Western Myths of globalisation

It may be worthwhile to stand back and reflect a little on the term ‘globalisation’.

One view would be:

Globalisation refers to the integration of markets in the global economy, leading to the increased interconnectedness of national economies. Markets where globalisation is particularly significant include financial markets, such as capital markets, money and credit markets, and insurance markets, commodity markets, including markets for oil, coffee, tin, and gold, and product markets, such as markets for motor vehicles and consumer electronics. ‘


A deeper view from the Peterson Institute would be:

Globalization is the word used to describe the growing interdependence of the world’s economies, cultures, and populations, brought about by cross-border trade in goods and services, technology, and flows of investment, people, and information. Countries have built economic partnerships to facilitate these movements over many centuries. But the term gained popularity after the Cold War in the early 1990s, as these cooperative arrangements shaped modern everyday life. This guide uses the term more narrowly to refer to international trade and some of the investment flows among advanced economies, mostly focusing on the United States.


This view from Peterson is far more subtle and hints at the truth i.e. It all depends where one is looking from.

In reality, what the Western scholars call globalisation is merely globalisation with Europe at the centre. There always was globalisation, merely that Europe was not at the centre. From Beijing to Manchester the Old Silk Road was an extensive form of trade globalisation. Ghengis Khan introduced a considerable form of political globalisation that brought greater safety and stability to the Old Silk Road. Today when the centre of globalisation is moving away from the US and Europe the cry goes up about the decline of globalisation!

Under the heading: ‘INSIGHT: Pandemic could accelerate the decline of globalisation’ Tom Brown writes: ‘The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has hastened the change from a globalised world order towards more regional systems of trade, amid a near-collapse of global travel and heavy challenges for supply chains, according to a partner of the World Economic Forum (WEF). ……We are already seeing the impact of that shift towards a more regional focus in shipping rates, which have multiplied on strong demand from a resurgent Asia and weaker demand from a Europe still languishing in the pandemic, leading to boats travelling routes empty or traders declining to travel to Europe at all.’


Here, more or less in one’s face, he is saying that any decline in the importance of Europe is a decline in globalisation and a return to regionalism. Read it carefully: ‘traders declining to travel to Europe at all’ even if as they are based in S E Asia they increase their travels to South America, West Asia and Africa, this constitutes a decline in globalisation!!! Globalisation is here to stay and has been for a while. Europe and US may no longer be the fulcrum. And so?

Julian Baggini: Hume and the genteel racism of British philosophy

Baggini has written a piece in Prospect magazine ‘   Is the University of Edinburgh right to “cancel” David Hume?’ 15 Sep 2020. He is seeking to defend Hume from accusations of racism while accepting his ‘unfortunate’ statements. He writes:

‘Hume was both a product of his time and like people of every time, had his blind spots.’ This statement implies that Hume’s views were uncontroversial during his time. This is completely untrue. His views were seriously challenged and Hume failed to adequately respond to these challenges. Baggini then writes: ‘His empiricism and scepticism made him “suspect” whites were superior rather than confidently assert that they were.’ This too is completely untrue. Here Baggini is seeking to make mileage out of the form of expression, implying uncertainty. That form of expression does not imply uncertainty and was not so understood at the time.

Further, scholars have shown that not only was Hume’s views not based on empirical evidence but that his view were empirical disproven on his time yet Hume did not retract his views.

 As Richard Popkin  wrote ”In fact, as one of the matters I shall argue for in this paper, Hume’s racist contention was disproven in his own day by empirical evidence that he must have known about” and more recently Waldeman, a historian specialising  in Hume, has written: ‘Hume was an unashamed racist, who was directly involved in the slave trade.’  

This raises  a far more interesting question: the racism in British philosophy departments today.

Waldeman wrote  on 17 July 2020 ‘It could be argued that holding Hume to the standard of a later age would be unfair… But this argument is absurd.’ Yet  on 15 September Baggini asks: ”why did he encourage a friend to invest in a plantation that he would have known was worked by slaves, “ as if the slavery on the plantation was not the raison d’etre of the plantation?

Hume also made obnoxious remarks about the Irish in his History of England and refused to retract when a delegation presented contrary evidence to him. Baggini ignores this.

Frankly, there is a reason Hume became the patron saint for the ante-bellum pro slavery lobby.

