Count in Human Beings

“Nobel laureates, economists, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo call for a paradigm change. They want their profession to consider EMPIRICAL REALITY rather than indulging in FICTIONAL MODELS. In particular, they resent TV economists who sell DISTORTED PLATITUDES as deep insights.”

D+C 2020/05-06

This morning, I happened on a book review of the book: “Good economics for hard times. Better answers for our biggest problems,” authored by Benerjee and Duflo. The review is published in D+C, titled “count in human beings”, hence the title of this post.

On reading the review, I immediately thought of my mother-nation-state, Uganda and the popular dominant discourse that is peddled by our “elite class,” for lack of a better description. In Uganda, distorted platitudes are the order of the day and fictional models are revered as wisdom.

For example, as I read the book review, I was reminded of President Museveni’s COVID-19- lock-down-relief-Posho economic model, which reportedly led to the following conclusion:

“The scientific conclusion we have arrived at is that 250gs of Posho is optimal for consumption in this situation, this means that for 2.6kgs of posho, about 10 days are possible. Consume about 250gs of the relief Posho per meal, you can obtain enough calories to enable you to considerably survive for quite some time. The food should not be consumed wastefully.”

The Independent

Economic sense President Museveni’s posho model may make, but it is hard to miss the patronizing hypocrisy of it all, some find. Many Ugandans surely found that particular model as socially and culturally out of touch and offensive.

After all, posho is not an indigenous staple food for the majority of the first nations of Uganda; and it is closely associated with the indignity that comes with one falling into absolute poverty. In Uganda, posho, and often of poor quality in all ways, is the go-to relief food for those that find themselves food insecure for whatever reason.

Nevertheless, such distorted-platitude-filled-fictional models go viral in Uganda, are defended as being rooted and in touch with the grassroots. And, indeed, some find those phenomenon mind boggling, to say the least.

Well, I have added the book to my to read list. I honestly think that it should be a must read for all who seek social justice in and for Uganda; and the world at large.

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