Re: ECON: "Unsustainable Predictions"

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Fri Apr 06 2001 - 08:50:27 MDT

On Thursday, April 05, 2001 9:44 PM Mark Plus wrote:
> >"The problem of overpopulation can be solved. In my country are
> >ten millions of starving children. America sends food. Pretty
> >soon you have twenty millions of starving children. But the real
> >problem is that in my country, after the sun goes down, there is
> >nothing to do! America needs to keep its grain, America needs
> >to send TVs!"
> >
> >He had it right, even back in the 70s. spike
> An Indian economist (I believe he's named Amarya Sen) argues that
> democracies tend to become famine-resistant. When things get too bad in
> some region in a democratic country, the afflicted people complain to
> politicians. Because these politicians want to get re-elected, they have
> incentives to _do something_ to alleviate the food shortages. It's
> significant that the greatest famines in the 20th Century occurred under
> authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, while in more-or-less democratic
> India, the food situation seems to be improving, along with general
> conditions.

I'm not sure if that's the gist of Sen's argument, but there is starvation
in India today. Granted, it's not like the Terror Famine under Stalin, but
it does exist nonetheless. I do agree with you that dictatorships having
generally -- not always but generally -- worse economic conditions than more
free societies. (It depends on what you measure, of course. Steel
production was up under Stalin, even when people were starving.)

Also, you might want to read "Indian Development and Poverty: Making Sense
of Sen et al." by Shyam J. Kamath in _Critical Review_ 13(3-4). Kamath's
dissects some of Sen's theories on development, especially with regard to
empirical support and shows it to be lacking. (Sen mostly claims not that
democracy helps development, but that government programs do and do so
better than a free market. Kamath takes this claim to task.)


Daniel Ust

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