It is for a non philosopher like the historian Waldeman ‘obvious’  that Hume was an ‘unashamed racist’ given the historical record. But for British philosophers this is not so. I would suggest that the reason for the differential perception is the genteel racism in British philosophy departments today – they share Hume’s views. This is a racism that is largely unspoken and sometimes unacknowledged but is surprisingly blatant to any outsider. On this I can present even my own recent experience. Baggini is academic director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy. After the  2019 annual lecture by Prof Pettit  a group moved towards a dinner. Several academics expressed a wish to continue discussions with me following a question I had posed to Pettit so I followed. As a group we all walked for 15 minutes  towards the restaurant. Suddenly, at the door of the restaurant Baggini barred my way. He said he had no budget for my presence. However the look on his face made it clear that this was not about the money. I was dressed in a City suit so clearly I could afford my  own dinner and in any case was not expecting a ‘free lunch’. But his face was firm and brooked no further discussion. I was not welcome. As I left another academic who wanted to continue the discussion tried to intervene but I had no stomach for a scene and left. Bear in mind that this is not customary behaviour. In my days at Cambridge Philosophy dept  if someone asked an interesting question they might be summarily invited to the post talk dinner and this had happened to me on numerous occasions. Let me put this plainly, racism in British  philosophy does not generally exhibit itself in outright remarks (however see below!) but in a  general ambience that makes the place unwelcoming or to quote Theresa May, British philosophy departments are a ‘hostile environment’ to Black people.

Any doubts I may have had about Baggini’s attitude to me were cast aside when he openly and publicly declared that he no longer wanted me to ask questions at the Royal Institute’s public philosophy lectures. I had asked one question only at a time at these lectures. However on many occasions the speaker was unable to provide an adequate answer and their facial expression said as much. For whatever reason the attendance  at these obscure lectures had started to balloon. Certainly there was no evidence that my questions were frightening away the audience. I mention these episodes not to single Baggini out but to provide colour for the accusation that the general ambience of British philosophy has an undertone of plain anti Black racism.  It is because of those who are not racist (the academics who wanted to continue the discussion with me) that the genteel racism is starkly highlighted. This is not just about Baggini. At a specialist conference at University College, London some years ago  the late LSE Professor  John Watkins publicly stated that Africans cannot think properly. He was unaware of my presence until the host nodded to him in my direction at which point Watkins became greatly embarrassed and fled the conference..

Hume’s Tower is an interesting issue. British philosophy departments today and their racial hostility – that is the real issue.



Richard Popkin: Hume’s racism reconsidered in The Third Force in Seventeenth Century Thought’ Brill 1992

Fear and trembling in UK Philosophy departments – the case of Dr Liam Kofi Bright

It is with some hesitation that we address this issue and mention names. It does seem to be both important and implausible without naming names.

With the insurgency of BLM  Dr Kofi Bright may be able  to find some cover. 

On 8 November 2019 in London Dr Bright, assistant professor in philosophy at London school of Economics, gave a public lecture on ‘Why do scientists lie?’ for the Royal Institute of Philosophy. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNs1sumAT68&t=774s)  Only the formal lecture is presented online  though the question time was in fact recorded.

I was present and asked why Dr Bright  omitted the issue of the philosophy departments that have been lying about Kant’s racism from his discussion. The Chair of the meeting, Julian Baggini, interrupted and sought to rule my question out of order as the topic for discussion was ‘why do scientists lie?’ and not why do philosophers lie, until a member of the audience then  interrupted and pointed out (obviously)  that they were both questions  about intellectual integrity.

Dr Bright in the ensuing discussion   admitted that he had written a paper on the racism in Western philosophy, but had been advised by his departmental professor that it would not do his career any good were he to publish such a thing. Dr Bright made it clear  publicly to his audience that he was on a short term contract due for renewal and felt constrained to do as he was told. Baggini tried to deflect this confession by ridiculing Dr Bright’s lack of courage. In my experience courage is neither a departmental requirement  nor a popularly evidenced character feature of  your average academic.

But to the main point :  on the one hand  there is a campaign for more ethnic and minority representation in academia in general and in philosophy in particular, yet there is this iron clad control of the agenda by the existing establishment that will nullify any consequence. I have written a detailed exposition on how Western academia has captured the African Academy (see below) . For Dr Bright to be ‘warned off’ from  exposing racism in Western  philosophy is both outrageous and damning.


Ladimeji, O. A. (2019). African Academy and its Crisis: Conflicting Agendas and Institutional Capture. In Higher Education in Africa & the United States: The Black Experience. New Forums Press.

