Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Futility, Perversity and Jeopardy

We have to gird ourselves against the unholy trinity of reactionary rhetoric identified by the great development economist Albert Hirschman. He noted that every new idea for constructive change is met with three attacks. The first is futility: the course of reform cannot work because the problem is unsolvable. The second is perversity: any attempt at solution will actually make matters worse. The third is jeopardy: attempt to solve the problem will take attention and resources from something even more important. This negativism is a state of mind, not a view based on facts. Vigorous debate over the methods of change is, of course, healthy and vital, but relentless acceptance of the status quo is not acceptable in the face of challenges we confront.

-Jeffrey Sachs, Common Wealth, p.313

Have a look at the book website- Earth Institute certainly appears to have a lot of cash. I would like to see a Rodrik review of the book- though one of his students don't seem to like the book.

Development economists love to quote from Albert Hirschman- are any of his works really used in teaching development courses at Ivy league universities?

Intellectual Trespassing and Socratic Humility

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