Wednesday, December 22, 2010

kings of convenience - weight of my words

The Weight Of My Words Lyrics

by Kings Of Convenience

There are very many things
I would like to say to you,
But i've lost my way
And I've lost my words.
There are very many places
I would like to go
But I can't find the key
To open my door.
The weight of my words-
You can't feel it anymore.
The weight of my words-
You can't feel it anymore.
There are very many ways
I would like to break the spell
You've cast upon me.
Because all the time
I sacrificed myself
To make you want me,
Has made you hant me.
The weight of my words
You can't feel it anymore...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ms. Heidi Jane Smith-a Ph.D. candidate in Public Management within FIU's Public Administration Doctoral program-was awarded the Fulbright-Garcia Roble

Ms. Smith, MPP and recent candidate in Public Management, was selected for the Fulbright Garcia-Robles Grant to live and complete her dissertation research in Mexico City for the academic year 2010-11. She is researching local public finances and municipal debt capacity for the 2,454 local governments in Mexico. Furthermore she will be working as a visiting professor at Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), one of Mexico's most important centers of teaching and research in the social sciences.

Furthermore, her dissertation will examine local governments’ efforts to promote economic development in Latin America. The research uses a mixed methodology to explore how cities make decisions to innovate, develop
and finance economic development programs. First, this study will provide a comparative analysis of decentralization policies in Argentina and Mexico as a means to gain a better understanding of the degree of autonomy exercised by local governments. Next, it will examine the budgets and fiscal capacity of six cities, three of which are located in Argentina—Santa Fe, Rosario, and Rafaela—and three of which are located in Mexico—Leon, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. Specific attention will be paid to each city’s efforts at collecting taxes and promoting economic development programs. Finally, this research will also use statistical data gathered from Latin American municipal associations to test whether cities which report being more fiscally autonomous (measured by the collection of more own-source revenue) are better able to stimulate effective economic development programs, and ultimately, create jobs within their communities.

Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program provides funding for students, scholars, teachers, and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools.

Monday, November 29, 2010

my new post

American Political Science Association's Section for Public Administration

The purpose of this section is to provide an arena in which individuals interested in public administration may exchange ideas, enhance their professional development, and act to ensure that activities of the APSA encompass their interests.


Too Nice to Land a Job

You are reading a letter of recommendation that praises a candidate for a faculty job as being "caring," "sensitive," "compassionate," or a "supportive colleague." Whom do you picture?

New research suggests that to faculty search committees, such words probably conjure up a woman -- and probably a candidate who doesn't get the job. The scholars who conducted the research believe they may have pinpointed one reason for the "leaky pipeline" that frustrates so many academics, who see that the percentage of women in senior faculty jobs continues to lag the percentage of those in junior positions and that the share in junior positions continues to lag those earning doctorates.

The research is based on a content analysis of 624 letters of recommendation submitted on behalf of 194 applicants for eight junior faculty positions at an unidentified research university. The study found patterns in which different kinds of words were more likely to be used to describe women, while other words were more often used to describe men.

In theory, both sets of words were positive. There's nothing wrong, one might hope, with being a supportive colleague. But the researchers then took the letters, removed identifying information, and controlled for such factors as number of papers published, number of honors received, and various other objective criteria. When search committee members were asked to compare candidates of comparable objective criteria, those whose letters praised them for "communal" or "emotive" qualities (those associated with women) were ranked lower than others.

The research found no difference between men and women as letter writers -- both are more likely to describe women with communal words than they are to describe men that way. And the bias appears to act against male candidates who are praised for traits people associate with women. But a much higher proportion of female candidates -- regardless of their overall qualifications -- are praised with these words that appear to hurt their chances of being hired for faculty jobs.

"When you use communal terminology, it is linking people to a feminine type, and they are not seen as credible and they don't get hired," said Michelle Hebl, a professor of psychology at Rice University and one of the authors of the study, along with Randi Martin, also a psychology professor at Rice, and Juan Madera, assistant professor at the University of Houston. "It's not just men doing this to women, and it's not just women being hurt, but it hurts women more."

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The National Institutes of Health is now supporting a follow-up study looking at letters of recommendation for medical faculty positions.

In the scholars' analysis of the words that appeared in the letters of recommendation, they found clear patterns of word use for women's and men's letters. Women were more likely to be described with words such as those cited above, as well as "nurturing," "kind," "agreeable" and "warm." Men, in contrast, were much more likely to be described in words classified as "agentive" -- words such as "assertive," "confident," "aggressive," "ambitious," "independent" and "daring."

What the analysis showed is that letter writers didn't need to use words like "feminine" to create female stereotypes -- and that they did so, time and again, with women who had the same intellectual achievements as their male counterparts.

Hebl said that women in academe face a dilemma. Hiring committees appear to devalue women who are identified as people who would be nice or supportive colleagues. But women who aren't seen as nice and supportive "get called bitches," she said. So the solution for women is "to have both sets of qualities" -- the communal and the agentive. But when it comes to getting letters of recommendation, she said, women need to be sure their letter writers focus on the agentive qualities.

"Communal might be nice, but agentive is what's really important," she said. Women perceived as too communal "are seen as being pushovers, not somebody to run a program."

Asked if she believes she would find similar results in faculty searches at liberal arts colleges or community colleges -- institutions that tend to value teaching more than research and that place an emphasis on close ties to students -- Hebl said she guessed there would be only a slight variation. She said that even in stereotypically female fields like nursing, research has shown that many place more of a value on qualities associated with men than those associated with women (even if they also want the latter qualities).

Hebl said that the implications of the research for those writing letters of recommendation are clear: stay away from communal words, whether writing on behalf of men or women.

Given how subtle the issue may seem, and that letter writers may not be conscious of what they are doing, Hebl urged those seeking letters of recommendation to not be afraid of talking about the issue with their letter writers. "Given them a copy of the research," she said.

— Scott Jaschik

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Local Governments Mentioned in the Mexican Constitution

Mexican Constitution: Article 117. The States may not in any case:
2. Make any alliance, treaty or coalition with another State, or with foreign powers.
3. Deleted.
4. Coin money, issue paper money, stamps, or stamped paper.
5. Levy duty on persons or goods passing through their territory.
6. Prohibit or levy duty upon, directly or indirectly, the entrance into or exit from their territory of any domestic or foreign goods.
7. Tax the circulation of domestic or foreign goods by imposts or duties, the exemption of which is made by local customhouses, requiring inspection or registration of packages or documentation to accompany the goods.
8. Enact or maintain in force fiscal laws or provisions that relate to differences in duties or requirements by reason of the origin of domestic or foreign goods, whether this difference is established because of similar production in the locality or because, among such similar production there is a different place or origin.
9. Issue bonds of public debt payable in foreign currency or outside the national territory; contract loans directly or indirectly with the Governments of other nations, or contract obligations in favor of foreign companies or individuals, when the bonds or securities are payable to bearer or are transmissible by endorsement.
10. States and municipalities may not negotiate loans except for the construction of works intended to produce directly an increase in their revenues.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Sobriety of Class Warfare--in the US

But the double-page centerfold that he prepared for Thanksgiving Day 1860 is about as subtle as the slash of a cavalry saber. “THANKSGIVING DAY, 1860 – THE TWO GREAT CLASSES OF SOCIETY,” Homer titled the engraving. The spread is divided into two halves: on the left, “Those who have more Dinners than appetite,” and on the right, “Those who have more appetite than Dinners.”

