The Youth’s struggle to protect our Mother Earth

greta

In March 21st of 2019, several schools all over the world decided to strike once again to protest against the lack of effective actions to tackle climate change. Yes, this was not the first time that the schools in the world had organized a strike for climate change. In fact, Greta Thunberg and her movement had promoted strikes since 2018.

If you haven’t seen Greta Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations Climate Change Summit in december of 2018, I would strongly recommend that you do. In this speech she adressed the audience to present a strong message that adopted a very original approach. That is, instead of asking for help to the countries and requesting actions and support from the leaders, Greta sent a rather assertive lesson spelling out why us climate activists got tired of waiting for their actions and have chosen to start acting ourselves.

I would add a touch of hope to the interpretation of her speech, as this is not a hopeless decission coming from deceived activists towards the willingness of our leaders. Instead, this presents a very strong message of hope that has been collectively built for a long time now. Several local initiatives that tackle climate change and aim for a sustainable and more equitable world have been ongoing for several decades now. This time we have either consciously or unconsciously realized that we are already helping the change, and do not need to wait for the political system to act. Although, it is important to highlight the need of a collective rather than individual effort, as this is they key to reaching bigger changes. Hence, Greta’s speech has managed to bring us a few steps closer to connecting between each other so to act as an empowered community that is retaking what has always been ours: Our courage.

Of course, there are a lot of improvements to be done. The ecological movements are still very fragmented and the social tissue that is being built is not very well connected. We are still far away from a global tissue of communities. However, every step is helpful and instead of hopelessly looking at the catastrophy of our system, we can applaude each other’s strenght and courage so that we can start trusting each other and transform our movements into communities.

In addition, the ecological movements have started to address the ecological problems from an interdisciplinary and inclussive perspective. In other words, this is an even bigger step towards building communities, as the ecological movements have got together with the feminists (Ecofeminism), the Alter-Globalisation movements, the social justice movements, the decolonisation movements, the degrowth movements, the ethnical inclussion movements, the Sumak Kawsay and so on. This is an opportunity to realise that we are also part of our Mother Earth and that we have the capacity to start a movement, or rather a community, for humanity.

Hopefully, we can do this in time, but sometimes the way is more important than the goal, as our existence here is temporary and fragile. In the case of Colombia, it would be better of course, if we were able to stop several damaging projects to the environment. For example, the construction of hydropower plants that have sacrificed our mother earth, just for a few percentage points in the GDP growth graph. Hidroituango managed to gather a big support group to protest against the problems before, during and after its construction.

Hidro Ituango

If we manage to build a true community, it would be our greatest accomplishment, even if we fail to stop the big tragedies of our world for now. For the problems which we once saw as a sad reality, will have helped us to achieve our realization as human beings, our true happiness and life purpose! A community for Humanity! Let’s keep fighting! #JóvenesCampeones #YoungChampions.

comunidad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Thoughts on Vivian Forrester’s “The Western Crime”

werstern crime

Although Forrester’s book was written nearly 15 years ago, its lessons are still valuable given the current context where we find oursevles at. Firstly, because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not yet been globally adressed from the perspectives that the book proposes. Secondly, because its reflections are applicable to several other contexts and issues that include additional variables to religion.

From the first part of the book, we can retrieve the way in which the author spells out the relationship between the rooted values of the european and so called “western” people before and after WWII, with the channels through which the war was apprently resolved. This in turn left several unresolved issues that in spite of being structural and evidently important for the understanding and construction of a collective memory, were rather sunk into oblivion. Many years afterwards these issues were seen as a throwback into a bygone era which fostered an even deeper void in the ethos of the “western” peoples.

jewsih migration.jpg

Racism, colonialism, bigotry, social exclusion, inequality and poverty were issues whose analysis was left out as the werstern allies victory of WWII marked a closed chapter along with a “Never Again” superficial logic. The racial exclusion that jews have historically suffered way before WWII was not addressed in a comprehensive and analytical way. The negligence and voluntary omission from “Western” countries to address the issue despite the announced tragedies that were arising before the start of the conflict was a chapter that nearly disappeared.

