Article: “Big Questions and Poor Economics”
James Tooley. “Big Questions and Poor Economics: Banerjee and Duflo on Schooling in Developing Countries.” Econ Journal Watch 9, no. 3 (September 2012): 170-185.
In Poor Economics, MIT professors Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo set out their solutions for global poverty. Their key premise is that development experts have been sidetracked by the “big questions” of development, such as the role of government and the role of aid. This approach, they say, should be eschewed in favour of adopting carefully tested “small steps” to improvement. The book ranges widely, covering topics such as food, health, family planning and microfinance. Here I treat only their arguments on education in developing countries. Poor Economics points to evidence that shows that governments have not been successful in bringing quality education to the poor. Nevertheless, the authors bring their own big-think judgments to suggest why, despite the evidence, governmentally owned and operated schooling should remain central. Part of their own evidence concerns how private schooling, including for the poor, is burgeoning and outperforming government schooling. But private education cannot be the solution, they argue, because private schooling is not as efficient as it could be. The problems identified by Banerjee and Duflo are, however, clearly caused by bad public policy. I suggest that development economists are quite justified in forming and exercising judgment on the big questions, and that when they do exercise such judgment they should be aware that they are doing so.
Book Note: “Capitalist Diversity on Europe’s Periphery”
Dorothee Bohle and Béla Greskovits. Capitalist Diversity on Europe’s Periphery. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012.
With the collapse of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance in 1991, the Eastern European nations of the former socialist bloc had to figure out their newly capitalist future. Capitalism, they found, was not a single set of political-economic relations. Rather, they each had to decide what sort of capitalist nation to become. In Capitalist Diversity on Europe’s Periphery, Dorothee Bohle and Béla Geskovits trace the form that capitalism took in each country, the assets and liabilities left behind by socialism, the transformational strategies embraced by political and technocratic elites, and the influence of transnational actors and institutions. They also evaluate the impact of three regional shocks: the recession of the early 1990s, the rolling global financial crisis that started in July 1997, and the political shocks that attended EU enlargement in 2004.
Essay: “Environmental Justice and Eschatology in Revelation”
Jonathan C. Augustine. “Environmental Justice and Eschatology in Revelation.” Loyola Law Review 58, no. 2 (2012): 325-340.
The concept of environmental justice is not new. While some scholars and activists trace its origins as part of the ongoing American Civil Rights Movement—a movement which emerged within the interdisciplinary connection of law and religion—this Essay argues that the concept of environmental justice has deep origins in the Holy Bible. With a foundation in the Old Testament Hebrew scriptures, this Essay combines the disciplines of law and religion by arguing that the Book of Revelation should be read ecologically, as a clarion call to protect the environment in anticipation of the time the triune God will return to live on the planet earth, which will exist as a new heaven.
Conference: “Your Only Comfort”
On January 18-19, 2013, a conference will be held at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary celebrating the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism and exploring how this confession can continue to serve the church for generations to come. The organizer on this anniversary: “Since it was first published in 1563, the Heidelberg Catechism has been cherished by Christians around the world. Its warm, pastoral summary of the holy gospel has guided generations of God’s people, teaching them about their only true comfort in life and in death.”
Publication: “CCDA Theological Journal”
Considering the immense complexities of Christian community development, our belief is that ongoing theological engagement is a critical discipline. We must wrestle at a deep theological level with these complexities in order to do faithful, effective ministry.