What CCTs can't do


In The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn launches a fascinating discussion of (very) early childhood intervention with wide repercussions for policy-making in Venezuela (and everywhere else.) Read it.

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  1. I have been constantly amazed at the ‘investment’ entailed in ‘making a person’: it is ongoing, massive and multifaceted and this article really drives home the essential aspect of ‘be a parent first’ imperatives if disaster at personal, family and local levels is to be averted, not to speak of — as they do — the subsequent financial drain on all pockets, both government and family. If left to bloom, natural nurturing instincts can work wonders: in our less-than-natural and arguably success-skewed world it is easy to become distanced from our very own natures, giving work, often so sadly doomed to failure, to expensive shrinks and expensive police forces alike. Never was that ancient carpenter’s exhortation more proximate, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, being but one of the oodles of versions of “Do unto others as you would be done by”. How to implement that á lo Criollo? ¿Hay un camino?

  2. It’s very difficult to read an article like that one and not get so derailed by it that one forgets to come back and make a point about it. I must admit that if I had read that anywhere else, without the title of your post being “What CCTs can’t do”, I would never have thought of making any link to any economic relevance. I would have just sat in a heartbroken stupor. What CCTs can’t do, but UCTs can, at least a little. Seems to little too late for so many children. I often try to imagine, when reading things like this, what difference it would make globally if 2% of the world GPD were spent on giving 2USD/day to every human being.

    • extorres,

      entonces el Socialismo seria el negocio del momento, y el slogan sera “invierta en sus hijos”

      porque las madres del barrio ganaran sueldo, y por cada hijo que tengan va a tener 300 Bsf adicionales…….

      I believe in help, but helping has to make sense.

      • Firepigette, the thing is, are you willing to discuss the making sense part? Or the similar proposals are working better than all alternatives part?

    • Muy de pinga, only the asterisk is missing…

      Chávez ofrece Bs.300 a familias de niños pobres*

      *que no aparecen en la Lista Tascón.

    • Not only is this a blatant attempt to buy voters under the banner of “helping the poor”, but even if the money got to the families in need, this is far from a reasonable solution. We are talking about child cognitive development, brain stimulation, love and care, not about throwing money away (which, by the way, the Venezuelan government does better than most). Who guarantees that those families receiving the money won’t go straight to buy booze or drugs? Who guarantees in a country where government corruption is among the highest in the world this subsidy will not end in the hands of friends and families of officials who, all of a sudden, will appear to be under the poverty line and to have a surprising number of small children?
      Sorry to bring politics into the discussion. Quico, the article is excellent and it is without a doubt a subject that should be in the forefront of any serious government plan, especially for developing countries where it is very likely that the majority of the population is not receiving appropriate care and stimulation in the first two years of life, with the now well-known (and scientifically proven) severe consequences of this. One of the main problems of subjects like this -in relation to politics and political campaigns- is that they do not bring any votes because they are not in the radar of most people. We are all focused on bringing food to the table today, not in the wellbeing of people that are not even born yet.

      • The corollary of my previous rant, in case there is any doubt, is that shifting the attention from the mundane day-to-day needs to the wellbeing of future generations is not only important but crucial if we want to have any chance of surviving as a civilized society. I heard many years ago somebody saying that the urgent short-term matters take our attention away from the indispensable long-term ones. We have a government that fails miserably at addressing short-term urgent matters and that completely ignores the indispensable long-term ones. But it is also true that we are not alone.

      • virtok, you may be right about the long term thinking vs. short term thinking, but all those people with below the poverty line needs aren’t going to let you get to power if you’re only thinking long term. You’ve got to get to power first.

        Also, I think that the intention of the line defined by the poverty line was defined as the limit below which no one should have to live while long term plans are carried out; I gather you don’t take it that way. Is your limit only medical?

        • Agree, you need to get to power first. I also agree with the need of having a definition of a poverty line. My point was that in a government where officials steal shamelessly, the BsF 300 aid based on a proof of being under the poverty line and having children younger than x age will turn (if they ever implement it) into another source of corruption and most of the money will end up in the wrong hands, while some families in real need will have to line up in front of a bank under the sun waiting for hours to get their alms. This is just a populist gimmick to -once again- fool the poorest segment of the population.

          • True. All the more reason to propose systems that minimize the number and probability of points of failure. But, in the chavez case, we could add fuel to the fire he’s starting up by getting potential recipients onboard, loudly, and goad him into offering more, sooner, and to more people. If they don’t get their money, they jump ship. If they stop getting their money, they jump ship. If they don’t get enough, they jump ship. And if much money gets lost along the way, then he still has less money to do his other nefarious things.

  3. The announcement of child benefits doesn’t mention conditions for getting them nor what will be done with cedula details so collected (see today’s runrunes: realidad roja): Hmmnn. Moreover, for an undertaking aimed at social benefit, the announcement would have been better without that idiosyncratic, sui generis, frankly weird phrase, “Cristo más bien debió ser Crista”.


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