My editorial on You Tube
Here I go again, travelling. Not much of an expedition, just a trip to France, for a family visit of 5 days. As it is usually the case when I go for this type of trip, I am leaving sort of a tiny mess at home. This time, it is a leaking roof, and my son is supposed to handle (hopefully) the professionals, who are supposed (hopefully) to come and fix it.
This is supposed to be a scientific blog, and so I pass to scientific things. I am thinking about two, partly connected topics: my research and teaching about political systems, and a piece of research I am doing on Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, in the insurance industry. The connection that I see consists in defining the basic observables in large institutional structures, such as political systems or strongly regulated markets. I mean, how can I sort of know empirically what people do in such structures, with all the foam of propaganda, political and corporate, and with all those metaphysics, based on strong emotions, in the lines of “Corporations always cheat and politicians always cheat!”.
What can I sort of observe empirically, as directly, and as free of bias as possible, in political systems? Two things come to my mind in the first place: legal rules, starting with constitutions, and policies. The latter are partly wrapped in the former, mind you. Then, I am thinking about parties, or coalitions, at power. They are observable through their numerical, electoral scores and the parliamentary seats allotted. In the case of ruling coalitions, the proportions of executive offices, like ministers, deputy ministers, and secretaries of state, held by respective parties in the coalition, can be informative. Now, a little remark: anywhere outside the United States of America, a secretary of state is written in small letters, without capital initials, and means sort of a minister being at the disposition of the prime minister or of the president, inside the structure of respective offices adjacent to those two head jobs. In the United States, the Secretary of State writes himself or herself in with capital initials and is in charge of foreign policy.
As it comes to CSR in the insurance industry, I have three basic observables. One consists of business models, as I can deconstruct them through objective insight into the financials of insurance companies. The other is made of the officially declared policies of social responsibility. Finally, the third observable are the typical contractual patterns applied by insurance companies.
And so I observe those observables. I am strongly quantitative in my approach to anything, and so I am trying to nail down differences across space, as well as changes over time. There is one more thing. Whatever exact avenue I follow, ethics matter. There are certain outcomes of human actions, which can be deemed as social, in the sense of being general and widespread. We are ethical beings, as we want things and strive to achieve goals we see as valuable. If there are any general values, possible to distillate from various goals we are going for, and if these values are essentially constructive and positive, they are ethical values.
Good, that’s theory, and now I am taking on a topic of current importance. The President of my country, Andrzej Duda, has just met President Donald Trump. Apparently, he urged Donald Trump to move American troops from Germany to Poland, and to establish permanent bases of the U.S. military in Poland. That’s what the media say he apparently said he means. This is the foam that I have been just talking about. Now, I am reaching to less foamy a source, namely to the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. National Defense Authorisation Acts, voted each year for the next year, are federal peri-budgetary regulations. In the properly spoken Federal Budget of the United States of America, expenditures on defense are essentially presented as discretionary spending, i.e. remaining in the discretion of the executive. Still, the National Defense Authorisation act of each consecutive year gives some detail and some structure to that discretion.
So, in that John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 three components refer to Poland. Firstly, there is Section 1280, entitled ‘Report On Permanent Stationing of United States Forces in The Republic of Poland. Then, sections 2901 and 4602 give a glimpse of actual expenditures of the U.S. military in Poland, scheduled for 2019. This report is supposed to lay out the feasibility and advisability of permanently stationing United States forces in the Republic of Poland. The type of forces taken into account are both the combat units properly spoken, and the so-called « combat enabler units », i.e. combat engineering, logistics and sustainment, warfighting headquarters elements, long-range fires, air and missile defense, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic warfare.
My experience with studying those things governments do and call ‘policies’ is that governments declare a policy sort of publicly, such as in this case, in an official act, when they have actually already done much in the given direction. In other words, efficient governments do something and then they announce they are going to do it. Inefficient governments declare the willingness to do something, and then they start thinking how the hell they can do it.
And so I go to numbers. Those in the National Defense Authorization Act 2019 come first. Section 2901 specifies the expenditures on Authorized Army Construction and Land Acquisition Projects. As for Poland, it makes a total of $144 400 000, and it is more than whatever the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, or the U.S. Air Force plan to spend in most other countries in Europe. The United Kingdom tops it with $185 130 000, and Germany closes by, mind you, with $119 000 000 to be spend by the U.S. Air Force in 2901. Section 4602 contains expenditures grouped under the heading of ‘Military Construction for Overseas Contingency Operations’, and it essentially mirrors the same amount as in Section 2901, i.e. $144 400 000.
Now, I compare these numbers with their counterparts specified in, respectively, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 – $8 200 000 to be spent in Poland – and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 >> $22 400 000 in the same category.
This is an almost textbook case of exponential growth. How do I know it? I take those values for three consecutive years, thus Money(2017) = $8 200 000, Money(2018) = $22 400 000, and Money(2019) = $144 400 000, and I take natural logarithms out of those numbers. Reminder: a natural logarithm is the power, to which the Euler’s constant e = 2,7182 has to be taken in order to obtain the given number. In this case, Money(2017) = e15,91964471, Money(2018) = e16,92457152, and Money(2019) = e18,78532386.
The really textbook-textbook exponential growth is like y = eb*t, where ‘t’ is the number of the consecutive period on a timeline, and ‘b’ is a parameter. Constant exponential growth occurs when the ‘b’ coefficient is constant over time. When ‘b’ dares to grow with each consecutive period, we have an accelerating exponential growth, whose opposite is the decelerating growth with ‘b’ decreasing over time. What I do now is to assume that my three consecutive years are three periods on a timeline, which is basically what they are, but I need to do it sort of by the book, and so I have 2017 = t1, 2018 = t2, and 2019 = t3. Consequently, I divide the natural logarithms from the preceding paragraph by their respective abscissae on the timeline. That gives Money(2017) = e1*15,91964471, Money(2018) = e2*8,462285758, and Money(2019) = e3*6,261774619.
See? The ‘b’ coefficients of this particular exponential chain decrease over time. Here comes the deep logic of exponential growth: it is a type of process over time, where each consecutive step sort of stands and builds up on the shoulders of the preceding steps. Military spending addressed by U. S. Department of Defense, in Poland grows over time but the exponential pace of this growth decreases. The building up over time is impressive in absolute numbers, but it seems to decelerate.
Now, I come back from maths to politics. Those calculations indicate two things. Firstly, whatever is being said in official meetings between my domestic President, and President Trump, regarding the U.S. military presence in Poland, is already happening. The United States are increasing their military footing in Europe in general, and in Poland in particular, and it happens as President Trump loudly declares being sick of it. Secondly, this policy took its strongest kick-start a few years ago, and now it is progressively coming to maturity.
I am consistently delivering good, almost new science to my readers, and love doing it, and I am working on crowdfunding this activity of mine. As we talk business plans, I remind you that you can download, from the library of my blog, the business plan I prepared for my semi-scientific project Befund (and you can access the French version as well). You can also get a free e-copy of my book ‘Capitalism and Political Power’ You can support my research by donating directly, any amount you consider appropriate, to my PayPal account. You can also consider going to my Patreon page and become my patron. If you decide so, I will be grateful for suggesting me two things that Patreon suggests me to suggest you. Firstly, what kind of reward would you expect in exchange of supporting me? Secondly, what kind of phases would you like to see in the development of my research, and of the corresponding educational tools?
Support this blog