robertogreco + nicholaskristof   9

Episode 58: The Neoliberal Optimism Industry de Citations Needed Podcast
"We're told the world is getting better all the time. In January, The New York Times' Nick Kristof explained "Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History." The same month, Harvard professor and Bill Gates' favorite optimist Steven Pinker lamented (in a special edition of Time magazine guest edited by - who else? - Bill Gates) the “bad habits of media... bring out the worst in human cognition”. By focusing so much on negative things, the theory goes, we are tricked into thinking things are getting worse when, in reality, it's actually the opposite.

For the TEDtalk set, that the world is awesome and still improving is self-evidently true - just look at the data. But how true is this popular axiom? How accurate is the portrayal that the world is improving we so often seen in sexy, hockey stick graphs of upward growth and rapidly declining poverty? And how, exactly, are the powers that be "measuring" improvements in society?

On this episode, we take a look at the ideological project of telling us everything's going swimmingly, how those in power cook the books and spin data to make their case for maintaining the status quo, and how The Neoliberal Optimism Industry is, at its core, an anti-intellectual enterprise designed to lull us into complacency and political impotence.

Our guest is Dr. Jason Hickel."
jasonhickel  2018  stevenpinker  billgates  neoliberalism  capitalism  ideology  politics  economics  globalsouth  development  colonialism  colonization  china  africa  lies  data  poverty  inequality  trends  climatechange  globalwarming  climatereparations  nicholaskristof  thomasfriedman  society  gamingthenumbers  self-justification  us  europe  policy  vox  race  racism  intelligence  worldbank  imf 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Bill Gates says poverty is decreasing. He couldn’t be more wrong | Jason Hickel | Opinion | The Guardian
"An infographic endorsed by the Davos set presents the story of coerced global proletarianisation as a neoliberal triumph"

"Last week, as world leaders and business elites arrived in Davos for the World Economic Forum, Bill Gates tweeted an infographic to his 46 million followers showing that the world has been getting better and better. “This is one of my favourite infographics,” he wrote. “A lot of people underestimate just how much life has improved over the past two centuries.”

Of the six graphs – developed by Max Roser of Our World in Data – the first has attracted the most attention by far. It shows that the proportion of people living in poverty has declined from 94% in 1820 to only 10% today. The claim is simple and compelling. And it’s not just Gates who’s grabbed on to it. These figures have been trotted out in the past year by everyone from Steven Pinker to Nick Kristof and much of the rest of the Davos set to argue that the global extension of free-market capitalism has been great for everyone. Pinker and Gates have gone even further, saying we shouldn’t complain about rising inequality when the very forces that deliver such immense wealth to the richest are also eradicating poverty before our very eyes.

It’s a powerful narrative. And it’s completely wrong.

[tweet by Bill Gates with graphs]

There are a number of problems with this graph, though. First of all, real data on poverty has only been collected since 1981. Anything before that is extremely sketchy, and to go back as far as 1820 is meaningless. Roser draws on a dataset that was never intended to describe poverty, but rather inequality in the distribution of world GDP – and that for only a limited range of countries. There is no actual research to bolster the claims about long-term poverty. It’s not science; it’s social media.

What Roser’s numbers actually reveal is that the world went from a situation where most of humanity had no need of money at all to one where today most of humanity struggles to survive on extremely small amounts of money. The graph casts this as a decline in poverty, but in reality what was going on was a process of dispossession that bulldozed people into the capitalist labour system, during the enclosure movements in Europe and the colonisation of the global south.

Prior to colonisation, most people lived in subsistence economies where they enjoyed access to abundant commons – land, water, forests, livestock and robust systems of sharing and reciprocity. They had little if any money, but then they didn’t need it in order to live well – so it makes little sense to claim that they were poor. This way of life was violently destroyed by colonisers who forced people off the land and into European-owned mines, factories and plantations, where they were paid paltry wages for work they never wanted to do in the first place.

In other words, Roser’s graph illustrates a story of coerced proletarianisation. It is not at all clear that this represents an improvement in people’s lives, as in most cases we know that the new income people earned from wages didn’t come anywhere close to compensating for their loss of land and resources, which were of course gobbled up by colonisers. Gates’s favourite infographic takes the violence of colonisation and repackages it as a happy story of progress.

But that’s not all that’s wrong here. The trend that the graph depicts is based on a poverty line of $1.90 (£1.44) per day, which is the equivalent of what $1.90 could buy in the US in 2011. It’s obscenely low by any standard, and we now have piles of evidence that people living just above this line have terrible levels of malnutrition and mortality. Earning $2 per day doesn’t mean that you’re somehow suddenly free of extreme poverty. Not by a long shot.

