Re: SOC/TECH: Greenstar <--- MUST SEE

Date: Mon Jun 26 2000 - 10:07:00 MDT

Robin writes, quoting Greg:
> >Actually, I think the e-commerce cost-recoupment idea is also impractical.
> >It seems like "window dressing" for the core idea of making a modular
> >power/water/net/clinic unit.
> Then data I mentioned on the ineffectiveness of water/clinics is relevant.

Earlier Robin wrote:

> Comparisons across poor
> countries, regions, and individuals almost never show any substantial
> health effect of variations in medical spending or water and sanitation.

I think the problem here is that this result is so surprising, so
unintuitive, that it is hard for people to believe it, or at least to
fully internalize the belief and build on it.

We are accustomed to paradoxical results these days. You can find
thousands of web pages explaining why simultaneity varies between moving
observers, or how something can be a particle and a wave at the same time.

But where can you find an explanation of why giving people clean water
and good health care for the first time won't improve their health?
It flies in the face of intuition just as much as those physics phenomena,
and is really far more relevant to our daily lives.

You do occasionally see explanations of other paradoxes with an economic
flavor: adding airbags to cars won't necessarily improve highway safety
(because people will increase the riskiness of their driving, knowing
they have additional protection); increasing the minimum wage won't
necessarily give more money to the poor (because some people won't be
able to get jobs at the higher wage).

Maybe the economic profession could improve their communication to the lay
community by writing more about these paradoxical results. (Or perhaps
this has been done, in which case I'd like to know where to look...)


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