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What's the Best Way To Make Poor Countries Rich? Joseph Stiglitz, William Easterly at Reason/Soho Forum 8/27

“Is the best way to end global poverty free markets or government action?” The Nobel laureate and former World Bank economist square off in N.Y.

Soho ForumSoho Forum"Is the best way to end global poverty free markets or government action?"

That's the proposition under discussion at the next Reason-Soho Forum event, which features Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and former World Bank economist William Easterly. The conversation will be moderated by the Soho Forum's co-founder, Gene Epstein.

The event takes place on Monday, August 27 at New York's Subculture theater on Bleecker Street. Tickets cost between $12 and $24 and include entry to a reception featuring light fare and a cash bar. All tickets must be purchased online in advance (and they are going fast!).

Here's more information about the participants and their basic positions:

William Easterly is Professor of Economics at New York University and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute. He is the author of three books: The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor (2014), The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (2006), which won the FA Hayek Award from the Manhattan Institute, and The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (2001). He has published 69 peer-reviewed academic articles, and has written columns and reviews for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Review of Books, and Washington Post. He has written: "Remember, aid cannot achieve the end of poverty. Only homegrown development based on the dynamism of individuals and firms in free markets can do that."

Joseph E. Stiglitz is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University. He is also the co-chair of the High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress at the OECD, and the Chief Economist of the Roosevelt Institute. A recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979), he is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and a former member and chairman of the (US president's) Council of Economic Advisers. In 2011 Stiglitz was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He has written "[Whenever information is imperfect and markets incomplete, which is to say always, and especially in developing countries,then the invisible hand works most imperfectly. Significantly, there are desirable government interventions which, in principle, can improve upon the efficiency of the market." [italics in original]

And here are event details:

Cash bar opens at 5:45pm
Event starts at 6:30pm
Subculture Theater
45 Bleecker St
NY, 10012

Seating must be reserved in advance.

Moderated by Soho Forum Director Gene Epstein

Each Soho Forum is released as a Reason TV video and a Reason Podcast (subscribe for free!). Recent events have included Peter Schiff and Erik Vorhees debating whether bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is the future of money, economists Bryan Caplan and Edward Glaesar arguing over government funding for higher education, and Cathy Young and Michael Kimmel discussing "rape culture" on college campuses.

For a full archive, go here.

Here's the video of the Reason-Soho Forum about bitcoin and the future of money.

Photo Credit: Soho Forum

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  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    The best way to make poor countries rich is to refuse to exploit their people with your own brand of capitalism, but allowing communist socialtopia to sprout among them, and letting the lack of capitalist engagement to be a scapegoat for any inefficiencies that arise.

  • Yellow Tony||

    The best way to extinguish poverty is to kill the poor. Might I suggest the gulag?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    In the case of stieglitz and piketty and krugtron, that is most definitely an immodest proposal.

  • Horny Lizard||

    One dollar, one vote is true freedom.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Five dicks, two assholes is true Yellow Tony.

  • Yellow Tony||

    I want to play beardsies with Easterly!

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Is beardsies your alt-universe way of describing "brustling"?

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Is beardsies your alt-universe way of describing "brustling"?

  • ||

    Vote for Bernie Sanders/Osario-Cortez. It is known.

    Instant wealth. Like pudding.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Markets can't work if they have imperfect information, but governments can. Individuals making individual decisions at a much finer discretization of course can't be as efficient or "correct" as the one size fits all of central planners.

    How you can argue with that logic?

  • ||

    I'm sure Tony will be around soon to tell us.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Dude, Yellow Tony just upthread. I, Red Tony, right here. And none of us have all the answers, except maybe Fish-Person Tony.

  • Juice||

    Hernando de Soto has an answer.

  • DiegoF||

    Too little too late, Hernando de Soto. You steal their land in the name of some distant king, bringing nothing but violence and disease, and now after 490 years you announce they should have property rights? Fuck you.

  • Kivlor||

    You could replace the low IQ indigenous population and with a higher IQ one.

  • DiegoF||

    Essentially what God did, no? I hear the Jericho Institute of Technology was little more than an undistinguished local school when it was predominantly Canaanite.

  • DiegoF||

    ...Their civil engineering record speaks for itself.

  • vek||

    The Chinese seem to be picking up the slack on this one since white people aren't going out colonizing places anymore, and are in fact being colonized by the third world in their own lands...

