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Updated: Jan 3, 2022


At the event of International Women's Day, I would like to pay tribute to another woman I adore in the field of Economics: Elinor Ostrom - the first and (till now) only female Nobel recipient in economics.


The longer I stayed in academia, the larger respect I give to people who are simple. What comes from within is what keeps me excited. Ostrom is no exception. She looks like any other woman yet her contribution was beyond substantial. Ostrom worked till the last breath (a life I would love to have a similar life for myself). Her Hayek Lecture is delivered 11 weeks before her death. On the day of her death, she published her last article on Project Syndicate "Green from the Grassroots". Ostrom taught in Indiana University where I earned my master degree. Well, very wish I could make Bloomington proud one day!


During the span of one's life, she studies management practices on common-pool resources. Ostrom researches derived from the classic Tragedy of the Commons developed by Garrett Hardin in 1968. Hardin argued that shared resources are depleted by self-interested users. Common goods, therefore, should be either managed by the government or privates stipulated by property rights.

 

“Picture a pasture that is open to all. Each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons…the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.”


Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons 1968

 

Ostrom provided an alternative to avoid Tragedy of the commons. Decades of research show a variety of overlapping policies at city, subnational, national, and international levels is more likely to succeed than are single, overarching binding agreements (Ostrom, 2012).


She argued that the state would be too big to manage small and medium common resources. State is not given adequate information and financial incentives to manage local common goods without corruption. A poly-centric management approach should be utilized. This is where systems exist at multiple levels, with some autonomy at each level.


State should provide general information, assist local levels during the enforcement process such as conflict resolution, monitor the performance to cope with larger scale resources. At the same time, micro-situational agency need ample leeway to practice its power and allow to own the resources. There is not a correct way to manage resources effectively. The practices vary from cultures to cultures as well as different physical conditions of various ecology systems.


So generally, what attribute towards a more sustainable solution to avoid Tragedy of commons: Trust. The trust can built given the following 8 design principles (Stein Holden and Mesfin Tilahun, 2018):


 

"The attributes of the users that are conducive to their self-organising and managing a resource sustainably include that the users ask questions and that they view the resource as highly salient. They then usually have a relatively low discount rate in terms of the benefits obtained from the resource so that they are not over-exploiting the resource in the current time period. Over time, the users have developed high levels of trust and reciprocity and have the autonomy to determine at least some of their own rules. They are nested in complementary, multiple-tier systems. Usually in these kinds of settings, those organising the system have prior organisational experience; they have well-developed social capital and they have local leaders who are able to take on that very tough job. They also share some common understanding about the resource. These are the attributes that we are finding in systems that are sustainable."


Ostrom, Hayek Lecture, 2012

 

The underlying messages throughout her studies is: "Complex problems need complex solutions. Instead of rejecting the complexity, one should find a way to deal with it". The spirit of her message also shown in her enduring research process. Given the lack of theoretical backups, Ostrom had to collected large case studies in the world from Nigeria, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Bolivia, Australia, Mexico, Spain, Poland, Switzerland and Sweden within the long period of time to test the model's effectiveness. The endurance also shown as she continued working against cancer until the last breath. Isn't it very woman? Endurance. And I strive to learn from the greatest.




Reference:


1. Elinor Ostrom (2012) ,Hayek Lecture, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xta1vPkSjk4&t=159s

2. Stein Holden and Mesfin Tilahun (2018), The importance of Ostrom's Design principles, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0305750X17303728

3. Nicholas Amendolare, What is the tragedy of the commons?, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxC161GvMPc

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Updated: Dec 29, 2019

I spent hours each day finding lecture notes, reading list, and syllabus on economics. Today, Deirdre McCloskey came into the picture.


She is such a character! I was first impressed by her syllabus for Principles of Microeconomics. John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath (1939) was required in the reading list. I then explored other courses taught by McCloskey. All the course requires reading novels and reflective notes.

 

"To that last end, on every Monday you must turn in as the price of admission a couple (2 or 3) pages of critical reflection (a "position paper") on the day's assigned reading. Typed, name, no title page, spellchecked, no right justifying, double spaced, not a "book report" in the way of Grade 5---an adult's comment on the reading, telling your colleagues something they might have missed, say, or some central idea that could use clarification, or some craziness you spot. Don’t just summarize. Assume that your boss has read the material somewhat hurriedly: you are helping her get more deeply into it."

