Wednesday, October 03, 2007

everything in moderation

I think it's funny that Naomi Klein's new book calls for a "mixed-economy" - which I agree with in principle (a mix of free markets with strong support for govt social programs and regulation). But there is also a reactionary feel to her work - such as her criticism of people like Prof. Jeffrey Sachs.

I like what Klein is saying in her book but I like the policy and goals of people like Sachs even more. If I wasn't moderate about my intake of information and opinion/perspective formation, these two things would NOT be able to co-exist. Why? Klein calls Sachs "The New Shock Doctor" in response to his radical economic policies in Bolivia and in Poland in the 1980s.

More importantly though, Sachs has an outlined goal to END poverty - he has steps to take and is working on the Millennium Project with the UN, and with his own Earth Institute at Columbia University, to carry out those steps.

The point is not whether this will work or not, the point is that Sachs has a vision for change , the education to formulate real steps and ideas, and the influence/power/experience to actually carry out many of those propositions.

Why spend so much time criticizing someone who wants to find ways for local economies to meet financial independence through the creation of their own infrastructures? In the Sachs model, populations become less dependent on the U.S. - something you would think Klein would be in favor of? But, in the uni-lens view of "shock"/in the reactionary vein, it is difficult for the author to see this - even though it sounds like she is advocating moderate approaches that would support other ideas about economic progress in her push for "mixed economies". The NYU economist William Easterly has a much more serious rebuke to Sachs' ideas. However, his training and his acceptance of many basic tenants laid out by Sachs make his review more serious than that of Klein.

Blinded by ideology -- something that scared me about the left when I was younger and something that keeps me much more independent now (whether I align 90% of the time or not). More on all of this later, when I give more detailed discussion of Sachs and Klein - or moreover (and more fair, since Klein isn't an economist) - to Sachs and Easterly.

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