This can be summarised under the heading “folk economics”. There is an interesting observation here: If you (as a non-physicist) were engaged in a conversation with a physicist who tells you about string theory, you are unlikely to interrupt him and disagree with what he was telling you. An economist engaged in a discussion about the economics of obesity, for example, with a non-economist would be far more likely to be questioned about the views being put forward. If the economist told the non-economist that obesity was caused by the rise in poverty levels in countries, it is likely that there would be some disagreement with this view.

Sovereign Money Communism

The Swiss popular initiative ‘For crisis-resistant money: end fractional-reserve banking’ (Vollgeld-Initiative) will be put to a vote in a national referendum on the 10 June 2018. The initiative calls for the introduction of a sovereign money system in Switzerland. However, a sovereign money system could not prevent credit cycles and asset bubbles in real estate and financial investments. While lending may reinforce such asset bubbles, it does not cause them. Asset bubbles and credit cycles are primarily caused by exaggerated price expectations and a propensity to underestimate risks. The principal causes of the recent financial crisis could not have been circumvented under a sovereign money system. Chief among these are:

  • the belief that asset prices can go on rising indefinitely;
  • complex financial instruments with opaque risk liability (e.g. CDOs);
  • the accumulation of excessive amounts of short-term debt via the money and interbank markets;
  • and instability at investment banks with no deposit business.

Omitting a variable in a theory can lead to deceptive conclusions. When a theory is being used to support an argument about cause and effect, it is important to ask whether the movement of an omitted variable could explain the result. A second problem is what economists call reverse causality – we might decide that A causes B when in fact B causes A. The omitted variable and reverse causality traps require caution when drawing conclusions about causes and effects. It might seem that an easy way to determine the direction of causality is to examine the which variable moves first. If we see crime increase and then the police force expand, we reach one conclusion. If we see the police force expand and then crime increase, we reach another. Yet there is a flaw with this approach: people change their behaviour also in response to a change in their expectations of future conditions. A city that expects a major crime wave in the future might as well hire more police now. Or people make demands on credits in expectation of low interest rates.

The Scottish philosopher David Hume argued that no ought claim could be correctly inferred from a set of purely factual premises. This result is sometimes referred to as Hume’s Law, or the Is – Ought Problem. Hume found that there seems to be a significant difference between positive statements and prescriptive or normative statements, and that it is not obvious how one can coherently move from descriptive statements to prescriptive ones. You can only derive should claims from premises that include should claims. Yet the initiative backers’ arguments are exactly drawn this way.

Without flexible money expansion and contraction, such a centralised system strongly resembles the communist idea of a command economy. For understandable reasons the initiative’s backers hold a distaste for banks creating money, but a much more democratic and disruptive concept is about to change the world:

Alchemy: A German Tradition (Part 1) http://www.seea-china.com/2018/03/15/alchemy-1/ Thu, 15 Mar 2018 17:31:06 +0000 http://www.seea-china.com/?p=1358 Read more >]]> Back in the 1930s, cars were relatively rare in in Germany while in the United States, Henry Ford built cars cheaply that everybody could afford. There were far more middle class people in the U.S. who had automobiles than in Germany, and that bothered the Nazis because they were supposed to be superior. Therefore, Hitler hooked up with Ferdinand Porsche and his idea of a people’s car. Porsche went to Ford on several occasions and brought workers to Germany in order to build the Volkswagen factory. It was consciously modeled on Ford, but the Nazis wanted it to be the biggest factory in the world – which it eventually became after the war.

‘I am pleased that, at the skilled hands of a brilliant design engineer and his staff, preliminary designs for a German Volkswagen have been completed, and the first models will finally be tested by the middle of the year.’

Wolfsburg as a city did not exist at the time. Everything visible in Wolfsburg today is grown up around the original factory. Although VW’s acquired brands like Audi, Seat, and Skoda are successful in Europe, Volkswagens’s road to global dominance has always led through America.
In the 60s, sales hit new highs when the VW Beetle populated American streets in its thousands. The unique and unconventional design of the Beetle perfectly matched the new revolution and ensured that peace, love and freedom found their way to even the remotest corners of the USA. The car designed for Hitler became a symbol of the counter culture. But VW did not innovate and keep up with time. As the counter culture gave way to the Reagan era, VW sales dropped as fast as the quality of its cars and led the manufacturer to the brink of bankruptcy. The rescuer of VW appeared in the former head of Audi, Ferdinand Pi?ch, a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche. Personally and professionally very productive and ambitious, the brilliant and dangerous man infused VW with a new culture of aspiration and success.

