Sunday, 6 August 2017

Corrupt Indians prefer Government jobs, Stupid Academics prefer Junk Social Science

Hanna & Wang, of Harvard & Wharton respectively, have a paper claiming that propensity to corruption is linked to a preference for Public Sector employment in Karnataka, India.
Students in India who cheat on a simple laboratory task are more likely to prefer public sector jobs. This paper shows that cheating on this task predicts corrupt behavior by civil servants, implying that it is a meaningful predictor of future corruption. Students who demonstrate pro-social preferences are less likely to prefer government jobs, while outcomes on an explicit game and attitudinal measures of corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. A screening process that chooses high ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption. The findings imply that differential selection into government may partially contribute to corruption. 
Hanna & Wang didn't survey Arts students- claiming people who study Politics or History or Literature don't end up as Public Sector workers even though, historically, Arts subjects are considered a gateway to Babudom. Instead, their sample is about 80 percent Commerce and 20 percent Sciences. Students of the former receive some instruction in basic concepts of Game Theory and Mechanism Design and this is reinforced by popular articles. It is likely that such students would show different behaviour in a 'lab test' even if they share the same normative values with students who don't understand the importance of the concept of Mechanism Design in modern Social Science. In other words, this methodology is ab ovo flawed.

Do Hanna & Wang have 'a screening process' for high ability applicants? No. Their sample was of students, not applicants for UPSC jobs. If the cost of application for Public Sector jobs is zero, which is what they assume, then, okay, there is likely to be a correlation. However, the actual cost of attempting the UPSC exam in a credible fashion is at least 700 dollars in coaching fees and other expenses plus an enormous opportunity cost in terms of time and effort. It is unlikely that the 80 percent Commerce stream, 60 per cent female, 40 per cent minorities, sample they have used is in any way representative of actual applicants, let alone successful ones.

This is not to say that a survey of actual applicants for UPSC jobs might not yield a similar result. However, our two researchers have not in fact made any such survey. Yet, by a piece of verbal sleight of hand, they substitute 'applicant' for 'student' on the basis of a farcically wrong assumption. Their work does not 'predict' anything- save perhaps that their next paper will be garbage.

Hanna & Wang's methodology was as follows-
 'we asked each student in our sample to roll a standard die 42 times and to report the number of each roll in order to receive a payment that was increasing in the number reported. Thus, while we do not know with certainty if an individual lied, we can observe how far each individual’s distribution of reports is from the uniform distribution. Note that this measure is appealing in that it does not prime the subject on corruption or dishonesty explicitly and allows them to feel comfortable in knowing that no one can say with certainty that they are cheating.                   

' key contribution of our paper is that we then conducted a validation exercise of this measure using a real measure of corruption. Specifically, we conducted the dice task with 165 government nurses who were part of an experiment conducted by Dhaliwal and Hanna (2013), in which they collected detailed measures of absenteeism through the use of random checks over two years. Thus, we can test whether the dice task outcome predicts fraudulent absenteeism. '

So students aiming to crack the IAS are being compared to poorly educated female nurses in the districts who have much lower cognitive ability and who are being paid for their participation in the 'lab test' with candy, not money.

Why? It is because the main job of an IAS officer ( 75 % of whom are likely to be male) is emptying bed pans. Moreover, a young Bureaucrat who is good at his job can easily get a visa to Europe or the Gulf and earn much more money for doing the same work.

What about 'fraudulent absenteeism'? Is that a good measure of propensity for corruption? No. A corrupt staff nurse will show up for work every day and extort bribes from patients by threatening to withdraw vital nursing services. Moreover, absenteeism is high where the posting is undesirable- some rural shithole- but the posting is undesirable only because the nurse doesn't have the money or the connections necessary to pay a bribe for a good posting. Such absenteeism has to be tolerated because of poor working conditions and the fallibility and expense of monitoring.

