Obama Picks Key Architect Of The Economic Collapse As Top Economic Adviser
Well here is another fine example of the "Change" we will have to look forward to.
According to the The Economic Times Lawrence Summers, who Sunday was confirmed as president-elect Barack Obama's pick as his chief economic advisor, has already led the Treasury Department under president Bill Clinton.
As Michel Chossudovsky has pointed out:
"Lawrence Summers played a key role in lobbying Congress for the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. His timely appointment by President Clinton in 1999 as Treasury Secretary spearheaded the adoption of the Financial Services Modernization Act in November 1999. Upon completing his mandate at the helm of the US Treasury, he became president of Harvard University (2001- 2006)."
The economic reasoning underlying neoliberal economic discourse is often cynical and contemptuous. In this regard, Lawrence Summers' economic discourse stands out. He is known among environmentalists for having proposed the dumping of toxic waste in Third World countries, because people in poor countries have shorter lives and the costs of labor are abysmally low, which essentially means that the market value of people in the Third World is much lower. According to summers, this makes it far more "cost effective" to export toxic materials to impoverished countries. A controversial 1991 World Bank memo signed by of Chief Economist Larry Summers reads as follows (excerpts, emphasis added):
DATE: December 12, 1991 TO: Distribution FR: Lawrence H. Summers Subject: GEP
"'Dirty' Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the Less Developed Countries? I can think of three reasons:
1) The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality... . From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.
2) The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.
3) The demand for a clean environment for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to have very high income elasticity. [the demand increases when income levels increase]. The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is is 200 per thousand... . "
Summers stance on the export of pollution to developing countries had a marked impact on US environmental policy:
In 1994, "virtually every country in the world broke with Mr. Summers' Harvard-trained "economic logic" ruminations about dumping rich countries' poisons on their poorer neighbors, and agreed to ban the export of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD [developing] countries under the Basel Convention. Five years later, the United States is one of the few countries that has yet to ratify the Basel Convention or the Basel Convention's Ban Amendment on the export of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries. (Jim Valette, Larry Summers' War Against the Earth, Counterpunch, undated)