GiveDirectly is the first nonprofit that lets donors like you and me send money directly to the poorest people on the planet, with no strings attached. Crazy as it may seem, we weren’t able to find this back in 2011 when we were looking for a way to give away our own money, and that’s why we created GiveDirectly. And yes, a lot of people thought we were crazy at first - one of our first big funders initially told us we “must be smoking crack.”
Like many people, we had grown up hearing this was a bad idea. We worried that recipients would waste the money, or even use it in ways that harmed themselves like spending on alcohol or tobacco. We worried that they wouldn’t work as hard to improve their own situation. We thought that you have to “teach a man to fish.” (An aside: in the data, we are actually quite bad at teaching people to fish.)
But now for the first time we have evidence – a lot of evidence – from rigorous experimental evaluations. Experimental impact evaluation didn’t start in a big way in development until the early 2000s, but since then there have been 100s of high quality evaluations of the impacts of cash transfers, including many randomized controlled trials.
The bad things we worried about haven’t happened. A systematic review by economists at Harvard and MIT found no evidence that people work less when they receive transfers; another one by economists at the World Bank found that not only did spending on alcohol and tobacco not increase, it actually went down on average.
Instead there have been positive impacts on just about any measure of well-being you can think of, including health, education, nutrition, assets, earnings – we even saw a study recently that found evidence cash transfers reduced suicides. There is no one answer to the question “what happens when you give money to poor people,” which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising: the whole point is to give people the flexibility to pursue the goals and opportunities they think are most important.
At the same time, advances in payments technology have made it cheap and safe to reach the very poorest people on the planet. We send most payments over mobile money, which let us reach people in East Africa living on just $0.65 / person / day and deliver around 90% of each donated dollar into their hands. We’ve proven this model at a large scale - currently around $50M / year, similar to the scale of many government cash transfers programs - and could easily be moving two or three times as much with current capacity.
Given this, we think that giving directly should be the default way of helping people who don’t have much money. Globally, we are already spending more in foreign aid and private charitable giving than it would take to end extreme poverty, at least in a purely financial sense. There will be times when we can do better - by creating a public good like a vaccine, for example. But we think we should always start from a place of respect: treat donated money as if it belongs to the poor, and ask if there is a good reason to believe that we can create more value for them by spending it ourselves than by letting them decide.
I don’t remember precisely when I was given this book but, judging from the 1973 publication date, it was probably some time in 1974.
It was, is, a comprehensive guide to the (then) history, current production (70s) and possible future (about the mid 80s-2000s!) of Jet Aircraft. The ‘future’ predicted then included vertical take-off domestic flights from city centre airports and supersonic/hypersonic international flights. If only!
In addition to aircraft and airports it featured lots of pictures of aircraft being designed and built. I found it fascinating, even obscure technical topics like navigation and approach systems which it covers in a surprising level of detail.
I would have bet the Boeing factory was in there but, although their aircraft feature prominently, the assembly pictures are all from McDonnell Douglas, Airbus or BAC! Nonetheless, decades later… the eight year old who read that book was not going to miss his only chance to see a US commercial aircraft plant.
Getting there, my first drive in the USA!
The Boeing Factory is about 40km North of the city, where I was staying, but I also wanted to visit the, completely independent, Museum of Flight which is about about 15km South.
Although there were a tours for both the Hotel concierge recommended renting a car as better (and cheaper) option.
I’ve cycled in the USA, so ridden on the ‘wrong side’, but never driven there before. Although I would have liked to try the Mustang I parked next to in the Boeing carpark (below) it was probably better my rental was the rather staid Nissan Sentra, no longer sold new in NZ, beside it.
It was fine, if forgettable, and certainly economical enough. They were rather generous reading the current fuel level on collection, it was nearer half than the quarter tank noted, so after about 100km I didn’t get billed for gas even though I didn’t add any.
I found adapting to ‘wrong’ side driving fine. Having HERE maps (my preference because they use off-line data) phone GPS and voice directions helped immensely. Suspect I was the only one on the road being told about motorway exits (thanks to ‘British’ voice) and turn distances in metres/kilometres but I found it easier to relate to them irrespective of the miles on signs! The HERE speed limit warnings also worked flawlessly, no tickets!
By the end of the day I was glad to have taken this option. The flexibility of not being locked into tour time restrictions was great.