Forrester gives several historical examples in which the Jewish Migration was blocked by several countries before and after the war. Even after the horrors of the Nazi Regime had been exposed, a global policy to address this situation was not sought and the barriers were not dropped. This could have had several political and military reasons but if WWII was allegedly fought for humanity, this should have been a central issue.

The second part of the book connects the history of the Jewish Population and the history of the sionist movement in the postwar context. During this time, the “West” arrogantly and authoritatively decided to look for a convenient way out that would prevent a necessary hiatus to perform a self-criticism exercise. An exercise that the entire world has been waiting for several hundreds of years.

west.png

On the one hand, from the perspective of the sionist movement, there were several collective values and narratives that underpinned the idea of an independent nation. The social exclussion that they suffered which became more visible during WWII fueled sionist arguments and  was insturmentalized by  a “West” deeply rooted in a colonialist logic. However, the support of the “West” for the sionist cause promoted values of superiority and reversed social exclusion as several followers considered their cause to be legitimate as it was supported by their white powerful allies. Racism, colonialism and bigotry were thereby not eliminated after the war, but rather transformed.

On the other hand, the perspective of the arabic peoples was removed out of the equation and their traditional narratives were obliterated. The living conditions of the people that inhabitated the Palestine were not taken into account for the tyrannical decission that took for granted that the “West” owned several parts of the world. From the very beginning of this decission it was clear that the same evil narratives fought during WWII were being used to support an alleged solution.

After the decission, neither of the parts sought to understand the other but instead chose collectively to undertake their own path in spite of the other. Although, it is important to note that Keinze Mourad’s Sacred Land, explains that there were exceptions to this logic on both sides. Nevertheless the “Western” logic further promoted this way by hypocritically proclaiming themselves as mediators.

palestina isaerl

Finally, the last part of the book asks important questions that bring about an interesting conclussion from the historical and analytical excercise of the book: “¿When will these two peoples be able to meet without great intermediaries, without crutches, but between them, between two adult, autonomous nations; but not with tears and ruins, not in the maniac system of agressions, assaults, retaliations; not in the occupation of one by the other nor the Intifada; not in the bombings nor kamikaze explosions, but between two valid countries in the simple respect for international law and their own decissions? (…)” (Forrester, 2008, p.168)

The conflict is not an easy one and for the proposal of Forrester to take place, a very strong and determined collective effort has to be put in place. For a real solution to take place, the left out issues and the covered voids that remain there need to be addressed in a comprehensive way. The role of the “West” and the narratives that it has fostered for several hundreds of years need to be addressed and questioned from the real vision of humanity.

The selective processes of racism, neocolonialism, bigotry and superiority that the “West” still entails have to be collectively and historically understood, most importantly to remove the logic of superiority and domination. The “West” can no longer be addressed as “The West” for the very language that it uses entails a logic of eurocentrism and domination. Having understood this it becomes evident that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not need more “mediation” from other countries but rather efforts to acknowledge the real reasons and responsabilities that artificially created logics that were underpinned by narratives born in different countries and contexts.

colonialism-german

The colonization of Africa is for instance an issue that upholds the same evil values that need to be addressed by Europe in a logic of self-criticism and most importantly of recognition of responsabilities. The colonization of America, the genocide of indigenous in the whole continent, the notions of “First, Second and Third World”, the very concept of “Development”, among several others are issues that need a comprehensive analysis that connects all the dots.

america colonisation.jpg

The current situation in the U.S, along with the values that have been fostered during Trump’s administration, reveal the same evil ones that the “West” was fighting during WWII. Hence, the need to reopen and connect the issues of racism, bigotry, totalitarianism, social exclusion, poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, colonisation and domination. Only if these issues are faced directly and not tangentially, the conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian can be structurally solved. Only in this logic, can Galtun’s (1969) logic of positive peace be established. Only in this logic can Zizek’s (2003) critique to the new left be understood and used to promote equity and social justice. Only if we stop using the word “Development” as if it were an only path dictated by the “West” can we truly accomplish a real concept of humanity.