There is literally no similarity or connection between the two sample populations Hanna & Wang have chosen. The nurses are poor and stupid and what's more they know that aint going to change any time soon. Their fate is sealed. The students are not as poor or as stupid and their life is still before them. They can dream dreams. With hindsight, it will be obvious that a lot of them hadn't a hope of cracking the UPSC exam. Some may end up with MPhils or PhDs but still applying for peon's jobs.

Why are Hanna & Wang pretending that there is some hard-wired trait corresponding to a stable, exogenously given, propensity for corruption? Is there any evidence that the thing exists? If it does, why not study how it can be detected and cured? But, why stop there? Why not subscribe to a wholesale Manichaeism? Why not say that this survey predicts that the evil Demiurge is recruiting Satanically inclined minions to staff the Public Sector in a manner that passes Human Understanding?

For the moment, Hanna & Wang are being modest. Probably, they suspect they aren't 'high ability' and so will be screened out if they start babbling about Gnostic Demiurges or Lizard People from the Planet X. Thus they observe-
 students who had above median dice points (i.e. higher probability of cheating) were 6.2 percent more likely to want a government job. We find no significant difference in the predictive value of the dice task for high-ability students than for low ability students in terms of job preferences. This implies that screening on ability would neither exacerbate nor mitigate the selection problem among government workers in this context. Importantly, we find that nurses with above median dice points were 10.7 percent more likely to be fraudulently absent than those below it. Furthermore, as in the student sample, we do not find any significant heterogeneity in the predictive power of the dice task for nurse absenteeism by ability. This simple fact that the dice task also predicts the corrupt behaviour of the government nurses helps validate the interpretation of the student sample. 
Liars tell more lies than non liars which is why it is meaningful to speak of liars as opposed to non liars. We expect Public Sector workers who lie about one thing to be more likely to lie about another thing. Does this prove that liars are more likely to want to be Public Sector workers? No.

Perhaps it 'validates an interpretation' of a study which shows liars prefer Public Sector jobs? No. Substitute the phrase 'Cat lover' for 'Public Sector'. The fact that Cat loving liars tell more lies than Cat loving non liars does not 'validate an interpretation' of a small sample test where it was found that Cat lovers were 6.2 % more likely to tell lies. On the contrary, it invalidates any interpretation of the academic paper in question as other than Junk Social Science.

Civil servants need to be civil. They slot into a hierarchy. It may well be that telling lies is correlated with a type of 'Social intelligence' which is based on what the Greek Church calls oikonomia as opposed to Akribeia- i.e. flexibility rather than rigid exactitude. Lord Armstrong, a leading Thatcher era British Civil Servant, is credited with popularising the expression ' to be economical with the truth'. There is no suggestion that Armstrong was corrupt. Why not? Well, Armstrong was subject to strong checks and balances. These could only be subverted by a powerful nexus created and sustained by the elected politicians he answered to. Even then, he'd have been caught unless the British Courts had as big a backlog of cases, or were as accommodating in granting extensions, as Indian Courts.

In India- Karnataka specifically- preference for Govt. employment is tied to housing situation and family obligations. Those who are well housed in a good area are also likely to have better educational opportunities and choose high paid private sector employment. The Public Sector is only sought by either dunces or those who are part of a powerful clan- i.e. they are, in effect, being recruited by an existing syndicate. One reason for this is that the first years of Government service are financially strenuous. One needs to pay a lot in bribes to get a good posting, nice housing, a non crazy rapist of a boss etc. At this time, it is the extended family which supports you. Sometimes, it is the in-laws who stipulate that you stay in such and such Govt. job so as to be useful to them when you get promoted on the basis of seniority (the bribes only affect posting, not status).

Hanna & Wang chose to remain blissfully oblivious to any and all considerations of the sort listed here. Why? The answer is that Stupid Academics like telling Stupid Lies. Other Stupid Academics, like the good folk at Marginal Revolution, are happy to quote these Stupid Lies because that's how availability cascade based Junk Social Science operates.