    There are millions of Chinese running around in Africa right now. Whether or not many of them stay long term is yet to be determined. I couldn't stomach it myself, but there is a hell of a lot of potential in Africa for anybody with the brains and fortitude to live there and deal with the bullshit.

  • Kivlor||

    I was actually thinking of this specific phenomenon when I posted my comment in jest. I haven't seen the stats, but unless those Chinese start having above replacement birth rates, which they aren't at home, then it won't work long-term. Heck, it won't work short term, since the African birthrates are through the roof.

    Alternatively, we could always import the 3rd world as you point out, and watch our nations burn in 30-50 years.

  • vek||

    Honestly, if they were "smart" they would shit can any attempts at suppressing their birth rates, and encourage people to breed as much as possible... Then just export the excess to Africa, America, South America, etc.

    White people colonized the world because we were prosperous enough to raise up an ever expanding population, and then send the excess over seas to emptier lands. China could do the very same thing, which would increase their global "influence" simply by having their people in a ton of foreign nations.

    I mean, it's not what I would necessarily want to see happen in the west, being overrun by Chinese, but I would sure as hell be in favor of it if I was Chinese! I suppose Africa and some other areas would benefit considerably from the importation of massive numbers of Chinese too, IQ and higher education levels and all that jazz... In truth the US could benefit from REASONABLE numbers of them as well, just not 100 million or anything.

    They may be godless heathen bastards, but they're smart, polite, industrious, and law abiding. I have few issues with Asian immigration. They do vote a little bit wrong in the USA, but better than many demographics, and I feel like they should be natural conservatives/libertarians if they can just be shown the light.

  • perlchpr||

    I'm kind of surprised China isn't shipping people to Africa in supertankers.

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    The thing about socialism is the inherent contradictions of a socialist. I can't as a poor person credibly criticize the economic status quo as exploitative and unfair because, as a poor person, i'm either a loser or picking sour grapes. Likewise, if I were to own any more than a 1994 Toyota Corolla I would be guilty of hypocrisy in responding to the plight of the poor by the urging on of collective action to address economic inequality. I just acknowledge the greatness of the current economic system— people dying in hospital emergency rooms notwithstanding— because someone owning two yachts is awesome.

  • Eddy||

    Nonsense, every Marx needs an Engels to take money from the evil capitalists and give it to The Cause.

    And the Vanguard needs to be comfortable and healthy during the transition to pure communism - especially given the stress of all the tough decisions they have to make with liquidating kulak, etc. - so during the transition period the party leaders need an extra slice of the economic pie.

  • Agammamon||

    You're absolutely right. *Even more* people dying in emergency rooms is a small price to pay to ensure no one has two yachts.

  • Jerryskids||

    It takes government action to step out of the way and resist the normal human impulse of meddling in other people's affairs. It may be true that the tree of liberty needs occasional watering with the blood of tyrants and of patriots, but the kudzu patch of bureaucracy needs daily pruning to keep it from taking over the whole damn yard.

  • ||

    What's the Best Way To Make Poor Countries Rich?

    That's debatable, but the answer to the question "What's the Best Way To Make Rich Countries Poor?" is straightforward: socialism.

  • Agammamon||

    Neither question is debatable.

  • ||

    Well, for one, they're about to debate the 1st question.

    For another: out of the four Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea) three became rich in a decidedly un-libertarian local environment. My standard argument is that the example of Hong Kong proves that a country doesn't have to pay the expense of having an authoritarian government to become rich; but the example of the other three countries provides an argument for those of authoritarian bent: for them, authoritarian governments are no bar for a country to become rich.

  • vek||

    The trick is in what ways a government is authoritarian. Fascistic governments can in fact be quite successful and even nice to live in for most people.

    As long as the government is fairly hands off on economic matters, whether or not they rigidly enforce other laws is basically irrelevant to their economic progress. The truth is that Europe and America were quite hardcore on all these things while we were becoming the wealthy civilizations we are today. Freedom of speech isn't needed, you can oppress people, lock gays up in prison, etc and it can all be okay. Locking away otherwise productive members of society will cost you a little bit, but not nearly as much as a proper big welfare state!

  • ||

    Fascistic governments can in fact be quite successful and even nice to live in for most people. [...] Freedom of speech isn't needed, you can oppress people, lock gays up in prison, etc and it can all be okay.

    Most people aren't all people (of a particular society): so something which is okay for most people obviously isn't okay for all people. The point is: what kind of benefit most people derive from an authoritarian government oppressing some kind of minority?

