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Don’t Shout at the Telly: Ferraris for All


Don't Shout at the Telly: Ferraris for All

Leading this refreshing on the sofa discussion Daniel Ben Ami author of ‘Ferraris for All’, explains ‘growth scepticism’. Young volunteers grappling with growth raise a wide range of questions from consuming less in the West to bankers, child labour, corruption and war. Daniel is clear: our having less will not make the poor rich; child labour is product of poverty not prosperity; corruption does not cause poverty it’s a symptom of it; bombing a country is unlikely to increase its prospects and political autonomy is key. A positive approach to economic growth he argues, not holding back and accepting ‘limits’ is key to increasing abundance for all globally.

Recommened links:

  • Daniel Ben-Ami blog

Related topics: Economy, International, Science & Progress

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Aisha said:

What a refreshing and hard hitting debate. There was a lot discussed, and i found myself bouncing from team to team, not being able to hold my ground on a particular argument. Honestly i do feel slightly uneasy about this ideology of “more more more” every time i heard it shuddered. It just leaves out any room for moral of social conscience. On the other hand i agree, that sacrificing anything in reality will not give more to the poor, it will take, but i believe this is only because of the way the global economy is structured.

E.G. Multinational Company (MC) – ventures out to new lands, where living standards are low, infrastruture is scarce and not maintained and health is poor. By the MC setting up in this land, jobs will be created, infrastucture will need to be improved for their business to flourish, and a more mobile workforce will be created…but at what cost? Child Labour, marginal advances in living standards in comparison to the west and even comparing to their lives before, the risk of the MC leaving as initial problems or corruption in the country were not addressed, causing a brain drain etc….

There are also companies what promote the principal of “stack em high and sell em low”…that creates choice and drives consumer demand at all levels of economic status, but the money that eventually trickles back down to the Manufacturing country is so disproportionate to sales revenues, it hard to justify this more more more attitude.

This debate has definitely got me thinking about where it is i stand, and is my view censored by my moral motives or are there actually benefits of a more more more attitude.

Super interesting debate, going to be exciting to see where it lead to in reality…

Joe said:

…be able to exert themselves politically. Economic growth was the engine for the massive changes for the better that British society has undergone in the last 2 centuries, and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of that.

Sorry for spreading this over 2 posts, I accidentally hit the post comment button before I was finished!

Joe said:

This is great, a refreshingly clear-eyed discussion of a kind you so seldom find in relation to this topic. On corruption – I agree fully with Daniel that it is more a symptom of poverty and lack of development than a cause. Consider the progress of Britain (or any European country for that matter) during the industrial revolution. Corruption was absolutely rife in the Victorian age, presided over by an elitist, authoritarian upper class and endured by a largely disenfranchised public. What would today be considered horrific human rights abuses were commonplace – eg capital punishment or deportation for relatively minor offences, deplorable conditions in prisons, married women having no right to property. Large proportions of the population lived in absolute squalor and child labour was commonplace. However these problems were alleviated as the country grew more wealthy. Living conditions improved for all as the economy grew and the country went through the process of industrialisation. Moreover, the richer people are the more likely they are to want to and to be able to

Charlotte said:

Very interesting debate. I personally am all for Daniel’s idea of economic development. To me, this does not equate to becoming a society of excess, but rather to seeing that all citizens have their basic needs covered, such as decent medical care. Accomplishing this would save so many lives by preventing illnesses which are so easily avoided in developped countries, therefore it is horribly patronising to say that such countries should not try and develop. Progress in this respect is vital.

However I feel that more of an emphasis should be placed on eliminating corruption. I disagree with Daniel’s stance on this. In my opinion it is the West who are ultimately responsible for the lack of growth in developping countries. Admittedly, there are many corrupt politicians in the developping world who prevent economic growth from benefittng ordinary citizens. However, whether we care to admit it or not, the majority of Western regimes are corrupt too.

If it were not for continued Western underhand dealings with corrupt regimes, it is quite possible that such leaders in developping countries would have been overthrown by their populations anyway. Just have a read about French relations with Africa (Francafrique) to get a feel for this. The West needs to stop exploiting the resources of developping countries. This is what we should initially be combatting, and if we can put an end to these corrupt dealings, surely economic prosperity in the developping world will eventually follow.

Fatna said:

This documentary highlights the complex interactions between growth and development. However, there is a common shortcut that growth leads to the country’s inhabitants prosperity. We should not confuse these two terms.

Every country has its economic cycle: start, boom, maturity. At each stage, different sectors are developed: primary with the natural resources exploitation, industry and services. Criticizing the economic growth of developed countries does not make sense since every country has its part to play in today’s globalized economy. Indeed, a lot of emerging countries trade their natural resources with developed countries. If these ones stop consuming it will inevitably slow the world economic growth. Another example, a lot of Western economies relocate their factories and now their services in emerging countries. I would say that the economic growth of developed countries is necessary for the economic development of emerging countries.

However, regarding the development of emerging countries (this notion takes into account the aspect of education, health and standard of living); it is the government responsibility to put in place structures and facilities that would benefit the inhabitants. These include a stable political structure, the access to Education and a good health system. Also, governments should put in place a good investment policy in order to motivate people to invest and create wealth.
Algeria is a very good example of the above. This country has very little external debt due to the trading of gas and the 2008/2009 crisis had little impact on its economy. However, its Human poverty Index (HPI-1) is quite high (17.5%, UNDP figures for 2009). This is due to the political difficulties the country experienced in the early 90s and the lack of investment in public facilities.

