Category: Political Science


2月3日晚,我在BlockMania第47期直播间为大家做关于“激进市场与慈善”的分享。这次分享主要聊了三点:

1、商业到底是不是最大的慈善?

2、QF如何能够激进地改进当今的慈善事业?

3、传统商业与激进慈善如何结合

以下为文字稿的整理。

6cdc4a97ly1gbibra8dvlj20u02f4wkt

我毕业于杜克大学经济系,原就职于世界银行,它是一家国际扶贫慈善机构。最近因为翻译Glen Weyl和Eric Posner的《激进市场》而加入了RadicalxChange.org并了解了区块链。这几天武汉发生非典型冠状病毒肺炎疫情,看到大家纷纷捐款捐物,让我想起了我之前所在的机构所做的工作。所以就想借着这个事件,和大家一起讨论激进市场和慈善的关系,以及我最近学的应用于区块链的二次融资方法Quadratic Funding (QF) 能如何有效地改善当下的公共事业。

首先,我们来谈一谈大的框架,商业到底是不是最大的慈善?我知道这是很多人都认同的观点,但在今天的新技术新环境下,我们有必要对此进行更深一步的审视。

必须得承认,目前红十字会、世界银行等慈善扶贫机构存在效率低下的问题。而与之对比的,是商业的高效,比如天猫去年在双11成交额达2700亿。

u=3245805923,3807876481&fm=26&gp=0

那么如此高的效率和如此庞大的数字是否就意味着我们真的做到了最大的慈善呢?我只能说,商业让交易的买方和卖方都受益,而且它正向的成果也为做慈善创造了更大的潜在空间,从这个层面理解,“商业是最大的慈善”这句话是对的。

但商业不等同于慈善,因为性质不同。商业具有巨大的社会价值,但在当今这个情况下,这也并不意味着我们就不需要政府、世行和其他慈善组织和机构了。

理由很简单。大家只要仔细地审视一下商业和慈善所对应的不同群体就能理解。比如红十字会帮助的群体是没有劳动能力,在对抗着疾病的,甚至在死亡线上挣扎的弱势群体,他们无法从事商业活动。这就好比这几天在武汉的那些感染了非典型肺炎又支付不起高昂医疗费的低收入重症患者。

而在双11那天成交的2700个亿,这其中的利润最终是到了谁的手里呢?这些钱最初流向了天猫店的经营者和天猫平台,他们中的很多人之前深陷贫困,正是借着电商平台的崛起和发展他们脱离了贫困。这些钱也会有一部分通过人们的亲情和善心、政府和公共机构的引导,流向那些无力从事商业,而又需要的人手中,比如全职读书的学生,比如老弱病残者。

如果只有商业,而没有其他形式的转移支付,那么那些无法参与商业、而又需要生存的群体得到的帮助是远远不够的。

但商业和慈善有其不同的本质。商业的本质是交换与合作,它发生在价值匹配的个体或群体之间,而且所有参与者自愿且有能力这样做。由于社会群体的异质性,必然会有一部分人是无法参与商业活动的,市场触及不到的群体是我们需要帮助的对象。而慈善的本质是分享、给予和奉献,更多的是不求回报的单方面行为。

那么,商业做到什么程度才算是最大的慈善呢?我认为如果有一种市场机制或市场设计能够尽可能地激发人性的善而非人性的恶,让尽可能多的人受益,那就算是最大的慈善。

—————

现在我们来谈第二点。刚刚说过,当前的慈善事业有很多不足之处,它的低效率根本原因是什么呢?慈善是一个社会提供公共物品或准公共物品的行为。比如武汉非典型肺炎流行,好多人为武汉捐赠了口罩,人们在这个特殊时期按需分配,这就是一个提供公共物品的过程。但公共物品由于存在非竞争性和非排他性的特征,会产生搭便车的现象和少数者需求无法充分表达的问题,最终导致它供应不足。

再举此次武汉发生疫情的例子。这几天武汉事件轰动了全世界,但在世界的其他角落,此时此刻有一些少数人也许也需要同样急迫的帮助,比如缺乏资金和卫生基础设施的偏远乡村中贫病交迫的村民。这些少数群体发出需求的声音往往被淹没,得不到社会的关注;一个更令人绝望的情况是这些人知道自己即使说出需求,也不会被看见,更谈不上被满足,于是他们只能选择沉默。