Skidelsky – Is Economics color blind?

Skidelsky writes on 20 July 2020 in Project Syndicate:

‘I still regard economics’ detachment from culture as a serious shortcoming in understanding human behavior. But I now see considerable merit in this cultural neutrality, because it provides a “safe space” for thinking amid the culture wars that currently convulse the non-scientific intelligentsia and about which journalists love to pontificate.’ and later:

‘Another point in favor of economics is its valid claim to be color- and gender-blind. ‘

Skidelsky, R. (2020, July 20). Economics and the Culture War. Project Syndicate.

But is Western economics  actually color-blind?

Let us have a look at Adam Smith. Most students will be familiar with Wealth of Nations but in the majority of cases they are given excerpts from Books I-III. It is in  Book IV that Adam Smith turns to people of different colors.

In  Book IV chapter VII part II: ’Of Colonies’, Smith writes:
‘But the prosperity of the sugar colonies of France has been entirely owing to the good conduct of the colonists, which must therefore have had some superiority over that of the English; and this superiority has been remarked in nothing so much as in the good management of their slaves.’

In what way was this  superiority demonstrated:

 “‘By the 1780s, nearly 40 percent of all the sugar imported by Britain and France and 60 percent of the world’s coffee came from the small colony. For a brief time, Saint-Domingue annually produced more exportable wealth than all of continental North America. “  

History of Haiti

This was an enormous extraction of wealth. The conditions of its extraction was widely known. 1776 was a period of inflamed discussion of the slave trade and its ills. In 1794 came the first French aboltion of slavery.  Smith shows complete familiarity with the state of production in St Domingue but prefers not to detail it. Let us provide some details: 

As Henri Christophe’s personal secretary stated:

‘Have they not hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars? Have they not forced them to eat excrement? And, having flayed them with the lash, have they not cast them alive to be devoured by worms, or onto anthills, or lashed them to stakes in the swamp to be devoured by mosquitoes? Have they not thrown them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup? Have they not put men and women inside barrels studded with spikes and rolled them down mountainsides into the abyss? Have they not consigned these miserable blacks to man-eating dogs until the latter, sated by human flesh, left the mangled victims to be finished off with bayonet and poniard?”

Other contemporary reports described in horrific details the wanton cruelty of the plantation owners including one master throwing  his chef alive into the oven because he was displeased with his meal, and on another occasion putting burning coals on a woman’s private parts as punishment.

How can Adam Smith maintain that this constituted ‘good management’? In technical economic and accounting terms this was absolutely not good management under any terms . Further and more directly to Skidelsky’s point, how has Western academia in general  and Western economists in particular, so carefully  hidden these comments over the years and miseducated their students?

For Adam Smith to consider the treatment of the slaves in St Domingue in 1776 shortly before the insurrection ( and shortly before the first French abolition in 1794)  as ‘good management’ simply shows that for Adam Smith, to coin a phrase, Black Lives did Not Matter! No considerations of empathy or moral sympathy applies.

Clearly such considerations  may not apply if these ‘people’ are not fully human for he considers the ‘good management’ of the slaves on a par with  the management of cattle. This is Adam Smith, in an age of great debate about the need to abolish slavery, engaging in full scale culture wars! Any idea that Western economics was born outside of culture wars is lacking in any historical truth.

But Adam Smith’s recognition of racism and use of it as a political argument is actually more blatant and is in Chapter 1  read by every economics student but glossed over by their teachers:

‘Compared, indeed, with the more extravagant luxury of the great, his accommodation must no doubt appear extremely simple and easy; and yet it may be true, perhaps, that the accommodation of an European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king, the absolute master of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages.

This statement is bristling with  racism. 

An ability to capture the value of one’s labour is not  inherent or equally distributed which Adam Smith was well aware of. This proposal that even the poorest white is closer to the richest white than he is to a poor Black (we shall excuse references to African kings as hyperbole for now) was a determinative argument made by the slave owners  of the time as part of the need to prevent poor whites aligning themselves with poor Blacks. Calhoun, the defender of Southern plantation way of life, was particularly articulate on this point. On the one hand we have an argument about African kings which require either that they do not trade or that they do not have any division of labour and/or are fundamentally not fully human. On the other hand we have  an argument about poor white workers that within the  British homeland makes little sense, for if they are hungry and ill-housed why should they care about the conditions of life  many thousands of miles away? 

