Share the World’s Resources (STWR) is a nonprofit campaigning for global economic and social justice. Their blog does a good news roundup. Here’s what they have from this week plus my commentary:
- George Soros launches $50 million effort to purge economics of its free-market zeal. Soros is rounding up all the economists marginalized during the era of free market fundamentalism to form the "Institute of New Economic Thinking." This will include Nobelists Joseph Stiglitz, George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Sir James Mirrlees. The institute will make research grants, convene symposiums, establish a journal. The goal is to take back the economics profession from the champions of free-market zealotry. My notes: Overall, this is good, but it sounds like tribal warfare when framed this way. I just hope they find ideas that serve us better, no matter where they come from, rather than focusing on wiping out the other tribe and possibly throwing out the baby with the bath water. Plus, they’re going to need more than $50 million to get the job done, though I am impressed with the commitment. It’s a healthy but long overdue start. No fault of Mr. Soros.
- ‘Green’ Technology Should be Shared: Indian PM. Agence France Presse report that "Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh argued Thursday that innovations in "green" technology should be shared with developing countries in much the same fashion as HIV/AIDS drugs." Singh also labelled new, clean-energy discoveries "global public goods." This is a timely argument as the UN talks on climate policy approach. The transfer of clean tech will be a key issue. My notes: Easier said then done. Singh uses the example of pharma companies giving away HIV/AIDS drugs to developing nations to argue his case. These are vastly different industries. Drug companies make ridiculous profits so can afford to do this. Plus, many clean tech companies are new and the industry is not nearly as profitable as pharma. Someone would have to pay for this, and it won’t be clean tech companies. It would likely have to be taxpayers. Maybe there’s another way. Please say so in comments if you know differently.
- Neo-liberal Washington Consensus ‘is now dead’. On Wednesday, The Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 53 countries that work together toward democracy and development, wrote that former "UN Deputy Secretary-General Sir Richard Jolly and Professor Louis Emmerij insisted that the doctrine – which advocated reduced government and the liberalisation of trade, finance and monetary systems – was now ‘discredited’, arguing that both the UN and the Commonwealth have both been “ahead of the curve” in pushing for alternative policies." My notes: Well, it’s nice to be right, but this is also inadvertent admission of a failure to influence. That’s OK, the odds were probably stacked against The Commonwealth. This death notice is also premature, at least from the US perspective. In addition, Professor Emmerij misses the point when he interprets recent events and the waning of this doctrine as a sign that "the role of the state has been firmly re-established." As I posit here, I think an altogether different economic order is emerging that will challenge private and government for control over the economy. If there’s a role for the state, it should be to foster the emergence of a peer and commons-based economy.
- Path to a Peace Economy. David Korten, author of Agenda for a New Economy, gave a speech at the Economics of Peace Conference in Sonoma California. Korten argued that, "A persistent pattern of violence is inherent in the institutional structure of our existing economy. We need a top to bottom redesign to build a new economic system that shares power and resources for the well-being of all." My notes: I agree, especially if he believes sharing should be voluntary. Coercion does not lead to peace. This week also witnessed the launch of Peace Dot, an initiative by Standford’s Persuasive Technology Lab to explore the uses of technology and the innovation process towards strengthening the roots of peace. I’m a member of the lab and Peace Dot team, and went to the launch. It was inspiring. Like David Korten and Peace Dot, I believe sharing leads to peace.
Thumbnail image courtesy of Homemade Atlas of the World.