Hanna & Wang are good people.
More sadly, they are smart people.
What they are doing is corrupt.
Not ugly and hateful, like what I am doing- as I said they are actually good & smart.
Still... dunno why precisely
Coz I respect their character- their capacity for metanoia- I must trash their thoughts and work.
Below, I quote their paper and then make comments in bold.

Economic theory predicts that civil servants often shirk or take bribes because it is difficult for central governments and citizens to monitor and subsequently punish these bad behaviors (e.g. Banerjee, 1997; Shleifer and Vishny, 1993, Di Tella and Schargrodsky, 2004; and Olken and Pande, 2012). 

What is wrong with this sentence? It says that Economic theory predicts something that utterly implausible- viz. that civil servants shirk or take bribes when they are likely to be caught and shot in the head if they do so.

That just aint true. 

Anyone, not just a civil servant, is likely to shirk or take bribes if it is difficult for his employer or his clients to monitor and subsequently punish bad behaviour. That's why Econ has an incomplete contract theory. It's also why Harvard/Wharton type Econ is an, adding noise to signal, Availability Cascade productive only of degenerate Research Programs and yet more worthless Virtue Signalling.

What is the point of quoting Banerjee 1997 as supporting this view? His paper, when it appeared, wasn't utterly foolish. Or, at least, we didn't know that we would judge it to be foolish twenty years later.

Why not? Well, it did not make absurd claims like 'civil servants shirk or take bribes because, of its nature, performance of ANY civil service job is difficult to monitor.' Suppose there was some problem peculiar to civil service contracts such that the above statement were true. Then, there is an easy solution. Privatise everything. Put everything out to tender. Reclassify each and every Babu as an employee of a Private Sector Enterprise or else an NGO or, worst comes to the worst, just designate the fellow as a urinal or other such public convenience.

This implies that variation in the ability to monitor or incentivise civil servants may drive the observed differences in corruption across countries, across agencies within a country, or even across the types of tasks for which public servants are responsible. 

Not true. The prediction of an Economic theory does not imply- i.e. stipulate- anything about the truth value or likelihood of any conditional. I predict it will rain in 5 minutes time. This prediction does not imply that there will be rain clouds in the sky at that time. Why not? It's because I'm using an Economic theory, not a meteorological one, to make my prediction. I believe the bureaucrats in the Celestial Ministry of Rain production are amenable to bribes of a certain sort because Arrow's Theorem has proved Godel's proof of God is valid in the manner of an 'invisible dictator' and thus monitoring of Celestial Civil Servants is lax or incentive incompatible.

However, not all civil servants engage in the same level of corrupt behavior, even in the same position or role. Besley (2005) and Prendergast (2007) posit that this may be potentially due to different government workers having different preferences over engaging in corruption. As such, it follows that the types of individuals that select into government may help explain variation in corruption levels. 

Or it may not. Besley's paper was okay when it came out. It said 'people don't think Blair is a crook because...urm... well, they just don't okay, and I've written a paper so thank you and good night.' That was 12 years ago. Now everybody thinks Blair was a great big crook and all his vaunted Public/Private Partnership schemes and 'Third Way' 'arms length' Management Organisations were a big fucking swindle from which he and his ilk profited immensely.

Why do Hanna & Wang cite a paper about the likes of Tony Blair in a study about poor students at crap Colleges in Karnataka? Are they mad? Or is this stupidity just par for the course?

Let us see-

The empirical literature has mostly focused on documenting how monitoring and financial incentives affect public service delivery in developing countries (e.g. Fisman and Miguel, 2007; Olken, 2007; Duflo, Hanna and Ryan, 2012; Niehaus and Sukhtankar, 2013).