But on one matter there can be no dispute: this statement, at the end of Chapter 1 of Wealth of Nations,  is not color blind. Nor is Western economics.

( A fully annotated version of this can be found at :

https://www.academia.edu/43718172/Robert_Skidelsky_Is_Economics_color_blind )

Cornel West – prophet or turncoat?

Cornel West was once considered part of a triptych including  Skip Gates, and Anthony Appiah, representing the Black Academy. This triptych can be viewed as  either the leading edge of the Black Academy or a rogue’s gallery.

Let us put this in context so as to understand the connection with Trump.  We need to understand the historical dynamics that generated this context.  For several decades ‘the conservative moment’  involved suppressing dissent of both left and right  by denying it a platform.  Charles Sykes, a cheerleader for that period  speaks nostalgically of those days.

Charles  Sykes has argued that in the past there were conservative gatekeepers who set limits and excluded people either from actual membership of the Republican Party or from  actual public platforms. But unknown to him, these people who had been excluded got together  to deal with their systematic exclusion and generated Breitbart and alt.right. Rather than dealing with ‘the extremists’ (dissenters) Sykes  admits they rigged the  public environment to exclude persons considered beyond the pale  rather than addressing their issues. Since his views were ‘main stream’ he would always expect to have access but once the Trump revolution took hold he experienced an estrangement which he found shocking. It never occurred to him that his estrangement mirrored the estrangement he supported for others. Leaving ‘the extremists’ to grow in the dark was one of the dumbest elite moves of that period. But this gatekeeping applied to  many ends of the political debate. Stranger still is that Sykes previously complained that the American academy had been taken over by the extreme left. From a European perspective this  would seem a somewhat McCarthy like statement.

While the ‘conservative moment’ was coming to an end  there were  movements from the left and from Black studies that began to seriously undermine the credibility of the Western academy in respect to its treatment of race in its canon. Peter Park in his 2013  book ‘Africa, Asia and the History of Philosophy’’ showed how racist Kant actually was and how the Western academy concealed it.

Another scholar wrote that Western philosophy departments were whitewashing  the history of philosophy:

‘In his book “Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto”, he writes, “mainstream philosophy in the so-called West is narrow-minded, unimaginative, and even xenophobic’.


 It is in this context that Cornel West enters the scene rehabilitated at Havard and proclaiming the cleanliness of Western academy in general and of Harvard philosophy in particular.

Cornel West plays the protestor and prophet  and appears to be a voice of the dispossessed and the oppressed. In his talk at Dartmouth on 17 May 2017 on ‘Intellectual Vocation and Political Struggle in the Trump Moment’ he refers to his apprenticeship  with Rawls, Putnam, Nozik, Kitson, Schlarr et al … in the same breath as he mentions his devotion to the Black Panthers

What is the problem? It is simple ..he has implied that the academic establishment is beyond and above  the racism of the streets and the world. So for a young  listener the lesson he brings is that the fight against racism does not involve questioning the Rawls, Putnams et al  According to the presentation the deep racism of US does not reside in Harvard but worse cannot reside in the work of Rawls, Putnams et al. How does he know this? Because he was welcomed and trained by them. It appears that he is oblivious to the possibility of  adoption, co option and entrapment and the risk of collusion and complicity. We know that the racism in the work of Kant  ( see https://african-century.org/june-2019-issue/ Charles Mills and Kant Part 2 ) and Adam Smith has been hidden by the established western academia. If that is the case should we ever suggest to a younger generation to trust their teachers in the establishment academy rather than being critical and self aware?

There is a great issue here. In the 60’s the rise of public protest  led to challenges of the presentation of the Western establishment academy  and the increasing protest of Black people could lead to serious questioning and challenges of the Western academy. But with Cornel West telling his audience how deeply  indebted he is to the Western academy, its canon and its leading figures he endorses them and gives them political cover. No white scholar could get up and assert that the Western academy had no questions to answer and be taken seriously. We know that Harvard and the Western academy is complicit in the  concealing of the depth of racism in Western philosophical canon  and this is something that scholars are starting to openly  challenge …and then enters  Cornel West to provide political  cover and diversion while overtly protesting against prejudice and injustice.  If much of the present racism and injustice  originates and is protected by the Western academy and its canon, his  speech is a complicit defence. No wonder Harvard welcomed him back. There are  those who buy the  image of Cornel West, the prophet. I for one don’t buy it.

