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Unformatted text preview: Some key themes that come out of the readings by De Soto and Roe: De Soto makes an argument about changing property rules – what does he see as the goal of these changes? In his argument, I see mainly a concern with increasing total productivity, total economic growth. One thing this leaves unexamined is the distribution of the rewards of that productivity. Whenever people recommend changes that lead to improvements in "a country" or "an economy," think about the fact that all benefits are not distributed equally in any existing society. What does the recommendation (by de Soto or others we read) mean, in that case? Another issue, raised by Professor Brown in lecture, is the existence of other inequalities in society – those to do with political, physical/military, or other kinds of power. What does the proposed change mean in relation to people on different sides of these power inequalities? Many people pointed out that the fact that any change is likely to create winners and losers (either along the same side as existing inequality, or changing the inequalities, or even making it more equal –which would require some people who have a lot to give something up). The question is who they will be? Roe's discussion of "backlash" suggests that sometimes people will see themselves as the losers. Interestingly, he also suggests that the backlash may not be purely in response to economic loss, but also people's sense of fairness. This suggests that there are multiple factors that lead to the success of a society (economically and otherwise). And now, comments on the reading responses: Neil Libbe raises the point about winners and losers in his very good question about sacrifice and economic development. I encourage everyone to keep in mind in the coming weeks, particular in this week and next week as we talk about slavery....
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- Spring '08
- Capitalism, De Soto