Pi?ch came just in time to turn the company around and introduced a strategic large-scale thinking. He had the idea of producing small Diesel engines. TDI? – a diesel that was fun to drive, powerful and clean. It was a huge success in Europe. However, the exhaust was not really clean. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) causes air pollution and damage to health. The infamous NOx filled smog in southern Califormia and major cities in the US in the 70s was not only damaging to plants, it caused asthma, cardiac problems, cancer, and premature death. Therefore the much more strict NOx standards in the US than in Europe. To keep efficiency on Diesel but to cut down on NOx, manufacturers like VW tried to create “NOx traps” that caught and burnt the stuff before it left the tail pot. But the special parts needed were expensive and had to be replaced every few thousand miles. Yet they were the only way to meet the NOx standard set in the US. Solving that problem was critical for the “Strategy 2018” set by Martin Winterkorn and Ferdinand Pi?ch: VW’s big game for world domination. They wanted Diesel cars for the United States (at the time the world’s largest market), but everyone knew this was incredibly hard to achieve. Pressure on workforce to succeed and increase sales became unbearable. On its mission to become the biggest automobile manufacturer in the world, Volkswagen created Diesel cars that could cheat emissions tests while pumping 40 times more NOx into the air than they claimed to. With the opening of a new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the CEO boasted about his new found corporate responsibility.

VW’s “solution” to the Diesel problem caught the attention of a group focused on clean transportation. They studied VW Diesels – not to see if they were bad, but why they were so good and whether they could serve as a model for the US. It was also unclear why they came out clean in the US and not in Europe, so there was a missing piece of data. But what they found in 2013 did not add up.

‘The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) provided the results of its measured “off cycle emissions” and its (comparison) values detected in parallel in the FTP test to VW Group of America (VWGoA) EEO and requested comments on the high exceedances. In a conference call, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) authority also announced further investigations; specific questions of the authority with respect to the regeneration strategy of the NOx storage catalyst and the UREA dosing strategy in the SCR system in the Volkswagen R4 TDI vehicles have already been received by the EEO.
A thorough explanation for the dramatic increase in NOx emissions cannot be given to the authorities. It can be assumed that the authorities will then investigate the VW systems to determine whether Volkswagen implemented a test detection system in the engine control unit software (so-called defeat device) and, in the event a “treadmill test” is detected, a regeneration or dosing strategy is implemented that differs from real driving conditions.’
(VW Quality Manager Frank Tuch in an email to CEO Martin Winterkorn)

VW’s only answer was to stall for time. Following 16 months of investigation and the revelation that Volkswagen had embedded defeat devices in its software calibrations for all of its 2009–2014 Diesels in Europe and 2009–2015 Diesels in the US, regulatory agencies have taken various measures to force VW to remedy the problems. However, VW did not fix the problems – in contrary, they fixed the defeat device to make it even better at cheating. With VW’s announcement in the United States of a recall and a “fix” for various Volkswagen Group models, regulators have defined required emission system modifications for almost all VW Diesel engines in the US market.

Winterkorn denied any knowledge of a defeat device, but he was forced to resign the day after giving this statement. Nobody believed the fairy-tale brought up by Michael Horn and Martin Winterkorn that a small group of engineers at VW did something on their own. The state of New York launched a civil suit proclaiming fraud by VW. Along with various sanctions, VW was forced to pay over 25 billion in fines and to buy back over 550’000 vehicles from angry owners. The data continues to support earlier findings that enforcement in the United States is far more effective and stringent than in Europe. The German government enables cheating by regulation, allowing calibration strategies implemented through defeat devices. This is called “protection of the engine”. The German government cares more about protection of the engines than protection of human beings. Additionally, the German government has a stake in the partially state owned car industry. Should they harm their national car industry? It means jobs and taxes, after all. To this day, VW and the other German brands are selling dirty cars throughout Europe and the world. In order to fight back and show “the benefits of clean Diesel cars”, the German car companies and particularly VW embarked in a plan to do their own tests on monkeys and humans. They established a phony research company called EUGT to study the effects of Diesel exhaust. EUGT paid a company called Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI) to conduct a study in order to show that the “new” Diesel technology was environmentally friendly. It involved research monkeys and inhale pipes.