Failure of US journalism

After the widespread diffusion of the video of the assault on George Floyd rioting broke out in US cities  calling for the arrest and charging of the police officers involved. 


There was considerable expressed surprise that when the demands were met the riots escalated. 

‘The turmoil was on display a short distance from the White House, where President Trump had called earlier in the day for his supporters to rally. Instead, hundreds of protesters mobilized on the streets of the nation’s capital as tensions ratcheted higher.’

Some state responses were overwhelmed:

‘But even as aerial videos from Minneapolis showed police officers largely keeping demonstrators at bay, other cities were being overwhelmed, despite hastily imposed curfews.’

( https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/30/us/minneapolis-floyd-protests.html )

However journalists appear to deliberately avoid the role of  President Trump’s statement. No consideration was given to the effect of Trumps threat to ‘start shooting’. It is a very strange thing to do to threaten a ‘potential suicide bomber’ with death. Similarly a group of people protesting against being subject to random violence and arbitrary death would be unlikely to respond positively to being threatened with being subject to further random violence and arbitrary death. To have stopped protesting in response to Trump’s threat would have implied a psychological surrender to the current situation of police intimidation. 

Trump has tweeted 31 May:

‘The National Guard has been released in Minneapolis to do the job that the Democrat Mayor couldn’t do. Should have been used 2 days ago & there would not have been damage & Police Headquarters would not have been taken over & ruined. Great job by the National Guard. No games!’

Yet the riots broke out in many cities  Los Angeles, Denver, Columbus, New York , Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Portland, Las Vegas and Des Moines. (Now 75 cities in US and going international – England, Germany, Denmark etc.)

If Trump introduced the National Guard and US military into every one of these cities this would become a national crisis for USA.

He appears to have no understanding of his possible causal role in all this. One does not expect more from President Trump. One would expect much more from US media.

President Trump to Hong Kong police: ‘start shooting!’

We are not among those who take a default position that President Trump is racist. We take him at his word until we cannot . In this case Trump has said on Twitter on 29 May 2020: “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you.”

Clearly these statements are made with a concern for safety and the rule of law. We have all seen the images of violence and looting in Hong Kong.


We feel confident that President Trump would advise Hong Kong police to behave in line with his wise advice. We are sure Trump is not saying there is one rule for Black people and another for Whites.

Coming collapse of US cultural dominance:

At the present time the world dominance of US culture seems uncontestable. However closer scrutiny would show that the world is a far more complex place and the apparent dominance can be less than it seems.

First, we can begin with the humorous. I remember listening to an American in the 1980’s describe the coming world dominance of US culture as  inevitable and universal and as a proof and precursor he pointed to the ubiquity of the  ‘Walkman’. It was of course the Sony Walkman, a Japanese product, born out of Japanese culture and a Japanese vision of privacy. Its adoption by Americans led many to consider it ‘American’. One might equally be amused  that the spread of Black music is declared as an example of the spread of Americanism. So when the African guerillas in the bush in Zimbabwe were listening to Bob Marley as they went to war with white Rhodesia they were in fact subscribing to US culture and not to music of African origin!

More seriously there is an important elision that has taken place. Many consider US to be a country that reached the future first. It is like the first to climb Mt Everest, others can come but they were there first. In fact others may take different routes to the summit but the summit is the same place. We are all walking to the future. This also attracts many from across the world to join in as they see themselves as taking part in a human march/ Manhattan Project style, to the future. Any close scrutiny of the logs of the early internet clearly show this sense of humanitarian togetherness.  Regardless of gender, race or nationality we are those ‘who get it’.

Regretfully, there were those who saw this as people from all over the world following after America, taking their lead from America and doing things the ‘American way’. This of course was an American fantasy. Given the ruthlessly open dialogue of the early internet there was no ‘American way’. 

What is happening now is that whereas before there was a clear Everest that seemed to be the future, now there are many mountains on the horizon. All these mountaineers behind the US team may now not only be following their own route but may not be climbing the same mountain at all. Such a situation may stay below the surface for a long time given that the other teams are behind America. Those that seem off-piste are considered to have ‘lost their way’ and so can be ignored. It is only when one of the other teams appears not only ahead of the American team but on another mountain altogether that the truth will dawn that people were never really following the American way but seeking the future  and that, for a while, America appeared to have got there first.

