Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Three links ...

Let me start with the one with the most striking insights: Drake Bennett's The Sting of Poverty: "What bees and dented cars can teach about what it means to be poor - and the flaws of economics."

Martha Nussbaum on mean-spirited prostitution laws: "these are laws that never should have existed."

In Admission Impossible (which also doubles up as a review of a bunch of books), Keith Gessen discusses the brutal competition for admission into America's elite schools, and the kinds of things people are willing to do (including a serious con job!).

Bonus link: Provoked in part by Gessen's essay, Kathy G has an extended commentary on inequality in the US.


  1. Anonymous said...

    The bee sting argument is interesting, but not entirely persuasive. It doesn't explain why the poor in the US "accumulate" stings, so to speak. If you look at the poor in India or Bangladesh, they don't go around getting a drug habit or get into crime, they try hard to get out of poverty, which is why microcredit programs work.

    There is an attitude problem in the US, which has a lot to do with the cultural context. Getting out of poverty there means buying a house in the suburbs, driving a Toyota to work, having a medical coverage that covers everything, and accumulating a lot of electronic junk. Clawing your way up to this from poverty is not easy. In India and Bangladesh, or China for that matter, getting out of poverty would be closer to having three square meals and a reasonably stable roof over your head, something that looks more achievable.

    I think the bee sting argument doesn't generalise well. Though I agree with the broader point that that the traditional "homo economicus" reasoning doesn't apply to the poor, but it probably also does not apply to the super rich, particularly stock brokers!

  2. Anonymous said...

    The Sting of Poverty was a very interesting article and very insightful indeed! Thanks for pointing it out.