Sunday, November 13, 2005

Critiquing the Critic: Bikales on Rossabi

Mongolia Web prints a blistering review by William Bikales of Morris Rossabi's book Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists (via Mongolian Matters). Well worth the read for its brief economic history of Mongolia and its point by point criticism of what he judges to be Rossabi's underlying point:
Rossabi...arguesthe foreign donors who came to Mongolia’s aid following the 1991 termination of Soviet support forced the country to follow “pure market” policies of shock therapy, minimal government and privatization. The disastrous results, supposedly, were poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, cultural decline and economic dependence on China.
He also sums up (and dismisses) Rossabi's proposed solution to poverty.
The government must pay higher wages and pensions, maintain other social expenditures, and hold down electricity and heat prices. Environmental degradation? Hire lots of park rangers and enforce those laws. Industrial decline? Support companies with budget funds and low interest bank credits, and with high import tariffs and export bans on raw materials. Difficulties in the lives of the herding population? Maintain the heavily subsidized herder cooperatives of the communist era. And so on.
That's some plan. Just thinking out loud here, but perhaps Rossabi would be interested in a reconstituted USSR to fund such a project.

Anyway, like I say, the entire review is exceedingly interesting. While you're at it, please check out Mr. Bikales's informal yet important addendum to his review at Mongolia Matters.

5 Comments:

Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Linked over via Gateway Pundit.

FYI, Eastern Europe encounters much of the same, sometimes from its own citizens, but more often from Western European intellectuals who have it all worked out if people would just sit down and listen to how brilliant they are.

Prior to 1750, 95% of everyone, everywhere, lived in abject poverty, going hungry for at least some portion of the year. The free markets of England and America started to gradually pull more and more people into a middle class. As countries have responded to market pressures, their people have begun to ascend into middle class as well.

Because we don't all move together, the model is rejected by intellectuals as unfair. Winston Churchill once noted "Under capitalism, the people share wealth unequally. Under socialism, the people share povery equally."

Easy choice, eh?

11/21/2005 4:15 PM  
Blogger yan said...

smhric has an article by Rossabi. The fact that Rossabi chooses to introduce his text with a citation of an old UBPost article rather than, say, citing the growth of Ereen over the last years might give an idea why Bikales doesn't consider the book a good one. He also seems to forget that production downtimes may not only be caused by a lack of supply, but also by a lack of demand. OTOH I haven't read the book, so I won't judge. There's certainly a lot to say about Mongolia's transition and about deficits in development aid, but what is it worth when the author doesn't know what he's talking about?

11/25/2005 1:07 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

It is one thing to brag about Mongolia's transition to democracy as "not a single shot being fired".

And other thing to finally come to terms with the dire results of the quick and painless transition.

We Mongolians take in millions in loans every year. And all we are left with is growing debt.

Americans usually don't give nothing to a beggar. Their view is that he is plain lazy.

There were not substantial aid pouring in after Revolution in USA. Early Americans hammered out their own coins and if when they plundered, they plundered by themselves.

It is illogical to copy America's model of capitalism to a third country like Mongolia.
-First of all, we Mongols don't have access to millions of slaves to build our infrastrute for free.
-Second, Mongolia doesn't have a source of cheap illegal labor to maintain our infrastructure for almost for free.

So we Mongols also need to find "our" way of democracy and happy living, instead of just copying and living aid to aid, like poor people in America.

12/02/2005 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yan, thanks for the link to that other piece by Rossabi. Of course there is tension between Mongolia and China, and yes, China's economic influence is growing. As my son would say, "Duh". The question is, what should Mongolia do -- putting up high tariffs "on Chinese goods" is not a very practical solution, alas, as Rossabi in his typical cluelessness doesn't realize.

I got a kick out of this line in that piece; "Elimination of most tariffs and export taxes in May 1997, a policy the pure market advocates among the international donor agencies insisted upon, has fostered this increasing Chinese role in the Mongolian economy." As one who was there, I would defy Rossabi (or anyone else) to provide any evidence that the May 1997 action was done at the "insistence" of any foreign organizations or individuals. The IMF argued strongly against the move. But Rossabi seems to know that, because he uses strange wording to suggest that it wasn't the donor organizations themselves that insisted on the step, it was individual market economy advocates within those organizations. Huh??? Individuals could "insist" that Mongolia take actions that the agencies themselves opposed?

Oh well

Bill B

12/14/2005 5:07 AM  
Blogger samraat said...

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4/04/2010 9:44 PM  

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