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Reality and Rhetoric is the culmination of P. T. Bauer's observations and reflections on Third World economies over a period of thirty years. He critically examines the central issues of market versus centrally planned economies, industrial development, official direct and multinational resource transfers to the Third World, immigration policy in the Third World, and econo Reality and Rhetoric is the culmination of P. T. Bauer's observations and reflections on Third World economies over a period of thirty years. He critically examines the central issues of market versus centrally planned economies, industrial development, official direct and multinational resource transfers to the Third World, immigration policy in the Third World, and economic methodology. In addition, he has written a fascinating account of recent papal doctrine on income inequality and redistribution in the Third World. The major themes that emerge are the importance of non-economic variables, particularly people's aptitudes and mores, to economic growth; the unfortunate results of some current methods of economics; the subtle but important effects of the exchange economy on development; and the politicization of economic life in the Third World. As in Bauer's previous writings, this book is marked by elegant prose, apt examples, a broad economic-historical perspective, and the masterful use of informal reasoning.


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Reality and Rhetoric is the culmination of P. T. Bauer's observations and reflections on Third World economies over a period of thirty years. He critically examines the central issues of market versus centrally planned economies, industrial development, official direct and multinational resource transfers to the Third World, immigration policy in the Third World, and econo Reality and Rhetoric is the culmination of P. T. Bauer's observations and reflections on Third World economies over a period of thirty years. He critically examines the central issues of market versus centrally planned economies, industrial development, official direct and multinational resource transfers to the Third World, immigration policy in the Third World, and economic methodology. In addition, he has written a fascinating account of recent papal doctrine on income inequality and redistribution in the Third World. The major themes that emerge are the importance of non-economic variables, particularly people's aptitudes and mores, to economic growth; the unfortunate results of some current methods of economics; the subtle but important effects of the exchange economy on development; and the politicization of economic life in the Third World. As in Bauer's previous writings, this book is marked by elegant prose, apt examples, a broad economic-historical perspective, and the masterful use of informal reasoning.

32 review for Reality and Rhetoric: Studies in the Economics of Development

  1. 5 out of 5

    Pedro Jorge

    4,3 stars A work of wisdom, experience and critical thinking. Most of these essays were written in the early 1980's, so they may sound a bit dated at times (I'm not sure to what extent, as I'm not a specialist in this specific area of research). However, most of its points seemed pretty relevant even today. There is indeed much food for thought in these pages, many relevant and critical insights on the state of development economics, its origins, its tendencies and, most of all, its (original) sins 4,3 stars A work of wisdom, experience and critical thinking. Most of these essays were written in the early 1980's, so they may sound a bit dated at times (I'm not sure to what extent, as I'm not a specialist in this specific area of research). However, most of its points seemed pretty relevant even today. There is indeed much food for thought in these pages, many relevant and critical insights on the state of development economics, its origins, its tendencies and, most of all, its (original) sins. Some of the main ideas brought forward in this book are as follows: - The notion of "developing countries" is a very unfortunate aggregation which seems to have its roots on the international foreign aid movement: aid recipient countries are bundled together as "less developed" or "third world", putting aside their infinite cultural, economic, institutional differences. So the whole topic of development economics had its birth in a definitely biased interventionist tendency: the root of development economics is the granting of aid to the so called "Third World", whatever its rationale. - This original bias may serve as an explanation for the success of the most stupid concepts, such as the "poverty vicious circle", or the exploitation theory, which run counter to present experience of many (once) poor countries, as well as the evidence of development per se. In their godlike hubris, foreign governments, academic "experts", multinational organizations and, indeed, local government officials cast aside all concerns for conflicts of interest and incentives, in their quest to centrally plan these countries' economies. Nevermind the effects of the politicization of virtually every aspect of the people's economic activity: they are mere pawns to be used for the ultimate goal of GDP statistics (which will also be subject to some adjustments, should it be deemed necessary for further aid packages). It's the Hayekian fatal conceit in full display. - Indeed the author seems to focus on some Hayekian concepts throughout the essays (besides the obvious Thomas Sowell-like discussion). I greatly enjoyed the focus on the need to let the entrepreneurial spirit flourish in these peoples, to let local traders gain awareness of the profit opportunities arising from the dispersion of market data present in these regions. Of course, most experts and local government officials view these activities with contempt, as they seem to run counter the central dictates of the bureaucratic armies. There is no use for these informal trading activities, they think, because, informal as they are, they are not under the government's control and won't contribute to the official statistics. Nevermind that they bring the communities together; promote the market spirit that is ultimately needed for the people to engage in more productive activities; and entice the previously unaware customers to bring their products to the market, in order to buy what everybody seems to be talking about in town. This is a book about the conflict between formalistic soviet-like development as practiced by the dumb revolutionary governments of these poor countries, without regard for their peoples' needs, and the healthy, patient market-based development that gives these people the informal responsibility to grab their lives and join the global trading community, without the help of foreign and local bureaucrats and dictators. In fact, the less developed the economy, the more you need entrepreneurs to glue things together piece by piece. But their rulers are having none of that. They want development now! And the rich countries must pay for it. Otherwise they will send us a wave of guilt-inducing images and sophistries (which we very much called for when we told those people that they are poor because we took their resources). Don't even think about letting our multinational companies go and promote their market-based behaviours, showing them how to effectively build a competitive environment. No. Those governments and our benevolent organizations want to make pets out of these people, in fact building the idea that they are incapable of ever growing themselves out of poverty (who's racist, after-all?). - The focus on the politicization of society that central planning entails is worth double mentioning. Entire countries have been completely ruined due to this phenomenon. Tribes and peoples that lived together peacefully for ages are now completely set against each other because they know that whoever gains state power may take everything from the opposite party. This is a point most people don't seem to get when thinking about the African conflicts, for instance. Our intuition calls for more government power, when that's precisely what's been getting these countries into virtual civil war. - I also loved the chapter on the economic doctrines of Pope Paul VI. Such an ignorant populist! How can one be the representative of a god-made institution while preaching these kinds of anti-human sophistry? So much for the supposed divinity of the Church and the originality of the current socialist preacher, Francis. Anyways, the author ends up making perhaps too many concessions to the government cause (market failures and so on) for my personal taste, but this book is just too good to be criticized on those minor details. All in all, its a great compilation and you won't regret reading it. Recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rafael De Anda

    A bit old, but excellent writer/economist.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bob Costello

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ghost Monkey

  5. 5 out of 5

    Yilu

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wood

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

  8. 5 out of 5

    Luka

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shreeya Goel

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anthony A

  11. 5 out of 5

    Asier

  12. 5 out of 5

    James L.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Adam Pawling

  14. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Heinzman

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Corcoran

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marie Heartofgold

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

  19. 5 out of 5

    Becky 시현

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dries Glorieux

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aayush

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Garvey

  23. 5 out of 5

    Luiz

  24. 5 out of 5

    Karl

  25. 4 out of 5

    Khrush

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steven Chang

  27. 5 out of 5

    David

  28. 4 out of 5

    John

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Friesen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Burke Ingraffia

  31. 4 out of 5

    Erik

  32. 4 out of 5

    Al Maari

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