Bibliography: 

Mourad, Kenize (2007). Our sacred land: Voice of the Palestine-Israeli Conflict. One World Ed.

Forrester, Viviane (2008). The western Crime. Economic Culture Fund. Spanish ed. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Galtung, Johan (1969). Violence, Peace, and Peace Research. Journal of Peace Research. Vol.6, No.3. pp.167-191.

Zizek, Slavoj (2003). Fétichisme et subjectivation interpassive. Actuel Marx. Vol 2 (2). pp.99-109.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview about the economics of Solar Energy – Entrevista sobre la economía de la energía solar

la repu

I was recently interviewed by the international newspaper “La república” for an article on the economics of solar energy. I have posted the full interview below in english and spanish. Feel free to comment and give your feedback! Full article Link: Diario La República – Energías renovables reducen 70% el costo de la electricidad

panel 2

Interviewer: Yeimy Rozo, Interviewee: David Caicedo Sarralde.

¿Do you think that the entrance of renewable energies such as solar energy, may be able to counteract the profits obtained by fossil fuels in Colombia’s GDP?

In order to provide a conclusive comparative study, a rigorous analysis may be required so to evaluate solar energy from a holistic and critical perspective. This is, given that the response is not universal and can vary depending on the economy of each region, the climatic characteristics, among other factors.

For instance, the rate of profit obtained from the implementation of photovoltaic panels in regions where the climatic conditions are not appropriate, can be very low, hence it would not be able to compete with that generated by fossil fuels. Additionally, climatic phenomena such as the “niña” or “niño”, as well as prolonged rainy seasons, such as the one in which we currently find ourselves in, can make the installation of photovoltaic panels unviable because the amount of light that arrives is insufficient. Timmons (2014), explains it in the following section:

“While the total quantity of solar energy reaching Earth each day from the sun is enormous, available energy at any specific point is modest. The amount of energy derived from solar panels depends on the ambient solar level as well as collector energy conversion efficiency.” (Timmons, 2014, p.14)

cilma

solar pan 3

Finally, the rate of profit must be compared with the rate of return on capital including an economic and environmental analysis, so to compare both indirect benefits and costs. In other words, the environmental cost of producing the materials that make up the structure and installation of the panels must be included in the profit rate, as they are sometimes made of plastic and other materials dervied from fossil fuels that could have generated measurable pollution in environmental and economic terms.

plastic

In conclusion, to give a fruitful answer, it is necessary to analyze the economics of solar energy in a deeper way, which includes aspects such as structural and temporal climatic conditions, environmental costs of materials and a technical baseline involving a sound quantitative and qualitative research that allows one to conclude from a suitable scientific and technical framework.

¿Could the investiment in solar energy sistems for the whole country bring a positive return for the productivity including more jobs and better training?

The answer may depend on many economic, social, political and cultural factors, both structural and circumstantial. First of all, Colombia’s economy is structured in such a way that the financial sector and infrastructure are the ones with the greatest share of GDP (DANE, 2018), which also accounts for the country’s current energy matrix, where Energy is generated mainly from hydroelectric and thermoelectric power sources. Given these structural characteristics, the change to an energy matrix with greater participation of solar energy, may not be compatible with the current economic productive structure. For this reason, a solid baseline is again needed to predict the viability of this transition and the way in which it could occur. By quoting the study of IRENA (International Agency for Renewable Energy), this argument can be supported in other words:

“Among other factors, the magnitude of the energy of renewable energy on GDP will depend on the economic structure of the country, the costs of alternative energy sources (eg fossil fuel prices, energy technology costs), and whether the equipment and required services are imported or sourced locally. Indeed, the literature available suggests that investment in renewable energy technologies (and any other technology) can have a more significant positive effect if the technology is produced locally under the right conditions (eg market, skills availability) (IRENA and CEM, 2014; Poyry and Cambridge Econometrics, 2014).” (Ferroukhi et al., 2016, p.15)

zero

In terms of the socio-political factors, the levels of organization of the cities and the municipal seats of the municipalities can have dynamics that may facilitate or make it difficult to obtain a positive return to the investment in solar energy. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account the existing will of the political system at the national, regional and local levels. Additionally, aspects such as the level of civil culture and individual interests on sustainability ideas such as Proposition Zero, Good Living, among others, can also affect the possible levels of employment and training.

