Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mohammed Yunus and the Abolition of Poverty

Mohammed Yunus, head of the Grameen Bank, spoke here a few days ago. He is a real interesting guy and I even bought a copy of his latest book, Creating a World Without Poverty.

Yunus formed the Grameen Bank to give loans to the poorest people in Bangladesh, to help them get out of debt to moneylenders and start their own businesses. This has blossomed into a major undertaking, establishing not only a bank but a whole string of enterprises. All of the enterprises are self sustaining, but not profit making enterprises in the traditional sense. Rather, they are what he terms "social businesses" which means a non-profit or small profit enterprise which runs a business as a business, and generates enough profit to keep the business going and expanding. While investment is protected, dividends are not to be paid (or paid in small amounts). In his book, Yunus rejects socialist and Marxist prescriptions for alleviating poverty for one based on the free market (though he believes in heavy regulation).

I think Yunus underestimates the profit motive a bit, but then again, not really. You could argue that the Grameen principle is a way to train the poor to use capitalism to their advantage. And while the blankets and crafts that Grameen members are famous for are not what built the German or Japanese economic miracles, one imagines a time when Grameen enterprises moves onto new products.

But the guy is not standing on a street corner with a sign saying "will quit overpopulating for food." He is not standing outside a G8 meeting shouting "Give me money!" Quite the opposite. He wants to include the poor in the global market, not end the global market (I am reading his latest book and he is really pushing, among other things, free markets). I think his model, within its limits, is a good way forward for alleviating poverty


Anonymous said...

Government is at the root of all poverty problems. For instance, look at Sudan. The Sudanese people are wallowing in poverty because the government holds a monopoly over the oil fields-yes, sudan has so much oil that China is in talks with the murderous government as I type this. In fact, in exchange for exclusive rights over all of Sudan's oil, China has agreed to supply the murderous Sudanese government with all the weapons they need. If you don't believe me, good, I don't expect you to take my word for it, but do the research. You will find what I have said is true. If everything the government holds a monopoly over,i.e.: the oil fields, the national, state, and local defense, the education-or lack thereof, and so much more, were de-monopolized and privatized, then private industry would find a way to meet the demands of the Sudanese people. I could give an infinite amount of examples as to why any form of government will never work, and why anarcho-capitalism is the only workable form of "self-governing." If you want some form of sanity in life, privatizing everything is the only way to go. For those of you who have your doubts, I understand. I had my doubts about a year ago until I started doing the research. If any of you want, I can recommend a host of books that document the why, the how, the when, the what, to what extent, and many more arguments and evidence to privatizing everything.

Anthony said...

I am not an anarcho-capitalist. I describe my politics as being three martinis away from anarchism, though at my age, I tend to pass out after the second martini.

However, I think you have a lot of truth in your statements. The centrality of oil to the world economy has been the major reason why Darfur is happening. The Sudanese are supported by the Saudis, and no one wants to annoy them, and they also have entered into the oil business with China. Oil (which by its nature is not well suited to small enterprises) also gives the Sudanese government the money it needs.

In a day or so I plan to post regarding the "Zubrin Plan" which would move from petroleum based fuels to alcohol based fuels. One side effect of the program would be to move much fuel production from big enterprises to small farmers (or so I hope).

Rodak said...

The Sudanese are supported by the Saudis

And who supports them? Could it be...oh, I don't know...SATAN?

No. Wait. It says here it's...somebody named...Dubya...

Anonymous said...