Fisman & Miguel looked at UN diplomats in New York. Those from highly corrupt countries were less likely to pay their fines. Once enforcement was beefed up, by the confiscation of diplomatic plates, the delinquents toed the line.  Big surprise. Why bring it up in this context? Do Hanna & Wang not understand that diplomats have immunity, save by express waiver by their own Foreign Ministry, and that this is almost never granted? A diplomat only has to fear his own country's laws, not those of the host country. There can be reciprocal agreements- e.g. the Americans and Brits can agree that their respective diplomats pay parking tickets in each other's countries. In their absence, it becomes a matter of punctilio for protocol officers to battle things out. What happened in 2002 which made UN diplomats suddenly amenable to pressure from the host country? Think about it. You know the answer. 9/11. After 9/11, New York could crack down on UN diplomats because... guess what other stuff was going down. America was suddenly in the business of 'boots on the ground' 'regime change' and that sure scared a lot of diplos straight. 

Hanna & Wang aint teenagers. They don't come from rural Karnataka. Why are they quoting a study about diplomats in New York in 2002? 

Are they just stupid and ignorant? Or is this symptomatic of some deeper malaise rendering their profession utterly and hilariously worthless?

Much less is known about the type of individuals who select into civil service, whether opportunities for rents in the government sector attract individuals with a high tolerance for engaging in corrupt activities relative to the private sector, and whether screening methods for civil servants could inadvertently screen in more or less “corrupt” individuals.

Much less is known by whom? The Indian UPSC? The Karnataka Civil Service Board? Are you kidding me? Those guys have built up 'expert cognition'. They can smell it out at a 100 yards. Take my old class-mate, Sanjay Pratap Singh. I made a couple of phone calls and know down to the year and the month, if not the precise day, when he turned rotten. Still, there was another moment, a crossing of a subjective point of no return which can't be precisely stipulated. Graham Greene wrote a great novel about a Civil Servant- Scobie- who passed that point. 'In the lost boyhood of Judas, Christ was betrayed'. Not so with my sometime friend. When I met him again at the Academy in Mussoorie, his eyes blazed with fury when he described the corruption of a UP cadre officer of my caste. It was much later when things went wrong. I have other friends who went to the bad in various All India Services. In one case, it was a rapacious wife- in another an American PhD in crap Econ.

I have also seen people who went in corrupt and came out clean. They paid off their debts to the 'clan' or 'syndicate' and then showed their own families a better path. Mahatma Gandhi, in his letters to his elder brother, is doing the same thing. 

It is not true that some people are born corrupt and others are born innocent. The son of an RSS type honest official is now in jail for utterly brazen and reckless corruption.  The daughter of a Muslim Tax Official, proverbial for his courage and clean hands, is- or was, there is some realignment going on as I write this- the politic face of a worthless bunch of gangsters. These things happen. I don't write off the daughter- though she has behaved abominably to my old friend's widow and robbed her own nephew. But, God alone is great. She was too young to know her father well and then her elder brother also died prematurely. It is easy to blame the in-laws especially if they are 'rural' or 'vernacular medium'. Maybe I am a fool. Okay, I'm definitely a fool but it is not utterly foolish to say that there is something else- some non linear aspect to Time, some cancerous type of concurrency- which both predicts delinquency and permits redemption. 

Ah! I'm an old fool. I see now why Hanna & Wang write as they do. They need to keep a distance, to preserve their ignorance, because, in this context, to seek to know is to fellow suffer. Pathos Mathei- Suffering teaches- what? For the greatest of the Greeks, the Latins, the Teutons, the Celts, or our own Mar Thoma Keralites- nothing but the agonies of Christ's endless crucifixion. 

Corruption is such a malaise of the soul- at least in India, for Indians like those kids in Karnataka who, notwithstanding any 'laboratory result' suggesting the contrary are and will remain so good and so wholesome and true that even if they go the way of Sanjay Pratap, yet they can redeem themselves like the Mahatma. 

Fuck it.
I just heard myself.
Okay, Hanna & Wang aint Junk Social Science
They are just... Social Science.
For Flaubert, Art was a prophylactic.
Worthless Econometrics is now the Soul's used condom.

Perhaps Hanna & Wang's 'lab work' resulted in some human interaction or even a Hawthorne effect.
The fact that this used condom of a 'paper' is all the evidence of it that we see is not germane.