    For example: I personally strongly disapprove of tattoos, even 'artistic' ones. So I don't have any tattoos -- yet it wouldn't cross my mind to vote for a government which bans tattoos; actually, a party putting on their platform of banning tattoos when elected would give me a very strong incentive to not vote for such a party (or their candidates) even if their platform would promise the most laissez-faire economic policies. Actually, a proposed ban on tattoos can't be a laissez-faire economic policy: by definition, such a ban would also ban (providing the service for a fee of) making tattoos.

    (cont'd)

  • ||

    Locking away otherwise productive members of society will cost you a little bit, but not nearly as much as a proper big welfare state!

    But these aren't the alternatives we're discussing: Hong Kong weren't providing a proper big welfare state to its citizens vs. the other three Tigers (which became rich similar to Hong Kong). The issue is: if riches can be acquired in a libertarian (classical liberal) system like Hong Kong, then why should a society pay the expense of living under an authoritarian government? What kind of extra benefits does an authoritarian government provides for which the price is paid by the oppressed?

  • vek||

    Well, so here's the thing. I used to be a totally crazy anything goes sort of libertarian... Then I grew up. I read statistics, psychology studies, etc. The fact is that a LOT of people are in fact really dumb. They make horrible decisions. This is why societies throughout all of time, all over the world, came up with very similar sets of rules that were harshly enforced. Because if you don't, a certain subset of the population is just too stupid to do the right thing, which in fact harms those very same dumb people more than anybody, and all the responsible people along with. Religion has usually been the main tool here, but secular laws as well.

    As a libertarian I don't want the government to impose rules... But I do believe society at large needs to become more conservative again in the west, and apply more social pressure to encourage good behavior, because what we have now is a shit show. Society overall and many individuals in society have a worse life because people are running hog wild.

    One of the better examples of this is the expectation that one would not have premarital sex, get married, and stay married. If you look up psych studies, women are basically incapable of long term bonding after more than a few partners. So you end up with broken homes, welfare state, and women that are actually less happy than in the past when they were supposedly "oppressed" according to studies.

  • vek||

    Now I don't think all old social conventions were good, but many were. Cultural Marxism, if you care for that phrase, decided everything that was old should be destroyed... Problem is most of it was good stuff, that creates a healthy and happy society, and largely worked with and accepted human nature. Gender roles are part of evolution, no matter what leftists think.

    So again, while I don't think the government should impose a lot of these rules, the fact is society at large can benefit from harsh/conservative rules, including if the government DOES decide to force them as in those Asian nations.

    If you force your neighbor to stay with and support his family, instead of allowing the family to break up, that's fewer wards of the state/private charity that have to be supported by others. Things like that. If you punish criminals (real crime like theft etc) harshly, even to the point of lopping off hands for petty theft, that discourages crime, which is good for society.

    Just because something is nice, or moral doesn't mean it's the "best" way to deal with something if one wants to discount morality. Keep in mind the best way to deal with the mentally ill/handicapped is to simply kill them. The best way to deal with career criminals is to slave them for the rest of their natural lives, and then let them die when they get their first expensive to treat medical problem!

    Moral DOES NOT equal practical best outcomes in all cases... Often, but not always.

  • vek||

    And last but not least, let us not forget that most people simply like a well ordered society.

    Chaos, no standards, no rules, anything goes... Most people don't like this. I mean they do to a point... People like being able to do what they want to do... But only to a point. And they definitely don't like seeing irresponsible people being free to do what they want to do, when it's dumb, especially if they know they're on the hook for the consequences, like in a welfare state.

    What is the value of being able to send you 5 year old walking to school 2 miles away and KNOWING nothing will happen? Priceless. That same kind of thinking applies to lots of other stuff.

    I'm not tooooo much that direction, but I get the appeal, and it is a big part of why many societies impose harsh rules too.

  • SIV||

    BYOB> cash bar

  • Eddy||

    Several poor countries have already discovered the secret, they have princes offering to wire me enormous sums of money.

  • Eddy||

    There's always casinos, but I have reservations about that.

  • Sevo||

  • Sevo||

    OT:

    "Where even Walmart won't go: how Dollar General took over rural America "
    [...]
    "When Dollar General came to Haven, Kansas, it arrived making demands. The fastest-growing retailer in America wanted the taxpayers of the small, struggling Kansas town to pick up part of the tab for building one of its squat, barebones stores that more often resemble a warehouse than a neighbourhood shop."
    https://www.theguardian.com/
    business/2018/aug/13/dollar-
    general-walmart-buhler-haven-kansas

    It's The Guardian, so they are certain it is evil profit-seeking. OTOH, DG is playing the local politicos like a fiddle. Find the good guy and get back to us.