I like your martini analogy. It makes me want to have one. Unfortunately, I found out at a college party I went to recently that I am not very tolerant to alcohol!
I want to apologize for being so abrasive in my first post. I just get so angry about the injustices in this life that it sometimes pours over into my writing.
I have been a minarchist my whole life. However, about two years ago, my friend challenged me to start checking my premises and working out my "conclusions" to their logical ends. By doing that I found the non-aggression axiom is the most logical "political platform" on which to stand; Roman Catholicism is the true church, and Christianity is the only true religion. I have tested and continue to test my arguments and supporting evidence in every way possible to make sure that they stand up.
When I adopted the non-aggression axiom, I found that it was no longer logical to be a minarchist because minarchism is a form of aggression. Oh, and to those who say that if you adopt the non-aggression axiom then you support abortion, the opposite is true. I can point out all the arguments and supporting evidence one could possibly want to read that show that abortion is an act of aggression (or simply put, the most heinous and deplorable murder a human can commit).
I found myself scared for a after I accepted the non-aggression axiom because I did not know of a "political" movement that truly accepted this axiom. Objectivism is a flop because it contradicts itself. Conservatism and Liberalism are all nice ways of saying, "We aren't socialists and communists, but we adopt a lot of their ideas." Eventually, I was blessed to come across anarcho-capitalism. I don't think many in the Catholic Church today think that the two compliment each other. In response to this, I am seriously considering writing a book to show that it does. Imagine the pope telling over a billion people that anarcho-capitalism is the only viable "political" system.
So you said you were three martinis away from anarchism, but why anarchism? Anarchism is worse than communism, totalitarianism, or even Stalianism. Did you mean say to anarcho-capitalism? Anarcho-capitalism operates off of the non-aggression axiom. Anarchy operates off of the "I-am-the-most-brutal-dictator-so-I-am-going -to-rule-over-you" axiom.
Thanks for any feedback!

Madscribe said...

Well, I'm glad he got the Nobel Peace Prize. I was into him twenty years ago in college at Ohio State, along with Ravi Batra, and had forgotten about his work until the pre-Gore prize giveaway a couple of years ago.

It seems the Nobel idiots took one step forward, one backward, by awarding Yunus, someone who has helped people to overcome the destruction of First World Paternalistic Do-Gooderism and Interference, only to have people in the developing world be subject to the main purveyor of global warming, the long-winded Al Gore.

Rodak said...

When Bangladesh is under water due to global warming, maybe he can float to the safety of the Himalayas, using his Nobel Prize "war chest" as an ark?

Anthony said...

Anonymous -- I don't think you were abrasive (quite the opposite, in fact).

As for martinis, yesterday morning my wife and I were at a local beer/wine store buying some beer. I also bought a bottle of Belvedere. When my wife was unloading the cart, she said that the beer was for the Super Bowl and the vodka for Super Tuesday (BTW -- she supports Obama).

I joke about how my politics change the drunker I get. Last summer, my mother in law (a former teacher) and I were drinking some wine.

With the first glass of wine, I was explaining why I supported school choice and vouchers.

With the third, I was calling for the abolishment of public schools.

By my sixth glass of wine I was stating my belief that compulsary education is a tool of totalitarianism!

MS -- I have been a big fan of Yunus for a long time. As for Gore, that is the fashionable cause these days. I am not a complete skeptic on global warming, I just think the crazy alarmism is nothing more than a power grab by people who want to control how others live (and yes Rodak, I feel the same way about social conservatvies who want to ban everything).

And Rodak, one more thing. You answered my question for me. Yes, Bush has been a supporter of the Saudis. So was Clinton and every president since FDR. Which is why I support the Zubrin plan which is a market based way of cutting off reliance on foreign oil and increasing energy competition.

Go Giants! And Happy Super Tuesday!

Madscribe said...

When Bangladesh is under water due to global warming, maybe he can float to the safety of the Himalayas, using his Nobel Prize "war chest" as an ark?

Bud, do you ever watch the news. When the heck HASN'T Bangladesh been under water? I suppose your boy Dylan and George Harrison were holding a concert for Global Warming in Bangladesh three decades before the fact?

If you're going to unleash snark on someone who tries to help the poor (or have you something against economists that do more for the poor than mealy mouthed politicians and activists in America?), at least pick an example that doesn't require a connection to modern hysteria, Rodak, my man ....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @6:02, please contact me. just replace the @ with an "a" and you're good to go.