REALITY AND RHETORIC: Studies in the Economics of Development by P. T. Bauer

REALITY AND RHETORIC: Studies in the Economics of Development

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bauer is an influential conservative economist whose mission is the debunking of what he considers the false pieties of developmental economics. (His most prominent title: Equality, the Third World, and Economic Delusion.) In this collection of ten essays and addresses, only two previously unpublished but all revised, Bauer often repeats those false premises, or beliefs: that state-directed control is necessary for economic development among the less developed countries (""Ides""); that economic interaction between the developed world and the Ides is detrimental to the latter; that egalitarianism is a proper policy goal; that the Ides are unable to generate their own capital resources; and that material resources are necessary for development. To Bauer, none of these is true. The West, he says, has been a prime source of development through trade relations with the ldcs; Hong Kong shows the possibility of development without resources; a look at the relative standing of Chinese, Indians, and Malays in Malaya shows that different groups differ in their economic performance; government, not business, is the major source of unearned wealth in the Ides. These realities have been ignored, says Bauer, because they conflict with the outlook of intellectuals and the media (and the self-serving interests of politicians). One chapter is devoted to pronouncements by the Catholic Church extolling the value of egalitarianism in a way that equates poverty with exploitation; it's called ""Ecclesiastical Economics: Envy Legitimized""--a fair representation of his view. In general, Bauer prefers discrete examples to general theories of aggregate figures--so he has a Singapore for every Tanzania, or an example of effective national economic aid for every case of squandered multinational aid. This blinkered view of the scene makes Bauer less convincing than the in-house critics of developmental economics--though the polemic will undoubtedly appeal to other free-marketeers.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1983
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press