W020200128684225094817

如果我们能够时刻识别出当前最需要帮助的人,点对点地把物资传送给需要帮助的人或项目那里,就会极大地提高公益慈善事业的效率。比如“区块链公益组织”,人们通过购买区块链平台发行的加密货币或者使用其他加密货币进行捐赠。通过区块链捐赠不但可以去除对善款被挪用的隐患、去除对慈善机构的猜忌,还扩大了捐赠渠道,对慈善公益的发展是一大帮助。

Blockchain Charity Organization

区块链技术具有去中心化、公开透明、信息可追溯、通过智能合约自动执行四大优势。慈善公益项目相关的信息可以分布在区块链网络各个节点上,在链上我们对每一笔交易都可以查询和追溯。理想的情况下,我们可以知道所捐助的每一笔款项的对应接收人是谁、是如何使用的、一共发放了几次、救助效果如何等等。这样就杜绝了某一个组织或个人操控一个慈善公益项目为自己谋求利益的情况。

区块链以处理竞争性资源的方式来处理非竞争性的资源,人们可以摆脱对可信第三方的依赖,在数字世界中自由地交换数字货币、知识产权、股权甚至不动产所有权。

但这有一个问题,面对如此多需要资助的项目和人,我们如何合理地分配慈善物资呢?《激进市场》给了我们一个潜在的答案。

首先这本书写作的出发点就是当今世界的一系列新挑战——尽管近几十年来全球经济有所增长,国与国之间的差距有所缩小,但国家内部的不平等却在加剧,而且社会与政治的分歧与分裂也日趋严重。变革迫在眉睫,但眼下比中央计划经济更好的替代品又还没有出现。

0 (1)

和慈善事业非常相关的是书第二章提到的二次方投票法(quadratic voting,简称QV)。QV让选民付出的平方根能够兑换成投票的积分,从而更有效地影响对他们最重要的问题,这就克服了“一人一票”制度下的“多数人的暴政”等问题。在QV下,一个人对一件事如果特别在意可以考虑把更多的发言权积分花在上面,但要付出二次方的代价。

0 (2)

由于一票之差投票成本可能相差很大,QV的一个好处是防止贿选。另一个好处是鼓励少数派投票。

QV的一个衍生是Quadratic Funding (QF),也是我们今天重点要讨论的与慈善基金如何分配的市场设计。这个词来源自Vitalik Buterin, Zoe Hitzig和Glen Weyl的一篇较新的论文: https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/10.1287/mnsc.2019.3337

作者的简要介绍:V神是大家熟悉的以太坊创始人,Zoe是哈佛大学经济系在读博士生,Glen是《激进市场》作者,微软首席经济学家,也是RadicalxChange的创始人。

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 11.44.46 AM

作者提出的QF方法,它的目标是谋求公共物品给社会带来总福祉(公共物品带来的效用减去基金投入的成本)的最大化,而不是让资源在居民之间实现公平分配。这个也被作者称为“自由激进主义”(liberal radicalism,LR)。项目收到的实际数额与收到的捐款的平方根之和的平方成比例。

与之对应的是“自由个人主义”和“自由民主主义”。在自由个人主义里,每个人都有付出,为社会做直接贡献,而每个人又都希望自己的回报(个人收益减去个人投入)最大化。在这个情况下,由于公共物品的非排他性和非竞争性,社会福利是无法达到最优的。“自由民主主义”是另一个极端,即通过民主投票的方法做出对所有人都产生效用的公共决策。

基于QF的自由激进主义是在自由个人主义和自由民主主义之间找到一个折中。自由个人主义是以个人意志为主导,自由民主主义是以集体或国家意志为主导,而自由激进主义有点类似于以群体意志为主导和划分。

—————

现在我们简要地谈一谈第三个部分,追求效益最大化的商业如何与慈善等公共事业相结合呢?其实我们现在说的商业,还是在传统的金融世界里谈;说的慈善创新呢,是在区块链的世界里谈。所以我觉得这个问题的本质是传统金融如何与区块链融合的问题,是一个中心化与去中心化如何协调的问题。

