Spicaresque:

A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CONT'D: "THE PREDICTIONEER'S GAME" BY BRUCE BUENO DE MESQUITA

I have to return The Predictioneer's Game (2009) tomorrow or I am going to incur some fines, but I did want to talk about it a little again. My friend, Alfi, and I were talking this book up last Sunday and today a little. He was a Master's candidate at some fancy policy school in London and we play futbol. We were especially drawn to Bueno de Mesquita's take on fixing the Middle East problem, which by the way was prompted meeting an Israeli sociologist through a coffee and cookie meeting of the Hoover Fellows at Standford.

On page 106 of his book, The Predictioneer's Game, he writes, "My idea is that the Israeli and Palestinian governments will distribute a portion of their tax revenue generated from tourism (and only from tourism) to each other"...Why not, for example, promote peace by setting up joint Israeli-Palestinian ventures, or allowing freer movement between regions, or some other scheme?...Tourism has a feature that can be exploited to improve the prospects of peace. You see, tourism and the tax revenue generated from it are highly sensitive to violence." My man Bruce, analyzes revenue from tourism and sees that (obviously) tourism suffers the most during periods of Intifada. He continues, "If the Palestinians crack down on the sources of terrorism or other forms of attack against Israel, then the decreased violence will almost surely be followed by a significant increase in tourism" (112).

Bruce makes a great many valid points and his spiel is top notch, but easy to follow. I mean in many ways he is just saying that he has a system for prediction that is based on game theory and people's innate desire to do what best suits them or as Bruce puts it, "people do what they believe is in their best interest" (3). All the inequality in the world, really, is just a very select few people holding on to power by paying off a limited amount of people. And it seems that a country can progress in that fashion for a long, long time. I suspect that is what is happening in southeast Asia now as Thailand unravels. But he has something for those people as well.

"Death tolls from cataclysmic natural events are vastly higher in countries run by dictators than in democracies. Democratic governments prepare for disasters, regulate construction to increase the chances of surviving events like earthquakes, and stockpile food, clothing, and shelter for disaster victims. Why? Because governments elected by people are largely accountable to the people" (143). You get the idea that Bruce relishes being right with his predictions, and yet he does not shy away from showing you his mistakes, miscalibrations, misdeeds, and macabre number crunching, and that is why one believes his mathematical augury: because he has a prediction rate that's better than CIA analysts, but is also not afraid to show you how he has been wrong.