Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why I am not an economist

I was reading The Times and came across this from Dominique Strauss-Kahn,the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - "The IMF has called for governments in leading economies to spend a combined 2 per cent of global GDP, or $1.2 trillion (£1,075 billion), to try to fend off the danger from global recession.“If we are not able to do that, then social unrest may happen in many countries - including advanced economies,” Mr Strauss-Kahn suggested.

Kind of reminds me of what Peter Singer argues for in One World, among other places, where he calls for members of the developed world to donate 1% of their annual income, which he argues will not only meet the UN Millenium Summit Goals of halving world poverty, but eliminating it. (see pp 180-195, in particular p 193)

Now, I read these comments by Strauss-Kahn, on the necessity to deal with a global recession, and think of Singer's arguments and a certain frustration builds up in my liver. Trillions of dollars so far have been spent on saving a global financial system which is at best plagued by problems, at worst pathological, yet millions of people world wide live in preventable poverty. Citibank amongst others was 'too big to fail' yet a scheme like Thomas Pogge's pharmaceutical re-incentivisation scheme, estimated to cost 45-90 Billion US anually, seems too big to fund. Simplifying the issue, white collar jobs and investments trump basic health.

Now I am sure that there are peoples out there wondering what loose connections I am drawing, pointing out that what Strauss-Kahn is demanding is 2% of GDP, while Singer's 1% is individual contribution, or that the collapse of Citibank would precipitate great suffering, while Pogge's pharmaceutical ideas are suspiciously socialistic. All true, but this is why I am not an economist. I don't care about protecting an endangered habitat like the Global Economy, or saving endangered species like those poor financial specialists with the dodgy 700 Billion US Bailout.
In fact I don't really care about much at all. But my blood angers up at the weird disconnect that is going on world-wide at the moment between throwing money at a problem for reasons like the importance of national stability, whilst ignoring other preventable causes for unrest. And don't just listen to me. Try that bastion of left-wing intellectualism and academic communism, the US National Intelligence Council:
New and reemerging infectious diseases will pose a rising global health threat and will complicate US and global security over the next 20 years. These diseases will endanger US citizens at home and abroad, threaten US armed forces deployed overseas, and exacerbate social and political instability in key countries and regions in which the United States has significant interests."