A couple of days after the news broke of the monkey experiments in the US, a report in the Stuttgarter Zeitung accused the big three carmakers of also conducting emissions tests on humans.

Gas – a German tradition.

Policy Implementing vs. Dispute Resolving http://www.seea-china.com/2018/01/28/policy-implementing/ Sun, 28 Jan 2018 14:20:09 +0000 http://www.seea-china.com/?p=1333 Read more >]]> Property rights are fundamental to law and economics. La Porta et al. (1997) show that countries with poorer investor protections, measured by both the character of legal rules and the quality of law enforcement, have smaller and narrower capital markets. These and other authors argue in a succession of articles that the common law is economically superior to the civil law system. The term civil law describes those systems which have developed out of the Romano-Germanic legal tradition of continental Europe. It is the civil law tradition which dominates whithin the present European Union, but common law is economically superior to civil law because common law systems

  • have stronger investor protection and provide easier access to equity. This leads to larger stock markets, more numerous companies and more IPOs;
    [La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., Shleifer, A., & Vishny, R. W. (1997) Legal determinants of external finance, Journal of finance, pp. 1131 – 1150]
  • have better protection of outside investors relative to insiders and agents (compared e.g. to French civil law);
    [La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., Shleifer, A., & Vishny, R. (2000) Investor protection and corporate governance, Journal of financial economics, 58(1), pp. 3 – 27]
  • have lower entrance barriers to markets (procedures, time, cost);
    [Djankov, S., La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., & Shleifer, A. (2002) The regulation of entry, The quarterly Journal of economics, 117(1), pp. 1 – 37]
  • have more efficient courts, measured by the procedures used by litigants and courts to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent and to collect a bounced check;
    [Djankov, S., La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., & Shleifer, A. (2003) Courts, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(2), pp. 453 – 517]
  • show lower labour market regulation and a higher labour-force participation rate, and therefore lower unemployment rates (with some exception);
    [Botero, J. C., Djankov, S., Porta, R. L., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., & Shleifer, A. (2004) The regulation of labor, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 119(4), pp. 1339-1382]
  • have laws mandating disclosure (e.g. to mortgage borrowers) and facilitating private enforcement through liability rules that benefit stock markets.
    [La Porta, R., Lopez‐de‐Silanes, F., & Shleifer, A. (2006) What works in securities laws?, The Journal of Finance, 61(1), pp. 1 – 32]
  • have more efficient procedures in case of insolvency – measured by time, cost, and the likely disposition of the assets (preservation as a going concern vs. piecemeal sale);
    [Djankov, S., Hart, O., McLiesh, C., & Shleifer, A. (2008) Debt enforcement around the world, Journal of political economy, 116(6), pp. 1105 – 1149]

This boils down to higher levels of investment and higher rates of growth in common law countries.
[La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., Shleifer, A., & Vishny, R. W. (1997) Legal determinants of external finance, Journal of finance, pp. 1131 – 1150]

‘First, the built-in judicial independence of common law, particularly in the cases of administrative acts affecting individuals, suggests that common law is likely to be more respectful of private property and contract than civil law.
Second, common law’s emphasis on judicial resolution of private disputes, as opposed to legislation, as a solution to social problems, suggests that we are likely to see greater emphasis on private contracts and orderings, and less emphasis on government regulation, in common law countries. To the extent that there is regulation, it aims to facilitate private contracting rather than to direct particular outcomes. Pistor (2006) describes French legal origin as embracing socially conditioned private contracting, in contrast to common law’s support for unconditioned private contracting. Damaska (1986) calls civil law “policy-implementing,” and common law “dispute resolving.”
Third, the greater respect for jurisprudence as a source of law in the common law countries, especially as compared to the French civil law countries, suggests that common law will be more adaptable to the changing circumstances, a point emphasized by Hayek (1960) and more recently Levine (2005). These adaptability benefits of common law have also been noted by scholars in law and economics (Richard Posner 1973, Paul H. Rubin 1977, George L. Priest 1977, Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto and Patricio A. Fernandez forthcoming), who have made the stronger claim that, through sequential decisions by appellate courts, common law evolves not only for the better but actually toward efficient legal rules.’
[La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., & Shleifer, A. (2008) The economic consequences of legal origins, Journal of economic literature, 46(2), pp. 285 – 332]