在《区块链:从数字货币到信用社会》这本书说,传统金融交易中的信息不对称、搜寻成本、匹配效率、交易费用、规模经济、风险控制等问题决定了中介存在的必要性。目前在可预见的未来,金融不会完全去中心,而是多中心(小中心)与弱中心(大中心)。

因此,区块链的到来不是说传统金融完全被革命、被颠覆,而是从垄断型、资源优势型的中心和强中介转化为开放式平台,成为服务导向式的多中心当中的差异化,从而使传统中介中心和新的中介中心获得共赢。区块链实现的是一种信任的转移,使人们在交易和合作过程中的信任对象由人和机构转移到区块链这个共识机器上。

区块链是一种思想,是许多个开源项目的集合,也是无数头脑风暴的“总账”,技术会被淘汰,发明会过时,公司会倒闭,但分布式思想不会。

我的分享到此结束。

—————

附一点题外话:因为RadicalxChange.org公益慈善的性质,在美国它是靠社会各界人士的募捐和区块链领域基金的捐赠支持的。目前它准备在中国落地,欢迎关注RadicalxChange中国社区的公众号“翕辟成变”。

qrcode_for_gh_698478b8f51a_430

由于了解RadicalxChange的中国人少,现在它在中国进一步发展面临资金上的困难,而我们需要做的事情却非常多。我先暂给大家列几件:

  1.     《激进市场》对于一般读者难度偏高,很多人觉得晦涩难懂。我们需要把书中的观点结合中国实际进行进一步细化和通俗化解读,让更多人能够读懂这本书。
  2. 除了《激进市场》,目前相关领域的研究进展也很迅速,我们需要有人专门去跟进这方面的研究,才能赶上这个快速发展的世界的步伐。我们需要专业的翻译、编辑、研究人员等等。
  3. RadicalxChange在中国的活动,大家目前都是志愿服务。以后我们想设计一系列线上和线下的公开课和交付课,把《激进市场》以及相关领域的观点进一步向大众普及,我们需要更多的人和我们一起工作。
  4. 以《激进市场》为链接点,我们可以链接到各行各业不同领域的人,有政府工作者、有企业家,学者和学生,还有明星和艺术家等。他们都有慈善和关注社会变革的美好发心,所以我们想花一些力气把我们的读者社群管理好、服务好,向大家提供一个思想能互相交流碰撞、各种资源互相链接的好的社会公共物品。
  5. 今年夏天《激进市场》作者Glen Weyl和他的团队将会来中国就《激进市场》和RadicalxChange做巡回演讲。这个活动,我们目前在寻找赞助方、合作方和组织者。
  6. 目前志愿者也是我们的工作人员,大家现在都是兼职无薪工作。我们希望能够融到一部分资金作为薪资发给我们的志愿者,转化他们中的一部分成为RadicalxChange正式的核心工作人员,这样能够激励并长期留下高素质的人才全心全意为大家提供更好的服务。
  7. 除去日常运营费用,如果还有多余的资金,我们会建立自己的慈善基金,利用二次方匹配法去资助需要帮助的人和公益项目。

愿意成为我们的捐赠者的,目前可以通过微信或支付宝直接转账,不久我们也将开通区块链捐赠渠道。捐赠者欢迎加入我们的捐赠者群交流。捐赠是RadicalxChange目前在中国落地和启动的第一轮资金的主要获取来源。不论捐多少,我们都会感激您,满足一定条件我们会赠送您参加我们线下活动的名额和其他福利。我们会把所有捐赠者的名字公开并记录在册,并向公众透明公开我们的财务。

微信转账

微信支付2

支付宝转账

支付宝2

RadicalxChange捐赠者交流群

捐赠群

—————

我们也欢迎大家联系你所在城市的负责人,如果大家想在某城市建立一个新的RadicalxChange分中心,也欢迎直接联系我。

华北-北京:胡雨青@RadicalxChange

雨青

华东-上海:小岛美奈子@仙女座科技

小岛

华西-成都:李端@区块链研究中心

李端

华东-杭州:卢梭@太昇科技

卢梭

华南-深圳:Kelin Song@BlockMania(北京的朋友也可以联系她)

BlockMania

香港及珠三角:Roy Zou@Gödel Labs

Roy

我们期待您的加入!

The original paper: download

Summary for each part:

I: The mathematical solution to constructing a rational economic order is to achieve the same marginal rates of substitution between any two goods. This is not realistic, because it relies on the assumption of complete command of knowledge in a central single mind, while in the real society the knowledge is dispersed among separate individuals. This causes misconception about the nature of economic problem, which is essentially how to efficiently allocate resources by utilizing individual knowledge, rather than utilizing it in its integrated form.

 

II: Utilizing knowledge, which involves communicating it to the planner and among different individuals, is important in designing an efficient economic system, which can be in the form of central planning, completion and monopoly. Which kind of the economic systems is more efficient depends on whether the existing knowledge can be fuller used.

 

III: Different kinds of knowledge define different positions of the economic systems. The prominent position of central planning in public imagination is due to the exaggeration of the importance of scientific knowledge. Selecting a group of experts to command such knowledge is actually only a fraction of the wider problem. The knowledge of the particular circumstances, which is not always available, is equivalently socially useful, although it is sometimes regarded as disreputable if one gains advantage by using this knowledge.

 

IV: Economic problems arise as a result of change of circumstances, making the knowledge of the particular place and time important in making economic decisions. This sort of knowledge, however, cannot be statistically calculated therefore cannot be conveyed to the central authority who make plans based on statistical information.

 

V: Decentralization is necessary in solving economic problems, because adaptions to changes in economic systems require the knowledge of the particular circumstances to be promptly used. A price system helps coordinate separate actions for individuals whose visions in their own fields sufficiently overlap through intermediaries, thus brings about the outcome that might have been achieved by central planning with complete information.

 

VI: The price system acts as a mechanism that communicates only the most essential information for individuals to take the right action, and it extends the span of resources utilization beyond the control of any single mind. Like language, this is one of the formations upon which the foundation of civilization is built.

 

VII: The dispute about the indispensability of price system is not purely a political dissent, but also intellectual and methodological differences. Schumpeter’s argument that valuation of factors of production is implied in the valuation of consumers’ goods is untrue, because it also depends on the supply of the factors. His argument disregards the essential fact of imperfection of knowledge in the real world. Thus the solution to the economic problem has to be processed by interactions of people who possess their partial knowledge.

 

In sum, the key take-away ideas are:

 

In the real world, knowledge is spread throughout the society. The knowledge of particular circumstances of place and time is not always public available, but it is useful in making economic decisions. This is an essential feature of the real world’s economic problem, which makes central planning inefficient and infeasible. That’s because central planning requires a single mind processing all the knowledge. Decentralization overcomes this problem via a price system in which individuals with their own partial knowledge coordinate with each other and utilize resources that are beyond the control of any one person.

http://www.etnpconferences.net/sea/sea2014/

My session is on Nov 22, 2014.

Saturday
10:00 – 11:45 a.m.
CEANA
Session 22B
Macroeconomics and International Economics
Organizers: Yu Hsing, Southeastern Louisiana University
Session Chairs: Lirong Liu, Sam Houston State University
Papers: “Tax Evasion through Trade Intermediation: Evidence from Chinese Exporters”
Xuepeng (Paul) Liu, Kennesaw State University (Contact Author)
Huimin Shi, Renmin University of China
Michael Ferrantino, The World Bank

“Total Factor Productivity and China’s Miraculous Growth: An Empirical Analysis”
Jianhua Zhang, The People’s Bank of China (Hangzhou)
Chunxia Jiang, Middlesex University Business School (Contact Author)
Peng Wang, The People’s Bank of China

“Do Governments Both Respond to and Counteract International Pressure for Democracy and Human Rights?”
Judith Kelley, Duke University
Yuqing Hu, The George Washington University (Contact Author)

“The Distributional Effects of Monetary Policy in an Open Economy”
Ying-Syuan Li, Fu-Jen Catholic University (Contact Author)

“Targeting with High Priority Violation Policy: An Empirical Analysis”
Lirong Liu, Sam Houston State University (Contact Author)
Zhou Yang, Robert Morris University

Discussants: Ying-Syuan Li, Fu-Jen Catholic University
Chunxia Jiang, Middlesex University Business School
Xuepeng (Paul) Liu, Kennesaw State University
Yuqing Hu, The George Washington University
Lirong Liu, Sam Houston State University