Future of Flight & Boeing Tour
The Future of Flight Foundation (non-profit) run the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Factory Tours. Their Center has a theatre (for a short intro film to Boeing Tour), store, café, roof top observation deck and an exhibition space. It contains some small aircraft, aircraft components (and part fuselages), engines, a Space Station module and educational displays on aircraft production. From there you jump on a bus around the Paine Field Airport airside perimeter to the Boeing factory itself.
Unfortunately they don’t allow photos on the airfield tour bus or inside so only have a few of the outside. Although the pace is regimented, due to security, you do get a good view during the tour, from walkways above the factory floor, and plenty of time to take it all in.
The scale of the place and complexity of the assembly jigs was impressive. The engineering of the production process is as impressive as the final product.
We saw 777, 747-8 freighters and 767 (actually KC-46A Pegasus tankers for US Air Force) being assembled in one bay and 787 in another. The 737 are assembled at other sites. The differences between the old ‘riveted’ metal aircraft and ‘spun’ composite 787 production process is very noticeable.
It was awesome to see; although flying is ‘routine’ the skill, technology and dedication which make it possible is far from that. One thing I didn’t mention; having flown to the US on Hawaiian Airbus A330…
The main Everett assembly factory. The (tiny looking) aircraft parked outside (rh corner) is a 787-9 like Air New Zealand fly.
This departure was my first chance to see (apart from in design models) the airside changes at Auckland Airport. Although still in construction the finished parts look great and the new security/emigration area is much better.
Via Hawaii, a good way to go
Although about 15 hours total a stop-over in Hawaii, after 9 hours, made the flight to Seattle much more pleasant than the usual long-haul.
The Hawaiian entry to the US wasn’t terrible but I found the ‘new’ machines, of which they seemed very proud, to be of little advantage. Nowhere near as slick as the Kiwi system.
They still gave us visa waiver entry forms on the aircraft and said they needed to be filled out. In the immigration hall, which was packed, some were put through the old way, queue for an officer, while others - including me - got to queue for the new machines.
It scanned your passport, fingers and asked the questions on the form and some the officers used to do (reason for travel, where staying, anything to declare like are you a terrorist…) then printed a receipt. Then you queued again to see an officer who reviewed the receipt, your passport and asked a few more questions. Overall the whole process seemed to take much longer and that form from the aircraft wasn't needed!
I found the airport layout, and way-finding signage or lack of, a bit baffling but eventually got from the international arrivals to my domestic flight to Seattle. I did like the airside gardens, much nicer than hanging around in a terminal, and the great airfield views. It amazes me how many airports hide the business of flying which (am I odd?) I find interesting to watch!
Seeing 6 stealth fighters taxiing, and quite a few travelling in military uniforms, was odd for a Kiwi but a reminder this is a partially military facility.
It was late at night when I arrived. A long diversion on approach (almost to Portland!) meant the tailwind Jetstream benefit, we were at 40000 ft doing 900km/h, was lost again. The Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330-200 was fine, would happily fly them again which is fortunate because I will be.
Awoke after a bit of a sleep in to find Seattle cold’ish (6oC) and damp. No surprises there so I layered up (yay Icebreaker merino thermals and jacket) and headed out to explore the city.
I didn’t have a plan, other than to see the usual key sights, so just wandered towards the waterfront from the Mayflower Park Hotel where I was staying.
Seattle will be transformed when a tunnel, in construction, replaces this waterfront overhead highway. Note the temporary accommodation, Seattle must be a tough place to be homeless in winter. That aside I found the city to be clean and seemingly safe, certainly no problem wandering in the areas I visited.
No, I didn’t go in but it was interesting/odd to see (below) legal cannabis sales. When I got home NZ legalised limited medical use (a sensible change from the previous governments policy) but I think it will be a while before we see the likes of “Herban Legends”.
Yes, went up The Space Needle because, well, you just have too! The cap was to keep the drizzle off my glasses, not shade!
The view was a bit gloomy, but clear enough to see a reasonable portion of the city.
A glimmer of sun in the distance made this photo more interesting but came to nothing. It was mostly fine enough for walking, just light drizzle if anything.
Loved the Chihuly Garden and Glass and although photos don’t do it justice I took plenty! About a week later wandering through the Bellagio I twigged that the ceiling of their lobby area was by the same artist. It is a mass of glass ‘lilies’ similar to the installation below.
I stayed and watched the glass blowing demo because it was interesting and coincided with heavy rain so no incentive to leave!
