Better Policies Explain Why Poland Prospers More than Ukraine

RushchyshynYaroslavUkraineEntrepreneur2014-03-30.jpg “Yaroslav Rushchyshyn, a garment manufacturer, wants to end penalties when his company reports a financial loss.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. B1) LVIV, Ukraine — Every kind of business in this restless pro-European stronghold near the border with Poland has an idea about how to make Ukraine like its more prosperous neighbor.

For Yaroslav Rushchyshyn, founder of a garment manufacturer, it is abolishing bizarre regulations that have had inspectors threatening fines for his handling of fabric remnants and for reporting financial losses.
For Andrew Pavliv, who runs a technology company, it is modernizing a rigid education system to help nurture entrepreneurs.
For Natalia Smutok, an executive at a company that makes color charts for paint and cosmetics, it meant starting an antibribery campaign, even though she is 36 weeks pregnant.
. . .
(p. B10) Victor Halchynsky, a former journalist who is now a spokesman for the Ukrainian unit of a Polish bank, said the divergence of the two countries was a source of frustration.
“It’s painful because we know it’s only happened because of policy,” he said, adding that while both countries had started the reform process, Poland “finished it.”
Ukraine has been held back by a number of policies. Steep energy subsidies have kept consumption high and left the country dependent on Russian gas, draining state coffers. Mr. Pavliv said the state university system, which he called “pure, pure Soviet,” was too inflexible to set up a training program for project managers, or to allow executives without specific certifications to teach courses. An agriculture industry once a Soviet breadbasket has been hurt by antiquated rules, including restrictions on land sales. Aggressive tax police have been used to shake down businesses.

For the full story, see:
DANNY HAKIM. “A Blueprint for Ukraine.” The New York Times (Fri., MARCH 14, 2014): B1 & B10.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 13, 2014.)

PavlivAndrewTechEntrepreneur2014-03-30.jpg “Andrew Pavliv, who runs a technology company, wants to help turn Lviv into a little Ukrainian Silicon Valley.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

Edison Sold Half-Interest in Some Patents, to Fund His Inventing

Stross discusses Edison’s inventing at age 21:

(p. 8) Edison soon sought investors who would provide funds in exchange for half-interest in resulting patents.

Source:
Stross, Randall E. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2007.

If Lack of Focus and Poverty Go Together, Which Is the Cause and Which the Effect?

ScarcityBK2014-03-06.jpg

Source of book image: http://www.scientificamerican.com/sciam/cache/file/BF860CC7-371A-46BB-8ACCECD4289565A8.jpg

Are the poor poor partly because they concentrate less, or do they concentrate less partly because they are poor? Samantha Power discusses one of her favorite books of 2013:

(p. C11) In “Scarcity,” Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir offer groundbreaking insights into, among other themes, the effects of poverty on (p. C12) cognition and our ability to make choices about our lives. The authors persuasively show that the mental space–or “bandwidth”–of the poor is so consumed with making ends meet that they may be more likely to lose concentration while on a job or less likely to take medication on time.

For the full article, see:
“12 Months of Reading; We asked 50 of our friends–from April Bloomfield to Mike Tyson–to name their favorite books of 2013.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Dec. 14, 2013): C6 & C9-C12.
(Note: the online version of the article has the date Dec. 13, 2013.)

The book that Power praises is:
Mullainathan, Sendhil, and Eldar Shafir. Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much. New York: Times Books, 2013.

Paul Ryan Warns that the Safety Net Can Be a Hammock

(p. A21) . . . Mr. Ryan said two years ago: “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.”

For the full commentary, see:
Krugman, Paul. “The Hammock Fallacy.” The New York Times (Fri., MARCH 7, 2014): A21.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date MARCH 6, 2014.)

The original source of the Paul Ryan quote appears to be:
“Paul Ryan Wants ‘Welfare Reform Round 2’.” The Huffington Post (posted 03/20/2012).

Ryan made similar comments in his January 25th official Republican response to the State of the Union speech:

We are at a moment, where if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.

Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness, and wise consumer choices has never worked — and it won’t work now.

Source:
NPR transcript of Paul Ryan response, January 25, 2011.

Edison Helped Us See the Light

WizardOfMenloParkBK2014-03-24.jpg

Source of book image: http://www.strategy-business.com/article/07408i?pg=all

Several biographies of Thomas Edison have appeared in recent decades. One of the strengths of Randall Stross’ The Wizard of Menlo Park is that it emphasizes how Edison’s story is relevant to current issues in the economics of invention, entrepreneurship and technology.
In the next several weeks, I will quote some of the more thought-provoking stories and observations in the Stross book.

The Stross book is:
Stross, Randall E. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2007.

Sleep Is a Dishwasher that Cleans Toxic Proteins from the Brain

(p. E8) . . . a . . . recent finding published in Science magazine suggests that sleep cleans the brain of toxic proteins “like a dishwasher,” as one of the study’s authors put it.

For the full commentary, see:
MOLLY YOUNG. “Tapping Into a Goodnight.” The New York Times (Thurs., MARCH 6, 2014): E8.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date MARCH 5, 2014.)

The Science article mentioned above is:
Xie, Lulu, Kang Hongyi, Xu Qiwu, Michael J. Chen, Liao Yonghong, Meenakshisundaram Thiyagarajan, John O’Donnell, Daniel J. Christensen, Charles Nicholson, Jeffrey J. Iliff, Takano Takahiro, Rashid Deane, and Maiken Nedergaard. “Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain.” Science 342, no. 6156 (Oct. 18, 2013): 373-77.

“Babies Are Smarter than You Think”

JustBabiesBK2014-03-06.jpg

Source of book image: http://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_296w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2013/12/19/Outlook/Images/booksonbooks0031387485124.jpg

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker discusses a favorite book of 2013:

(p. C11) . . . , babies are smarter than you think, and their cognitive and moral lives, revealed by ingenious experimental techniques, show that fairness, empathy and punitive sentiments have deep roots in human development. Paul Bloom’s “Just Babies” illuminates this research with intellectual rigor and a graceful, easygoing style.

For the full article, see:
“12 Months of Reading; We asked 50 of our friends–from April Bloomfield to Mike Tyson–to name their favorite books of 2013.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Dec. 14, 2013): C6 & C9-C12.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the article has the date Dec. 13, 2013.)

The book that Pinker praises is:
Bloom, Paul. Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. New York: Crown Publishers, 2013.