propuesta cero

In conclusion, analyzing the increase in productivity and return on investment in solar energy should include an in-depth analysis of the structural characteristics of Colombia’s economy. This is, although some European countries can generate good levels of employment, for the Colombian case it may not be so. Moreover, speculative biases must be avoided before concluding with a concrete response. In addition, it should be mentioned that insofar as possible, solar energy has not been able to generate sufficient levels of return on investment to become the first source of productive income in any country. This is true even for the european countries and Costa Rica. Finally, it is worth mentioning that more progress is needed in the global political aspect, since agreements such as the one in Paris in 2016 are not yet binding, and the reduction of the environmental impact of schemes such as ETS (pollution permits) is questionable. For these reasons, the economy and economics science must respond from interdisciplinary approaches, such as political economy, ecological economics and Deep Ecology,  for example. This is beacuse, some of these approaches adopt a broad version of the economic system which includes all local and global ecosystems, (Martínez-Alier and Roca, 2001) and the sociopolitical and cultural system.

panel solar

Bibliography:

  • Timmons, David & Others (2014). The Economics of Renewable energy. Global Development and Environment Institute. Tufts University, U.S.
  • Ferroukhi et al. (2016). Renewable energy benefits: measuring the economics. IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency).
  • DANE (2018). National Accounts – statistics by topics. Consulted on the 22nd of April of 2018. Available at: https://www.dane.gov.co/index.php/estadisticas-por-tema/cuentas-nacionales
  • Martínez-Alier, Joan y Roca, Jordi (2001). Ecologial economics and environmental policy. Economic Culture Fund. Mexico city, México.

 

SPANISH VERSION

¿Considera que la entrada en vigor de las energías renovables como las solar podrían contrarrestar las ganancias obtenidas por los combustibles fósiles en el PIB de Colombia?

Para llegar a un estudio comparado concluyente, se requiere de un análisis riguroso, en el cual se pueda evaluar la energía solar desde una perspectiva holística y crítica, pues la respuesta no es universal y puede variar dependiendo de la economía de cada región, de las características climáticas, entre otros factores.

Por ejemplo, la tasa de ganancia obtenida a partir de la implementación de paneles fotovoltaicos en regiones donde las condiciones climáticas no sean las adecuadas, puede ser muy baja, por lo que no podría competir con aquella generada por combustibles fósiles.  Adicionalmente, los fenómenos climáticos como el niño o la niña, así como temporadas de lluvia prolongadas, como en la que nos encontramos, puede hacer inviable la instalación de paneles fotovoltaicos, ya que la cantidad de luz que llega es insuficiente. Timmons (2014), lo explica en el siguiente apartado:

“While the total quantity of solar energy reaching Earth each day from the sun is enormous, available energy at any specific point is modest. The amount of energy derived from solar panels depends on the ambient solar level as well as collector energy conversion efficiency.” (Timmons, 2014, p.14)

Por último, la tasa de ganancia debe ser comparada con una tasa de retorno del capital, que incluya un análisis económico y ambiental, comparando tanto los beneficios indirectos como los costos indirectos. En otras palabras, se tiene que incluir en la tasa de ganancia, el costo ambiental de producción de los materiales que componen la estructura e instalación de los paneles, que pudo haber generado contaminación medible en términos ambientales y económicos, al provenir del plástico u otros derivados de combustibles fósiles.

 En conclusión, para dar una respuesta provechosa, se requiere analizar la economía de la energía solar de una manera más profunda, que incluya aspectos como las condiciones climáticas estructurales y temporales, los costos ambientales de los materiales y una línea de base técnica con una base cuantitativa y cualitativa sólida, que permita concluir desde un margen científico y técnico adecuado.