There is precious little celebration in Homer’s tribute to the national holiday, let alone flattery of well-heeled Harper’s readers. His portrayal of the rich is eviscerating. On the left-hand page, two overdressed, supercilious socialites peer through opera glasses from an ornate theater box. Above them, a self-absorbed young woman reads a magazine as a maid fusses over her hair. In the adjoining frame – least appealing of all – a lounging wastrel smokes his pipe by the fire, thrusting his fashionably pantalooned crotch into the viewer’s face. Lest anyone miss the point, the words “HARPER’S WEEKLY” are visible on the periodical at his feet.

Published in NYTimes 11/24/2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Innovations in local public finances in Latin America

This research will study municipal capacity in order to find out
whether further autonomy leads to cities engaging in more or less
economic development activities.

What explains the degree of fiscal autonomy a municipality might have?
What contributes to the greater degrees of fiscal autonomy for a
municipality? Two what extent does fiscal autonomy influence the
economic development of a municipality? What factors generate a
greater or lesser autonomy for a municipality?

To what extent do cities that have greater fiscal autonomy have in the
implementation of economic development programs?

Ho: If a municipality has greater degree of fiscal autonomy than the
city will be more likely to engage in economic development activities.

Economic development programs is dependent variable
Autonomy is key independent variable

The variation among the cities to engage in entrepreneurial
finances?bonds, outside aid, trust funds, increase taxes or revenue
source?will be evaluated.

Four communities are composite measures for autonomy.
(This will be evaluated in a likart scale of 1-3, measured as high,
medium to low.)

Revenue Generation
Does the municipality have a high or low ability to increase taxes?
Does the municipality have a high or low ability to set tax rates?
Does the municipality have a high or low capacity to issue bonds?
Does the municipality have a high or low capacity to discretion to use
trust funds?
Does the municipality have a high or low ability to role over funds?

Comparison of the autonomy and the discretion a municipality has
between the intergovernmental frameworks of Mexico and Argentina

Therefore the next would be a comparison between two cities in
Argentina and two cities in Mexico efforts at entrepreneurial finances.

What are the implications for municipalities if they are dependent on
a specific funding mechanism? What if a municipality is dependent on
one fund over another? What are the implications to the city?s budget
and development programs?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

APA to Launch Urban Planning-focused ECPA Initiative

APA to Launch Urban Planning-focused ECPA Initiative

The American Planning Association (APA) is launching the newest initiative Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, November 4 – 5, 2010. The path to sustainable cities – those that are more energy efficient, adaptive to climate change, economically diverse, and accessible to its citizens – results only if there is a cultural and institutional base of good urban and regional planning. Through the ECPA initiative and strategic partners, APA seeks to build capacity for urban planning in Latin America and the Caribbean in order to assist ECPA nations fulfill their commitment to promote a sustainable future.

The November 2010 kick-off event in Brazil will draw a diverse set of actors from the Americas to begin forming local, national, and transnational partnerships and networks that will enhance the understanding and use of new technologies and planning tools. The deliberate mix of participants from government, planning practitioners, non-governmental organizations, academics/institutes, and foundations is aimed at forming and sustaining long-time professional partnerships that will result in technical and educational exchanges, capacity building for urban officials.

The specific goals of this ECPA initiative are to:

Build urban capacity for Latin America’s urban officials

Provide technical and educational support

Identify useful and transferable programs and projects and engage officials with effective knowledge-sharing strategies

Support and develop civil society and planning institutions – governmental, non-governmental, and academic)

Visit their Web site for more information:

Monday, November 01, 2010

Municipal Diplomacy

At the same time as U.S. foreign aid budgets are dwindling, local public officials are seeking policy solutions globally to fix problems at home. These exchanges are encouraging many subnational leaders to engage in foreign policy efforts. Either through sister city programs, connecting with diaspora communities with their home countries or providing aid and disaster relief to war-torn, climate-affected, in- need areas, there is much work that can be done by the sub-national leaders in the United State.

Somewhat dated, Michael Shuman in his book Going Local sites that in the 1980, many U.S. State, county, and local governments involved in foreign policy activities:
 More than 900 localities passed resolutions supporting a “freeze” in the arms race:
 197 demanded a halt to nuclear testing;
 120 refused to cooperate with the Federal Energy Management Activity’s nuclear war exercises;
 126 plus 27 states, divested from ding business in South Africa;
 86 formed linkages with Nicaragua and , along with grassroots activities, provided more humanitarian assistance to Nicaraguan people than all the military aid Congress voted for the contras;
 80, along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, demanded cuts in the Pentagon’s budget;
 73 formed sister-city relationships with Soviet cites;
 29 provided sanctuary for Guatemalan and Salvadoran refugees;
 20 passed stratospheric protection ordinances phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals;
 and at least 10 established founded offices of international affairs-essentially municipal state departments.

Today’s foreign policy needs show event more need for engagement. With Secretary Clinton’s efforts at 21st century states craft, which includes building partnership across public, private and non-for-profit groups, State and Regional actors may help to promote key areas of diplomacy. State’s priorities including governance, security, intellectual property rights, economic innovation, job creation, and health are also high proprieties of State and Local officials in the U.S. Partnerships can help facilitate and assist additional subnational actors how to engage these topics and many more.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Urban Finance Topics

Urban Finance

In order to have a strong developed economy, countries must also have strong local economies. Topics to include:

Fiscal Decentralization

Economic Growth

Financing Mechanism

Fiscal Federalism

Urban Development


Independent Auditing

International Financing Institutions

Moral Hazard

Saturday, August 07, 2010

My God Is An Angry God

Three of my favorite things--a saab, argentina and good music--all in one video, thanks autoblog!

"My God Is An Angry God (Juan Manuel Fangio Castiga Los Pecados Del Mundo)"

Directed by Davey G. Johnson

The first of the album's "mission" songs finds the assassin Fangio taking out a target about whom we know little more than that he doesn't seem to have any business hanging out in a synagogue. The venue is significant, however, in that our Catholic-born protagonist finds in the idea of the Old Testament God — the "God of wrath" — some measure of justification for his role as hammer of justice. Jericho/Buffalo confusion merely a symptom of overarching Borgesian spatiotemporal displacement.

From the album Fangio, download and vinyl available September 7, single August 10, from Fayettenam Records.

More information about this album and Peter Peter Hughes at

Friday, August 06, 2010

Intergovernmental Relations (IGR)

The concept of federalism dates back to our Founding Fathers. The Framers sought to balance personal rights and property with the role of a strong court and an active party system to the creation of a national system, which prevented internal tyranny. Our Constitution composes of Madison’s institutional framework, Jackson’s patronage system and Jefferson’s ideology of autonomy and independence. The ambiguity of role of local governments in the Constitution gives us the today’s discussions of intergovernmental relations (IGR).

Although the term “local government” is not mentioned in the Constitution, it was the great French writer, Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited the US in the early 1800’s and provides us with our cultural heritage to focus on the importance of local government and civil society in terms of our country’s development of democratic institutions and participation.

For the earlier years, the US lead a regime of Dual Federalism, which allowed the state and federal government to mutual run at their own competencies. Specific functions were assigned (for example interstate commerce and national defense) to the national authorities, while many others (such as the election of the presidential electorates) were left to the states.

It was not until the Civil War that conflict between the levels of government appeared in matters of policy on labor, social welfare and economic regulation. The notion of Compact Federalism established that various levels of government were able to work together. For example, one mechanism for cooperation was the land grant, which was Federal land that the national government owned but allowed states to use for specific purpose. This ultimately created the space for our State colleges, i.e. the Land Grand Universities. These types of policies ran from the Civil War until the New Deal.

