Category Archives: Developing countries

Suffering in South Sudan: hunger, conflict, refugees, child soldiers

‘Life is miserable’: Even when there’s food in South Sudan, many can’t afford it Carolyn Thompson Washington Post November 18, 2018

Photo: Thousand children in South Sudan have routinely been kidnapped and then forced to fight…#southsudan  –Nino Fezza (@nfcinereporter) November 18, 2018

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's 95 Theses, a group of free-thinking Economists and students challenged the current dogma in standard economics and investigated the shaky foundations of the neoclassical faith, at a meeting in London at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. Credit: IIPP

Standard economics: 50+ years of resisting new ideas

Lane Vanderslice

The Union for Radical Political Economics is 50 this year, and a notice has just been sent out about a 50th anniversary celebration at the University of Massachusetts .  URPE was started in 1968 because of great frustration with standard economics, which  had limited theories (neglecting power, for one thing) and confined to a narrow range of problems which did not include such things as imperialism, the military industrial complex and discrimination. I was one of the group of economics graduate students at the University of Michigan, that, after several years of working for change at the U.M. economics department, sent out a call for a new organization embodying different principles to economics departments across the United States.  The response was great, and URPE was begun.  (See the 1968 URPE Prospectus.)

URPE and the organizations and publications that preceded and came after its establishment, have come to be known as heterodox, for expressing a variety of analyses and analytical frameworks such as Marxism and Institutional Economics not present in standard economics.  This significant group has permitted much useful analysis to be presented, which otherwise would have been stifled by standard economic journals.

Alas,  the divide between standard and heterodox economics continues today. Gary Dimski Continue reading

Ants Among Elephants: An untouchable family and the making of modern India by Sujatha Gidla

‘Ants Among Elephants,’ a memoir about the persistence of caste

Ants Among Elephants: An untouchable family and the making of modern India
Sujatha Gidla
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani
New York Times July 17, 2017

In this unsentimental, deeply poignant book, Sujatha Gidla gives us stories of her family and friends in India — stories she had thought of as “just life,” until she moved to America at the age of 26 and realized that the “terrible reality of caste” did not determine one’s identity in other countries, that being born “an untouchable” did not entail the sort of ritualized restrictions and indignities she took for granted at home  Read the full New York Times review

How ordinary people in developing countries are harmed by the political-economic system

Standard economics does not have an adequate conception of harm.  Consequently it does not understand that the political-economic system can be organized for the benefit of a few, and that ordinary people can be harmed by the operation of this system.  This blog post is based on Vested Interests and the Common People in Developing Countries: Understanding Oppressive Societies and Their Effects published in the June 2017 Journal of Economic Issues.

The standard economic model of how economies work is that activities are essentially productive. This is not a correct view of reality. The principal difficulty is that there is economic activity that is unproductive and harmful (from the point of view of those being harmed). This is a central feature of the economic organization of these societies, and creates poverty. Societies are run on this basic set of principles: Take and maintain control of the government and other aspects of society, and use the power of government to obtain income.  Principal ways in which ordinary people are harmed include the following. Continue reading