I agree with Ben Ami: the growth of developed countries is not the cause of poverty. For me, it is necessary to get emerging countries involved in the world economy. However, it is the responsibility of the developing countries governments to redistribute the income with putting in place facilities that will lead to people well-being.

fran said:

Whilst I think it is important to analyse why growth sceptics are sceptical Daniel has not persueded me to buy into his arguments. There is poverty in the world because of inequality. You could even go as so far as to say that mainstream development continues to ‘fail’ is that because it does not address the root-cause of poverty – ineqaulity. Economic growth does not lead to prosperity (whether you takes this in economic or more holistic terms). Some people are poor because other people are rich. David is right that we need an economic transformation; but not the kind he is talking about. We need redistribution. Redistribution of wealth does not have to eqaute to telling other people how to live their lives or saying that they do not have the right to economic growth. Redistribution of wealth is concurrent with redistribution of power so that ‘developing’ counties can decide what they consider to be prosperous. I credit Daniel for his polemical nature and for making those who do not follow his views re-consider their own beliefs.

Coco said:

This discussion has made me question why it is such an issue for developing countries to become more westernised. Aren’t they called “developing” countries for a reason? I particularly liked the parts where they were debating making sacrifices which can somehow help the developing world and also when he mentions Britain in the 1800s, how the UK also had to strive to achieve growth. Very interesting topic, I think I should read the book!

Dan said:

People used to argue we can’t all be rich: ‘the poor will always be with us’. Now they say wealth doesn’t make people happy. But does that mean we shouldn’t have the option of being wealthier? Most importantly some of us seem to have lost the sense of excitement in science and technology. Of what does our humanity consist if not invention and creation?

Viv said:

Haven’t times changed eh? It wasn’t so long ago that aspiring for more was presumed to be a good thing. We used to believe that more and more people could become wealthier within their lifetime and between generations. Now, it has flipped and having more, getting rich, is seen as morally wrong and economically stupid – altogether the wrong thing to do. But why? It is not as if everyone is living a life of luxury. But that’s a big part of the problem as I think this discussion teases out – that we now assume that living a life of luxury, in other words having what we need and want, is somehow morally wrong or at least just can’t be done. Important questions like “How can we grow?” are rarely asked as growing the cake is off limits to the majority of us. So, a discussion with the author of a book called Ferraris For All, for me, is a refreshing change and one I found inspiring. It reminded me how much more I want, for me, and for everyone else. We can still have it all if we want, can’t we?

Hannah said:

I think from what I have understood and gathered from this, the issue is quite big but at the same time in this quite controversial. As other people have mentioned,reading through the comments below, I think that aspects such as explotation are pretty much going to exist until we do something, but at the same time it is arguable that maybe they are, by doing this, gaining a higher up level of authority, in that they are moving between Absolute and Relative poverty levels, which are both quite different concepts, yet have simular ideas linking them to one another. Furthermore to this, does this not almost suggest that it is arguable that one of these types of poverty relies on the other (almost constantly)? I think that as mentioned in ways in some parts of the video, there are differing views and opposing views; the main in which is how do we actually define growth?

Kimara said:

I recently went to China and saw first hand real development in action, it was mind blowing. When I came back to the UK and raved about it to my friends, they complained that I was not considering all the negative impacts of China’s development such as more exploitation and sweated labour as well as that China is becoming Westernised. So WHAT if development means poorer parts of the world will look more like the West, I personally think that’s a great thing. And, as Daniel points out, there’s no point in ignoring that absolute poverty levels have halved in the last decade simply as a result of China & India’s development. Lets celebrate what the means. It means millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. Daniel rightly poiints out that growth scepticism is the biggest hindrance to economic development. I say we should ditch this scepticism and work towards a better world for everyone.

Richard said:

Growth scepticism in contemporary societies and economies evokes interesting sentiments. It is a response as to how consumerist northern economies (partially the United States), in their conquest to dominate markets and have everyone wearing Nike’s on their feet; drinking Coke-Cola etc. Is forever trying to create consumer markets out of developing nations, without any means of encouraging prosperity amongst those nations. Whilst I do not agree with all aspects of Ami’s arguments, I do however agree with Ami; when he argues that many developed nations have given up on the ideologies of economical development for southern economics and are now trying to tackle development through debates such as trafficking and prostitutions, because of their naive views of developing nations. Quite often economies of the north interfere with the prospects and growth of southern economies. A typically example includes (e.g.) need to slow down their economy, human rights issues etc. Those arguments are used to sustain the levels of prosperity within developing nations.

Katja said:

Great discussion about growth sceptism. Daniel Ben Ami explains in a good and very comprehensible way the benefits of economic growth. Moreover, he states that a lot of people say that their are for economic growth but their in fact not real supporters as there are to many buts in their arguments for economic growth. And the best example he gives and that proably each person can unterstand is that : our having less will not make the poor richer. And that is one of the most important ones.

Godbless said:

The discussion was very refreshing, resourceful and touching. No body can fabricate a solution by just envisaging ways of eradicating poverty and ensuring equality without involving the proposed “helpless”. Their voices must not only be heard but their destiny handed over to them to better their lots.

Ceri Dingle said:

So many people still think the redistribution of wealth is a cure for inequality and poverty and they believe this is to be preferred to increasing growth and therefore wealth in general. Simply re-dividing the cake making some people a bit better off and some people poorer is surely the opposite of what we want if we want everyone to have more. It exemplifies low horizons and fails to address the need to expand growth everywhere. It also treats the poor as hopeless rather than as creative beings capable of being as productive of new wealth as anyone else. While everyone gets hot under the collar about cuts no one seems to be addressing the real problem which is how to promote growth – not helped of course by those who think growth is bad in the first place.

Sean Whitman said:

Excellent discussion and very enlightening especially the points about inequality and redistribution which we all seem to get wrong.