Blog post catch-up

In: Uncategorized

8 Aug 2010

I have been so busy over the past few days that I have not been able to write all the blog posts I would have liked. There follows some brief notes on subjects I would have liked to have covered in greater detail.

In the run-up to the publication of the 20th anniversary Human Development Report from the United Nations Development Programme. Many of the key references, including a debate between Martin Ravallion of the World Bank and Sabine Alkire of the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, are available here.

David Brooks tried to reconcile Democrat and Republican approaches to growth in a column in the New York Times. In his view 30% of Americans favour a European-style “Moon Shot” approach in which government plays a big role by helping to provide infrastructure. In contrast, the Republican or “Unleash America” approach would involve simplifying taxation and curbing middle class subsidies in welfare programmes. The latter is favoured by the likes of Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute. What both approaches miss is the cultural aversion to growth which exists across the American political spectrum.

A critique of Arundhati Roy, a campaigning Indian writer much loved in the West, appeared in the New Republic.

The BBC noted that death rates at their lowest ever level in England and Wales.

Finally, spiked has published several interesting articles on growth sceptic themes. Brendan O’Neill’s reports from Tibet were a powerful rebuttal to western romanticisation of “indigenous cultures” (a subject I would have liked to have covered in my book if I had more time). He also criticised the insistence of the authors of The Spirit Level that any criticism of their book should be peer reviewed. Tim Black wrote on the social forces behind the widening definition of mental illness and on the debate about the Enlightenment.  Rob Lyons put the hysterical discussion over the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico into perspective. Neil Davenport also wrote on what could be a German form of growth scepticism – the tendency to romanticise the former East Germany.