Friday, August 26, 2011

how's an informal business to grow without government/banking support?

That's the question implicit in a new study by the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions. Far from protesting the informal economy, the union group suggests that it needs good governance to succeed, The Nation newspaper reports. "Though merchants are required to regularly pay market fees, markets do not have amenities such as free public toilets (in usable state), adequate water supply, drainage, and regular solid waste collection," Paliani Chinguwo, the union's director of research told the paper. If the merchants pay their fees to the government, why is the government not providing services?

The union added that bank loans are near to impossible for street businesses to use, because they often require collateral of 50 to 100 percent of the value of the loan. Again, without access to credit, how are small businesses supposed to grow?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

against productivity

In my new book, Stealth of Nations, I have a chapter I call 'Against Efficiency,' in which I argue that we have deified market efficiency at the expense of employment and opportunity. In a similar vein, here's Brazilian social thinker Ladislau Dowbor, with a brisk jeremiad against productivity. Money quotes:
In Brazil the combination of perverse mechanisms of the market – the more you throw the indirect costs to  society, the more competitive you are – and the mechanisms of corporate control over political decisions, cause the destruction of forests, pollution of water sources, the accumulation of unemployed people in urban peripheries, and the deepening of social imbalances through the appropriation of the results of production by few national and international groups....
What we need, to put the numbers straight, is for each municipality to work out the complete picture of the activities in its territory, with a battery of indicators of quality of life, allowing the community to answer basic questions: Are we living better? Is the path we have taken sustainable? Are the diverse factors of production – including the work-force – used in a balanced way?