At the beginning of the Progressive Era new analysis of the function of government was undertaken, such that better understood the role of society and the economy. The progressive’s agenda thought that government could not be solely managed with laissez-fair policies and instituted many governmental reforms. Among such develops included the professionalization of state bureaucracies, growing sets of interest groups and the expanded role of Washington’s domestic policies. Grants-in-aid programs were one such mechanism, which was crafted public programs to transfer funds from one level of government to another for a specified propose. Thus explaining programs during the New Deal created large amounts of financial support directly from the federal government to state and locals.

During the Eisenhower administration, Cooperative Federalism set precedence. The central government set up a pattern of engagement, so that certain activities would be taken care of by the federal government and others by the states. Such programs consisted of the Inter-State Highway Act and the National Defense of Education Act (NDEA). For example, NDEA sought to train college students with science and math in order to compete with the Russians. Therefore, the national government was in charge of state government by financing students through the student loan and grant programs.

At the same time, political scientists began to define and analyze the federal role for public policies. For example, Morton Grodzins used the term Marble Cake Federalism to criticize the idea that the federal, state, and local governments operated distinctly from one level to another. He distinguished this from Layer Cake Federalism, where the powers and policy assignments of the government hierarchy (or “layers” of government) are clearly spelled out and distinct from one another. Grodzins, a professor and dean of the University of Chicago, was concerned with white flight and racial policies in urban centers and saw that the IGR complexity was problematic for helping the poor.

Clearly by the time of Johnson’s administration, the inter-governmental system in the US was much more of a marble cake model. Overlapping and often duplicating grants and programs made the US federal system very complex. Therefore Johnson’s administration was crafted as Creative Federalism, which was mainly shaped by the Model Cities Act in 1965. This piece of legislation mandated that the federal administrative work with cities to provide necessary assistance to local governments. This program was heavily criticized as creating great strains to the federal system as it often bypassed the state governments. Much later on the local Model Cities program, because of new activism at the community level, was hard to cut by the federal government. Many social groups had interest in maintaining the program but even Johnson admitted that the program was complex to implement and needed to develop new relationships for its success.

Therefore when Nixon came to office, he reacted to these tensions and proposed various ways to pull power away from Washington and push it towards federal field offices and state and local governments. His efforts were branded as New Federalism—summarized as not giving additional federal dollars to state and local governments, but redefining beneficiaries’ benefits and programs. Nixon changed the inter-governmental system in three ways:

1) Revenue sharing, which added discretion to state and locals while pressing for more cost-sharing to hard-pressed jurisdictions and helped general purpose districts. The State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972 was so successful that it was extended in 1976 and in 1980 and would have continued except for soaring national deficits.
2) Block Grants were first established by Johnson, but were expanded and are typically associated more with Nixon. They are benefits programs that mandated state’s discretion on how to spend the money by local governments
3) Administrative reforms to minimize the government’s burden in implementing such programs.

Reagan’s presidency showed the most systematic and sustained changes within the IGR, highlighting the various levels of government and their competencies to manage resources. Specially, he added additional series of block grants, simplified the grants-in-aid programs, devolved responsibilities to lower levels of government and provide administrative reforms. Furthermore, Reagan’s most radical idea was to provide categorical programs into block grants, thus mandating states into specific policy applications at the State level.

It was not until Al Gore’s National Performance Review (NPR) during the Clinton administration, were inter-governmental relations seriously re-evaluated. The NPR set to revise the Federal government’s contracting processes and reverse unfunded mandates. During this period, the US Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR), which was first established in the 1950s to form analysis and improvements on the IGR process, examined the issue of unfunded mandates. Sadly, the ACIR’s staff provided recommendations in regards to the Clean Air Act, for which they had crossfire with management and shortly thereafter were defunded.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

urban icebergs

Inhabitat's Week in Green: of mirror cubes and urban icebergs
By Inhabitat posted Jul 18th 2010 8:58PM
Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

With summer in full swing, this week Inhabitat watched the mercury rise as the world's largest thermostat burst forth with an array of 72,000 building-mounted LEDs. We also kept things cool with a remarkable plan to transform frozen construction sites into event-hosting urban icebergs. And if you haven't made plans for a summer vacation yet, might we recommend this stunning Swedish "Treehotel" housed within a silvery mirror cube in the sky?

Heartening news rang forth from the renewable energy sector this week as a UN-backed study reported that the building of new renewable energy plants has officially overtaken fossil fuel plants in Europe and the US. We also took a look at two brand new types of power plants -- the world's first hydrogen-driven power plant in Italy and the first hybrid coal-solar power plant in Colorado.

The past week also saw several remarkable advances in clean tech, starting with MIT's latest innovation, a new type of high-tech fiber that can transmit sound, light, and generate electricity. We also paid homage to one of our all-time favorite sources of (surprisingly green) home entertainment - the Roku Box.

Summer Eats

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Romance De Curro


La vida y la muerte
bordada en la boca
tenía Merceditas
la del guardarropa.
La del guardarropa
del tablao del "Lacio",
un gitano falso
ex-bufón de palacio.

Alcahuete noble
que al oír los tiros
recogió sus capas
y se pegó el piro.
Se acabó el jaleo
y el racionamiento
le llenó el bolsillo
y montó este invento,
en donde "El Palmo"
lloró cantando...

Ay, mi amor,
sin ti no entiendo el despertar.
Ay, mi amor,
sin ti mi cama es ancha.
Ay, mi amor
que me desvela la verdad.
Entre tú y yo, la soledad
y un manojillo de escarcha.

Mil veces le pide...
y mil veces que "nones"
de compartir sueños
cama y macarrones.
Le dice burlona...
..."Carita gitana,
cómo hacer buen vino
de una cepa enana".

Y Curro se muerde
los labios y calla
pues no hizo la mili
por no dar la talla.
Y quien calla, otorga,
como dice el dicho,
y Curro se muere
por ese mal bicho.

¡Ay! quién fuese abrigo
pa' andar contigo...

Buscando el olvido
se dio a la bebida,
al mus, las quinielas...
Y en horas perdidas
se leyó enterito
a Don Marcial Lafuente,
por no ir tras su paso
como un penitente.

Y una noche, mientras
palmeaba farrucas,
se escapó Mercedes
con un "curapupas"
de clínica propia
y Rolls de contrabando
y entre palma y palma
Curro fue palmando.

Entre cantares
por soleares.

Quizá fue la pena
o falta de hierro...
El caso es que un día
nos tocó ir de entierro.
Pésames y flores
y una lagrimita
que dejó ir la Patro
al cerrar la cajita.

A mano derecha
según se va al cielo,
veréis un tablao
que montó Frascuelo,
en donde cada noche
pa' las buenas almas
el Currito "El Palmo"
sigue dando palmas.

Y canta sus males
por "celestiales".

Post-Modern Knowledge Frameworks in Public Administration

Peter Bogason. 1999. Public Administration and Postmodern Conditions, Administrative Theory & Praxis, vol. 21:508-515

In this article, Bogason is describing this potential “ephemeral” theory to its readers and how it was interpreted in the 1990s. Bogason provides a substantiated history for how postmodernism evolved into the social sciences, including rational for why academics have agreed or disagreed to the theory. Highlighting authors in public administration and how they have followed various postmodernist ideas like metanarratives, the understanding the relativity of truth through the use of semiotics, social constructivism, and the questioning of the positivists. Finally, Bogason describes “new” ideas for the future of postmodernism in PA, which include pragmatism, deconstruction and narrative analysis, quantum theory, and suggest additional possible topics.

Gary S. Marshall. 2004. In Modernism’s Wake: Public Administration and Policy in the 21st Century, Public Administration Review, vol. 64: 378-382.