 ¿La inversión en sistemas de energía solar para todo el país podría traer un retorno positivo a la productividad generando más empleos y mayor capacitación?

 La respuesta puede depender de muchos factores económicos, sociales, políticos y culturales, tanto estructurales como coyunturales. En primer lugar, la economía de Colombia está estructurada de tal forma que el sector financiero e infraestructura, son las que más participación tienen en el PIB (DANE, 2018), lo que da cuenta también de la actual matriz energética del país, en donde la energía se genera principalmente a partir de fuentes de energía hidroeléctrica y termoeléctrica. Dadas estas características estructurales, el cambio a una matriz energética con mayor participación de energía solar, podría no ser compatible con la estructura productiva económica actual. Por esta razón, se necesita nuevamente una línea de base sólida, que permita evaluar de forma predictiva la viabilidad de dicha transición y la forma en la que se podría dar. Retomando el estudio de IRENA (Agencia Internacional de Energía renovable), se puede soportar este argumento en otras palabras:

“Among other factors, the magnitude of the impacts of renewable energy on GDP will depend on the economic structure of the country, the costs of alternative energy sources (e.g. fossil fuel prices, energy technology costs), and whether the equipment and required services are imported or sourced locally. Indeed, the literature available suggests that investment in renewable energy technologies (and any other technology) can have a more significant positive effect if the technology is produced locally under the right conditions (e.g. market, skills availability) (IRENA and CEM, 2014; Poyry and Cambridge Econometrics, 2014)” (Ferroukhi et al., 2016, p.15)

En términos de factores socio-políticos, los niveles de organización de las ciudades y las cabeceras municipales de los municipios pueden tener dinámicas que faciliten o dificulten la obtención de un retorno positivo a la inversión en energía solar. Es necesario tener en cuenta también la voluntad política existente, tanto del sistema político a nivel nacional, como a nivel regional y local. Adicionalmente, aspectos como el nivel de cultura ciudadana e individual en torno a ideas de sostenibilidad como la Propuesta Cero, el Buen Vivir, entre otros, puede también afectar los niveles de empleo y capacitación posibles a raíz de dicha inversión.

En conclusión, analizar el incremento de la productividad y retorno de la inversión en energía solar debe comprender un análisis profundo de las características estructurales de la economía de Colombia. Esto es, si bien en algunos países de Europa se pueden generar buenos niveles de empleo, para el caso Colombiano puede no ser así, por lo que se deben evitar sesgos especulativos antes de concluir con una respuesta concreta. Adicionalmente, cabe mencionar que en ningún país del mundo, la energía solar ha podido generado suficientes niveles de retorno a la inversión, para ser la primera fuente de ingresos productivos, ni si quiera en Europa o Costa Rica, por ejemplo. Finalmente, cabe mencionar que se necesitan más avances en el aspecto político global, ya que acuerdos como el de Paris en 2016, aún no son vinculantes, así como resulta cuestionable la reducción del impacto ambiental de esquemas como los ETS (permisos de contaminación). Por estas razones, la economía también debe dar respuesta desde enfoques interdisciplinarios, como la economía política, la economía ecológica, la Deep Ecology (Ecología profunda), en donde se entienda una versión amplia del sistema económico, incluyendo a todos los ecosistemas locales y globales (Martínez-Alier y Roca, 2001), sistema social, político y cultural.

Bibliografía:

  • Timmons, David & Others (2014). The Economics of Renewable energy. Global Development and Environment Institute. Tufts University, U.S.
  • Ferroukhi et al. (2016). Renewable energy benefits: measuring the economics. IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency).
  • DANE (2018). Cuentas Nacionales – estadísticas por temas. Consultado el 22 de Abril de 2018. Disponible en: https://www.dane.gov.co/index.php/estadisticas-por-tema/cuentas-nacionales
  • Martínez-Alier, Joan y Roca, Jordi (2001). Economía Ecológica y política ambiental. Fondo de Cultura Económica. Ciudad de México, México.

