Tag Archives: public policy

On Keeping A Professional Distance From Global Inequalities

Recently, I was discussing my views about global inequalities with a couple of international trade law and investment law experts. Their experience and expertise was – both in sum and in comparison to me – rather considerable. Together, they had experience with advising governments in their negotiations at international institutional (eg, UN, WTO), in multilateral and bilateral negotiations (eg, free-trade agreements) and also in public-private partnerships (i.e. government investment in industry).

Rather significantly, after some fairly passionate discussions, they thought my reading of ‘public law’ and ‘economics’ was rather moralistic. That they viewed me in this way was not surprising. What surprised me was that they thought: 1) that I was unaware of my moralistic reading of international economic life; and 2) that their understanding of their jobs – as experts – did not involve moral questioning. They admitted it was rather ‘brutal’, but asserted that it was ‘true’.

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Seen a solar panel on a thatched roof?

solar panels - thatched roof

I had the rare fortune of conversing extensively about the politics of international economics and environmental ethics on the weekend. It is worth noting a platitude. All ideas are full of politics, and, there are many different ways in which one thinks of politics. Just in terms of international economics, there are so many ways. The politics of economic power, politics of private interests, politics of expert reason, politics of public goods, politics of the ideology of disciplines…just to name a few, all came into play in my weekend conversations. Environmental ethics, also decidedly full of politics.

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