Economic development

Technology in and for developing countries. This includes both technology industries as a source of economic growth, and technology use for education and other purposes. Special focus on Lebanon, in connection with the TechLeb conference.

October 21, 2020

Open letter: In 2020, please vote a straight Democratic ticket

Please share this with anybody who might find it interesting.

Americans of different policy preferences are united in realizing: Trump must go. His dishonesty, incompetence and meanness make him unfit to lead any country. His contempt for limits on his power make him especially unfit for America.

But ousting Trump is not enough; Republican policies and legislators must go too. It’s not just that Republicans have enabled Trump for too long, or that they echo some of his vices, such as science denial, voter suppression, or general corruption. Beyond all that, REPUBLICANS ARE BAD FOR THE ECONOMY. I know it’s common to assume otherwise – but any such assumption is 30+ years out of date. Read more

October 15, 2020

Why Democrats are better for the economy than Republicans

This discussion is posted in two versions:

Permission to copy either version is granted through November 3, 2020, provided that proper attribution and URL are included. Please share widely!!

Donald Trump and his supporters must be swept from office, for countless reasons, many of which have been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. In broadest terms, these include:

Much in our country needs healing and repair.

Many Americans agree, and favor Democratic candidates, for their intent to govern with decency, empathy, and reliance upon established facts. And so Democrats expect success in the election now underway. Even so, one major Democrat/Republican comparison may still be worth spelling out.

In a nutshell, Democrats are much better and safer for the economy than Republicans, especially but not only in the growth industries that provide so much of our wealth, exports, and favorable career opportunities. Republican propaganda often claims the contrary. But the pro-Democratic view is supported by all of:

Let’s drill down.

Read more

October 15, 2020

Democrats are much better for the economy than Republicans, and this is unlikely to soon change

This discussion is posted in two versions:

Permission to copy either version is granted through November 3, 2020, provided that proper attribution and URL are included. Please share widely!!

For 30 years, Republicans have been bad for the economy.

And of course we’re in economic catastrophe now.

Not coincidentally, standard Republican claims have not held true.

Most fundamentally, Republicans wrongly claim that “making more money available for investment” does in fact cause significantly more investment. (This is how they justify tax cuts for corporations, tax cuts for rich people, removal of regulations, and the like.) But in reality, if that was ever true, it’s been false for decades. Read more

July 31, 2006

Why an actual peace treaty is essential in Lebanon

War is inevitably a terrible thing. This truth is repeatedly forgotten or disregarded, not least in the Middle East, most recently by Hizbollah and Israel alike, and perhaps by other parties influencing the Lebanese conflict as well.

But I am writing today, not about hatred and folly in general, but about a narrower point – namely, the need for an actual peace treaty in Lebanon, after decades of a formal state of war. Such a treaty is, in my judgment, essential for Lebanon’s economic future. And so it is essential for Israel’s security too, and by extension for the security of many other countries as well. For if Lebanon does not thrive — if the people of Lebanon lose hope — Lebanon will remain what it has been for three decades, an unstable and uncontrollable enemy of the Israeli state.

Read more

June 20, 2006

Why I feel qualified to pontificate about public policy

Maybe I should explain why I feel motivated and qualified to hold forth at such length about public policy issues such as net neutrality, free-world privacy, authoritarian censorship, economic development, and so on.

If you’re reading here, you’re probably familiar with my software industry credentials — top-ranked stock analyst, top-tier product analyst, sometime entrepreneur, etc. If not, there’s always my official bio. But I also have some non-trivial public policy and economics chops. I spent two years at the Kennedy School of Government after getting my Ph.D. Then, turning down an assistant professorship at the Kellogg School of Management as well as research jobs at RAND and IDA, I went to Wall Street — which is, if one chooses to make it such, one heck of a further education in economics. And then in the mid/late 90s, Linda and I actually got active in the internet services market, analyzing, consulting, etc. Indeed, we even (re)wrote a few speeches for Steve Case of AOL, including some Congressional testimony.

Bottom line: Yes, I actually have some idea what I’m talking about. 🙂

June 20, 2006

Dave Kellogg on Paris as Silicon Valley

Dave Kellogg has a long, interesting post based on his own experiences with the attempts to make Paris into a Silicon Valley (at Business Objects, of course). He comes out very negatively. Reasons include:

1. Worker culture — people don’t have the same entrepreneurial, hard-working drive in France as they do in the US. Based on what I know of Business Objects and also of Dave’s tenure there, my gut reaction is to say this is 2/3 justified, 1/3 Dave just being Dave.

2. A lack of specific skillsets. Also, a lack of connection to the most important market, the US. I agree completely, except that these considerations apply more strongly to well-established industries than they do to truly new ones.

3. A wealth tax that drives rich people, including previously successful entrepreneurs, out of France. Ouch.

June 13, 2006

Outsourcing differences by country

Stan Gibson asserts a significant cultural difference in Russan vs. Indian outsourcing. Basically, he characterizes the Indians as compliant servants, while the Russians are argumentative team members, although one quote acknowledges there are exceptions in both countries. Based on this, it appears that some companies are happier doing serious product development in Russia than in India.

At best, he greatly overstates the case. Much more product development has been done by Indian outsourcers than Russian ones, going all the way back to Release 1 of Microsoft Visual Basic. Even so, it’s a distinction worth thinking about if you’re trying to kickstart an outsourcing business (or considering using an outsourcer) in a less-commonly-used outsourcing country.

June 13, 2006

How to protect our freedoms, strengthen developing economies, and make money

My Computerworld column finally came out this month, pointing back here. Only there were typos and omissions in the URLs. Also, a couple of the key notes here were incorrectly published in draft form, and got reedited. So let me summarize again, and reiterate the internal links.

1. There’s a whole section on privacy, censorship, and freedom, both domestic and abroad. You can also find a link to it in the left sidebar.

2. I proposed two modes of hands-on involvement in fighting authoritarian-government censorship and repression. One is to immediately adopt the quick-and-dirty tactics of, by adding a little code to your websites. (I’ve done that already on four sites.) The other is to help me theorize about a badly needed next-generation improvement on those.

3. There’s a whole section on technology-related economic development (again, also accessible from the left sidebar), most of it added recently in connection with my preparations for or ruminations after TechLeb. The most actionable private-sector idea in the lot is probably this one.

Please help. Everybody can.

June 2, 2006

Paul Graham on making more Silicon Valleys

Scoble points out Paul Graham’s essay — turns out there’s more than one — one creating “silicon valleys” elsewhere. Some of the points are downright laughable, such as “it might be a lost cause to try to establish a silicon valley in Israel.” (Hellooo — how many countries in the world enjoy Israel’s per-capital technology startup success?) And despite the two essays’ length, I have trouble finding many specifics I actually agree with.

Even so, if you care about technology industry economic development, the essays are worth skimming.

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May 23, 2006

Business sector selection for developing countries

One theme at TechLeb was that developing countries need to focus their efforts on particular technology industry subsectors. It’s a lot easier to come up with a government program that’s really effective for a few kinds of businesses than it is to come up with a plan for strengthening “all” kinds of enterprise. And of course it’s crucial to get to a critical mass, so that proven success – and proven successful people — in an area spawns more opportunities in similar ventures. Read more

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