 

Back to the basics: Political Economy is back, Capital is back

After two years of blog inactivity, the amount of fresh ideas and posts that are shared amidst blog networks and groups is considerably more than what I used to remember. It is a truly fulfilling sensation to see how some of the blogs have undergone a level of progress such that their voices are being shared by several people around the world.

Coming back to the WordPress world of connecting to other people who think alike, motivates me to uphold the basics in terms of the Political Economy of Inequality. I am talking about the Quarterly Journal of Economics paper of Piketty and Zucman that preceded the world-famous book “Capital in the twenty-first Century”.

In this paper the authors decompose the national-income ratios in 8 “developed” economies around the world in terms of several drivers and patterns such as the asset price recovery, savings rate, housing, capital gains, capital shares and private wealth pattern.These patterns try to account for the U-shaped curve that depicts a rather stable decrease of the Private Wealth – National income ratio after the WWII until the 1970’s when anti-capital policies started to be gradually lifted.

The authors use several models to first explain the dynamics of savings and income growth rate that affect the wealth-income ratio, such as the Beta(wealth-income ratio)=Savings rate/income growth rate, or more complex ones such as the Two good model (Volume versus Relative price effect). In the end, the conclusions are pointing out how the wealth-income ratios increased from 200-300% in the beginning of 1970 to 400-600% in 2011. Most of the rise is due to the amount of savings rate rather than the capital gains, as well as the asset price recovery and housing investment compiled with the strong capital liberalization policies of the 1980’s (Piketty and Zucman, 2014, pp.1279-1287)

national-wealthhousing

The U-Shaped curve and Private Wealth curve are as striking as the conclusions of the authors, in terms of the increasing role of private wealth in comparison to the national income and how the levels of 600% were only seen two centuries ago. The low-income growth rate adds up to the important savings rate to finally conclude that capital is back, which means that the issues of inequality and distinction between inherited and self-made wealth are of critical importance these days, as the authors suggest. private-wealth

UK.png

In conclusion, these arguments are very useful to understand the increasing income share of the top 1% and the top 0.1% compared to the bottom 50%, as Piketty depicts in his book “Capital in the 21st century”. The correlation between housing bubbles, increasing private wealth-national income rates, consistent savings rates, low-income growth rates and capital liberalization are now easier to establish. As Capital is back and a new tax structure is needed, we need more community action towards protecting capital goods and a fair economic structure. In addition we also need be thankful for the problems, as controversial as it may sound, the problems are the ones that inspire us to keep the pace of change and service to the community. We all need to join the Pope’s struggle with hope and optimism as he once said: “Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities” (Pope Francis, 2013).

Bibliography:

  • Piketty & Zucman (2014), Capital is Back: Wealth-Income Ratios in Rich Countries, 1700-2010
  • Pope Francis (2013). Speech on March of 2013. The Guardian’s report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inequality as a Class issue in the US

income-inequality-2

The United States is still the most powerful economy in the western world. Its power in the International System does not come from its military power as some people sustain. Their power actually comes from their economy. Their economy represents almost 23% of the World’s GDP, they have a highly competitive industry that is still powerful enough to boost their economy at a rate of a quarter of their GDP. In spite of these and many other facts about their economy, they have held the rank of the most unequal country in the developed world for several years now. The world’s most powerful economy is the most unequal one in the west.

Does this seem contradictory? History may have an answer. As a matter of fact the US hosts the highest amount of billionaires in the world, the economic growth is mostly absorbed by the top 1% which Joseph Stiglitz constantly refers to. After the 2008 crisis, the wealth of this 1% kept increasing as the capital’s productivity rate was renewed and set to a higher number. On the one hand the middle class was suffering the harsh consequences of a speculative bubble including the loss of their job and assets, but on the other hand the richest ones were enjoying even better profit rates. Given these facts,Tony Judt is able to stablish a causal relationship between the rise of inequality and the sharp increases in crime and social demonstrations in the US within the past years. Hence, another question is posed in the shelf keeping in mind that the GFC (Gobal Financial Crisis) affected several other countries: Why should the US and the world’s middle class pay the consequences of the top 1% mistakes and risks?

