What is this?

Someone urged me to donate questions included in my Voice and Noise to Dropping Knowledge and after I saw what they were up to I went fishing and came up with the following 64! that I sent them, and there are even many more in the pond where these came from.

What I did not ask, though I might, is if as Thomas Friedman says the world is beginning to look flat again, or even if it stays its roundest round, whether you do not get the fullest and best perspective on the issues by looking at them from the middle, or do you really need to position yourself, in a quite convoluted way, in of the two extreme angles? I ask this since I am under the impression that day by day, those of us in the middle, are in fact turning into the only true extremists.

From my questions listed below, I hope anyone should be able to conclude that analyzing issues from the middle, does not necessarily make you a bland-blah, and that you could even be something of a “radical of the middle”.

Well here are my 64 questions, let’s see how many of them make it out there, in the extremes?

By the way if anyone believes one could be better phrased, please send me your suggestion to perkurowski@gmail.com

1

Can we talk about transparency when we so frequently don’t even understand what we are being transparent about? Is not understandability a basic requisite for transparency?

2

In the World Bank and other multilaterals, in these days of globalization, is it not strange to observe that Mother Earth is in fact the most underrepresented constituency and that all reform discussions speak only about the reshuffling of local interest?

3

The IMF works to ensure the stability of the international financial system, while the World Bank focuses on development and poverty reduction. As their objectives could conflict, should they harmonize, in-house, or should the individual countries also be allowed to participate in the debate?

4

Since the World Bank could create the impression that the risks of corruption are effectively taken care of when they are involved, and thereby risk providing camouflage for it, is not their most important first step in fighting corruption that of being absolutely clear about what it cannot do?

5

In the past wave of privatizing public services, did governments, multilateral development agencies, and investors all bunch up to serve one another’s interests behind the back of the private consumers?

6

We know that in the private sector nobody would dare to present a project to their Board based on data that is not from the last year, month, day or even real time. How come then we allow multilateral organizations to present many proposals that seem more based on the art of making the most out of old data?

7

By prohibiting so much and creating so many Intellectual Property Rights are we not helping the market in illegal and illicit goods to grow in size and strengthening the powers of those criminals who participate in them? Could the illegal and the illicit economies overtake the legal and licit?

8

Are not the pirates of copyrighted and patented products consumer’s best and only friends, when they provide some counterbalance to what otherwise could be an unlimited exploitation of manmade monopolies? If these pirates do not put some restrains, who then?

9

How come that though we hear so much about the importance of allowing the free markets to guide economic decisions, we then hand over so much decision power to some very few credit rating agencies, that are then to tell us what we can do and what not?

10

If one of the major international banks operating in a foreign developing country would run into major problems and as a consequence local depositors lose their money, could they then sue that bank’s home authorities, on account of sloppy supervision?n

11

Given that by investing in USA ports the United Arab Emirates would have a larger vested interest in their security, does this not mean that stopping them from acquiring these non-shippable-to-anywhere assets, was in fact quite an unpatriotic-patriotism?

12

What path would you rather use the one indicated by common sense but that has no research to back it up or the one given by an exquisite research that somehow seems to be lacking in common sense?

13

When we so frequently can hear managers and directors excusing themselves from not knowing what was going on when a company suddenly fails, should we not ask of them, as a minimum, to disclose, publicly, every year, what they really do know about what their company is up to?

14

How can poverty fighters ignore it when a supposedly poverty fighting president, in Venezuela, after soon eight years in government, still sells gasoline at 4 US$ cents per liter, and thereby effectively transfers 60 US$ cents per liter from those who have no cars, to those really poor who have not?

15

How come the world can go on as if nothing’s happened in its relations to Venezuela, knowing that although opinions in that country are very polarized, its current Congress is made up by 167 representatives who favor the government of Hugo Ch├ívez, and none, zero, zilch, of those who differ with him?

16

In discussions on aligning the Multinational Organizations to current economic realities, how come there is no mention of giving voice to all the foreign workers, skilled or unskilled, legal or illegal, and who jointly represent jointly one of the largest and most vibrant economies of the world?

