Just in case you were wondering how the firestorms in North Africa were being spun in the policy circles of the great powers, check out the latest highly instructive speech by the president of the World Bank (see link below). What Zoellick reminds us of is that street protests are really a demand to equitably distribute economic incentives so that everyone can behave like economic maximizers. Indeed, he reminds us that economists can bring the political back into economics by reducing democracy to incentives that produce economically rational behaviour.
Apparently people are dying on the streets for the right to be incentivized so that they can behave like Homo Economicus! And what Homo E really is all about is self-evident too, so that the only problem until till now in the MENA countries is that the right incentives did not exist because Oriental desposts were too greedy and hoarded all the economic rewards that existed in the country.
Bloody clan system!
In any case now the World Bank has learnt its lesson. It now know knows that all human being are economically rational (secretly we are all moderns, it is just the clan system that keeps us down).
Thus, from now on the World Bank is willing to partner with anyone in the MENA countries (especially the women)who will free up the flow of incentives so that people all over MENA will become happier.
It is only rational.
And so the WB finds yet another way to absolve itself from thinking about market failure over the past 30 years in the MENA countries. And so to0 it can really and truly keep the political away from the economic.
But also telling is that this market place of incentives and rewards is what Zoellick thinks democracy in the West is all about too.
And I quote: “These [incentives] are not luxuries reserved only for developed countries. They reflect on the quality of governance. They improve public policy. They signal integrity. They communicate respect for the public. They treat public office as a trust. They may sound political, but they are certainly economic.
These topics are part of the economics of public choice. The public choice theorists cautioned us to think about how governments really work, compared with how we might wish them to work. The public choice advocates have called for better incentives and opportunities for citizens to monitor government more effectively. They are right.”
(Zoellick, April 2011)
What an innovative vision of humanity!
To find out more about how the World Bank spins protest from 1848 until 2011, follow the link (and yes, Zoellick really does mention 1848):