February 21st, 2006

At least when Ferdinand was President, Imelda kept the GDP up by buying shoes.

An interesting segment on NPR this morning as I drove to work:

The GDP of the Philippines has remained constant since the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos, yet the population of the Phillipines has increased by something like 17 million. In the same time, Taiwan’s GDP has doubled.

Part of the reason I find this so interesting, perhaps, is that I can’t remember a time when the Philippines haven’t been in, well, decline. I vaguely remember hearing a report about Imelda’s shoes around the time Ferdinand was exiled. To imagine that the Philippines was the number two economic power in SE Asia is, well, mind-boggling.
What also interests me is that democracy is supposed to be this end-all be-all of governments. I would posit that most transitions from totalitarianism (even pseudodemocracies) to democracy will be marked by corruption, repression, and a weakened economy. Is there any way to ease this transition? I’m not sure.

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Criminally Ugly

So Friday night I heard a news report detailing a study claiming that ugly people are more inclined to commit crimes. When I first heard the report, I thought I heard them say that the students being studied were asked to rate themselves based on attractiveness. The initial survey was followed up 8 years later, and the study found that those who ranked as below average in attractiveness were more likely to commit crimes. I thought, no shit. Low self esteem probably has a pretty decent correlation with criminality and aggressiveness.

Now, it appears I was wrong, at least in regards to how the student’s attractiveness was measured.

Mocan and Tekin analyzed data from a federally sponsored survey of 15,000 high-schoolers who were interviewed in 1994 and again in 1996 and 2002. One question asked interviewers to rate the physical appearance of the student on a five-point scale ranging from “very attractive” to “very unattractive.”

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