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.


Two major costs of crime are the cost to the victim and the cost of preventing crime. There does not appear to be a worldwide estimate for the cost of crime. Estimates for the cost of crime in the United States have ranged from $690 billion to $3.41 trillion according to a 2017 GAO look at the issue.

More than 60,000 Mexicans have disappeared amid drug war, officials say Mary Beth Sheridan Washington Post January 6, 2020

2019 review of exploitation and oppression in the world

Lane Vanderslice December 31, 2019

Exploitation and oppression continued to play a major role in the world in 2019. Standard economics principally looks at income obtained from production. This website looks at income or other benefit gained by harming others.  We prefer the term harm, as being correct and also indicating a range of behavior. Types of harm in a society may not rise to the level where they could reasonably be termed exploitation and oppression.  Harm, no matter the term(s) used is much more important than suggested by standard economics1. This follows Kenneth Boulding in The Economy of Love and Fear. Boulding distinguishes not only the productive economy but also the grants economy, which consists of two parts: exploitative grants from threats or ignorance, and integrative grants from love or kindness. In Boulding’s terms, this is an exploitative grant. A principal aspect of this website is publishing links to articles that describe a current aspect of harm in the United States or elsewhere; this is reviewed here.

The analytical view taken in this website is that through control of a society and its key elements of the society (economy, government, social system) some people/groups in the society obtain income from others. So, there are two basic aspects, maintaining control and obtaining income.  This is expressed in the principal categories used in the website (can be seen on the left of each page).  For control we have categories including  Staying in power – Struggle for control and Harming People – Keeping People Oppressed.  For obtaining income, we have Obtaining income through the government – rent seeking – corruption, Harm through the market,  Discrimination: race – gender – ethnic – religious – class and  Discrimination against women — gender inequality.

Staying in power/struggle for control An important part of the struggle for control is between democratic/popular forces that want to expand human rights and opportunities and those who want to restrict access to key rights and opportunities to their group. HE published a summary of what Freedom House had to say about 2018. Here is an excerpt from that summary. (2019 report not yet available.)

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Crime 2019

Disappeared in El Salvador: The return of a Cold War nightmare Mary Beth Sheridan and Anna-Catherine Brigida  Washington Post October 19, 2019

As gang murders surge, South Africa sends army to Cape Town, and the city cheers Kimon de Greef New York Times August 13, 2019

One way out: Pastors in Brazil converting gang members on YouTube Mariana Lopes Washington Post May 17, 2019

Devastating epidemic of crime & insecurity in Latin America & Caribbean Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva Inter Press Service May 15, 2019

Violence, poverty reign in Honduran city where caravans form Sonia Perez Z AP/Washington Post May 3, 2019

It’s so dangerous to police MS-13 in El Salvador that officers are fleeing the country Kevin Sieff Washington Post March 3, 2019

Modern day slavery rated world’s largest single crime industry Thalif Deen Inter Press Service February 25, 2019

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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