After a late lunch, just a burger, at the MoPOP I didn’t really have enough time to do their exhibitions justice. Spent most time in the music spaces, the guitar and related memorabilia collection was amazing!
He was considering getting a new car so, after a meal, we wandered around the Seattle motorshow, in the bowels of the Seattle Seahawks home stadium.
It was great to catch up with Buzz and help him not buy a car! Hopefully he’ll get out to New Zealand for our next rendezvous and it will not take over a decade. My turn to show him some locations from the Aussie/NZ TV series 800 Words, shot near Auckland, which somehow he’d seen!
Was odd to talk about places I know so well, and him only from TV! For Kiwis visiting the US it’s mostly the other way around!
Once I decided to go to Autodesk University 2017 (November 13-16) in Las Vegas thoughts turned to how to get there.
The usual route, from New Zealand, is via Los Angeles or San Francisco. While I love San Francisco I have been there several times and while I have been to Los Angeles almost as often I have never had any desire to stop there.
Last time I went to Autodesk University, in 2011, I was supposed to visit Seattle and Vancouver on the way home. A family emergency, while I was at AU, meant had to ditch those plans but airfare restrictions meant I still had to come home via Seattle.
Having been to the airport, and no further, I decided it was time to go back. After trying to book via websites I found the whole process frustrating (muilti-leg with international and domestic flights) so gave my travel agent a call. They came back with a few options, via S.F. or L.A., and one very tempting one I’d never have thought of; via Hawaii.
Not only was it simpler, less internal flights, it was also significantly cheaper! Even better I could stopover in Hawaii (where I hadn’t been) for little more than the other fares on offer. Sold!
Then there was the matter of timing. I couldn’t leave until November 8th, already had tickets to see Physicist Brian Cox on the 7th, and back by November 25th for the NZ Skeptics Conference.
So it was I went (via Hawaii) to Seattle for a few days (8-12/11), then Las Vegas for AU (12-18/11) and home after rest in Hawaii (18-23/11) arriving, thanks to the dateline, late on November 24th.
It was sobering reading an email today (reproduced below) from Tibet Watch marking the 30th anniversary of the 1987 Lhasa protest uprising.
It is impossible to visit Tibet without confronting the oppression Tibetans live with and wondering if you are supporting it. In addition to information and current news on the Tibetan struggle freetibet.org/about/travel-in-tibet has information on ethics of travelling in Tibet and recommendations for travellers.
Stand on the roof top of Jokhang Temple and you can gaze at the square where much of the 1987 protest happened, albeit since surrounded by a new city. In the distance the Potala Palace stands apart—as iconic as ever—but decades have passed since it served its real purpose; home of the Dalai Lama.
You can’t fail to notice military/police presence (below) and literally hundreds of CCTV cameras watching every move. None of it is to protect the people of Tibet.
There are regular Police ‘Checks’ which impede travel between towns, much more for locals than tourists, as permits are checked. In a medical emergency our vehicles could not backtrack to (much closer) Lhasa and had to drive hundreds of kilometres to the Nepalese border because of ‘paperwork’.
Vehicle movements were being photographed at the entry to this town.
Although the oppression was evident in cities and at provincial borders it was at the Tibet Nepal border where it really hit home. After the usual border bureaucracy we just walked across “Friendship Bridge” and out of Tibet.
Something many Tibetans will never do, something Free Tibet.org works to change and something I support.
(Bizarre border as we left Tibet, photo above by braver than me Kirsten)
Today from Tibet Watch
Email From: Eleanor - Free Tibet Sent: Thursday, 28 September 2017 06:32
Subject: Today is the 30th Anniversary of the 1987 Tibetan uprising (and the founding of Free Tibet)
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the first protest of the 1987 uprising.
30 years ago today, a series of protests calling for Tibet's freedom began in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. China retaliated with brutal force, and many lives were lost as a result. This kick-started a series of protests over the next few years and was a major milestone in the international movement for a free Tibet. In fact, our organisation was formed in the aftermath of these horrific events. A new report from our research partner Tibet Watch publishes never before seen images from the protests and reveals previously unknown details about the brave individuals involved. We must warn you that the report contains extremely graphic imagery of the violence that ensued on that day and some readers may find them upsetting.
The photos, which were obtained from a relative of one of Tibet Watch’s researchers who had worked for the Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA) Department of Security, capture the strife of individual Tibetan protesters who were beaten and killed during the uprising. Additionally, the report highlights the coverage of the protests in the international media and how Free Tibet was founded in response to the crackdown.