 

I can see how beneficial the task is to her students: the ability to think on their own feet and think twice through the writing process. An economist, according to McCloskey, seldom reads good writings hence the bad writing skills he/she possesses. It is why reading is essential. She also wrote a book called Economics Writing. Here are the few tips from the distinguished professor:

1. Choose a reader and stick with her.

2. Avoid boilerplate. Don't be predictable.

3. No table-of-content paragraph

4. Watch your bad words: "via" "respectively" "and/or"

5. Create the habit of word rearrangement.

6. No elegant variation. Be straight to the point. Be concrete.

7. Read good book. Try Virginia Woolf.


The direct and honest way of teaching make me like her even more.

 

"You can sleep in class all you want. Be my guest. Really: I don’t mind. And bring any friend, parent, child, dog you want. No problem: no need to ask. But you cannot read, talk, eat, slouch insultingly [guys: listen up], pass notes, pick your nose, look bored (being bored is another matter: these rules are about externals that hurt your classmates, demoralizing them and me),dress inappropriately, do homework, chew gum, come late, leave early, or more generally act like a high-schooler. The class starts at 9:00 promptly. I don’t want to hear about Duh Traffic, or “running late”: be on time. Think of the class as a business meeting, with Deirdre as your boss.

 

On top of that, at the age of 53, she decided to "cross gender" from a "Donald". The outer change put her into a situation to "play in both sides of the streets". According to Deirdre McCloskey, economics has always been viewed as a "boy's game": Vigorous competition over scarce resources. What if economy functions under women' approaches? What if it is operated in a more co-operative manner within deep connections/bondings. It leads to a more liberalism approach toward economics.This surely sparkles a "what if" series in my head and I need time dig deep into.



References:

2. Economist Deirdre McCloskey: playing both sides of the street, https://www.smh.com.au/business/economist-deirdre-mccloskey-playing-both-sides-of-the-street-20131129-2ygwu.html

3. Reading list: http://www.deirdremccloskey.com/docs/docs_teaching/PainlessEconomics.pdf

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Greger acts as a nutritionist to guide people for healthier diet. This book is handful of scientific explanation over popular diseases and preventive measures. Here is a very quick summary:


1. Heart diseases: Follow plant - derived diet (vegetable and nuts) to keep cholesterol levels average under 150 mg/dL. Avoid sugary foods, trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol - laden foods that clog up our arteries, allow path for blood to flow. Kale is the queen of green and best source for antioxidant-boosting.


2. Lung diseases: Load up broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower to reverse not only lung cancer but also breast cancer. Indian spice turmeric prevents DNA damage caused by smoking. Remove eggs and dairy can reduce asthma risk. Stay away from frying bacon and eggs (second hand smoker).


3. Brain diseases: Choose potassium - rich foods (greens, beans, and sweet potatoes). Eating oranges can keep you warmer and reduce stroke risk. Sleep enough. Eat food contains lots of antioxidants. How can you tell? Anything turns brown when exposes to air (Compare banana, apple vs. mango). Oat meal for breakfast. Purple grapes are for powerful brain-accessing antioxidants. Cook using the most-heat cooking methods such as steaming or stewing. Aerobic exercise for forty-five to sixty mins a day, four days a week.


4. Digestive Cancers: Curcumin, red onions, and grapes. Dark green, leafy vegetables and legumes, such as beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils. Donate blood is great to prevent excess buildup of iron. Avoid drinking tea with meal which inhibit iron absorption. Orange. Good fats are nuts, seeds, avocados, olive and vegetable oils. Avoid supermarket chicken breast (extra salt added + drug). Berries.


5. Infections: 3 apple a day or 1 tea spoon of red onion. Mushroom.


6. High blood pressure: Industry add salt to draw in water and increase the weight. Buy whole chicken. Avoid chicken breast in the supermarket! Raw vegetable > boiled one. Flaxseeds. Hibiscus tea. Beetroots.


7. Liver diseases: One to two drinks a day to lower the risk of heart diseases. Grapes, barley and potatoes. Don't share personal care items (toothbrushes, razors). Do not cook pork raw. Dietary supplements caused higher rate of liver transplants and deaths. Drink coffee.


8. Breast cancer: Soya and mushroom


9. Suicidal depression: Single carb rich, protein poor meal improve depression, tension, anger, confusion, etc. Saffron.


10. Prostate cancer: Milk is no good. Garlic and red onions.


11. Iatrogeni causes: Ginger compounds protected DNA. Lemon balm tea. Don't have aspirin.


12. Others: Eat colorful fruits and vegetable. Cook without oil. Buy organic is not worth it. 300 grams water melon to reduce muscle soreness.




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