One a Day – 1



Articles I’ve read in the past week. One for every day.

Four Futures

There are therefore four logical combinations of the two oppositions, resource abundance vs. scarcity and egalitarianism vs. hierarchy. To put things in somewhat vulgar-Marxist terms, the first axis dictates the economic base of the post-capitalist future, while the second pertains to the socio-political superstructure. Two possible futures are socialisms (only one of which I will actually call by that name) while the other two are contrasting flavors of barbarism.

Unregulated and unaccountable: how the private health care sector in India is putting women’s lives at risk

New evidence revealed by Oxfam shows that women in India are being exploited and facing serious health problems, due to under-investment in healthcare by the Indian government and the proliferation of private for-profit clinics. The international agency says that many private clinics are being driven by financial incentives to carry out dangerous and costly procedures regardless of whether or not there is any benefit to the patient.

Where Will the World’s Poor Live? An Update on Global Poverty and the New Bottom Billion

Do the world’s extreme poor live in poor countries? It is argued that many of the world’s extreme poor already live in countries where the total cost of ending extreme poverty is not prohibitively high as a percentage of GDP. And in the not-too-distant future, most of the world’s poor will live in countries that do have the domestic financial scope to end at least extreme poverty. This would imply a reframing of global poverty as largely a matter of domestic distribution.

Why The Rolling Jubilee Matters

Yet, not all responses to the Rolling Jubilee have been positive. Shouldn’t people have to pay their debts, some wondered. Aren’t you encouraging irresponsible behavior, others wanted to know. Of courses, both of these claims are ridiculous. Why should people have to go into debt for basic needs in the first place? And why should the little people have to pay their debts when banks receive bailout after bailout? In fact, the Rolling Jubilee poses an even more fundamental question: which kinds of debt are legitimate and which are not?

Of rumours related to blood, poison and researchers

Development researchers and practitioners have several lessons to learn from these examples. Suspicion of outsiders and the distrust of food for instance have serious implications for the theory of change used to design a food assistance programme. What we found particularly disconcerting was that the impact evaluation of the food assistance programme in Uganda did not pick up on the rumours of ‘whites trying to poison blacks’. While the rumours of blood stealing in Kenya were discussed in the final report, it did not prompt the researchers to reflect on the theory of change behind the malaria treatment intervention.

An Investment Manager’s View on the Top 1%

 The picture is clear; entry into the top 0.5% and, particularly, the top 0.1% is usually the result of some association with the financial industry and its creations. I find it questionable as to whether the majority in this group actually adds value or simply diverts value from the US economy and business into its pockets and the pockets of the uber-wealthy who hire them. They are, of course, doing nothing illegal.

A cultural thought experiment

What would drive people in such a society? Because unlike today’s 1%, they’re not running to stay one step ahead of the herd. It’s not going to be fear of starvation or homelessness; fixing those problems was implicitly part of the background. Indeed, we can probably ignore the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid of needs. What we’re left looking at is the top half, the stuff money has difficulty buying: esteem, self-actualization, love, respect, creativity. (Also their dark siblings: jealousy, self-abnegation, hate, contempt, conformism. Which are mostly defined by contrast, so we’re unlikely to ever be free of them.)

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