This book review surveys recent literature (from 2002) on post modernism and its intersection with public administration. The common thread of these pieces on postmodernism is that opinion is not value free, which is a critique of Newtonian science. Rationality is in question, as well as how we make our decisions.

First, Hugh Miller’s Postmodern Public Policy describes the over rationality and the new epiphenomenalism (everything happens in a second) in the modern society. He suggests a policy analysis need to take closer look at why things have their meaning. The communication and meaning of issues in public life is key in the postmodern world.

Next in Goktug Morcol’s A New Mind for Policy Analysis: Toward a Post-Newtonian and Post-positivist Epistemology, he uses chaos theory and systems theory to describe social realities. He argues that post-positivist Newtonain science uses objectivity, rationality and utility, which is irrelevant in a quantum or cognitive psychology world. Rational decision-making is being questioned, which directly affects policy analysis. He creates a new construct to analyze why people make the decisions they do.

Finally, Michael Spicer’s Public Administration and the State: A postmodern Perspective describes through his American Pragmatist lens how American public administration is developed on our metanarratives, using Loytard’s vision of postmodernism, as our historical reference point. He uses public administration theorist we have studied like Waldo, Wilson, Gulick and even Simon to describe our American PA experience. This makes us bias in our understanding government and PA in general.

Muddling Through

In his seminal work, The Science of “Muddling Through” Charles E. Lindblom (1959) uses a systems approach to policy formation and suggests that a comparative approach could assist political scientist and policymakers to understand how decision-making happens. In his rebuttal to rational, scientific or mechanical processes, like cost-benefit analysis (CBA), Linblom suggests am incremental approach to understand decision-making. He attempts to describe how decisions are made through various methods of analysis including: the root vs. branch, evaluation and empirical analysis, ends vs. means, testing on hypotheses, non-comprehensive analysis of relevance vs. realism, but concludes that the small succession of events, incremental analysis often helps determine policies. Finally, he adds that while theorist search for the root of the problem and provide possible policy recommendations; practitioners need practical advice immediately on the job and may already be on a new topic when the academic has found the optimal policy solution.

Lindblom’s basic approach is incrementalism, or the small steps of a process to create change. Although in this seminal work, Lindblom is discussing decision-making, his larger goal is to suggest how positive social change happens. It is more apparent that his mission and vision of muddling through, is much broader than decision-making through his later writings such as “Modes of Inquire”. This idea was quested through his career and was further developed after several academic rebuttals published in the 1964 PAR, which I will describe below.

Through the study of public administration, various theories, methods and approaches are used by social scientists to understand how government works in order to make it work better. Academics have used business modeling, positivist-scientific approaches, historic views (for example, using our forefathers to describe the present context), systems theory (like Lindblom’s decision making model), feminist and postmodern theory, and mix-methods to describe how the world works. It seems they are all muddling through reality to prescribe policies, when actually they are living through the policies and their outcomes. Policy, in this case, is a loose definition of how to study human nature or social change. The social sciences are one of the most complex sciences because it is hard to predict human behavior. Therefore Lindblom’s ideas truly describe the study of public administration, or the search of finding practical outcomes and semi-optimal policy solutions for situations difficult to predict.

On Incrementalism and Decision-Making

Dror, Yehezkel, “Muddling Through-‘Science’ or Inertia?,” Public Administration Review, Vol. 24, No. 3. (Sep., 1964), pp. 153-157.

The first and biggest refute to Lindblom’s claims of decision making as incremental, Dror suggests that each new place where rapid social change occurs, a new “normative” model for policy makers should be created. He claims that politics get into the way of rational decision-making and that indeed Lindblom’s argument is closer to reality to what policy makers face. But his largest caveat is that too much successive action recreates limited comparison and leads to dangerous overreaction. He complains that the incremental change includes the small construct of actors (often elites) and does not allow for new knowledge, whether technical or behavioral, to impact the equation. This pro-inertia idea inhibits innovation, which is exactly what decision-makers need to advance ideas.

Lindblom, Charles E., “Governmental Decision Making Contexts for Change and Strategy: A Reply,” Public Administration Review, Vol. 24, No. 3. (Sep., 1964), pp. 157-158.

Lindblom’s response was simple, context matters. While working at the State Department, he further his argues that disjointed incrementalism differs with regime types, contrasting the US and the Soviet Union. Additional elements to consider include the results, degree of continuity and its available means for dealing with problems. Furthermore, Lindblom includes that many models of decision-making are needed to address issues. They must each fit reality, be directed toward improvements, apply to policing making and motivate to maximize the optimal policy outcome.

Heydebrand, Wolf, “Administration of Social Change,” Public Administration Review, Vol. 24, No. 3. (Sept., 1964), pp. 163-165.

In this reaction to Dror’s rebuttal to Lindlom’s incremenalism piece, Heydebrand suggests they differ in style of decision-making. Dror’s argues that Lindblom’s absence to social, economic and political stabiltity (ie context) should be included and Heydebrand adds, so should agenda setting, motivation, mobilizing and coordinating resources, etc. These are the other areas that classic public administration also addresses. Heydebrand uses the idea of social Darwinism to describe Lindblom’s incrementalist approached to social change. He also suggests the concept should be dissected into short-term and long-term costs and concludes that Lindblom’s thoughts do not go beyond a laisser-faire model.

Etzioni, Amitai, “Mixed-Scanning: A ‘Third’ Approach to Decision-Making,” Public Administration Review, Vol. 27, No. 5. (Dec., 1967), pp. 385-392.

Whereas incrementalism is a rebuttal of CBA or rationalism in decision-making, the third approach of mix-scanning is the mixture of the two. Etzioni cites criticism of the rational approach because it is often unrealistic and requires a high degree of control over a particular situation. He also cites that incrementalism is often a bit lazy, and suggests inertia is insufficient as a response to an issue. Also incrementalism seeks to “adapt strategies to the limited cognitive capacities of decision-makers to reduce the scope and cost of information collection and computation.” The mix-scanning approach uses different lens to look at the small issues and the bigger problems. It looks at patterns of development in the recent past and in different areas so that it can incorporate a more in-dept examination where needed. This middle, or third way, approach, Etzioni suggests creates higher capacity to scan and control, allow more flexibility, changes with relevant environments and adapts to various specific situations.

Doron, Gideon, “A Comment: Telling the Big Stories. Policy Responses to Analytical Complexity,” Public Administration Review, Vol. 5, No. 4. (Summer, 1986), pp. 798-802.

In this short comment, Doron describes when stories, also known as narratives in postmodern literature, can be used to analyze problems. He places the concept of story telling into a matrix, comparing it to other conventional policy analysis methods. He then describes the scope of when storytelling is useful in the context of small or big problems. Doron argues that the lack of good theory for decision making is a large constraint and often time policy makers use stories to assist them to make decisions. Interestingly, he suggests that stories can be used incrementally until a state of dissatisfaction comes about and “crisis” hits. Then, often more rigorous policy analysis, or the perception of one, is useful for policymakers to use. Therefore the method of communicating a policy and its scope depended on the degree of what the policymakers are trying to convey.

Clark Jr., Thomas D., and Willam A. Shrode, “Public Sector Decision Structures: An Empirically-Based Description,” Public Administration Review, Vol. 39, No. 4. (Jul.-Aug., 1979), pp. 343-354.