Now, my intention is not to dig deeply on the organic structure of capital and the causes of the GFC, for that purpose I would recommend to read Joseph’s Stiglitz book “Free fall”. With these ideas I intend to show the situation of the US as an example of how the inequality within and between nations is linked to the class warfare and the type of values fostered by the system aimed at supporting the status quo of that inequality. Of course this is another thesis that requires an abundant body of evidences and empirical data to support it. However it is not difficult to notice that the individualism and selfishness of the individuals are part of the values fostered in the so called “american dream”: Those who come to America can achieve any goal as long as they pursue their own and commit to it regardless of the means used in the way. The logic of this dream has been made to legitimate the inequality that swamps a large proportion of the US because poor people are seen as entitled only to what they earn, as if they actually had a choice to become suddendly reach by working harder.

At this point I would like to suggest the work of Bell Hooks, who deepens her analysis on the link between class, inequality of income and the false system of opportunities promoted in the US. Without completely overlooking the problems that she exposes about the lack of social mobility in her society, I would like to jump onto her conclussion in which she takes the class consciousness as a way to create spaces of resistance against the system of inequality. Additionally values such as redistribution and strengthening of communities are encouraged, which are very commonly found in the social-democratic and socialist doctrines not surprisingly.

Pockets of resistance can be found at all levels, they have come from both individual and collective initiatives including communities and States! One of the biggest examples is in the State of Minesota which is not only famous for having the strongest economies in the US but also because of its governor who raised taxes on the Rich (implementing a mechanism of redistribution) and raised the minimum wage. The effect was completely positive:

Taxation

On the individuals initiative, several communities and anti-capitalist and anti-globalization movements have risen their voices in the past years: The occupy wall Street, The “Indignados” and so on. One could even cite the examples of the EZLN in Mexico or the Occupying movements in Brazil, acknowledging first that what is legitimate is their struggle and not entirely their means.

The inequality in the US is a very good example of how the system we live in nowadays has been shaped to foster and promote the status quo that has caused and is still deepening that inequality. The drivers of inequality can also be found within the values that are fostered within the system and in the history of economic crisis in the world. Those values have proven to undermine the capacity of people to acknowledge social injustices and therefore inequality of income and opportunities. Despite this, history shows us that we still have open spaces for resistance. Collective bargaining has become a reality in Minesota, which is in the heart of the country with the highest inequality of the western world. Minesota has also proven that the classes can cooperate between themselves to attain a better Social Equilibrium which is the true Pareto Optimum. The upper classes (locally) can also have a commitment with the making of a better, and more equal and just society.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-gibson/mark-dayton-minnesota-economy_b_6737786.html

To finish, a very good example of resistance that has had a high impact on the media is from two UK actors: Emma Thompson and Greg Wise who refused to pay taxes until the Chief managers and presidents of banks such as HSBC and HMRC were sent to prison, exactly as it was done in Iceland, where the Bank directors were judged and condemned in some cases to go to prison. A quote extracted from the guardian follows:

“I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,” Wise told the Evening Standard. “I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound fucking socialist and I believe we are all in it together. But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I’m not paying a penny more until those evil bastards go to prison.”

Greg wise

http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/02/26/actress-emma-thompson-refuses-to-pay-taxes-over-hsbc-scandal/

By: David Caicedo Sarralde

Evidence of Inequality at its peak!

As I was surfing the web I found out a very nice catchy image that I though was worth sharing.

poorer world

http://becausefinanceisboring.com/post/113351248884/poor-getting-poorer-2008-2012-all-income-growth

In my opinion this image manges to accurately spell out the kind of society we live in today. Notwithstanding the reality that stands upon us, a lot may have chosen to ignore it.  However I think it is indeed our duty to constantly remind ourselves that for several decades our societies were able to build up a sense of community and claim collective goods by right! Those were the days of the Keynesian Consensus, the New Deal. Let us not forget that a social change is always possible, it has already been made! Of course the pathway is narrower today than before, but the system itself has left heaps of spaces for resistance. And we must tap into those spaces to come up with a local and global response by strengthening the solidity of our civil society with cooperation and class consciousness. Hope is upon us mates…!

