Friday, June 05, 2009

Murder in the Name of Economics

..Consider the following example. Lawrence Summers—currently the head of President Obama’s National Economic Council—for a time served as Chief Economist of the World Bank. While in that position he sent an internal memo to a colleague arguing that the World Bank should encourage poor countries to sell space for western pollution. “A given amount of health-impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.” The Economist got hold of the memo and, while acknowledging that the language was “crass,” went on to admit that “on the economics his points are hard to answer” (37). If “economic logic” leads to the obvious conclusion that it is good for developing countries voluntarily to assume the “health-impairing” toxic waste of developed countries, then perhaps there is something wrong with economic logic. Could it be that it is blind to important facets of reality?..."

-from "The Dismal Science vs. Community", by Mark T. Mitchell

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