Friday, 5 November 2010

Irma Adelman- the woman who could have stopped the Vietnam War.

Following on from my last post on a female economist who some think might save us from catastrophic climate change, I present to you another female economist- also of Jewish origin- who could have stopped the Vietnam War.
Irma Adelman went to Vietnam in 1963 to compile some agricultural statistics that some bureaucratic bigwig had demanded for his butterfly collection. Unfortunately, the ditzy young thing got hold of the wrong end of the stick and decided to find out how to stop the war. Strangely- she was an econometrician of genius- she took the utterly bizarre approach of asking people, including poor peasants out in the country-side. They explained that so long as the insurgents kept up operations, the landlords couldn't collect their rents, being holed up in the Cities. Three years of accrued rents worked out at 1.5 times their annual income. Pacification would have ruined the peasants. Adelman calculated that a land-to-the-tiller policy, with compensation paid by the U.S, would have cost half the then military budget- a small fraction of what it would eventually snowball into.

The list of Adelman's achievements and breakthroughs and compassionate insights are too long to list. Indians may be interested to note that Adelman helped in the South Korean miracle whereby incomes for the poor tripled in ten years. BUT South Korea already had land-reform and universal primary education and assets were relatively equitably distributed. They were also prepared to take the pain of a 50% devaluation, tight money at home and a rapid dismantling of distortionary protective tariffs.

However, her econometrics was flawed in two ways- firstly it was not strait-jacketedly Bayesian and secondly not only was she lacking a penis but so was her co-author! Frankly, I think this an utter scandal and a damning indictment of Govt. underfunding for the Arts.
Not everything can be blamed on the Liberals in the Media. The homosexuals too should accept some responsibility.

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