Scholars have been calling for a more reasonable poverty line for many years. Most agree that people need a minimum of about $7.40 per day to achieve basic nutrition and normal human life expectancy, plus a half-decent chance of seeing their kids survive their fifth birthday. And many scholars, including Harvard economist Lant Pritchett, insist that the poverty line should be set even higher, at $10 to $15 per day.

So what happens if we measure global poverty at the low end of this more realistic spectrum – $7.40 per day, to be extra conservative? Well, we see that the number of people living under this line has increased dramatically since measurements began in 1981, reaching some 4.2 billion people today. Suddenly the happy Davos narrative melts away.

Moreover, the few gains that have been made have virtually all happened in one place: China. It is disingenuous, then, for the likes of Gates and Pinker to claim these gains as victories for Washington-consensus neoliberalism. Take China out of the equation, and the numbers look even worse. Over the four decades since 1981, not only has the number of people in poverty gone up, the proportion of people in poverty has remained stagnant at about 60%. It would be difficult to overstate the suffering that these numbers represent.

This is a ringing indictment of our global economic system, which is failing the vast majority of humanity. Our world is richer than ever before, but virtually all of it is being captured by a small elite. Only 5% of all new income from global growth trickles down to the poorest 60% – and yet they are the people who produce most of the food and goods that the world consumes, toiling away in those factories, plantations and mines to which they were condemned 200 years ago. It is madness – and no amount of mansplaining from billionaires will be adequate to justify it."

[See also:

"A Letter to Steven Pinker (and Bill Gates, For That Matter) About Global Poverty"
https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2019/2/3/pinker-and-global-poverty

"A Response to Max Roser: How Not to Measure Global Poverty"
https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2019/2/6/response-to-max-roser

"Citations Needed Podcast: Episode 58: The Neoliberal Optimism Industry"
https://soundcloud.com/citationsneeded/episode-58-the-neoliberal-optimism-industry ]
billgates  statistics  capitalism  inequality  poverty  2019  jasonhickel  davos  wealth  land  property  colonialism  colonization  maxroser  data  stevenpinker  nicholaskristof  gdp  dispossession  labor  work  money  neoliberalism  exploitation 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Primero Hay Que Aprender Español. Ranhou Zai Xue Zhongwen. - NYTimes.com
"rush to Chinese is missing something closer to home: the paramount importance for our children of learning Spanish.

…I’m a fervent believer in more American kids learning Chinese. But the language that will be essential for Americans & has far more day-to-day applications is Spanish. Every child in US should learn Spanish, beginning in elementary school; Chinese makes a terrific addition to Spanish, but not a substitute.

Spanish may not be as prestigious as Mandarin, but it’s an everyday presence in US — & will become even more so. Hispanics made up 16% of America’s population in 2009, but that is forecast to surge to 29% by 2050, according to estimates by the Pew Research Center.

As the United States increasingly integrates economically with Latin America, Spanish will become more crucial in our lives. More Americans will take vacations in Latin America, do business in Spanish, and eventually move south to retire in countries where the cost of living is far cheaper."
language  spanish  chinese  china  learning  education  schools  tcsnmy  teaching  business  economics  nicholaskristof  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
The Big (Military) Taboo - NYTimes.com
"Eisenhower gave strongest warning: “Every gun made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, …theft from those who hunger, those who are not clothed.” …Robert Gates has argued military spending…should expect closer, harsher scrutiny…& for more investment in diplomacy & development aid.<br />
…troops in Afghanistan are strongest advocates of investing more in schools…see firsthand that education fights extremism far more effectively than bombs.…cost of 1 US soldier in Afghanistan for 1 year = ~20 schools.<br />
… a few signs of hope…Simpson-Bowles deficit commission proposes cutting money for armaments, along w/ other spending…Hillary Clinton unveiled signature project…calls for more emphasis on aid & diplomacy…<br />
[Republicans] should remind themselves that in 21st century, our government can protect its citizens in many ways: financing research against disease, early childhood programs that reduce crime later, support for community colleges, diplomacy that prevents costly wars."
2010  spending  nicholaskristof  us  policy  foreignpolicy  education  diplomacy  militaryindustrialcomplex  war  politics  growth  military  afghanistan  security  simpson-bowles  deficit  hillaryclinton  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Our Banana Republic - NYTimes.com
"You no longer need to travel to distant and dangerous countries to observe such rapacious inequality. We now have it right here at home — and in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, it may get worse.<br />
<br />
The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.<br />
<br />
C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent."
nicholaskristof  development  inequality  poverty  taxes  unemployment  us  wealth  economics  politics  geography  2010  capitalism  classism  government  policy  bananarepublics  latinamerica  caudillos  disparity  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - The Happiest People - NYTimes.com
"Cross-country comparisons of happiness are controversial and uncertain. But what does seem quite clear is that Costa Rica’s national decision to invest in education rather than arms has paid rich dividends. Maybe the lesson for the United States is that we should devote fewer resources to shoring up foreign armies and more to bolstering schools both at home and abroad."
conversation  happiness  society  culture  education  economics  psychology  environment  military  trends  nicholaskristof  costarica  tourism  americas  green  2010  well-being  priorities  shrequest1 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee « Snarkmarket
"I sec­ond Nick Kristof’s rec­om­men­da­tion of BRAC—the Bangladesh Rural Advance­ment Committee—as an orga­ni­za­tion worth giv­ing to. With a name that unsexy, they’ve got to be good, right? In Bangladesh, BRAC is pretty much the gov­ern­ment; it pro­vides the sup­port and invest­ment that a good gov­ern­ment is sup­posed to pro­vide, while the “real” gov­ern­ment squab­bles with itself. Now BRAC is branch­ing out to other coun­tries as well. It’s an amaz­ing organization—and, for good or for ill, I think it’s a peek into the future."

