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Shlaes on Phelps

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Nice article [2] by Amity Shlaes on Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps. She describes how he struggled to raise money for an academic center on capitalism and had to settle for being a part of Jeffrey Sachs’s Earth Institute:

But the cash didn’t pour in, so Phelps couldn’t build a
giant monument. In the end, with a small amount of funding, his
Center on Capitalism and Society became a subset of another, more
lavish Columbia undertaking: the Earth Institute. Or to be
precise, a subset of a subset of the Earth Institute. The Center
on Capitalism and Society is “a unit of the Center on
Globalization and Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute
at Columbia University.” Even the URL,
www.earth.columbia.edu/ccs, subordinates capitalism.         

Jeffrey Sachs, the head of the Earth Institute, is a
gracious man, and his kindness at inviting Phelps in shouldn’t be
discounted. Still, there is something inherently wrong with this
picture.         

It is capitalism of the Phelps variety that gives nations
the wherewithal to fund environmental projects. The wealthier the
society, the more likely it is to decide that it wants to go
green. This last phenomenon is known as the Environmental Kuznets
Curve, after yet another of Phelps’s Nobel predecessors, Simon
Kuznets. It is more logical for the Earth Institute to be a
department at the Capitalism Center, rather than the other way
around.         

Presumably, Phelps will now find it a little easier to raise money.

(HT: Carrie Conko)

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