For another approach to public decision-making, Clark and Shrode provide a dry empirical based description. Using research data from public organizations, never fully qualified in the article, the authors create models for when public manager uses information in their decisions. A survey and questions were sent to various agencies and responses were gathered, but the quantities and questions were not facilitated in the article. The authors create a typology of problem solving to structure decisions that include their perception of organizations, evaluations of political (internal and external), program and personnel variables and pressures they face. The results seem inconclusive due to the lack of understanding of their statistical modeling.

Lindblom, Charles E., Currents and Soundings: From the Professional Stream, “Still Muddling, Not Yet Through,” Public Administration Review, Vol. 39, No. 6. (Nov. - Dec., 1979), pp. 517-526.

A Call for Wilsonian Reform in Latin America

Why does the United Sates have a strong democratic government? Is it that the US has a stronger constitution than Latin American governments? Maybe in the US the political parties are less corrupt? Or does the US government have fewer predispositions about influences citizen lives? Even more frequently cited is America’s strong “democratic culture” vs. the “week ones” in Latin America. If one reads the newspapers or follows American politics, there is frequent reference to possible legislators corruption, with campaign finance reform always a hot topics to solve party problems.

Additionally, gerrymandering still lives on to this day; with frequent redistricting requests proposed by congress for “preventive measures.” The Supreme Court reviews hundreds of cases each year to investigate for plausible constitutional reform. The American Civil Liberties Union, a watchdog to ensure that the government does not invade people privacy, receives handfuls of complaints of possible constitutional violations each year. Equally disturbing, Americans are some of the poorest to participate in the political system, with voter turn out typically below fifty percent. And now social scientists have determined that Americans are “bowling alone.” Without social groups to volunteer with, there are declining levels of social capital. So why does the US government work at all?

Maybe democracy theorists should look at the field of public administration (PA) for answers. Too often political scientists analyze constitutional reforms, political parties or state-society relations, civil society, or social capital as rational for why Latin American governments don’t work. But few researchers evaluate the governmental structure; it’s ability to implement efficient and equitable public policies; or it’s effective political-administrative dichotomy. The study of PA is the search for the best way to run public institutions. This essay will describe the history of American PA, provide its significant heritage, and will argue that Latin America needs a their own “Wilsonian transformation” in order to modernize their government structures and systems.

Major tenets within PA follow along with events in American history. It began in the progressive era, a period of reforms from the 1890s-920s, with former President Woodrow Wilson’s foundational essay. Wilson wrote “The Study of Administration” in 1887, as a response to the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. This federal law established the merit base system for bureaucrats, eliminating nepotisms in public agencies. Wilson’s essay argues for the separation of politics from administration and suggests that government should take a more appropriate, efficient and cost effective business like approach. Wilson is quoted for saying “it is getting harder to run a constitution than to frame one.” He is unarguably the father of American PA.
Approximately when Wilson’s essay was found, several people used it to professionalize the field of PA. With a strong argument to better manage government, New York’s citizens began a movement to improve local governments to be more responsible to communities. They were unhappy with the way New York City was managing its finances and providing public services. An academic group set up the Bureau of Municipal Research to study how the government was using city resources.

The Bureau Men, as Camilla Stivers later coined them, not only created an independent government watchdog, they also envisioned training future bureaucrats to manage city governments, budget and policies. The New York Bureau of Municipal Research opened its training school for public service with a small class in 1911. Students had diverse backgrounds in business, government and the social services. The hope was to convert the students into professional bureaucrats with classes in business, finances, organizational design and management. Furthermore, they also engaged philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to start professional schools of PA.
Various schools popped up to advocate for the scientific management of public institutions. The first was the National Institute of Pubic Administration (NIPA) incorporated in April 1921 and soon thereafter certified additional training schools of pubic services. For example, the Maxwell School, New York; Harvard’s School of Government also programs were later developed at Yale and Columbia. The University of Chicago set up a school in the 1920s to include both PA and social work. In the quest for teaching scientific based management and analysis, the school’s founders also had a personal dedication, to the students and professors. The founders vision for a better American society lead their pursuits to build more schools. Their mission was to establish PA schools in order to analyze government’s work and make it better for the American society as a whole.

While the practical teaching took off, theorists questioned various assumptions of what to teach the students. Of particular importance was the scientific-positivist approach of management described by Fredrick W. Taylor in his essay “Scientific Management.” Taylor felt that the best management is like science in that “it rests upon clearly defined laws, rules and principles.” He suggested methods to make workers more productive. Political scientist Larry Gulick also theorized how to provide government services more effectively. His suggested that a strict division of labor and the coordination of workers in an organization could make it more efficient. He suggested chief executives follow his POSDCCORB typology, which stands for Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting, and Budgeting. He taught at Columbia University and was a staff member of the New York Bureau of Municipal Research.

Leonard White furthered Wilson’s discussion of the political and administrative dichotomy, by adding that management should adjust to America’s federalist state and its organizational structure. For example the centralized power—moving from the local, to the state, and the national level of government, should have a powerful executive—or the mayor at the local level, governor at the state, and the president at the national level. He argued that administration is the heart of the modern government, and you must have a strong executive to weave through its politics.
Another influential figure also inspired the Bureau’s municipal research was Frank J. Goodnow. In his essay “Politics and Administration” written in 1900, he attempted to give different roles and purposes to government’s administrative and political sides and, finally, argued that the administrative side dealt with the implementation and the processes, while the political side focused on creating the institutions that formulate, adopt, and implement policies, while reinforcing each other.

Another major theme in PA history is the study of the organization. Notable work in this area was by Paul Appleby, in his essay “Government is Different” written in 1945. He suggested that the “public” it different than running a business and this organizational animal was inherently different. Public decision-making processes are more pluralistic and not solely developed on standards of efficiency or profit maximization. Also, the public scrutinizes government outcomes more than business. Appleby describes the public-interest attitude that government official must have, intrinsically makes it less efficient than a private business and should be analyzed as such.

Furthermore, organizational structures are discussed in “ The American System,” written in 1966 by Morton Grodzins, and “Administrative Decentralization and Political Power,” written in 1969 by Herbert Kaufman. These essays argue that government must represent society, as a whole, and in doing so, have organizational issues. Grodzins suggests that functions overlap in government. He describes chaos found in the US government, with its mixture of powers from the various layers of local, state and national governments, which makes a “Marble Cake” affect in America—overlapping tensions and roles of government. Furthering this discussion, Kaufman calls for more decentralization and direct democracy, where citizen controls of local resources by participating in government agencies. He also advocates for the creation of an “Advisory Commission of Intergovernmental Relations,” which he suggest would assist local actors to navigate though federal agencies and programs in order to provide appropriate services to citizens.

These characteristics of the American system of government not only establish the field of American PA, but it also distinguishes it from other nations around the world. Each of the above theorists, academics and practitioners alike are concerned with producing better public policies, making government more efficient and creating a better society. In studying government, it furthers academics to push further in understanding why the US works as it does.

Since, postmodernists argue that it is important to recognize ones “history” which is told through the eye of the beholder. They question the commonality of history. The “relativity” of perspective is important also in the field of PA. It can be argued that Latin America needs to develop its own field of PA, beyond the schools of government that currently exists. It is not to copy the American model, but rather develop each country’s story and means to manage their own state of affairs. For example the foundational wisdom of Wilson in creating the first political-administration dichotomy could be relevant for Latin America, but only insomuch as, each country create their own heroes and histories to analyzing public institutions.

