The relation between environment and human standard of living is an area of research that has been given inadequate attention. But there is an emerging consensus among intellectuals and research scholars that there is indeed a strong correlation between the two concepts. In other words, it is rarely a coincidence that poverty thrives in hostile geographies and that affluence is usually seen in ambient landscapes. Apart from the literal sense of the word, ‘environment’ could also be taken to mean the political and socio-cultural context of a particular geographic space. This essay attempts to address the aforesaid correlation from both these perspectives. Examples from recent and far history of the United States are used in support of arguments, while also making relevant references to the rest of the world.
Statistics from eighteenth century shows that Americans had been the tallest people in the world at that time. For example, Americans averaged 172 centimeters in 1750, . . . Read More
The severe decline in the state of world economy in the last two years is a culmination of several factors. But the bursting of the housing bubble in the United States alongside a precarious credit crunch situation have played major roles in precipitating the latest episode of economic recession in many countries. While the advanced nations in North America and Western Europe have borne the brunt of the recession, lesser developed economies and several emerging markets are simultaneously experiencing a slowdown in economic activity. Financial analysts and political commentators point out that the unregulated financial markets of Western democracies make such crises inevitable. The proponents of free market capitalism, on the other hand, do not concede this point. This essay will foray into the conditions that led to the present crisis in the housing market and try to assess the merits of remedial policy measures in this regard. The evaluation of the stimulus and bailout packages is . . . Read More
The multinational business enterprise and its attendant economic phenomenon of globalisation have become ubiquitous in the new neo-liberal world order of the last few decades. However, all too often, these enterprises’ activities have lacked prudence and foresight in terms of the consequences for the local populations. Moreover, the loopholes of international business law allow these companies to go scot-free and evade accountability toward the citizens of the countries in which they operate. Globalisation per se can either be beneficial or disadvantageous to a particular country. But, recent evidence suggests that there are more cases of the latter than the former. The culmination of this discontent among the masses of lesser developed regions of the world seems to fuel the fire of trans-national terrorism. This essay tries to find how far true the criticisms directed at the phenomenon of neo-liberal globalisation are, and how much it is culpable for the propagation . . . Read More
Jeffry Frieden’s book Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth century is a highly relevant topic today. Consistent with Frieden’s hypothesis, global economic integration has grown to new levels during the last century. Several arguments could be forwarded supporting the merits and demerits of this new economic order and its overall value as a politico-economic theory. But this essay will confine itself to the task of verifying the claims made by Frieden’s in his book. The rest of the essay will argue that ‘economic globalization’ has indeed seen a spectacular growth in the second half of the twentieth century; and while its ascendancy is beyond dispute its usefulness and compatibility with the newly evolving twentieth century global political situation remains a point of debate.
Frieden is right in his assessment that globalization has become ubiquitous in the new neo-liberal world order of the last few decades. However, all too often, the flaws . . . Read More
In the book Affluenza, John de Graaf and his team of authors also present an analysis of other symptoms of Affluenza, such as commercial television, inhumane working and living conditions for the lower classes and the culture of living in perpetual debt. Commercialized television, for instance, has been the preferred medium for advertisers to encourage consumption of their products. The authors assert that the program content is secondary to the advertisement slots being filled. In what is a radically new way of looking at television programs, the soap operas or reality shows were so construed to keep the audience glued to their seats when the commercials arrive on screen. In this context, it is not difficult to imagine the basis and thrust of the program content. The steady decline in the quality of television programs can be understood within this analytic framework. Moreover, mainstream broadcast content is full of portrayals of physical violence. The car chases . . . Read More
Social class continues to play a significant role in the electoral outcomes of all modern democracies. This is particularly true in Britain, as the nation still grapples with a historical legacy that is rooted in class divisions. Having embraced democracy toward the later half of the nineteenth century, political institutions have evolved to function around existing class demarcations. While class consciousness still plays a major role in British polity, it may no longer be the primary force of policy making that it once was. This essay will attempt to assess the relationship between social class and election outcomes in twentieth century Britain by way of citing evidence from scholarly literature.
Seen from a historical perspective, the British, and especially the English, “have traditionally considered themselves above nationalism”. In other words, the self-identity of British citizens is influenced more by their socio-economic background than notions of being uniquely . . . Read More
John de Graaf and team’s well researched and eye-opening book “Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic” brings up several issues ailing contemporary industrial societies, such as deceptive mass advertisements, over-population, environment damaging toxic dumping, corporate greed, etc. Such lifestyle and social trends are no where more ostensible than in the United States of America. The USA, being the world’s largest economy and the world’s only military superpower, can virtually dictate terms of trade for the rest of the world. And being the torch bearer of unfettered laissez faire capitalism, American business interests often dictate government policy decisions. This heady mix of wealth and power need to be counterbalanced by accountability and responsibility for the general public. But, going by the evidence presented by the authors of this book, the outcomes so far have been harmful for the people at large and the environment in which they live. The poor . . . Read More
John de Graaf’s well researched and eye-opening book “Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic” brings up several issues ailing contemporary industrial society, such as deceptive mass advertisements, over-population, environment damaging toxic dumping, corporate greed, etc. Of these, Corporate America has been chosen as the topic for this paper. The United States of America, being the world’s largest economy and the world’s only military superpower, can virtually dictate terms of trade for the rest of the world. And being the torch bearer of unfettered laissez faire capitalism, American business interests often dictate government policy decisions. This heady mix of wealth and power need to be counterbalanced by accountability and responsibility for the general public. But, going by the evidence presented by de Graaf in his book, the outcomes so far have been harmful for the people at large and the environment in which they live. In this context, one can understand the . . . Read More
John Maynard Keynes was arguably the most influential economic thinker of the twentieth century. His ideas and theories have generated academic discussion and debate. As with all landmark scientific achievements in human history Keynesian economics too has had mixed fortunes in its journey so far. The following quote from Knut Wicksell succinctly expresses this condition,
“…there is no single doctrine taken to be a scientific truth without the diametrically opposite view being similarly upheld by authors of high repute … in other fields of science these conflicts usually come to an end … It is only in the field of economics that the state of war seems to persist and remain permanent.” (Dillard, 1948)
This observation by Knut Wicksell is perfectly applicable to the impact and . . . Read More
Introduction: Ireland, in spite of carrying several disadvantages compared to its more prosperous neighbours is finally on the ascendancy. While the European Union as whole goes through similar fortunes and the vagaries of economic development is similar across the region, Ireland seems an exception to this rule. If the Foreign Direct Investment is taken as a key indicator of economic progress and political stability, then Ireland has shown some promising signs over the last few years. The rest of the essay is an attempt to understand the conditions that have aided such economic success. This . . . Read More