Nothing is, which is not close cousin to 30 pieces of Silver, and an impossible bride price.
Nothing becomes true till it acquires a martyr to this truth.

Has Hanna & Wang's methodological misology become a Religion?
Let us see-
First, is there evidence of selection, wherein individuals who apply for government jobs have a higher propensity for corruption? Second, we ask whether the screening process serves to mitigate or exacerbate this problem.
Sounds reasonable. But, first of all, did Hanna & Wang actually choose a data set of applicants for government jobs? No.  They have a cheap, 'quick and dirty' sample of people unlikely to spend the time and money to actually apply for government jobs, their preferences notwithstanding, because an effective application costs money and time and cognitive resources their adversely selective sample most likely lacked.

Do Hanna & Wang actually evaluate the State's 'screening process'? No. They are too stupid and ignorant to do so or even pretend to have done so. Their screening process was worthless in context. Further, it was one their own sample of 'Government servants' were too stupid and cognitively impoverished to hack. Why are Hanna & Wang telling us such stupid, obvious, lies?
We motivate our empirical exercise by examining the decision to apply for a government position given the returns to different characteristics in the public and private sector. India—like many developing countries—employs civil service examinations primarily aimed to screen potential candidates by cognitive ability. 
Did you just hear that?
Three percent of Muslims crack the Civil Service exams.
That's way below what would one expect- unless Muslims are stupider than Hindus.
They are not.
Hanna & Wang are not Indian.
They are welcome to believe otherwise.
But, if an Indian believes that ANY community in India is less 'cognitively able', then they should just fucking emigrate- and good riddance to bad rubbish is what Eugenics and Scientific Method would say.  Muslims have the same DNA as Hindus or Christians or whatever. I may be as stupid as shit. But, not even I am so stupid as to believe otherwise. 

The truth is well known. If you are of a dominant caste, then a Government job brings you extra perks. If you aint, it is a Cross your family must bear to testify to your Public Spirit.

The framework demonstrates the conditions under which we will observe high-ability individuals who apply for public service jobs also having higher levels of non-wage benefits (such as corrupt payments or utility from public service) in the government. Thus, if screening primarily on ability, one may inadvertently select individuals who possess these other characteristics.
Hanna & Wang went to Harvard and all they got was a lousy T shirt saying-
'India, like every other country, does not practice any Institutional Discrimination whatsoever'.
Fuck is wrong with these retards?
                                                                 The answer soon appears.
They believe there is a 'propensity for corruption' which is individual not Statistical.
So, we now have a new m.p.c- not the stupid Keynesian marginal propensity to consume which gives rise to a delusive 'multiplier'- but a marginal propensity to be corrupt which can act as a multiplier of Junk Social Science.

 our main challenges was devising a meaningful measure of an individual’s propensity for corruption given that individuals may not want to reveal this
That was your major challenge?  Why? Was proving P=NP too easy for you? Why are you two geniuses not claiming the Millennium Prize? After all, you have found a way of defeating an impredicative preference revelation problem, not in the general, or Evolutionarily Stable, case but in the individual case! Wow! You have solved every problem of Mechanism Design and incarnate the Revelation Principle. Why the fuck are you writing stupid illiterate nonsense about kids in Karnataka or poorly paid nurses in the boondocks? Do they really look to you to be so very evil? Shame on you! They are honest and hardworking under very adverse conditions.  What is your excuse for labelling some portion of their number with a 'propensity to corruption?' Are conditions at Harvard or Wharton really so bad? Were you tortured? Were you beaten? 

Narendra Modi said, and the World applauded, 'Harvard Economists are inferior to Hard Working people.' 

Why? The latter can admit the truth. The former live by telling stupid, ignorant, seemingly bien pensant, but actually deeply Racist and Elitist lies. Why were you so lazy as to write in the manner that you have done? Why try to pass off opportunistic, methodologically worthless, work as part of an academic availability cascade? What is your major malfunction?

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