Tag Archives: Obtaining income through harm

This is the point of a harmful economic system: obtaining income not through productive means, but by unproductive means–taking it away from others.   The central idea of this website is that one group uses resources to restructure the alternatives of the second group in such a way that the first group benefits.  Slavery would be an example.   This section gives examples of how this is done in today’s world.

Photo: Beata Cáceres in 2016 sitting next to the Gualcarque river, which she defended against construction of a mega-dam project, a defense which resulted in her murder. Credit © Goldman Environmental Prize

Seven convicted in murder of Berta Cáceres, Honduran environmentalist

In Honduras, seven men were found guilty of killing Berta Cáceres, who led the fight against building a large dam which would have submerged the land where her community lived.  Her family criticized the prosecution for not following evidence that implicated people higher up in the firm building the dam in ordering her murder.

Seven convicted in killing of prominent Honduran environmentalist Elisabeth Malkin New York Times November 19, 2018

Photo: Berta Cáceres in 2016 sitting next to the Gualcarque river, which she defended against construction of a mega-dam project, a defense which resulted in her murder in that year. Credit © Goldman Environmental Prize Continue reading

Photo: Yale New Haven Hospital, now part of a larger hospital group, which has raised hospital admission prices more than elsewhere in the state. Credit 禁书 网

Large firm economic and political power

Oligopolies and monopolies are important ways of obtaining income without providing a productive service.  They produce goods, a productive service. However, they receive additional income by raising prices, and their oligopoly/monopoly profits are distinguished by economists from normal profits and other expenses, which are the returns to productive activity.  There are other harmful aspects to large firms as well, pointed out in these articles.

Investigation of generic ‘cartel’ expands to 300 drugs Christopher Rowland Washington Post December 9,  2018

“What started as an antitrust lawsuit brought by states over just two drugs in 2016 has exploded into an investigation of alleged price-fixing involving at least 16 companies and 300 drugs, Joseph Nielsen, an assistant attorney general and antitrust investigator in Connecticut who has been a leading force in the probe, said…’This is most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States,’ Nielsen said. He cited the volume of drugs in the schemes, that they took place on American soil and the ‘total number of companies involved, and individuals.'”

What these medical journals don’t reveal: top doctors’ ties to industry Charles Ornstein and Katie Thomas New York Times December 8, 2018

Many doctors have failed to report that their research was supported by industry, despite being required to do so, simply hiding potential or actual conflicts of interest from the scientific community, regulators and the general public.

These next two articles describe how hospital consolidation into large chains, typically described as “saving money through the benefits of consolidation”  in fact have increased prices in the markets studied, as reduced completion makes it easier to raise prices.

When hospitals merge to save money, patients often pay more Reed Abelson New York Times November 15, 2018

The Price Ain’t Right? Hospital prices and health spending on the privately insured Zack Cooper, Stuart V. Craig, Martin Gaynor, John Van Reenen  National Bureau of Economic Research Issued December 2015, updated May 2018.

Across the West powerful firms are becoming even more powerful Patrick Foulis The Economist  November 15, 2018

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Peruvian President Vizcarra

Vizcarra, new president of Peru, unveils major reform proposal to fight corruption

Corruption scandals have ensnared 3 Peruvian presidents. Now the whole political system could change.  Simeon Tegel  The Washington Post August 12, 2018

Caption: Peruvian President Vizcarra giving a major anti-corruption speech August 14 in Arequipa.  “There is no turning back, the fight against corruption will cost what it costs,  and who must fall, will fall.” Photo: Government of Peru

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