Pope beatifies economist

5/1/2012: He’s apparently the first – Giuseppe Toniolo. And, big surprise, the comments in the National Catholic Reporter story out him as a proto-fascist. From an old joke:

In the beginning, when God and the Devil were creating the Universe, God would create something good, and the Devil would retort with something evil. God created light, the Devil created darkness. God created love, the Devil created hatred. God created generosity, the Devil created greed… Toward the end of the day, when they were both getting tired, God created an economist. The Devil looked puzzled for a long moment, then, with a wicked grin, created another economist.


4/2/2012: From the NYT:

Reagan’s strongest margins were among the college educated, who backed him over Walter F. Mondale by a crushing 62.7-36.9 margin. Among all those with both college and advanced degrees, Reagan won 58.7 percent, a landslide margin. … By 2008, the Republican advantage of the early 1980s among voters with a college degree or higher had disappeared. Barack Obama carried this demographic with 54.1 percent. He beat McCain 50-48 among those with bachelor’s degrees, and by a decisive 58-40 among the 17 percent of the 2008 electorate with post-graduate degrees.

I’m no agricultural economist,

and this is way off topic, but this sort of thing really boils my blood. For those who aren’t bothered to read the article, a woman in India is blasting many modern farming practices and is pushing for organic farms in India. What I don’t think she understands is that the genetic engineering, fertilizers, and chemical pesticides of the green revolution tripled yields and increased food consumption and life expectancy among the world’s poor by decades. Yes, there are health concerns regarding pesticides that have inspired the whole organic farming trend. There are even organic weed control solutions being developed to increase crop yield while still keeping organic.

My argument is not pro or con on certain farming practices, I am more concerned on the economic impact. Some of us are rich enough to start worrying about the side effects of chemical plant treatments – as rich people should. Not everyone has the budget to start a vertical farm or 3D seaweed growing operation. India is simply not rich enough to cover the increased cost that organic farming has. Many people are poor and the price difference between an organic and inorganic product is a more critical difference to us than them. And this woman is pushing organic farming for India?

Furthermore, where is she going to get the land? She’s an elitist crank. Meanwhile here’s the NYT obituary of Norman Borlaug. And here’s data from irri.org on Indian rice yields, per hectare. You can see the green revolution regression discontinuity in the raw data.