[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/opinion/24kristof.html AND http://www.brac.net/index.php?nid=16 ]
brac  government  ngo  investiment  charity  vaccuum  nicholaskristof  robinsloan  extragovernmentalactivity  postgovernment 
december 2009 by robertogreco
The Builders' Manifesto - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review
"What leaders "lead" are yesterday's organizations. But yesterday's organizations — from carmakers, to investment banks, to the healthcare system, to the energy industry, to the Senate itself — are broken. Today's biggest human challenge isn't leading broken organizations slightly better. It's building better organizations in the first place. It isn't about leadership: it's about "buildership", or what I often refer to as Constructivism. Leadership is the art of becoming, well, a leader. Constructivism, in contrast, is the art of becoming a builder — of new institutions. Like artistic Constructivism rejected "art for art's sake," so economic Constructivism rejects leadership for the organization's sake — instead of for society's. Builders forge better building blocks to construct economies, polities, & societies. They're the true prime movers, the fundamental causes of prosperity. They build the institutions that create new kinds of leaders — as well as managers, workers, & customers."
constructivism  innovation  business  economics  future  design  productivity  umairhaque  leadership  barackobama  middlemanagement  finance  2009  policy  politics  healthcare  creativity  motivation  work  management  administration  builders  organizations  value  evanwilliams  billgates  wallstreet  elinorostrom  matttaibbi  nicholaskristof  maureendowd  benbernake  mohammadyunus  statusquo  sarahpalin  nelsonmandela  power  thomasfriedman 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - More Schools, Not Troops - NYTimes.com
"For roughly the same cost as stationing 40,000 troops in Afghanistan for one year, we could educate the great majority of the 75 million children worldwide who, according to Unicef, are not getting even a primary education. We won’t turn them into graduate students, but we can help them achieve literacy. Such a vast global education campaign would reduce poverty, cut birth rates, improve America’s image in the world, promote stability and chip away at extremism.
afghanistan  education  schools  politics  military  us  policy  pakistan  girls  women  nicholaskristof  2009  gender 
october 2009 by robertogreco

related tags

administration  afghanistan  africa  americas  bananarepublics  barackobama  benbernake  billgates  brac  builders  business  capitalism  caudillos  charity  china  chinese  classism  climatechange  climatereparations  colonialism  colonization  constructivism  conversation  costarica  creativity  culture  data  davos  deficit  design  development  diplomacy  disparity  dispossession  economics  education  elinorostrom  environment  europe  evanwilliams  exploitation  extragovernmentalactivity  finance  foreignpolicy  future  gamingthenumbers  gdp  gender  geography  girls  globalsouth  globalwarming  government  green  growth  happiness  healthcare  hillaryclinton  ideology  imf  inequality  innovation  intelligence  investiment  jasonhickel  labor  land  language  latinamerica  leadership  learning  lies  management  matttaibbi  maureendowd  maxroser  middlemanagement  military  militaryindustrialcomplex  mohammadyunus  money  motivation  nelsonmandela  neoliberalism  ngo  nicholaskristof  organizations  pakistan  policy  politics  postgovernment  poverty  power  priorities  productivity  property  psychology  race  racism  robinsloan  sarahpalin  schools  security  self-justification  shrequest1  simpson-bowles  society  spanish  spending  statistics  statusquo  stevenpinker  taxes  tcsnmy  teaching  thomasfriedman  tourism  trends  umairhaque  unemployment  us  vaccuum  value  vox  wallstreet  war  wealth  well-being  women  work  worldbank 

Copy this bookmark:



description:


tags: