January 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
A new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimates that globally 30-50% of food is wasted. (Download the report.). In the following video Trstram Stuart, author of the 2009 book, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, tackles the subject. Writing in the Financial Times Tristram quoted Lord Haskins, then one of the chief advisers to the government on food and farming, as estimating that 70% of food produced in Britain is wasted. This is obviously a striking example of market efficiency.
November 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Lord Skidelsky, Emeritus professor of political economy and Dr Edward Skidelsky, lecturer in philosophy tackle the questions: What constitutes the good life? What is the true value of money? Why do we work such long hours merely to acquire greater wealth?
August 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
by William A. Cook
Last month, Stuart Jeffries writing in the Guardian, observed, “Capitalism is in crisis across the globe – but what on earth is the alternative?” In 1840, Orestes Brownson in his essay “The Laboring Classes,” asked the same question, “…what shall government do? … Its first doing must be an undoing. … We want first the legislation which shall free the government, whether State of Federal, from the control of the Banks. … a banking system like ours, if sustained, necessarily and inevitably becomes the real and efficient government of the country.” How ironic that 172 years ago, only 49 years after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, Brownson notes, “… at the end of ten years (of) constant hostility, (we know) all too well the power of the Banks, and their fatal influence on the political action of the community.” He declares further that “uncompromising hostility” against the banking system should be the motto of every working man, and of “every friend of humanity.”
Brownson’s “Laboring Classes” is a call to action, virtually at the inception of the country, to put the control of the government back in the hands of the people. “The system must be destroyed….The system is at war with the rights and interest of labor, and it must go.” How ironic Jeffries’ observation of the current state of affairs when contrasted to that of Brownson.
“Today, 164 years after Marx and Engels wrote about grave-diggers, the truth is almost the exact opposite. The proletariat, far from burying capitalism, are keeping it on life support. Overworked, underpaid workers ostensibly liberated by the largest socialist revolution in history (China’s) are driven to the brink of suicide to keep those in the west playing with their iPads. Chinese money bankrolls an otherwise bankrupt America.”
August 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
Ha-Joon Chang: In Conversation
The renowned Cambridge Economist, author of the classic work Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective was interviewed in May by Serene Richards, a freelance journalist and Universty of London LLM candidate in International Economic Law Justice and Development.
Nestled amongst the leafy streets of Cambridge is the University’s Economics faculty. This, unassuming, 1960s building, plays host to one of the world’s leading development economists: Ha-Joon Chang. An international best selling author, Chang is no stranger to controversy, he is known for his critical analysis of economic orthodoxy and draws upon economic history in much of his work. His most recent book 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism gallantly contributes to the ongoing critique surrounding our global economic system. In 2005 the South Korean born economist was awarded the Wassily Leontief prize for Advancing the Frontier of Economic Thought for his book “Kicking Away the Ladder”. I enter his office, quaint and amassed with books. His manner, affable and upbeat, we begin.
You co-wrote a paper entitled “Industrial Policy and the Role of the State in Egypt” which outlined an alternative development policy, comparing Egypt to the East Asian experience, can you tell us a little about your vision at the time?
“We wrote it in 1995/4, it was a time when they [the IMF] were accelerating liberalization and privatization. We felt that in a relatively closed economy like what Egypt was before, liberalizing and opening can bring some benefits because you have more competition and foreign exchanges and so on. But we were worried that this brought, at best, short-term benefits. You really need a long-term strategy to take your country to another level. Back in the early 60s Korea and Egypt had similar levels of income, two of the poorest countries in the world. Today Egypt still is a poor country, with a per capita income of $2000 compared to South Korea’s $20,000. So, what happened during those 50 years that made such a huge a difference is an important question. Of course, there were problems with the earlier economic strategy under Nasser. In my view, it was too closed – but, liberalising everything without any strategy and privatising, without any clear view of what should be done was not a very promising strategy. Unfortunately we have been proven right in that sense because they’ve done a lot of things since the 90s, but where did it end up?”
August 16, 2012 § Leave a comment
On 18 July 2012, P. Sainath talked about “Slumdogs vs. Millionaires” at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS) of Göttingen University. P. Sainath is a distinguished journalist and critical observer of society and politics in today’s India. He is Rural Affairs Editor at the English-language newspaper “The Hindu”, but also publishes extensively in other media worldwide.
August 2, 2012 § 3 Comments
One of Israel’s favorite selling points, in its campaign to rebrand itself and divert attention from its ongoing theft of Palestinian land by means of ethnic cleansing, military control and apartheid policies, is its claim to world leadership in medicine. The problem with this line of apartheid PR is, of course, the failure to mention the control the state of Israel has over the Palestinian healthcare system.
Captive Economy, a new report by Who Profits investigates the involvement of Israeli and multinational pharmaceutical industries in the occupation of Palestinian land.
July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
by John Gray
“I can see us as water-spiders, gracefully skimming, as light and reasonable as air, the surface of the stream without any contact at all with the eddies and currents underneath.”
That was how John Maynard Keynes, speaking in 1938 in a talk later published as his brilliant memoir My Early Beliefs, recalled his younger self and his friends in the Bloomsbury Group as they had been in the years before World War I.
The influential Cambridge economist has figured prominently in the anxious debates that have gone on since the crash of 2007-2008. For most of those invoking his name, he was a kind of social engineer, who urged using the power of government to lift the economy out of the devastating depression of the 30s.
That is how Keynes’s disciples view him today. The fashionable cult of austerity, they warn, has forgotten Keynes’s most important insight – slashing government spending when credit is scarce only plunges the economy into deeper recession.
What is needed now, they believe, is what Keynes urged in the 30s – governments must be ready to borrow more, print more money and invest in public works in order to restart growth.
But would Keynes be today what is described as a Keynesian? Would this supremely subtle and sceptical mind still believe that policies he formulated long ago – which worked well in the decades after the World War II – can solve our problems now?
June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
From Christopher Lydon’s outstanding Radio Open Source: A fascinating conversation with John Lanchester, editor of the London Review of Books and author of the new novel Capital.
John Lanchester has written a sprawling neo-Dickensian novelCAPITAL about London in the age of funny money and the crash of 2008. He got the germ of it five years ago, noticing a parade of “florists, dog-walkers, pilates instructors” on his own once-modest street south of the Thames, being radically made-over for bankers and the blooming investment-services class — “manifestly symptomatic,” as he says, “of a boom that would turn into a bust.” Like Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend, CAPITAL has what the Brits call a “state of the nation” feel, delivered in the voice attributed to Dickens of the “special correspondent for posterity.” But of course he’s illuminating an affliction gone global by now, describing life as lived in New York, too, or Shanghai, or Boston for that matter. One moral that Lanchester has given his tale is: “We are not in this together,” inverting the Tory slogan. In conversation he adds a touch from the Gospel of Mark: “To them that hath shall be given.” I marvel at how casino capitalism and its costs come clearer, stranger, more ridiculous, more destructive, more outrageous in fiction than in fact – how the right novels can feel truer than the news.
June 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
Democracy Now interview Joseph Stiglitz on his new book The Price of Inequality, which follows a similar theme to his Rolling Stone article Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1%.