Does Garry Trudeau know what the Hell he talks about?

Doonesbury
Key text:(in reference to Muhammad Yunus) You know, father of the microloan. Won the Nobel Peace Prize. He figured out if you made credit-as little as $100-available to impoverished women, they could become self-sustaining entrepreneurs! Do you realize we could be lifting 3,000,000 families out of poverty with what we spend here in Iraq in a single day?

If giving people money en masse can cure poverty, don’t you think we (or someone else) would’ve done this years ago? It doesn’t work! Anybody that has ever taken Economics knows this! But that doesn’t stop Gary from spreading his propaganda now does it?

I won’t bore you with all the different ways it won’t work so I’ll just touch on the Law of Diminishing Returns“According to this relationship, in a production system with fixed and variable inputs (say factory size and labor), beyond some point, each additional unit of variable input yields less and less additional output. Conversely, producing one more unit of output costs more and more in variable inputs.”

In plain english, if you take a remote village here in Alaska for example and give a $100 loan to one person then it might work. But $100 each to a dozen people wouldn’t work as well. You’d need to increase the amount of money for each extra person. Why? Lets look at it this way: If one person got $100 and they buy some clothes to resell to the rest of the town they might make a profit. But if you did this to say, half the city, could each one of them open a clothing store? No. People would only buy a limited amount of clothing in any given time period and profits would fall drastically. Even if they each created a store with a different product it still wouldn’t work. It’s sort of like playing Monopoly at home. It won’t take long before the less successful ones lose their money and the better ones get the money. Then you’re back to square one. Wealth is accumulated in a small group, again.

Still skeptical? Fine, I’ve got proof. Yes, the real life kind too!  Ever hear of the Alaska Permanent Fund? Each year the State of Alaska shares with the eligible residents a portion of the oil revenue/earnings from investments with the revenue. Last year each eligible resident got $1106.96  Yup, over one thousand dollars for each eligible person in the state! So my family of five got over 55 hundred smackaroos. Cool, eh?

So where am I going with this? Well, if all it takes is $100 and you can be a “self-sustaining entrepreneurs”, then why do we still have so much poverty in this state? And this isn’t “Credit” or some loan. Nope. It’s cash to spend any way you please. And most people spend their kids money as well! And to top it off, we get this EVERY YEAR!!!! In 2000, our payment was $1963.86 for each eligible resident too! So why do we still have poverty? Check that Law of Diminishing Returns out again.

Bottom line is Gary Trudeau is misleading you. If you think just giving/loaning people money can cure poverty then go the the back of the class or better yet, take an economics course or two.

From the 2004 US Census: Among places of a similar size, the poverty rates ranged from 7.4 percent for Anchorage, Alaska…. And it gets worse outside of Anchorage too.

The three-year average poverty rate for American Indians and Alaska Natives was 25.3 percent.

$100 Credit cures poverty, eh Gary? Stick to humor and lay off the propaganda.

Note: He did qualify his statements with “as little as”, “they could” and “we could be lifting…” so he does have some room to wiggle out of his misleading tripe. But tell me this Gary, if you know so much about this, why qualify your statements? If you feel that strong about something and wish to inform people about such an important topic, why not print facts and not qualified statements? Dropping names and saying ” Won Nobel Peace Prize” doesn’t impress me without facts nor does it make your propaganda legitimate.

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4 Responses to Does Garry Trudeau know what the Hell he talks about?

  1. The Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, the Jamii Bora Trust in Kenya, and many other microlending institutions have coordinated to take over 100 million people in 70 countries out of poverty.

    That’s not theory, it’s fact.

    Here’s another fact: microloan recipients pay back at a 95%+ rate. That’s probaly better than you’re doing with your own credit cards.

    “If giving people money en masse can cure poverty, don’t you think we (or someone else) would’ve done this years ago?”

    Well, they HAVE been doing this for years. For about 30 years. You’ve just never heard of the practice until you read it in the comics, and that’s really telling.

    http://www.grameen-info.com
    http://www.kiva.com
    http://www.unitus.com

    Read up, dude, before you write something else that makes you look totally stupid.

    What you’re failing to factor in, in your juvenile economic analysis of microlending, is that these loans are made in places where people live on less than a dollar or two a day. Not in Alaska, but in Bangladesh and India and sub-saharan africa. Some of those people can get in to a lifetime of indentured servitude over $20, so yeah, $100 can get them out of it.

