[Marxism] More on Gregory Clark
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 8 09:51:09 MDT 2007
Thanks to Phil Gasper for alerting me to another NY Times article
(”ECONOMIC SCENE: What Makes a Nation Wealthy? Maybe It’s the Working
Stiff“) in praise of Gregory Clark’s sociobiological bullshit. Dated
November 2, 2006, it was written by Tyler Cowan, an economist at George
Cowan believes that institutional changes will not make a difference as
long as workers remain shiftless.
Professor Clark’s pessimistic view is that most forms of policy
advice or financial aid do not solve the problem of economic
development. Unless the quality of labor rises, those would-be remedies
are addressing symptoms, not causes.
To make sure there is no doubt about what “the quality of labor” means,
According to Professor Clark, the relative advantage of a highly
disciplined and properly acculturated work force is greater for the more
complex production processes of the modern world. Low morale and lax
discipline will curtail simple factory production but the problem is far
worse as production and management become more complex.
With all these shiftless natives lolling about on the factory floor, it
will be impossible for most of the Third World to catch up. Foreign aid
is a waste of money since the work force lacks the proper breeding to
help it keep up to snuff.
Paradoxically, advances in sanitation and medical care, by saving
lives, have driven down well-being for the average person. The
population is rising in most of sub-Saharan Africa, but living standards
have fallen below hunter-gatherer times and 40 percent below the average
British living standard just before the Industrial Revolution. The
upshot is this: The problem with foreign aid is not so much corruption
but rather that the aid brings some real benefits and enables higher
If money or structural reform is not the answer, is there any hope at
all? Clark believes that help is on its way, but not from the usual sources:
It is hard to reshape workplace norms in poor countries, but in the
modern world religious and cultural ideas spread with a hitherto
unprecedented speed. Perhaps television and missionaries will prove more
important for economic development than privatization plans or exchange
There is no justice in this world, I am afraid. As Doug Henwood pointed
out, it is criminal that Ward Churchill got fired while such nonsense is
being spewed out.
A little digging will reveal why Tyler Cowan is so gung-ho over Clark’s
nonsense. Both have a visceral loathing of working people. Cowan’s
employer–George Mason University–is a notorious benefactor of
neoconservative causes and Cowan is one of their hired guns. The NY
Times refers readers to his website, www.marginalrevolution.com
There you will find a particularly revealing entry from August 7th
titled “The Persistence of Poverty.” Commenting on Charles Karelis’s
“The Persistence of Poverty: Why the Economics of the Well-Off Can’t
Help the Poor,” Cowan agrees with his fellow rightwing ideologue that
the poor are self-destructive:
Poor enough people will accept risk in the downward direction
rather than smoothing consumption, so they buy lots of lottery tickets.
They also commit more crime, so they can have at least some joyous
times, and they take lots of “stupid” chances.
It can make more sense to give money to people on the verge of
leaving poverty, rather than people deeply mired in poverty. The former
transfer will get people onto “normal” marginal utility curves, but the
deeply poor will just squander their new wealth, as it doesn’t much
alleviate their unhappiness.
After reading this sort of thing, I feel like taking a strong emetic.
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