  • DiegoF||

    Comments a lot more reasonable than most for the Guardian, where the heated debate is usually about whether it's transphobic to leave the hammer and sickle plain yellow instead of rainbow colored. Maybe because these are American not Brit. But still fucking depressing.

    You and I, in our frustration with our hometowns, are probably used to thinking of red-blooded meat-and-potatoes Real America with a certain amount of romance. But I think damn near everyone is at least an opportunistic socialist push come to shove. They adjust their rhetoric ad hoc when they think government can intervene to serve their desires, and frame it in a way that lets them keep thinking it's not the same as those bad, un-American sorts of socialism. You really think sweet, flag-waving old Mrs. Jones from Bumblefuck USA is not going to demand that hell and high water be moved to keep the plant open and paying "decent wages," that drugs be kept "off the street" and treatment provided for her young relatives that fall victim, and so forth? You think she's going to vote for anyone who refuses to do that on principle, and have a moment of self-reflection that she has no right to demand these things and they are parasitic like the things she considers un-American in others?

    Meanwhile, of course, no one ever talks about the government-created barriers to market entry. We just call it "capitalism," and look for more government to save us from its consequences.

  • Sevo||

    "You and I, in our frustration with our hometowns, are probably used to thinking of red-blooded meat-and-potatoes Real America with a certain amount of romance. But I think damn near everyone is at least an opportunistic socialist push come to shove. They adjust their rhetoric ad hoc when they think government can intervene to serve their desires, and frame it in a way that lets them keep thinking it's not the same as those bad, un-American sorts of socialism. You really think sweet, flag-waving old Mrs. Jones from Bumblefuck USA is not going to demand that hell and high water be moved to keep the plant open and paying "decent wages," that drugs be kept "off the street" and treatment provided for her young relatives that fall victim, and so forth? You think she's going to vote for anyone who refuses to do that on principle, and have a moment of self-reflection that she has no right to demand these things and they are parasitic like the things she considers un-American in others?"

    There is a lot in there (thx, DF) which amounts to a proper condemnation of "democracy". It is certainly not an end and is a means only in that the preferable alternative (a "republic" under a Constitution) is lacking the PR campaign.
    Right, Tony, turd and Hihn? Tell us again how the hag 'should have won!!!!'

  • perlchpr||

    I just wanted to say that I approve of you as a commenter. I think that you often have insightful things to say.

    Then again, I'm just another rando on the internet, so, hopefully that doesn't detract from the compliment too much. ;)

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Significantly, there are desirable government interventions which, in principle, can improve upon the efficiency of the market.

    Who determines which government interventions are the desirable ones, and who is responsible for rejecting the undesirable ones?

    Trick question! They are all desirable. And there is no scarcity of expertise among the elite to implement them all, except the damn proles continually get in the way and wreck everything.

    Like every business bureaucrat, things would be so much easier without customers making demands and wanting other things.

  • IceTrey||

    Top men!

  • IceTrey||

    Since government action involves the initiatory use of force which is immoral because it violates every human's natural right to liberty I'd say free market.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Yeah right. Receiving a government paycheck transforms mere fallible mortals into infallible government heroes looking out for their flocks. You need to factor that into your equations, professor.

  • perlchpr||

    Well, I'm thinking it might require action on the part of some government to make their government get out of the way and let people make some money.

  • vek||

    Unless this guys proper government actions are limited to having rule of law and contract enforcement, I'm preeetty sure they're not really going to be able to improve on the wealth that will be created by the free market! How idiots like that can be professors in economics is beyond me... If I was going to a school and had an economics professor who was a socialist, I'd go to another fucking school!

  • Linux||

    "Whenever information is imperfect and markets incomplete, which is to say always, and especially in developing countries,then the invisible hand works most imperfectly."

    Let me fix that for you

    "Whenever people are apt to abuse power and be corrupt, which is to say always, and especially in developing countries, is when government intervention is most damaging."

  • Azathoth!!||

    I am still amazed that anyone thinks that there is a choice here.

    There is no choice.

    There is only the free market. Every human action to meddle with the single law of economics-- everything wants the best value from every interaction-- is met with instant reaction from the endless interactions that we refer to as 'the market'.

    Any 'managed economy' is forever in the process of failure. The US included.

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