    Funny how conservatives will do anything to avoid helping the poor, even going so far as to dismiss something that actually works.

    Now, sir, run the numbers again. If $100 *can* and does take whole families out of poverty through the establishement, THROUGH CAPATALISM, of a small business, then how many people could be moved out of poverty with what we spend in Iraq in one day?

    How many?

  2. frznagn says:

    So are you saying the theory of Diminishing Returns is false? Keep in mind that I didn’t just invent this theory out of my vivid imagination. The concept of diminishing returns can be traced back to the concerns of early economists such as Johann Heinrich von Thünen, Turgot, Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo. So if you have a problem with it then take it up with them. And that’s a fact too.
    Keep in mind that I never said Microloans don’t work. They may work in various forms. But take another look at the concept in the way Gary presented it. Really, do it. He is saying/implying that if we gave the money we spend it one day as microloans, that we could lift 3,000,000 people out of poverty. Are you agreeing with his assessment? Remember the theory again. It won’t work as presented. Could you do this on a smaller scale? Sure!!! I did say ‘en masse’!!! Don’t forget the other laws of economics, namely ‘inflation’. You’ve heard of it, right? What kind of inflation would you have if you dumped that kind of money into that economy? Do you really think that after you adjust for the cost of inflation that $100 will be sufficient? I don’t. Yes I know, I’m not an expert. But shall we only have opinions on what we are an expert on? Nope!
    “Here’s another fact: microloan recipients pay back at a 95%+ rate. That’s probaly better than you’re doing with your own credit cards.”
    I never said anything about a payback rate. It’s irrelevant. And what do my credit cards have to do with anything? Typical moronic response- bring up issues not relevant to the subject at hand. I’ve got a son with a medical problem that can cost as much as I earn. So I’m supposed to be financially secure before I can have an opinion? Shall I give up my kid for adoption so I can have money and an opinion? I just love the standards that you set.
    “Well, they HAVE been doing this for years. For about 30 years. You’ve just never heard of the practice until you read it in the comics, and that’s really telling.”
    Yep. And they still have poverty everywhere you turn too, eh? Like I said ‘en masse’. Can you give me an example where this has worked ‘en masse’ with about 3 million people like Gary said? And I’m in Alaska and I don’t subscribe to the paper (I just happen to have read this because my wife bought the Sunday paper). Where exactly am I supposed to find out about this practice? Are you also saying that if it’s printed in the comics then it has no value? We shouldn’t believe anything that is printed in them?
    “Read up, dude, before you write something else that makes you look totally stupid.”
    Actually, the fact that you didn’t understand the context that Gary put it in and I’ve discussed shows that you aren’t that bright. Try to actually focus both brain cells on my point. Can you actually give me an example like I’ve asked?
    “What you’re failing to factor in, in your juvenile economic analysis of microlending, is that these loans are made in places where people live on less than a dollar or two a day. Not in Alaska,”
    What you fail to factor in is that Gary didn’t state that it would only work here or there. There were no limits on location. Or didn’t you catch that? There are plenty of ‘impoverished women’ up here. He said it can work and now you say it doesn’t? Gosh, who to believe now! Oh, and please point out to me where I state my credentials as an economic expert? Ah, another assumption of yours, no?
    “Funny how conservatives will do anything to avoid helping the poor, even going so far as to dismiss something that actually works.”
    Another brilliant assumption- Conservatives avoid helping the poor. I don’t recall saying that I’m a conservative but lets ignore that assumption. Do you really know for a fact that I don’t help the poor? Show me. And besides, if I’m knee-deep in credit card debt like you also have assumed, then how could I help the poor? For someone who ‘cares’ about people, you sure do find ways to insult them. This is supposed to impress me and get me to help out this organization that you ‘care’ for? And like I said, I didn’t dismiss that this works on a small scale, just a large one like Gary implied. Show me otherwise and I’ll admit I’m wrong. 3,000,000 people. Yep, which 3,000,000 en masse have been helped. And I’m just going to have to clarify it so you understand. A thousand people this year here, two thousand the next year over there…. it’s not the same as 3,000,000 people with a hundred bucks at once.
    “then how many people could be moved out of poverty with what we spend in Iraq in one day?”
    Well, if I were an expert I’d answer that sir. I have not studied the currency conversion rates, economic impact, projected inflationary effects, losses due to variable factors such as death, theft, property damage…. You get the picture. Would some people be helped? Sure! But everyone? No way in hell. Show me the data that says otherwise with that large of a sum of money in a short time period. If you can’t, then admit you are wrong.
    You may be right about something- I may be stupid. I spent way too much time replying to a drive-by spammer that will never return. Yup, that is stupid.