17

When foreign illegal workers come to get a job, so to earn some money and then be able to go back to their homeland, what’s the purpose of having them swear allegiance to a flag? Why do people who love their own country find it so hard to understand that others love theirs, just as much?

18

Brain drain worries many when they see qualified people leaving their poor developing country homeland. But is it not about heart drain we really should be worrying the most about, since it could be so much worse if these emigrants, on top of it all, forgot their homeland?

19

Knowing all the economic hardships immigrant workers normally have to suffer, how come international development organizations have focused so much on the cost of the transfer of remittances, which must only be the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg?

20

If a future English king can accept having a tracking device implanted for security reasons, why should an immigrant from a poor developing country object to it, if that is what his host requires to give him a chance for a better life?

21

Is the United States trying to solve all the problems generated by a European Community-type enlargement that though unknowingly has de-facto happened between them and their Central American neighbor’s, only with a new immigration law?

22

Since remittances are very private flows of funds, do they not deserve a little more respect? How would you like it if some were analyzing what to do with you transfer to granny, or even thinking of securitizing it?

23

The best way to manage brain loss is to produce brain gains. In this respect is not helping to educate bilingual certified nurses in developing countries a truly effective development tool?

24

The largest accumulated brain gain is to be seen in the poor families of the poor unskilled and often illegal immigrants. Who is more global, a family in a rich country that visits its capital or a family from a poor country with loved ones working abroad on whose remittances they depend for survival?

25

If we to the GDP of El Salvador add what its workers are earning gross abroad then perhaps it is growing faster than China. Are we not too stuck in the geography of the non-globalized world to be able to see what is happening? Are these workers not real El Salvadorans just because they are working abroad?

26

How come banking supervision regulations that are to help us to avoid financial disasters only seem to increase the costs of failure by helping to concentrate banking activities in less and less banks? As Banks, the larger they are the harder they can fall, should we not impose a tax on size?

27

How come we praise the ever increasing transparency of the financial markets, when day by day we understand less and less what they are up to? Is it not time that in public finances we abandon all sophistications just in order to raise citizen’s awareness?

28

If all accountants did not speak exactly the same language could that not serve as a shock absorber in an ever more interconnected world, or are we all supposed to react, immediately, with murderous preciseness, to any financial statement?

29

Since the financial markets are getting increasingly shortsighted and look more and more into just the next quarter, might there not be a case for preparing a statement only every 5 years, especially since frauds will still exist under any strict homogenous system?

30

When it comes to teaching your children how to ride a bike, there comes a time when you have to let them go. If you never allow poor developing countries to try development on their own, how on earth could developing countries get the confidence to stand on their own?

31

Learning how to satisfy basic public needs, is part of the process of becoming a nation. How come we could ever think we could help developing countries by taking away from them their most vital learning-by-doing opportunities, like when we hand over local water management to foreign companies?

32

When a country delivers electricity through the public sector and does not have the resources for the investments it takes on public debt. If on the contrary it is a private company that invests for the same public service, no public debt is registered, even though citizens will still pay. How come?

33

Why do we sometimes expect poverty-ridden countries to perform in many ways better before they are developed than many wealthy countries do after they have developed?

34

Given that the primary reason of the success of the Tower of Pisa is that it is leaning, as a result of a grand architectural project gone awry, could we not learn from it that there are also development niches in “crookedness?

35

So much of our current development efforts are focused on reaching the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, to such an extent that there has even been proposals to borrow against future development assistances, and so we have to ask ourselves, is there not life after 2015?


36

Should we expect the same effort in the enforcement of intellectual-property rights (IPR) everywhere? Since in a poor country the temptation factor for an IPR violation is larger, should they have to invest relatively more than a rich country in fighting to defend the rents of the IPR owners?

37

When developing a framework for calculating the sustainability of public debt, are we implying that public debt is good just because it’s sustainable? Are we not irresponsibly indicating a window of opportunity for indebtedness that could be misappropriated by irresponsible governments?

38

How can politicians manage the contradiction that arises from declaring all outstanding old public debt to be evil, while simultaneously preaching the virtues of any new credits to their country?

39

What is better: to reach an unsustainable debt level, to have a crisis and get it out of your system, or to condemn yourself and future generations to living forever under the burden of technically correctly calculated sustainable debt levels?

