Critical note on Amartya Sen

Tom Condit tomcondit at
Sun Oct 18 12:02:39 PDT 1998

I just got this today, forwarded to IWW list. -- Tom C.

Date: Fri, 16 Oct 1998 20:36:08 -0700 From: "Alfred F. Andersen" <Tom.Paine.Inst at> To: MichaelP <papadop at PEAK.ORG> Cc: asen at Subject: Putting Dr. Sen's Merits in Perspective

It's true, as is being reported, that Sen is unusual among economists in his being concerned with ecojnomic justice. But having explored his three most recent books and heard him interviewed on PBS Newshour I regret to have to say that he doesn't offer any basic solution to what he rightly regrets and documents. He doesn't offer a solution because he doesn't address the issue of income from *capital*. More specifically, he doesn't address the issue of fair sharing of income from our common-heritage capital, including what economists call "natural capital." The rich don't get rich from "a job," but from capital investment, and from their near-monopoly of our common- heritage capital. All over the world an aggressive and acquiisitive few have near-monopoly, private ownership of what ought to be held in trust, leased out, and the income distributed as a common-heritage right. As long as an elite few are permitted to have private ownership of all the best land, natural resources, and technology inherited from previous generations the poverty which Dr. Sen seems to be genuinely concerned about will continue.

I have communicated this concern to his office at Harvard, but have, as yet, received no reply. A copy of this statement is being sent to his office.

Again, I do not condemn what he has done. I only wish to put it in perspective in relation to the tragic suffering around the world not significantly addressed by his criticisms of utilitarianism (agreed) and his pleas for addressing the needs of the poor out of compassion. It is people's economic *rights* which are being denied. Those who suffer need compassion, but what they need more is their economic RIGHTS! If these were granted there would be no poverty.

For details and authentication check the links on the URL, below.

Al Andersen Tom Paine Institute committed to truly just economic and political structures

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