Showing posts with label development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label development. Show all posts

Sunday, 23 October 2022

How Many Children's Lives Is That Worth?

According to the meta-charity GiveWell, the most effective charities can save a child’s life for between 3 and 5,000 US dollars. One way of understanding this figure is that whenever you consider spending that amount of money, one of the things you would be choosing not to spend it on is saving a child’s life.

Take the median of the GiveWell figures: $4,000. I propose that prices for all goods and services should be listed in the universal alternative currency of percentage of a Child’s Life Not Saved (%CLNS), as well as their regular prices in Euros, dollars, or whatever. For example, a Starbucks Frappucino might be priced at 5$ /0.13%CLNS. A Caribbean holiday cruise might be priced at $8,000/ 200%CLNS (perhaps written as emojis­č¬Ž­č¬Ž)


Monday, 2 May 2022

Just End Poverty Now: The Case for a Global Basic Income

According to the World Bank’s latest figures, around 700 million people live in utter destitution, on less than $1.90 per day, poorer than the average pet cat in the rich world. It is easy to agree that this is a terrible thing. It has so far been much harder – even for philosophers – to agree on what should be done about it. Peter Singer, for example, argues that rich people should donate more to effective charities. Thomas Pogge argues that rich world citizens should stop their governments from supporting less than ideally just global institutions. Yet this intellectual debate is an unnecessary distraction. We already have all the moral agreement we need to act. Ending extreme poverty is not an intellectual problem but a practical one, and not even a particularly difficult one. We just need to find the people who are poor and give them enough money so that they aren’t poor anymore.


Monday, 4 January 2016

The Brain Gain: Why Smart People Should be Encouraged to Leave Developing Countries

Guest post by Denise Coenegracht


Skilled workers emigrating from developing countries are good for us, but bad for the developing countries At least, according to the received wisdom. When considering the facts, a different picture emerges. One with many economic upsides for the migrant's home country. Meet the brain gain.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Just Give Money to the Poor: The case for a Global Basic Income

Poverty used to be a reflection of scarcity. Now it is a problem of identification, targeting and distribution. And that is a problem that can be solved. (The Economist's briefing on poverty)
Poverty may be the natural condition of human beings, but it is not inevitable. Extreme scarcity, like the ancient scourges of cholera or polio, has been eliminated by our own efforts from most of the world. We could eliminate it entirely if we chose. The world as a whole is now so rich that we could easily afford to simply give every destitute person an unearned claim on our collective economic wealth sufficient to lift them out of extreme scarcity.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Against lazy claims against democracy in development

The 'Africa analyst' Michelle Sieff  has recently argued in The African Lions: An Authoritarian Challenge to Development Theory* that democracy is not necessary for development. She identifies  three 'African Lions' - Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia - that are not democracies but are achieving good development results. Therefore Development Theory must be overthrown? I think not.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Bad Arguments from History: The Case Against Free Trade

Ha-Joon Chang argues that there is a paradox at the heart of free trade economics: if it's so great why didn't the countries who are now rich do it when they were developing? My answer: because governments have always been willing to listen to protectionists like Chang who flatter their vanity and give intellectual cover to their venality.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Debating Aid: Beyond Armchair Theorising

Far too often debates over development aid follow the contours of ideology - either (global) capitalism is evil and must be stopped, or the poor are just welfare scroungers who have to be saved from aid by free-markets. As a result we get an unhelpful myopia - arguments are ideologically driven and make only partial contact with the evidence, and divisive rhetoric - the real enemy is not poverty, but one's ideological opponents. Think William Easterly's 'White Man's Burden' or Naomi Klein's 'No Logo'.


So do philosophers do any better?

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Is Martha Nussbaum a liberal elitist?

Martha Nussbaum is a great philosopher. She has great ideas; writes beautifully, cogently, and persuasively; and offers deep and perceptive reading of others' work (this is not as usual as you might expect). Furthermore you couldn't describe her as an elitist in the usual academic sense of living in an ivory tower making obscure or irrelevant pronouncements on the state of human nature. Indeed she has been involved for decades in development work (most especially with Amartya Sen's Capability Approach) focussing particularly on the awful and coercive social arrangements many women around the world are forced to live under. She once wrote a scathing and influential essay, which I admire very much, condemning American academic feminism for its narcissistic focus on the personal and the West, rather than the political and the rest.

So not an academic ivory tower elitist. But there is still something odd about how Nussbaum works.