International World Congress, 6-10 June 2014, Dead Sea, Jordan

http://www.iea-world.org/JordanCongress_GeneralInfo.php

My presentation: http://www.webmeets.com/IEA/2014/m/viewpaper.asp?pid=538

Slides download: IEA_June_6_2014

IMG_1066 IMG_1212

 

An undergoing paper coauthored with Judith Kelley

Abstract

The international community is often striving to promote political and human rights reforms in recalcitrant countries. As the study of such efforts has matured, there has been growing concern that although governments may undertake the desired reforms they may counteract them by switching from the targeted type of misconduct into another spillover type of misconduct. Unfortunately, the simple correlations between the intervention and behavioral changes cannot lead to casual conclusions, as they can be caused by the intervention or other factors, or it is a result of reverse casualty, that is the pressure targets aberrant countries. These various explanations of a correlation make it essential to scrutinize the data for the presence of the theorized causal mechanisms. This article presents a framework for assessing the plausibility of counteraction. Specifically, counteraction requires conditional behavioral shifts, that is, international pressure should be accompanied not only by deterioration in the spillover behavior but also by improvements in the targeted behavior. It then revisits two prior studies, one finding that human rights shaming is associated with more physical terror, the other that international election monitors harm governance. In neither case do we find evidence of the required causal mechanisms of the counteraction. Lastly, the article discusses how exacting the standards of evidence should be in the study of policy actions that affect vulnerable populations. It thus contributes methodologically, revisits important prior findings, and raises important normative questions.

comparison_1_14_2013country_combine

Since the end of the Cold War, international election monitoring has been widely practiced by organizations all over the world. By directly observing the electoral process and evaluating the outcomes, it pressures governments to hold democratic elections. Studies have shown that election monitoring missions can play a positive role in facilitating democracy by deterring fraud, increasing confidence in the electoral process, and serving as third-party mediators (Bjornlund, 2004; Hyde, 2007). Monitors are able to effectively prevent election malpractices such as stuffing the ballot boxes and electoral violence (Hyde, 2007; Daxecker, 2012) on the election-days. However, there is another unnoticeable trend that might undermine the effectiveness of international monitoring, that is, the incumbents may strategically adapt their tactics by shifting away from overt election-day cheating to subtle manipulation, which is less likely to be observed and criticized (Daxecker, 2012) and which might be more harmful for the governance (Simper and Donno, 2012). International election monitoring, a widely accepted tool for democracy promotion, is now facing new challenges.

Not many economists have studied the issue on international election monitoring and manipulation, but it has attracted significant attention from political scientists, among whom there is a growing body of literature in an endeavor to measure or explain the effects of international monitoring.

A large volume of theories focuses on manipulation as a way to win elections. Elections generate public information that affects how the incumbent interacts with other elites and citizens (Little, 2012b), during which manipulation is considered as a hidden action to distort public information (Kuhn, 2012) and reports from international monitors of good reputation can help render election results credible (Magaloni, 2009; Ferson, 2011).

Other theories argue that international benefits such as international investment, foreign aid, preferential trade agreements and military support give electoral autocrats the incentive to invite international observers and manipulate elections to minimize international criticism (Beaulieu and Hyde, 2009; Hyde, 2011). Economic and political stability, transparency, and democratic political institutions are examples of valued and rewarded state-level characteristics.  For countries that are not perceived to possess the characteristic have an increased incentive to modify their behavior in order to gain more international benefits and to signal their commitment to skeptical or indifferent audiences (Hyde, 2011b).

Most of the existing theories adopt the signaling (Hyde, 2011b), decision-theoretic (Lehoucq, 2003; Fearon, 2011) or game-theoretic approach (Little, 2012b), in which inviting monitors are seen as a signal of a government’s commitment of democracy, and the incumbents face the tradeoffs between increasing their probability of winning elections and the chance that they will be captured for committing fraud and the associated decrease in legitimacy, credibility, or aid, so they strategically achieve an equilibrium in which the marginal cost of manipulation equals the expected marginal benefits of international support or winning the election. However, none of the models consider the more general equilibrium in combination of the short-run objective of election victory and long-run objective of development (such as gaining international benefits), or give out a benchmark that the international monitoring can be beneficial or harmful.