To all Economics Students that still believe in pluralism

capital

It has been already a year and a half since Thomas Piketty published his world famous book “Capital in the 21st century”.

In my country (Colombia) it was only launched a few months ago with the spanish edition. In spite of its relatively new impact, it has fostered important discussions in both mainstream and heterodox economic circles, including the American Economic Association. Moreover they have created an open website which displays a rich database on the Top World Incomes:

Top World Incomes Database

If you have not yet read the book, now is a good time to start lending it a few moments of your daily activities for what he has to say is very important. Not just because of his worldwide known formula on the impact of economic growth vis-á-vis capital productivity in a nation’s inquality of income but because of its impact on economics teaching worldwide.

Piketty’s ideas are part of abundant heterodox and marxist perspectives that are increasingly permeating the world of Economics debates. However the frequency and quality of these discussions is not yet nearly as much as one would want them to have. Most importantly, the academia and the Universities economic faculties should be the first ones to promote such discussions in a regular order and be in the vanguard of new economic ideas but they have clearly failed in doing so. These ideas should be fostered because they try to cope with issues such as class and income inquality, real economic development and political economy of power that the neoclassical economics has completely obliterated.

Professor Julie Ann Matthaei recently published an inspiring article about the need to search for new alternatives to face the fact that the Neoliberal economics perspective has reached its peak. It is therefore our duty as economics students and as people interested in building up a sustainable and better future to point out the crisis in the teaching of economics that we find ourselves into these days. It is also our duty to create new spaces for discussion and critical thinking to create a conscious response to the issues that affect our discipline nowadays. Get involved in a more interdisciplinary focus of our science, and accept that fact that any economic issues involves very often a political, sociological, historical and sometimes even psychological perspective. A pluralist approach between the disciplines is needed to bring about a correct global response to the counterproductive method in mainstream economics that could be better described as a  “childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation, at the expense of historical research and collaboration with the other social sciences…” (Piketty (2013), on Matthaei, Julie (2015) )

Post-Crash Economics Society

Having said that, the insurrection of economic students through which a better teaching on economics is to be attained is not new whatsoever. The Post- Autistic economics movement and the Post-Crash Economics society are examples of a combined local and global iniciative of the students to demand a plural and more effective teaching in economics to match the real economic problems of today in which to pose a simple comparison: inequality is clearly far more important than inflation. They started their struggle since 2000 and 2012 respectively. We can add more international groups such as the International Students Initiative for Pluralism in Economics, the Rethinking economics, Kick it over Initiative and so on.

pluralismRethinking econ_0

With all these global societies that are aware of the situation, the spaces for collective bargaining are now even more open than ever. I thereby make a call for every economics and non-economics student that agrees with our struggle for a more plural and interdisciplinary approach to join the initiative and be part of a local and global response. My call is also adressed to any student who is interested in learning more than what he is taught, who is interested in studying more than what he is told to and who is interested in helping us to build a better more equal, free and sustainable society. I would urge any other student thinking alike us, to not give up on the struggle for creativity because of a rigid neoclassical economics pensum. On the contrary, I would urge them to use this crisis as an opportunity to search for alternatives of space to face this threat to our values. I refer to our values because I decided to study economics as I thought it would provide me with the academic and innovative tools to face the issues that I think are unfair and demand an inmediate collective solution such as poverty or inequality. I am one of those who think that the Economy should be at service of the people, that economics should be a tool to promote the human development in our communities and to enhance the capabilities of the people to face social injustice.

To finish this, let us not forget what happened in 2011 where almost 70 students walked out of Greg Mankew’s Harvard class in solidarity with the “Occupy” movement. Let us not forget that we are also human beings that care about each other and have the ability to cooperate without the need of a “rational” behaviour to explain it. There is hope.

David Caicedo Sarralde

Pontificial Xaverian University

Bogota D.C, Colombia

Economics and Political Science Student.