Just in case anybody down south wanted a bit of winter.
Austria is a strange country. A very strange country, in fact. I have fond memories of an Austrian professor of political science some years ago explaining in great detail how the Austrians devised a highly complex procedure for the parliamentary adoption of EC legislation. Not that the Austrians ever used it (okay, once or twice during the early years of Austria’s EU membership), but every – and I mean every – possible bureaucratic and parliamentary bell and whistle had been considered and pulled.
I should note that my Austrian colleague is a master of suspense: Even if everybody knew what was coming, his deadpan approach to the subject kept the audience spellbound. And as a Swedish colleague said afterwards: If you thought that was hilarious, you should hear him analysing Austrian politics late at night.
But of cause, to me Austria is forever linked with the statement “the situation is catastrophic, but not serious”, so what would you expect anyway?
To be fair, Austria isn’t the only European country which has seen kidnappings of children and where the police have acted ineffectively triggering a major political scandal (Belgium, anybody? Another surreal European country with a history of divisions and proporz rule) – but according to Die Zeit, the Kampusch affair – or rather the government’s handling of an inquest into the affair and attempts by high officials to cover up irregularities – may bring down the coalition.
… or Management Speak, if you prefer that term.
Anyway, John Gruber translates Jerry Yang’s memo into intelligible English.
Not that it would surprise someone with more than twenty years’ experience in reading political statements, of cause. čśŤ
This story about a student who threatened the other residents of a student corridor here in Umeň with a sharp sword sounds rather scary. The good news are that a) he carried a sword and not a firearm (I wouldn’t want to think about the possible consequences in that case) and b) we are told that the student has been put into care after police intervened.
It is always difficult to asess such incidents from the outside but we should probably commend the other residents for noting that something was terribly wrong here and trying to take action.
In case you wonder, teachers are in fact aware of students behaving in a strange or erratic way, but students with psychiatric problems or problems related to drug or alcohol abuse often either don’t show up at lectures and seminars or are careful to disguise any symptoms.
Ah, yes: Agency loss. It may sound like yet another boring public administration concept (for a definition, go to page four in this paper by Arthur Lupia), but real world cases are always a way of livening up a lecture on implementation.
One classic example of agency loss is from the introduction of the Frence police comedy “Les Ripoux” when the seasoned inspector releases a pick-pocket who is brought in to the police station with the argument:
If we charged him, it would look like there is a lot of crime in the precinct, and then the management would think that we are ineffective.
(The French title is a pun on the term for crooked or corrupt. You get the drift. And of cause the staff is ineffective as you have lots of pick-pockets running around in the streets)
Anyway: The bailiffs in Copenhagen have written a letter to the tax committee of the Danish Folketing, complaining that the head of the regional office of the Inland Revenue has ordered staff to shuffle cases so that all kinds of debt that could possibly be classified as potentially unrecoverable were discounted. In that way the success-rate of the regional office would increase, and – whaddayouknow! – the head of the office will get a wage bonus.
The other possible angle is of cause that there are substantial problems in the relationship between the management and the staff of the regional office.
Either way, I would look forward to further reports in the case.
Via Dani Rodrik:
In developed countries, those who have this view of unfairness [that the benefits and burdens of “economic developments” have not been distributed fairly among the population] are more likely to say that globalization is growing too quickly – especially in France, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Japan, and Germany (and to a lesser extent Britain and the US).
In contrast, in some developing countries, those who perceive such unfairness are more likely to say globalization is proceeding too slowly. These include Turkey, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico and the countries of Central America.
With this result:
The view that globalization is growing too quickly is especially widespread in Egypt (77%), UAE (77%), Australia (73%), China (72%), Spain (68%), and France (64%).
The only countries with majorities saying that globalization is growing too slowly are the Philippines (71%), Turkey (71%), Indonesia (53%), and Brazil (51%). [I think they forgot Portugal for some reason /JC]
Source: World Public Opinion (the report as a pdf)
Update: Brad deLong on a slightly related subject – the development in income inequality.