  3. Easy, there chief.

    You’re already making bad assumptions, like we wouldn’t return to see what you had to say.

    I believe that Trudeau implied that we could be taking 3mm people out of poverty on what we spend a day in Iraq; yeah, he didn’t say that was outside the States, but that’s really kind of obvious, dontcha think?

    Places where it’s worked:

    “As of December 31, 2005, 3,133 microcredit1 institutions have reported reaching 113,261,390 clients, 81,949,036 of whom were among the poorest when they took their first loan. Of these poorest clients, 84.2 percent, or 68,993,027 million, are women. Eight hundred forty-seven of these institutions submitted an Institutional Action Plan in 2006. Together these 847 institutions account for 88 percent of the poorest clients reported. Assuming five persons per family, the 81.9 million poorest clients reached by the end of 2005 affected some 410 million family members.”

    http://www.microcreditsummit.org/pubs/reports/socr/2006.htm

    If you’re looking for specific programs and results, you could look here:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/f416c142-bdb5-11db-bd86-0000779e2340.html

    Your assumption that Trudeau’s engaged in propoganda, well, that’s probably correct. You can use propoganda, or the art of it, to promote any kind of idea, from Nazism to Microcredit. The question you should be asking is this: is it a good thing, or a bad thing that Trudeau is using his strip to highlight?

    I think you know the answer.

    “En Masse” – yes. It’s taken 7 million people in just Bangladesh out of poverty. That’s pretty massive, and the programs continue apace in over 70 countries where the poverty is just unspeakable.

    I believe it *could* work in the States, but obviously the economy of scale would have to come up a bit. Most banks don’t even look at making loans under 20k, as it’s not worth the investment they’d have to make in processing the paperwork. And if you’re poor (read ‘lower middle class’) you don’t have a prayer. Maybe that should change here.

    P.s. you didn’t *have* to say you were a conservative. Your site is a tribute to Murdoch, and you think Gary Trudeau is an agent of evil. ‘Nuff said.

    P.p.s. sorry to hear about your son. Too bad we don’t have universal health care in this country. I guess it’s more important to keep Doctors, Insurance Companies and Drug Manufacturers in record profit land.

    P.p.p.s. If you’re an American, there’s about a 100% chance you could afford to make a loan to someone who really needs it:

    http://www.kiva.org

    I’m talkin’ about $100 to lift an entire family out of poverty, or more accurately, so they can lift themselves out of poverty. This is something that *you* can do – and you should try it. It’d be good for you soul.

  4. frznagn says:

    “You’re already making bad assumptions, like we wouldn’t return to see what you had to say.”
    Ok, I’m wrong. Thanks for stopping by again! You just moved up a notch on the troll meter. 😛
    Before I continue, I did visit your site and look at some of the info you have. You have a very nice and visually attractive site. Too nice looking if you ask me. You should have saved a few bucks and gone a bit easy on the graphics and used the money for microloans.
    I’m not against microloans. I think ya’ll are doing a wonderful job. My beef is how Gary presented it. He didn’t just say how great ya’ll are, he just had to add the anti-war message which was really unnecessary. And no, I’m not pro-war either so don’t even go there. I was against us going into Iraq the second time. It’s more of the argument that ‘if we don’t spend money here, we can spend it there to solve/fix whatever’. If that’s all it takes is spending money to fix a problem, then why don’t we just print more money and spend spend SPEND??? The short answer is inflation. Which by the way, you never addressed. Do you really think that there wouldn’t be inflation or that the value of our currency wouldn’t change if we loaned enough money to lift everyone in Iraq out of poverty? Do you really believe that everyone can be successful simultaneously? I don’t. Small scale, over a long period of time, maybe. All right away. Nope.
    “yeah, he didn’t say that was outside the States, but that’s really kind of obvious, dontcha think?”
    Yes, but it was also obvious that there were no limitations too. It works both ways.
    ““As of December 31, 2005, ” blah blah blah. This doesn’t address what I’ve been saying from the start. Giving 3,000,000 people a loan at once in Iraq is much different than 82 million over a longer period of time and a much larger geographical area. You still fail to understand my main point. I have no doubt that this program works the way YOU describe it. You’re doing a wonderful job and I wish you the best. Really.
    “The question you should be asking is this: is it a good thing, or a bad thing that Trudeau is using his strip to highlight?”
    Good if he presented it better. Bad if it’s wrongfully presented and this organization doesn’t benefit.
    ““En Masse” – yes. It’s taken 7 million people in just Bangladesh out of poverty.”
    Again, time period is missing or most likely different. And I’m no expert, but I’m guessing the population and economic environment are completely different.
    “And if you’re poor (read ‘lower middle class’) you don’t have a prayer. ”
    Shouldn’t ‘poor’ be lower than ‘lower middle class’? Sad, eh?
    “P.s. you didn’t *have* to say you were a conservative. Your site is a tribute to Murdoch, and you think Gary Trudeau is an agent of evil. ‘Nuff said.”
    LOL! That was toooooo funny! I hardly know anything about him. Something about owning Foxnews or Newscorp or something like that, he has more money than I and he was interested in buying the WSJ/NYT or something like that. I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup if you paid me!!! I chose this name because I ran across a picture of an Arctic Fox and the word ‘news’ just popped into my head. Arctic Fox News. I thought it sounded good. But when I got to designing the pic, I thought I’d have fun with my more liberal friends (and yes, they are friends!) and toss in a logo similar to Fox News. It was more of a joke than anything. I just wanted to see what they would say. If you notice the blogroll, it has 4 lefty sites, 1 righty, and my son’s site. Yup, typical conservative fare, no? And amazingly enough, I’m not on the best terms of one of those lefties- I think he’s even blocked me from posting on his site. He does post some good stuff so I’m leaving it up. Do I really sound like that bad of a person? And I do think that Gary should stick more to humor, as some other comics should. I read the funnies to laugh, not to get a political statement. Thats what the opinion pages are for.
    “Too bad we don’t have universal health care in this country.”
    I don’t know about that one. I get my care through the VA. Ever hear about the problems with them? I’ll complain about something and they’ll send me for an MRI or some other test and tell me to call back for the results. I call back and they’ll say Normal or Nothing Abnormal. And that’s it. Problem still there, no follow up appointment. Nothing. I suppose you’re supposed to get a test so that the test can cure the problem? I’ve had way too many problems with care in the military and with the VA. Why would I want a system like this nationally?
    “I guess it’s more important to keep Doctors, Insurance Companies and Drug Manufacturers in record profit land.”
    Without profits then we wouldn’t have the research and ‘cures’ that comes from it. And they do charge us Americans far more than they charge other countries too, right? We subsidize their drugs. Just because we’re ‘rich’, right? I’ll agree that the system is screwed up, but the fix???
    “P.p.s. sorry to hear about your son.”
    Thanks, but 3 out of the 5 of us support a good section of the pharmaceutical industry.
    “P.p.p.s. If you’re an American, there’s about a 100% chance you could afford to make a loan to someone who really needs it:”
    Soon, maybe. I’m at the tail end of living paycheck to paycheck. We’ve had ‘guests’ living with us for the past three years or so that just finally left. Yes, they either went to school or they worked. We charged no rent nor did we even ask them to pay for food or other expense or even all of their long distance calls. One of them was a friend of my oldest son whom ‘had no place to go’ so we took him in hoping he’d finish HS and have a decent life. The kid quit school with six months left and laid around the house doing nothing. I/we couldn’t take it anymore so we booted him out. I/we can only take so much, you know what I mean?
    “This is something that *you* can do – and you should try it. It’d be good for you soul.”
    I’ll think about it. And don’t go telling anybody I have a soul, it’ll ruin my rep! 😛
    So, if I make a loan, I get the money back, right? 😛

    As a side note, I would like to see this country do more to help people out of poverty. I think one of the biggest problems is our educational system. Other problems in no specific order: Lack of respect for other peoples’ property, ‘acting white’, ‘street cred’, lack of morals, it’s all about me attitude…. you get the pic. Importing foreigners to work at high tech jobs or shipping jobs overseas leaves exactly what over here? It doesn’t do much good to spend 13 years in school to get a McJob. It just doesn’t seem to be worth it. I spent four years in college to get a job for $10 an hour. Heck, that’s what the starting pay was at Costco to be a Cashier. Tell me that was worth it.

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