Although the study of government has had a long tradition in Latin America, it needs a reinsurgencies of the art of PA. Interesting a new organization has been established. Created in 2000, the Inter-American Network of Public Administration Education (INPAE) has joined forces to link these stories together. This regional network of schools working in PA and policy analysis in Latin America and the Caribbean has more than 25 members from top research schools in various countries throughout the hemisphere. Its mission is to develop the professional study of PA and public policy outside of government control or management. Creating this political-administration dichotomy is the first step towards true administrative reform and state modernization efforts. Further creativity by academics, practitioners and researchers will need to use this field to model a better state for each country in Latin America.

Moreover, the Summits of the Americas is just another international agreement and event for presidents to come together and discuss top priorities of the day. Whether the governments are able to interpret the signed agreements and implement them on their own terms will depend on how they manage their own bureaucracies. Americans must realize that each country is obliged to administer policies and political commitments on their own time and bureaucracies (space). Finally, above all else, the study of public administration has long been criticized for its tensions between science and art. The current new focus in the US is on New Public Management, which is just another push for more scientific approach to public policy, or positivism in the social sciences. But politics is an art and it must equally be studied. Therefore maybe the best way to define PA is that it’s a craft. If Latin American countries can take this craft and adopt it for its own, they will also have strong institutions to manage public issues.


Appleby, Paul (1945). Government Is Different
Goodnow, Frank J. (1900). Politics and Administration
Grodzins, Morton (1966). The American System
Gulick, Luther (1937). Notes on the Theory of Organization
Kaufman, Herbert (1969). Administrative Decentralization and Political Power
Simon, Herbert A. (1946). Proverbs of Administration
Stivers, Camilla (2000). Bureau Men, Settlement Women
Taylor, Fredrick W. (1912) Scientific Management
White, Leonard D (1926). Introduction to the Study of Public Administration
Wilson, Woodrow (1887). The Study of Administration
Waldo, Dwight (1948) The Administrative State: Conclusion

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Private vs. Public Debt: Explaining Borrowing Patterns of Mexican Cities

The Problem

“State and local authorities are hedging and issuing debt in order to deal with the financial crisis,” José Manuel Arteaga reported in an August 13, 2009 article in El Universal, a Mexican daily. Because of our shared border and close relations, the US financial crisis has largely affected our neighbors to the South, in particular Mexico. One of the places where the crisis is profoundly demonstrated is in local public finances. Whereas nascent democracies in Latin America are starting to take hold, so are the challenges to subnational governments with the constant demands on local public services. With severe budget constraints, now is time to analyze how Mexican cities and towns can be more autonomous in order to meet those demands.

Since the 1997 Legal Reform of Article 9 of the National Fiscal Coordination Law (NFCL), which allowed municipalities the right to take out commercial bank credits, there has been a new emphasis on public debt in Mexico. The reform passed successfully within congress and began implementation in 2000. It aimed to better utilize the national bank reserves for development projects. The law requires two private rating agencies to appraise municipal budgets by evaluating their financial systems, operational activities, economic profiles and another eight rating criteria (such as economic, liquidity, debt, finances, systems support, etc.). The four major rating entities in Mexico include Standard & Poor's, Moody's, Fitch and HR Ratings, a local rating agency. Furthermore, it is estimated that within Mexico there are some 2,439 municipalities in 32 states and of which only 155 have accessed commercial banks and 40 have active private bank credits. For example, to-date S&P has analyzed 82 public entities. Why nearly ten years since the enactment of the law, local governments avoid to taking out private sector loans? To what extent is it useful for the municipalities to use private debt to finance their public services?

The Theory

The concept of autonomy has often been discussed in academic literature within the context of decentralization. Scholars argue that the process of decentralization is of a sequential nature, which begins with administrative reforms (devolving authority), goes through political framing (local elections) and, ends by establishing autonomous municipalities with fiscal capacity to manage their own resources (Falleti 2005). Selee (2007) argues that the election of Vicente Fox in 2000, Mexico has transformed its administrative and political measures to empower local governments. Most recently, specific attention has been focused on fiscal aspects of decentralization (Willis, Garman and Hagard 1993, Bahl and Johannes 1994, Escobar-Lemmon 2001, and Gibson 2004). The World Bank defines fiscal decentralization as “the transfer of expenditure responsibilities and revenue assignments to lower levels of government.” This final element that is setting up decentralized financial reforms, promoting fiscal incentives, and encouraging revenue systems to emerge from below, has proved to be difficult to implement (Falleti 2005). Mexico has seen large amounts of sector decentralization but this has not been followed by revenue adjustments.

Therefore, many development economists have concentrated their arguments on fiscal federalism or the allocation of national transfers to local governments as inter-governmental transfers. New research on budget constraints grew out of Colombia, Brazil and Argentina’s economic recessions in the 1990s. Much of the literature today focuses on hard and soft budget constraints to prevent local governments taking out too much debt, consequently jeopardizing the national government’s balance of payments and mandating bailouts (Wibbels 2000, Rodden 2002 and de Mello 2004). While fiscal federalism is important for balancing the national budget, the appropriate level of fiscal autonomy is still undetermined. One such way to understand how local governments are taking steps towards autonomy is by studying their financial incentives, revenue flows, debt capacity and decision-making.

The Significance

The proposed research seeks to study how and why municipalities in Mexico acquire public debt with a particular emphasis on analyzing the circumstances and conditions under which municipalities should assume indebtedness. More specifically, I will analyze when and why municipalities take on debt; the best offers (in terms of tenors and interest rates, public or private services); the purpose of the loans (investments in infrastructure, economic development, covering operating expenses); and the rates of repayment and/or default. The main objective is to better understand the borrowing patters of Mexican cities and whether they acquire public or private debt.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Urban Finance

In order to have a strong developed economy, countries must also have strong local economies. Cities are the economic development engines for the future, and as such, the US should encourage sound urban financial policies for cities around the world. For better part of the past half century, counties have engaged in the various processes of fiscal, administrative and political decentralization, which brings government closer to the people it serves. Fiscal decentralization, or the “transfer of expenditure responsibilities and revenue assignments to lower levels of government” is one key way to promote independent local economies, which are responsive to the needs of urban dwellers.

Concurrent with these trends is the raise of urbanization. For the first time in history, more of the world’s population now lives in cities. As such demands will increase, and therefore state and local governments will be call upon to provide additional services, such as adequate infrastructure for their residents.
In order to better manage rapid growth, cities will need more capacities to encourage economic development, provide safe, livable communities and improve the quality of life. Local officials in many countries will, among other actions, need to improve their financial households. This is a basic first step before accessing greater financing for urban infrastructure and other municipal services.

Unfortunately, many local governments, especially in the developing world, are perceived to not have sufficient capacities to manage these new financial responsibilities. The US should aim to help provide capacity-building activities to local officials, in addition to working with national governments to change incentives structures.

Municipalities generally have three different sources of funding through which they finance their operating and capital planning budgets: 1) own-source funding which comes from local taxation, fees and charges, 2) intergovernmental transfers which are funds transferred from the central to the local level and 3) money that cities borrow, such as through bonds or other forms of credit.

A "boy crisis" worth Discussing

Where the Guys Are: Males in Higher Education

In 2006, Jennifer Delahunty Britz, dean of admissions at Kenyon College in Ohio, scandalized many readers of The New York Times by her op-ed ("To All the Girls I've Rejected," March 23) about a relatively secret practice that many college admissions officers had been engaging in for years: giving preferential treatment to male applicants. Considering US colleges' history of discrimination against women, this is to many a curious practice. How could colleges and universities be giving "affirmative action"-if that's what it can be called-to men? Why admit supposedly less-qualified males and consequently reject superior female applicants? Have we been so successful improving girls' performance in school that we have, ironically, made it harder for them to get into college?

