Millennials Blame Capitalism for “the Crushing Burden of College Debt”?

(p. A22) “Millennials don’t remember the Cold War,” said Maurice Isserman, a history professor at Hamilton College who has studied democratic socialism. “They don’t react in the same way to the word ‘socialist’ and associate it with totalitarian communism.”

Instead, young voters have experienced a structural shift in the economy, including the 2008 financial crisis and the crushing burden of college debt, that has given them a more critical view of capitalism, he said.

For the full story, see:

Patricia Mazzei and Sydney Ember. “Sanders’s Views on Cuba Split Young and Old Voters.” The New York Times (Saturday, February 29, 2020): A22.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 28, 2020, and has the title “Sanders Is Stirring Cold War Angst. Young Voters Say, So What?.”)

Government Ban on Motorbikes and Rickshaws Spreads Coronavirus in Nigeria

(p. A10) “I feel scared,” said Karo Otitifore, an elementary schoolteacher waiting at a bus stop in Yaba, the Lagos suburb where the Italian patient was being treated. “I try to sit tight, squeeze my whole body so that I won’t have to have too much body contact with people.”

. . .

He waited at a crowded bus stop for a bus crammed with passengers. A recent ban — unrelated to coronavirus — on the city’s fleet of motorcycle taxis and auto-rickshaws meant that many Lagosians are in even closer contact than usual, raising the risk of exposure should the virus spread.

For the full story, see:

Ruth Maclean and Abdi Latif Dahir. “First Confirmed Diagnosis In Nigeria Adds Pressure On a Weak Health System.” The New York Times (Saturday, February 29, 2020): A10.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Feb. 29, 2020, and has the title “Nigeria Responds to First Coronavirus Case in Sub-Saharan Africa.”)

Commuters Riot after Lagos Governor Bans Motorbikes and Rickshaws

LAGOS — It is dark when Abisoye Adeniyi leaves home on the packed Lagos mainland, weaving through cars and minibuses. She reaches her bus stop as the sun rises.

The 23-year-old Nigerian lawyer used to hop on a motorbike – known locally as an okada – for a quick ride to the bus that carries her from the mainland, where most of Lagos’s 20 million residents live, to work in the island business district.

Since the bikes, along with motorized yellow rickshaws called kekes, became illegal in most of the city on Feb. 1 [2020], Adeniyi has added a 30-minute walk to her journey – stretching the commute to nearly two hours.

“It has not been easy at all,” she said.

Lagos state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu outlawed the loosely regulated motorbikes and rickshaws, citing safety and security concerns.

Gridlock in the megacity, whose traffic jams were already ubiquitous, has intensified to the point that riots with burning tyres broke out and #LagosIsWalking trended on Twitter showcasing residents with ruined shoes.

For the full story, see:

Reuters. “Burning Tires and Sore Feet: Lagos Bristles Under Bike Ban.” The New York Times (Monday, February 17, 2020). Online at: https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/02/17/technology/17reuters-nigeria-transportation-ban.html?searchResultPosition=2

(Note: bracketed year added.)

“You Can’t Donate People Out of Poverty”

(p. A9) Dr. Polak, . . . , found that poor people valued and cared for things they had bought. “You can’t donate people out of poverty,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2007.

The trick was to figure out which tools were needed and how to make them at an affordable cost. For nearly four decades, Dr. Polak roamed the world’s poorest regions and quizzed farmers about their needs. “The small farmers I interviewed became my teachers,” he said in a video posted by one of the organizations he founded, iDE, formerly known as International Development Enterprises.

While visiting Somalia in the early 1980s, he noticed people lugging water and other items by hand or with awkward donkey carts. Working with local blacksmiths, he devised a better donkey cart, using parts from junked automobiles. From that point, he relied on market forces: Blacksmiths began making and selling the carts for the equivalent of about $450. Buyers of the carts could earn $200 a month for transporting goods, according to iDE.

. . .

Paul Polak (pronounced POLE-ack) . . .

. . .

He wrote or co-wrote two books drawing on his experiences, “The Business Solution to Poverty” (2013) and “Out of Poverty” (2008).

For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. “Roving Entrepreneur Built A Better Donkey Cart.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, October 26, 2019): A9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Oct. 25, 2019, and has the title “Paul Polak Built Better Tools for Farmers in Poor Countries.”)

The books authored, or co-authored, by Paul Polak, mentioned above, are:

Polak, Paul. Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008.

Polak, Paul, and Mal Warwick. The Business Solution to Poverty: Designing Products and Services for Three Billion New Customers. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013.

