Some interesting—and by “interesting” I mean “disturbing”—quotes by Jim Yong Kim, President Obama’s nominee to the World Bank (via Marginal Revolution):
First, some good words about Cuba and some bad words about economic growth:
Jim Yong Kim, Joyce V. Millen, Alec Irwin, and John Gershman, Editors, Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor, Common Courage Press: Monroe, Maine, 2000.
Introduction: What is Growing? Who is Dying? By Joyce V. Millen, Alec Irwin, and Jim Yong Kim
“This book seeks to fill an important gap in knowledge by examining the documentable health effects of economic development policies and strategies promoted by the governments of wealthy countries and by international agencies such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization.” (p. 6)
“The studies in this book present evidence that the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men.” (p.7)
“Even where neoliberal policy measures have succeeded in stimulating economic growth, growth’s benefits have not gone to those living in “dire poverty,” one-fourth of the world’s population.” (p. 7)
“Using Cuba as an example, Chapter Thirteen makes the case that when leaders prioritize social equity and the fundamental right of all citizens to health care, even economically strapped governments can achieve improved and more equitable health outcomes.”
Again, channeling hardcore leftist Noam Chomsky, some more questioning of economic growth and free-markets:
Conclusion: Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will, By Joyce V. Millen, Alec Irwin, and Jim Yong Kim
“Through a series of specific cases, we have demonstrated how growth – the market-led economic growth sought by governments, the growth in profits celebrated by businesses, and the growth in power and influence of transnational financial and corporate interests – often comes at the expense of the disenfranchised and vulnerable… As the imperatives of growth at any cost increasingly determine economic and social policy and the behavior of global corporations, more people join the ranks of the poor and greater numbers suffer and die.” (p. 363)
“Today, Chomsky notes, we see widespread ‘efforts to make people feel helpless, as if there is some kind of mysterious economic law that forces things to happen in a particular way, like the law of gravitation.’ Yet belief in such an immutable law is simply ‘nonsense.’ ‘These are all human institutions, they are subject to human will, and they can be eliminated like other tyrannical institutions have been.’” (p. 390, single quote marks note quotes from Chomsky)
What is Kim talking about? The greatest story of our generation is the millions raised out of poverty in Asia because governments have embraced market-led economic growth. Let me quote this study from the World Bank on this very topic:
A World Bank report shows a broad reduction in extreme poverty — and indicates that the global recession, contrary to economists’ expectations, did not increase poverty in the developing world. … Much of the story was about China, which moved nearly 700 million people out of poverty between 1981 and 2008, with the proportion of its population living in extreme poverty falling to 13 percent from 84 percent during that period. The country’s annual pace of economic growth never dipped below 9 percent, even in 2009, when the world’s economy contracted.
I think at the very least Kim needs to publicly clarify his beliefs about capitalism and economic freedom—or his nomination should be withdrawn. To put someone in charge of the World Bank in 2012 who holds a fundamental misunderstanding of what creates economic growth and how nations escape poverty would be a disaster in both political and human terms.