Even as a sense of a "boy crisis" in schools grips the public, enrollment and degree-attainment gaps between women and men in college-women now earn nearly three of every five degrees-have garnered headlines and provoked debate. To some, these statistics are just more proof of a "war" against boys being waged in the larger culture and educational systems. To others, these statistics miss the larger inequalities that women still face and represent a backlash against women's gains. I contend that such debates only scratch the
surface of men's experiences and outcomes in higher education. How and why might we think differently about where "the guys" are in our colleges and universities?

In this article, I want to go beyond just enrollment numbers to examine key indicators about male experience in college. As I will show, the story about men in higher education doesn't boil down to either "men are in trouble" or "men are fine," as popular debates might suggest. Instead, both assertions have some truth. Higher education professionals must think broadly and, even more importantly, context-specifically about college men. Doing otherwise-ignoring the nuances of men's and women's educational lives-might actually
exacerbate social inequalities while still not solving any of the problems faced by men and the institutions that serve them.

How AreThey Doing?

The statistics on male and female enrollments are well known: current figures from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) show that nearly 57 percent of undergraduate students are female, while in graduate school females are already over 60 percent of enrollments. These gaps are projected to grow, with women expected to become almost 59 percent of undergraduates and the majority of degree recipients at every degree level by 2018 (NCES, Projection of Education Statistics to 2018, 2009). Currently, men only exceed women at the doctoral level, though this advantage is quickly shrinking.

But in comparing males to females, we sometimes get the impression that boys and men are doing worse than they did before or-a much more insidious and baseless notion-that girls and women are in some way causing the difficulties of boys and men. Such views are rooted in a battle-of-the-sexes mentality that made for interesting tennis matches in the 1970s but leads to misguided educational policy today.

Proportion disparities may create problems, but more men attend college today than ever before, and their numbers keep rising (see Figure 1). It's just that women's enrollments have risen faster-there was a 29 percent jump in female enrollments between 1997 and 2007 versus a 22 percent jump for males.

Figure 1. Undergraduate Enrollment Trends, 1970-2010. See note at the end of this posting.

Further disaggregating the data by race, social class, and other factors-asking "which males?"-is crucial to identifying and prioritizing men's difficulties. As Figure 2 shows, African-American and Hispanic males are much less likely to have a postsecondary degree than both their white and Asian-American peers and females of color; there is a 44-percent difference in college attainment between Hispanic and Asian-American males. To view the male-female gap in enrollment without regard to race, then, is to miss important dynamics
that help explain it.

Figure 2. Percentage of Population 25 or Older With a Postsecondary Degree of Any Kind, 2008. See note at the end of this posting.

Socioeconomic status also has a significant impact. Working-class and impoverished males are less likely to attend college than their middle- and especially upper-class peers. According to the American Council on Education, in 2003-2004 male college attendees from the lowest income quartile amounted to only 44 percent. The middle two quartiles were 47 percent male, while the highest quartile actually had more males than females, 52 percent. Clearly, to understand which men are most in need, we must account for socioeconomic status. To ignore class by focusing on all males is to extend even more privilege to those men who are already doing quite well.

Beyond Enrollment

Looking deeper, the statistics on engagement, achievement, and outcomes-what happens during the college years-also suggest that many college men do have a problem. Data from the 2006 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study of the 2003-2004 cohort of students at all postsecondary institutions, for instance, shows women exceeding men both in the percentage who have attained their degrees four years later and in the percentage who are still enrolled. Men are thus much more likely to have dropped out of college.

The 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) also shows that college males excel their female peers in only about a third of the categories of engagement, including tutoring, working with faculty outside of class, and relaxing and exercising. This leaves women more engaged in two-thirds of the categories, including coming to class prepared, participating in community outreach, reading books independent of coursework, taking foreign languages, and participating in study abroad.

Males' academic achievement, too, is cause for concern. Women get better grades than men and are more likely to develop aspirations for graduate and professional degrees-and ultimately, women get these advanced degrees at a higher rate than men.

Still, many indicators show men doing well. Men are less likely than women to experience stress and depression, and they report better physical and emotional health. Men are also more likely to graduate
with confidence in themselves and their own abilities than are their female classmates (see Sax). And they are more confident with good reason: men are more likely to be employed after college and to be better paid than their female peers. It remains true that men are more than half (though sometimes only barely) of degree recipients in the disciplines that are particularly influential and high paying, including medicine, computer science, law, engineering, and business.

Indeed, despite greater female degree attainment, in nearly every measure of social power-including money and positions in industry and government-men still dominate. Women continue to require more education to achieve economic parity with their less-educated male peers. Consider Figure 3, which shows that women need at least one more degree than men do to make similar amounts of money. That men and women both know this and make their educational decisions accordingly should provoke little surprise.

Figure 3. Gender Gap in Median Earnings by Level of Education. See note at the end of this posting.

Whatever the statistic brought to bear, one must remember that differences between the sexes are usually quite small. In the student-engagement scores from the NSSE, for example, most male and female averages are separated by hundredths of a point differences, nowhere near even the standard deviations within each sex's scores. In other words, you're more likely to find broader differences between any two college men than between a man and a woman.

Where Are the Guys?

Many of men's problems in colleges and universities are, of course, not simply a higher education concern. What are the larger social dynamics that are driving the results for males? Where are the men who are not coming to college? Knowing this can help admissions and student life officers decide how to direct their efforts and what is outside their control.

First, there is a pipeline problem. Boys have difficulties in elementary and secondary school that continue as they move into postsecondary education. For instance, boys have significantly lower literacy scores than girls, indicating weaknesses in crucial skills for getting through high school and succeeding in college. And boys are less likely than girls to participate in non-athletic extracurricular activities, the very ones that appeal to college admissions officers.

But most important, fewer males than females are taking and passing college preparatory courses, and fewer are actually graduating from high school. All told, many boys in school-and frequently their teachers and parents-are not making college success a priority. Colleges and universities have to work with the schools to improve boys' skills and motivation if they want to have a larger supply of high-quality male applicants.

Part of the difficulty in preparing males for college is that there is pervasive culture of anti-intellectualism for males. The "mook" image of males who are crude, rude, childish risk-takers has become ubiquitous in reality television, television commercials, sitcoms, music, and on the Web.

Selling this kind of masculinity to boys does not instill attitudes conducive to preparing for or succeeding in college. And in trying to market themselves to young men, many colleges and universities have contributed to the problem, and in the process done themselves few favors, by presenting the college experience, especially in commercials aired during televised sports, as cheering at athletic events and chatting on the quad with attractive coeds.

Another common argument has been that difficulties for men in higher education are a reflection of the increasing feminization of colleges and universities as more women become professors and administrators.
The thinking is that female ways of knowing and acting are increasingly required to be successful, so men who cannot or will not act and think in those ways simply don't come to college, don't do well when they do, and/or leave college because of it.

Much evidence, however, contradicts such assertions, including the fact that most faculty and administrators continue to be male, and, according to Sax, men's GPAs, mathematical confidence, leadership skills, emotional well-being, and orientation to science all improve-more than women's, even-with an increase in the proportion of women faculty. Thus, one key to better achievement for men might be more women in positions of influence, not fewer.

Another reason for males' relative lack of interest in college may be that they have more avenues than women for transitioning to adulthood without going through postsecondary education. The military, for one, remains a major option for males. The Army alone recruits roughly 64,000 more college-age high school graduate men than women per year into active duty. The other three military branches are disproportionately male as well. Some men come to college after their service, of course, but many do not.

Joining the workforce also remains a viable option for males. Manufacturing, manual labor, and service jobs still tempt a large proportion of high school boys to forego college or even school. The pay differential for males and females in such jobs (see Figure 3 again) might help explain why these are less attractive to females.