Muyembe Had Knowledge of an Ebola Cure Before Clinical Trial

(p. A1) In a medical breakthrough that compares to the use of penicillin for war wounds, two new drugs are saving lives from the virus and helping uncover tools against other deadly infectious diseases. They were proven effective in a gold-standard clinical trial conducted by an international coalition of doctors and researchers in the middle of armed violence.

. . .

(p. A10) Dr. Muyembe set out on his path to an Ebola treatment during the 1995 outbreak. He transferred blood from five survivors to eight patients, hoping that the antibodies that kept some people alive would keep others from dying. Seven of the patients who received the blood transfusion recovered.

He published the results in a scientific journal in 1999. Other researchers said the study was small and had failed to include a control group, a comparison set of patients who weren’t given the treatment, to fully test its efficacy.

For the full story, see:

Betsy McKay. “From a War Zone Came an Unexpected Cure for Ebola.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, October 31, 2019): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 30, 2019, and has the title “‘Ebola Is Now a Disease We Can Treat.’ How a Cure Emerged From a War Zone.”)

100 Million Africans Use Mobile Money

(p. B6) Hyperinflation and economic isolation have pushed this poor, breakaway republic closer to a virtual milestone than most other countries in the world: a cashless economy.

Mobile-money services have taken off over the past decade in Africa; 1 in 10 adults across the continent—about 100 million people—use them. In Kenya, Vodacom Group Ltd.’s groundbreaking service M-Pesa, broadly considered the first major and most successful mobile-money technology platform, counts 26 million users, roughly half the population. More than half of the world’s 282 mobile-money platforms are in sub-Saharan Africa, research by McKinsey & Co. shows.

The continent, home to many of the world’s frontier economies, has come closest to skipping, or “leapfrogging” as it’s often called, traditional brick-and-mortar banks and going straight to heavily using phones as wallets.

And nowhere are the benefits of mobile money more apparent than in Somaliland, where the extreme economic and financial conditions have allowed Zaad, a service from the main local telecom, Telesom, to catalyze commerce in one of the most isolated parts of the world.

“I have my salary paid on Zaad, so I only use cash when I can’t use Zaad,” said Qassim Ali, a supermarket salesman here in the country’s capital. “I prefer it. I have less cash on me, so I am less vulnerable if I am robbed.”

. . .

The reasons for mobile money’s success in Somaliland are on full display on Hargeisa’s busy, bumpy streets, where rows of money changers lounge in front of 3-foot-tall towers of cash, some held together by nets, others in sacks. To get the shillings to a customer’s car, most money exchanges employ assistants armed with wheelbarrows to lug the heavy bags.

Once a week, Abdulahi Abdirahman hauls two bulky, heavy sacks of shillings from his gas station across Hargeisa to the money-exchange area downtown and, several hours later, returns with just a few dollar notes in his back pocket and his Zaad wallet loaded up.

For the full story, see:

Matina Stevis-Gridneff. “An Unlikely Leader in the Mobile-Money Race.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, July 7, 2018): B6.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 6, 2018, and has the title “An Isolated Country Runs on Mobile Money.”)

Innovative Entrepreneurs Bring Prosperity to the Poor

(p. A17) As the economist Joseph Schumpeter observed: “The capitalist process, not by coincidence but by virtue of its mechanism, progressively raises the standard of life of the masses.”

For Schumpeter, entrepreneurs and the companies they found are the engines of wealth creation. This is what distinguishes capitalism from all previous forms of economic society and turned Marxism on its head, the parasitic capitalist becoming the innovative and beneficent entrepreneur. Since the 2008 crash, Schumpeter’s lessons have been overshadowed by Keynesian macroeconomics, in which the entrepreneurial function is reduced to a ghostly presence. As Schumpeter commented on John Maynard Keynes’s “General Theory” (1936), change–the outstanding feature of capitalism–was, in Keynes’s analysis, “assumed away.”

Progressive, ameliorative change is what poor people in poor countries need most of all. In “The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty,” Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen and co-authors Efosa Ojomo and Karen Dillon return the entrepreneur and innovation to the center stage of economic development and prosperity. The authors overturn the current foreign-aid development paradigm of externally imposed, predominantly government funded capital- and institution-building programs and replace it with a model of entrepreneur-led innovation. “It may sound counterintuitive,” the authors write, but “enduring prosperity for many countries will not come from fixing poverty. It will come from investing in innovations that create new markets within these countries.” This is the paradox of the book’s title.

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