40

While trying to save the commercial banks from failing, are the regulating experts in Basel perhaps stopping banks from doing what they really are there to do: generate economic growth and spread opportunities by lending money?

41

Do all the World Trade Organization free trade negotiators really believe in free trade, or are they just Peeping Toms in an economic nudist camp?


42

Are the discussions on trade liberalizations in manufacture and agriculture not just distracting the attention from what could be achieved in the service sector where the only real economic growth has lately been seen?

43

The world spends a lot of efforts comparing governments of different countries, but very little analyzing differences in private sectors, which almost assumes they are the same. Is it not time to be more transparent about strengths and weaknesses of the private sectors of different countries?

44

Multinational organizations usually expect developing countries nowadays to take for granted that foreign investors are as good for them as local investor. They might very well be right about it, but where are the all the detailed studies of their respective drivers, per economic sector?

45

How do we teach countries that a sovereign country is not a country that is able to do as it pleases but a country that is willing to take full responsibilities for its own actions in an interrelated world?

46

Does simplification through the use of indexes obfuscate more than it clarifies?

47

How come some globalization index that measure the number of Internet users, hosts, and secure servers do not even consider the contents transmitted on them?

48

Who is more global, a family in a rich country with 10 televisions for 10 local sitcoms or a family in a poor country with only one TV on with they watch foreign programming?

49

What polarized lenses could my readers be using so that though I always write in green, they can only read me just in one of their respective either yellow or blue?

50

When so many issues scream out for creative solutions, it is sad to see when the debate concentrates on irrelevancies, just because on these there is some data availability, so that the PhDs can run their truth-finding regressions. Don’t we need some guaranteed-free-of-PhDs universities too?

51

What if virtual universities are deemed better than traditional brick, stone, and ivy ones?

52

Should we invest scarce educational resources in teaching people how to write by hand?

53

We recently read a suggestion that the solution for the US was to import ethanol from Brazil. Is euthanasia allowed for the world? Does not planting the whole Amazon with sugar cane, sounds like the mother of all effective suicidal methods the world could come up with?

54

Should we expect Brazil to pay all by itself the whole cost of keeping the world’s lung, the Amazon, in tip-top condition?

55

Should we not be much firmer stopping all those environment-chasers who parasite on the environment’s very real and utterly serious problems selling us their inefficient and uneconomical alternative solutions?

56

It was the boom for the consumers of the low prices for oil during the late 1990s that set up the current oil boom for the producers. Therefore it could behoove consumers and producers to agree on some decent long term win-win terms. Might there be too much business interests in oil volatility for that?

57

Was this oil and natural gas squeeze not perfectly foreseeable? Has anyone heard about someone being fired at the International Energy Agency for a plain lousy job of either doing bad projections or conveying the wrong messages?

58

Why should not an oil producing country join OPEC, to try to get more from his non-renewable product than the marginal cost of extractions, when for instance the European tax man gets more income per liter of gasoline than the producer and all of the other parties involved in selling it do together?

59

A big new tax on gasoline in the USA would help them to reduce their fiscal deficit; their current account deficit; and their oil dependency, while giving the environment its largest one shot boost, as 1 of every 7 barrels of oil of the world are consumed on its roads. Are leaders even scarcer than oil?

60

Can we talk of justice while judges are consciously sentencing prisoners to prisons rivaling Auschwitz in their inhumanity? Should not the World adhere to a minimum set of global good-prison practices and allow for an ISO 9000-type quality certifications of its prisons and jails?

61

How come so many of Justice’s reform programs of poor countries seem to start by building Supreme Courts with marble, instead of building decent prisons?

62

In the ethics of giving care for the elderly, is not the failure to remedy the predictable lack of caregivers the most unethical choice?


63

Given that the research in human genomes could sentence some people to be high risk and therefore make it impossible for them to access affordable health insurance, is not an insurance against the risks of what could be discovered in our genes what we most need now?

64

When preaching land reforms should we not also have to consider the possibility that when we deliver the title of land to a poor peasant, we could in fact be shackling him and his family to misery, almost knowingly?