Also, prison is a competing "option" for many men in this age group. In 2008, there were, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, 231,600 men between the ages of 18 and 24 in prison. Only 12,600 women 18 to 24 years old were incarcerated that year, a difference of 219,000 potential college students.

Given these social and cultural conditions, colleges and universities clearly have a compelling interest in making college a more viable and attractive option to a broad range of men and in focusing on the social dynamics that remove men from their enrollment pools.

PLEASE NOTE: The remainder of this article as well as all figures and references is available free of charge courtesy of Change at:

Saturday, May 01, 2010

State of the Art in Public Finance

This document has been prepared in conjunction with the 2008 launch
of the SEFI Public Finance Alliance (or “SEF Alliance”). The purpose of
the report is: 1) to consolidate relevant information about the initiative
– its structure, activities, prospective members, and the contribution it
can make to the development of global sustainable energy markets; and
2) to demonstrate - via concrete examples of innovative actions – some
of the synergies among the relevant programmes of prospective member
agencies around the world, as well as the potential net benefits that
these agencies can receive from participation.

The target audience of this report is officials who manage public money
dedicated to building sustainable energy markets. The document should
serve as a tool for these officials to become more familiar with the SEF
Alliance, as well as with the programmes of some of their sibling agencies
around the world. It should help them begin to consider ways in
which they could become more effective, both individually and collectively,
at building sustainable energy markets through exchange, collaboration,
and the pooling of resources with international peer agencies.
This includes ways to improve the cost-effectiveness of individual
programmes by partnering with other agencies on common goals and
challenges, as well as the potential to learn from the experience of peer
agencies in other countries, and to think about the possibility of replicating
successful approaches within their own regional contexts. The
report aims also to show the role that the SEF Alliance can play in making
these things possible.

The report is structured as follows. Section I gives an overview of the
SEF Alliance, including its envisioned purpose, structure, activities and
value. Section II offers a summary of the types of public finance mechanisms
that are relevant for the envisioned focus of the initiative. Section
III provides an overview of the stages of financing sustainable energy,
once again highlighting key and successful financing mechanisms, providing
a basis for considering possible areas for collaboration and exchange.
Section IV gives a more in-depth presentation of four agencies, their priorities
and programmes. References to innovative financing mechanisms
appear within the various contexts of sections 2, 3 and 4, reflecting the
important role that these play in public sector funding and to the SEF

Saturday, February 27, 2010


According to Wikipedia the meaning of "deflection" varies, depending on its contextual use. For example, deflection can mean bending under load (in engineering) or even shooting ahead of a moving target (in military contexts). Our favorite meaning, because it reflects the deflection we've experienced, comes from physics, in which it is defined as an event in which an object collides and bounces against a plane surface. Here are the seven habits.

Circumspect Deflect. From your first day on campus through the next seven years, keep this simple technique readily available. Upon a request for procedural information, assume a puzzled but attentive air, punctuated with "hmmm." Follow with some variation of "I'm the new gal around here, and I don't want to steer you in the wrong direction. You'd better check with an expert, such as [insert name of 'expert' here]." Don't commit, and you won't be asked again.

Classic Deflect. Leadership literature overflows with classic deflection strategies from which you can liberally borrow. When presented with an idea from a valued colleague requiring your potential action, first acknowledge its goodness; then, immediately direct it to a holding pen. "Good idea! Bring me data to support it," or "Good idea! Form a committee to consider it," or "Good idea! Run it past my associate dean," or even, "Good idea! Gather data, form a committee, and run it past so-and-so, and get busy on a strategic plan for it."

Cog-in-the-Wheel Deflect. Remember the Journey song, "Wheel in the Sky"? "Wheel in the sky keeps on turning / I don't know where I'll be tomorrow." A slight word change increases its relevancy: cog in the wheel keeps on turning. You want to assist your colleagues, but you are powerless to do so: the department chair, dean's office, graduate school, or some other larger, more powerful entity makes the rules; you are just a cog in the wheel. Keep turning.

Sycophant Deflect. Your colleague has a brilliant idea, so shiny and so fantastic that before acting on it, you gush over it and then suggest that he take the idea up for executive review. However, before going up, you suggest he dig deep to guarantee he fully understands the contextual history behind his idea. Shortly, your colleague is dazed. Should he go up and then down? Down and then up? Both simultaneously? Whew!

Pirouette Deflect. A subject crash lands on the programmatic, departmental, or committee table, and it's an inconvenient truth, to quote a popular Internet inventor. What to do? Spin. Spin the subject around and about until colleagues lose track of the original subject, and it morphs into one of your choosing. "Weapons of mass destruction? Actually, the issue is bringing democracy to the people." Closer to home: "A budget deficit? Actually, it's a way to reposition departmental assets."

Introspect Deflect. Tired of youngsters with fancy ideas promising to impinge on your time and territory? Here's a technique for long-time colleagues and those who (even slightly) predate their colleagues. As others discuss the idea, appear interested and press one index finger to the lips as your head gently bobs in agreement. Then, join the discussion by helpfully noting, "Oh, we tried that [months, years, decades ago], and it didn't work. Boy, history is a great teacher,
isn't it?" Deflection accomplished.

Paralysis-by-Analysis Deflect. Earlier, we noted we had spent years in careful observation of collega deflectivus. This is only partially true. We also spent years discussing, but never writing, this current piece on deflection. Frankly, we are amazed this article is in print, given the intensive deflection it encountered. To that, we can only add a final strategy discovered while writing this piece: the "I need more time to fully investigate it" deflection. We'll get back to you
about this technique . . . upon further investigation.

For those wanting to master these habits for their own benefit, consider a few points. Knowing when to use the "right" deflective technique comes with practice. Don't be deterred; even those unskilled in the art of deflection can immediately use the simple reply to any question, "Let me think about that and get back to you." As your deflective skills grow, you will continually add to your repertoire, perhaps even inventing deflective techniques yet unknown to harness the power of future knowledge and technologies. First, however, check with an expert, run it past so-and-so, keep turning, take it up for review (but first dig deep for contextual history), then spin it. And don't ask for our help, because it didn't work before, even upon further investigation. We'll have to deflect on this one.

AUTHORS: Michelle Maher and Katherine Chaddock.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Record Breaker

From the NWS statement:


Monday, February 08, 2010

The truth....

You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken, you've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, "Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness." You call yourself a free spirit, a "wild thing," and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.

Here. I've been carrying this thing around for months. I don't want it anymore.

Urbanization in Latin America

Did you know that Latin America is one of the most Urbanized regions of the world? With nearly 70% of Latin Americans living in cities of over 500,000. This is one of the most significant urbanized areas in the world. Even though most think of China and India as urban and have high concentrations--yet LAC has its own problems with in-migration to urban areas looking for work, which has been controlled in other regional areas. Therefore, in the next few decades policy makers will have to deal with lots of issues like formalizing land tenure issues, increased reforms with property taxes and re-arranging public finances. Additionally, issues dealing with inequality of basic services within cities like housing, education and health services where they vary in addition to security like policing and areas of cities safe for people, tourist and various classes will be keen in the future. Furthermore, the development of capital markets will be a big issue in the future. Basically macro-economic stability has created questions of why growth hasn't happened locally, therefore more will be done in terms of corporate bonds, re-investment firms, mortgage markets, credit availability and municipal bonds.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Making Bonds Work

Are governments always O ver-Indebtedness and Fiscally Irresponsible? Governmental debt and financial sustainability are pressing i...