Tariffs and why china might say ‘bring it on’

Mao Ze Dong

Tariffs have a tendency to be symmetrical. US tariffs could cause China immediate disruption but what would be the long run ? If China weans itself of the USA market then US producers will have to relocate to China. Since many chinese goods are intermediate the cost could be borne by US producers. However large the US market is today it cannot compete with the future Chinese market. Foreign competitors will seek to steal US lunch.

If the US doused all Chinese goods then the world market could have cheaper and higher quality products. Some will recall 80’s when in response to US demand that Japan stop ‘dumping’ its goods Japan began charging more for its goods in US than in Japan.

If China decided to say ‘bring it on’ the advantage would be that it would be seen as the innocent party and no one would protest at reciprocal action. To make up for the lost US market China would need to increase domestic consumption – which would have positive political impact. Tariffs would play an important role in reducing import tendency of reflation without China being accused of being mercantilists. The increased nationalistic tension would carry the state over any immediate teething issues and reference to the days of China being humiliated by foreigners would silence dissent.

China could respond by simply keeping its technology to itself and its allies. If the best phones were simply not available in US who is the winner here? Why would India, Brazil or Turkey wish to ban Chinese goods? Yes, there are some severe economic costs but the situation gives the `Chinese perfect cover to adopt ultra nationalistic policies and have the population pay the short term price.

But the genie is out of the bag… long run trust in US agreements is gone. Eternal contingency planning is here to stay.

[:en]Angus Deaton on US poverty – E pur si muove! [:]

[:en]It is certainly welcome news to be able to write a positive follow up. Without mentioning either Adam Smith or neo-classical economics by name, Deaton  has put a huge dagger into their backs in an op-ed article in New York Times (Note 1).  He categorically states ‘…it is time to stop thinking that only non-Americans are truly poor.’ Trickle down and work incentives simply do not prevent extreme poverty and if they do not prevent it in US they cannot clearly prevent it in any other country.  As we discussed in an earlier blog (Note 2) the idea that there is no overlap in incomes between African countries, specifically Tanzania, and US was absurd and Deaton emphasises that fact. This is a welcome step. The weekly ‘The Economist’  still remains firmly in public denial.

Deaton goes on to show some shocking comparisons .. ‘   …. and there are places — the Mississippi Delta and much of Appalachia — where life expectancy is lower than in Bangladesh and Vietnam’.

When it comes to ‘absolute poverty’ he uses an amended measure that seeks to capture the environmental and social differences between US and developing countries. This increases the number of absolutely poor Americans from 3.3 million to 5.3 million. He writes:

‘ …there are 5.3 million Americans who are absolutely poor by global standards. This is a small number compared with the one for India, for example, but it is more than in Sierra Leone (3.2 million) or Nepal (2.5 million), about the same as in Senegal (5.3 million) and only one-third less than in Angola (7.4 million). Pakistan (12.7 million) has twice as many poor people as the United States, and Ethiopia about four times as many..’

Thankfully there are few invidious comparisons with  poor US Blacks (as if they could play any causative role!) as was suggested in an earlier paper we discussed.

Deaton refers favourably to Edin and Shaeffer. Yet  in their book ($2 a day: Living on almost nothing in America’) they suggested that South African graduates would happily work on US plantations  for $8 an hour as they  would earn more in a week than they would in a year in South Africa. This absurd claim (it implies they live on $1.33 a day in South Africa!) in a work by Princeton scholars thereby continues the myth repeated by The Economist that US poor are better off than well off Africans! (Note 4) Fortunately when challenged Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaeffer  promised to remove this fictitious absurdity from the next edition. (Note 5)

Deaton draws some policy implications from this new found recognition which we will dissect in a subsequent blog.

If Deaton’s piece in New York Times can start the process of putting to bed Adam Smith’s nonsense about poor people in England being better off than the richest people in Africa and its successor myths substituting US for England then all one can say is : About time!




  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/24/opinion/poverty-united-states.html
    poverty in us – deaton 24jan18
  2. https://african-century.org/the-economist-purveyors-of-fake-news-and-false-information/
  3. https://african-century.org/deaton-case-sea-of-despair-revisited/
  4. How on earth would anyone  get  a visa to work on US plantations at such low wages? In any case once armed with a visa would not any immigrant head for a city with known fellow countrymen who would inevitably point them in the direction of better work/life opportunities available anywhere but Mississippi!
  5. Luke Shaeffer wrote to me: ‘We appreciate you catching this and will definitely revise in the next addition. Since this pervasive myth is part of what our work seeks to counteract, in particular.’