Tag Archives: politics

The Three Worlds

Generally, the terms first-world and third-world are used to describe rich countries and poor countries, respectively. But how did the terms get their start? You don’t actually have to look too far back, because the terms arose, under slightly different meanings, during the Cold War. ‘First world’ used to refer to the United States and its allies, most of which were democratic and capitalist, ‘Second World’ used to refer to the Soviet Union, its allies, and other communist or socialist states, and ‘Third world’ referred to neutral or unaligned nations. Under the old definitions, the wealthy nation of Switzerland would have been considered a “third world nation”, while the relatively poor nations of Burma and Mozambique would have been considered “first world nations”. Finally, a more recent term “fourth world” refers to smaller populations, typically those excluded from global or industrial societies.

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Filed under Culture, Economics, History, Politics

Double Post: Subsidies and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

Again, I’m sorry for missing a day, but I’ll do some related topics in today’s double post: Subsidies and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Subsidies are support income provided by the government to certain companies, namely agriculture and energy providers. In the past, these sectors were weak and needed support from their companies otherwise life in general would collapse (no food, no electricity, no fuel, etc.). I’m not going to argue that subsidies are not needed, I’m no expert in economics and it’s not my place to do so, but some subsidies, such as those that pay farmers not to farm (which I’ll get to in a bit because it has a little to do with the next topic) are counter-intuitive.

So what does paying farmers not to farm have to do with the Prisoner’s Dilemma? First we have to know what the Prisoner’s Dilemma is. Say we take two prisoners, Alvin and Bruce, who have together committed a crime (the details aren’t exactly important). If either one sells out the other, and the other confesses, the one who confessed gets one year in prison while the one who betrayed gets off free, if both betray each other, both will get three months in prison, and if both confess, both get only one month in prison. It’s, individually, in both Alvin’s and Bruce’s to betray, but it’s in their collective interest if they both confess. We see something similar in raw food prices. If a farmer produce large amounts of food, that food will be worth less due to inflation, than it would be if they produced less, but if farmer produce less food they are at the whim of the markets and could get in trouble due to other farmers potentially producing more food and driving prices down. That’s the farmer’s dilemma, and that’s where subsidies come in.

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Filed under Culture, Economics, Game Theory, Mathematics, Politics

Richest American Presidents

I’m going to keep this as unbiased as I can. Since the ratification of the Constitution of the United States only nine presidents have had a net worth of less than one million dollars (adjusted for inflation, all figures are in 2010 US Dollars, some presidents who are considered to be millionaires now may not have been when they were alive). The richest American President to date was John F. Kennedy who had a net worth (again, in 2010 dollars) of around one billion dollars. The next richest President was George Washington, with a net worth of 525 million dollars. The current president, Barack Obama, has a net worth of around 5 million dollars, largely from book sales, and is currently the 28th wealthiest. The nine Presidents who were not millionaires are, in order of the dates they were President, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman. Finally, since the 2012 United States Presidential Elections are approaching, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney currently has a net worth of about 200 million dollars and, should he be elected President, he would be the fourth wealthiest, behind Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.

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Filed under Culture, History, Politics

Strange Laws

Disclaimer: The primary source for this post is a website of unknown reliability. Be aware that not all of the information may be correct. However,  I will make corrections as they come to my attention. Thank you, and enjoy the fun facts.

The following is a list of laws that are, in my personal opinion, silly, nonsensical or otherwise strange. Many of these laws may have valid reasoning and I in no way am supporting the repeal of any of these laws unless I otherwise state so.
Let’s start in my home state of Washington, in the United States, where it is illegal to harass any Bigfoot, Sasquatch or other related creature that is as of yet undiscovered punishable by a fine of $100,000 and/or imprisonment up to ten years. Slaying or capturing such a creature, all proceeds will be donated to state colleges for research and protection of said creature. In other primate-related law, it is illegal, in Massachusetts, for a gorilla to occupy the back seat of a car. Hawaii law bans billboards, Alabama law bans bear wrestling matches and Texas law bans the Encyclopedia Britannica on grounds that it contains a formula for homemade beer. Now let’s get international (the United States isn’t the only place with strange laws after all). In Germany, a pillow is considered a passive weapon. In the UK, Members of Parliament may not don armor. Bungee jumping and urinating in an elevator are illegal in Singapore, and electronic games are banned in Greece. Finally, in South Africa, it is illegal to buy a television without a license.

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War is a state of organized armed conflict between two groups of people, typically nations. Periods of warfare tend to see increased mortality rates in the affected areas, aggression and social disruption, but also potentially increased rates of innovation as part of efforts to win. The largest war to date, in terms of the number of people who died as a result of said war, was the second World War, during which more than 60 million people died. The major participating nations in WWII were the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, the United States, the British Empire, Japan, the Republic of China, Italy and France. The first war to be recorded was one between Sumer, in modern Iraq, and Elam, in modern Iran, which took place in about 2700 BCE. The longest war to be declared was the Third Punic War, which began in 149 BCE. There was no declaration of peace between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian Republic when the contract of surrender was signed in 146BCE. The mayors of Rome and Carthage signed an official peace treaty in 1985, 2134 years after the war began. Finally, the shortest war ever declared began on August 27 1896. The British Empire issued an ultimatum to the Zanzibar Sultanate, which expired at 9:00AM East Africa Time. At 9:02AM about 1,000 British or pro-British troops stormed the royal palace, which was taken at 9:40AM. The entire war lasted 38 minutes.

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