Thanks to a post at Effect Measure, we now have an even better picture of just who Lawrence Summers is. In a 1991 memo, Summers, who was then Chief Economist at the World Bank, made a number of "politically incorrect" statements, as thus:
Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Less Developed Countries]?Lest anyone accuse me of jumping to conclusions, or of taking Mr. Summers' remarks out of context, I hasten to note that Summers does clarify his stance admirably:
I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.In a further display of this impeccable logic, Summers goes on to suggest that certain third-world countries are "under-polluted." That's a shocking state of affairs indeed.
He does make one very interesting and valid point, though:
The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is is 200 per thousand.How true that is. Of course, in humanitarian terms, the last thing such a country needs is to serve as a dumping-ground for toxic waste. But according to the ineluctable dicates of corporate psychopathy, such countries are indeed ideal dumping-grounds: their generally high mortality rates, poor public-health infrastructure, and low life expectancy will combine to hide the long-term effects of newly introduced environmental toxins. (A real virtuoso could even use "evidence" from such countries to argue that such toxins are "obviously" safe for dumping in wealthier countries.)
Be sure to read the entire EM post. It ends with a truly magnificent denunciation of Summers by Brazil's former Secretary of Environment, upon which I couldn't possibly improve.
UPDATE: No sooner did I post this than I remembered that in some dark recess of my mind I already knew about this memo, and that I'd been infuriated by it when Clinton nominated Summers to run the Treasury Department. I really think I'm suffering from outrage fatigue...I'm finding it harder and harder to keep track of the things these maniacs say...