Three Good Articles over at Project Syndicate

Here are several important articles from one of my favorite sites, Project Syndicate. Note that most articles there are available in seven languages, although it’s very Euro-centric, with Chinese being the only non-European language. I don’t understand why they keep giving Bjorn Lomborg, with his mixed up ideas on global warming, such coverage, though.

These are not random articles, as each describes an inflection point in the process it discusses, and each process is under-reported in the media. Each is also an example of something that the dominate neo-liberal laissez-faire economics has not provided an answer to, and therefore calls for robust actions of the appropriate government agencies.  In particular I like DeLong’s concept of adding to Friedman’s thought rather than throwing it out, and the emphaisis he places on interconnections.  All emphasis is by e_f.

The Rise of Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

by Susan Dorman & Richard E. Chaisson

BALTIMORE — Tuberculosis, one of the most deadly infectious diseases, is back with a vengeance, especially in Africa. Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is a difficult to treat strain of TB which, attacks where health systems are historically weak, especially in areas of high HIV prevalence. Failure to contain local outbreaks, develop tools and strategies for identifying and treating XDR-TB, and invest in longer-term improvements in TB control could transform our pharmacological magic bullets for TB into blanks.

In a study at the Church of Scotland Hospital in rural KwaZulu-Natal province of 535 patients who had confirmed tuberculosis, 221 had MDR-TB, a level 10 times greater than in the province as a whole. More alarmingly, 53 of the 221 had a strain that was also resistant to the two most clinically useful classes of second-line TB drugs. Fifty-two of the 53 died in a median of just 16 days from the time of sputum collection. Molecular typing of the isolates indicated that 85% were clonally related, implying epidemic transmission of XDR strains, most likely in HIV clinics and hospital wards.

Capitalist Meltdown

by Michel Rocard

PARIS – There is a strange foreboding in the world economy. Newspapers report downward revisions in growth estimates for all the major developed countries: the United States, Germany, France, Japan. No one, it seems, is being left out. Indeed, these estimates are roughly half a percentage point lower than those issued only last autumn.
At the same time, newspapers report in bleak terms almost exclusively about banks and financial markets, with little attention to the real economy, as if today’s crisis were purely financial and bound to remain so. Indeed, some experts, too, believe that the crisis can be resolved simply by refinancing banks, and that the impact on the real economy will be relatively limited.

It is helpful to review where the world economy now stands. The largest number of defaults on sub-prime mortgages will occur this spring. So the full impact of the crisis remains ahead of us: 1.3 million American homeowners have already defaulted on their mortgages. In 2008, another three million will join them.
Moreover, the size of the bad debt threatening banks remains unknown, and could amount to several hundred billion dollars. The total sum of assets now under threat is even more important, because mortgages have been mixed up with other kinds of securities, and these “packages” have been sold throughout the world. A US subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, for example, has been barred by an American court from foreclosing on a house because it could not demonstrate ownership.

Regarding the last item Michel Rocard mentions, see e_f coverage from November 2007 here: The Unsecured Country (Rule of Law Edition)

The End of the Age of Friedman

by J. Bradford DeLong

BERKELEY – Harvard professor Dani Rodrik – perhaps the finest political economist of my generation – recently reported on his blog that a colleague has been declaring the past three decades “the Age of Milton Friedman.” According to this view, the coming to power of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Deng Xiaoping led to an enormous upward leap in human liberty and prosperity. I say yes – and no – to this proposition.

But I say yes in part to the “Age of Friedman” proposition, because only Friedman’s set of principles self-confidently proposed both to explain the world and to tell us how to change it. Still, I would build up a counterbalancing set of principles, because I believe that Friedman’s principles do not, ultimately, deliver what they promise.
My principles would start from the observation that market economies and free and democratic societies are built atop a very old foundation of human sociability, communication, and interdependence. That foundation had a hard enough time functioning when human societies had 60 members – eight orders of magnitude less than our current global society’s six billion.
So my principles would then be developed from Karl Polanyi’s old observation that the logic of market exchange puts considerable pressure on that underlying foundation. The market for labor compels people to move to where they can earn the most, at the price of potentially creating strangers in strange lands. The market for consumer goods makes human status rankings the product of responsiveness to market forces rather than the result of social norms and views about justice.

As good as Project Syndicate is, one thing really bugs me: Why don’t they date their articles??

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Three Good Articles over at Project Syndicate

One thought on “Three Good Articles over at Project Syndicate

  1. Thanks for your kind words about our site. I have to disagree with you about the Eurocentrism of our translations, though. French is widely spoken in Africa, and Spanish is the dominant language in Latin America–regions where we have many member newspapers. We also translate into Arabic, in addition to Mandarin Chinese.

    Equally important, while most of the languages are European, our coverage of issues is more far-reaching. See, for example, our series on Africa, China, and Latin America. We are also launching a series on India this month.

    The reason we don’t date our articles is that many newspapers run them with a considerable lag. In any case, the month and year in which they are distributed are always included on the site.

    Thanks again for drawing your readers’ attention to us,

    Jonathan

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