Regarding the empirical research, a lot works have been done to show the association between international monitoring, election manipulation and government outcomes, but few directly test the casual relationship. One possible reason is that any cross-national study attempting to examine the domestic effects of international observers would be plagued by endogeneity problems. At the aggregate level it is difficult to distinguish between an election that is clean because of the presence of international observers and an election that would have been clean regardless of their presence. One may use counterfactuals to make a persuasive argument, but demonstrating causality using cross-national evidence would be nearly impossible.

Nevertheless, there are still a handful of papers testing the casual effects of international monitoring on manipulation and a variety of other governance outcomes. For example, Hyde (2010) presented the first field-experimental study in international election monitoring, in which the international observers were randomly assigned in the 2004 Indonesia presidential election. By examining the micro level electoral data, she found that incumbent presidential candidate performed better in internationally-monitored villages and the presence of observers had a measurable effect on the votes cast. Simpser and Donno (2012) tested the effects of high-quality monitoring on governance, in which they instrumented for election monitoring by identifying sources of variation in the likelihood of monitoring. They used regional rate of high-quality election monitoring as IV, because changes in the operation of monitoring organizations are likely to affect the probability of monitoring in the region where the organization specializes, but unlikely to affect governance directly or via other channels. Both of the examples provide evidence of the casual relationship, but since they implicitly rely on the assumption that politicians manipulate the election in order to win more votes, they thus neglect other possible channels through which the international election monitoring can impact the governance.

References

Beaulieu, Emily, and Susan Hyde. 2009. “In the Shadow of Democracy Promotion : Strategic Manipulation, International Observers, and Election Boycotts.” Comparative Political Studies, 42: 392-415.

Bhirnlund, Eric. 2004. Beyond Free and Fair: Monitoring Elections and Building Democracy. Washington DC and Baltimore, MD: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press.

Daxecker, Ursula. 2012. “All Quiet on Election Day? International Election Observation and Incentives for Violent Manipulation in African Elections.” Journal of Peace Research, forthcoming.

Fearon, James. 2011. “Self-Enforcing Democracy.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126: 1661-1708.

Hyde, Susan. 2007. “The observer Effect in International Politics: Evidence from a Natural Experiment.” World Politics, 60 (1): 37-63.

Hyde, Susan, and Angela O’Mahony. 2010. “International Scrutiny and Pre-electoral Fiscal Manipulation in Developing Countries.” The Journal of Politics, 72 (3): 690-704.

Hyde, Susan. 2011. “Catch Us if You Can: Election Monitoring and International Norm Creation.”American Journal of Political Science, 55 (2): 201-462.

Hyde, Susan. 2011. The Pseudo-Democrat’s Dilemma: Why Election Observation Became an International Norm. Cornell University Press.

Hyde, Susan. 2012. “Does Information Facilitate Self-Enforcing Democracy? The Role of International Election Monitoring.” Working paper.

Lehoucq, Fabrice. 2003. “Electoral Fraud: Causes, Types, and Consequences.” Annual Review of Political Science, 6: 233-256.

Kelley, Judith. 2008. “Assessing the Complex Evolution of Norms: The Rise of International Election Monitoring.” International Organization, 62: 221-255.

Kelley, Judith. 2012. Monitoring Democracy: When International Election Observation Works, and Why It Often Fails. Princeton University Press.

Kuhn, Patrick. 2012. “To Protest or Not: The Election Losers’ Dilemma.” Manuscript.

Little, Andrew. 2012. “Elections, Fraud, and Election Monitoring in the Shadow of Revolution.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 7: 249-283.

Little, Andrew. 2012. “Fraud and Monitoring in Noncompetitive Elections”. Working Paper.

Little, Daniel. 2011. Varieties of Social Explanation. Westview Press.

Magaloni, Beatriz. 2009. “The Game of Electoral Fraud and the Ousting of Authoritarian Rule.” American Journal of Political Science, 54(3): 751-765.

Shleifer, Andrei, 2002. “The Memu of Manipulation.” Journal of Democracy, 13: 36-50.

Simpser, Alberto, and Daniela Donno. 2012. “Can International Election Monitoring Harm Governance?” The Journal of Politics, 74 (2): 501-513.