16 Jul 2013

My Son On How to Help the Third World

Scott Sumner 36 Comments

I asked my 8-year-old how the rich United States could help horribly poor Bangladesh. He said, “Have 747s fly over Bangladesh and dump $100,000,000,000 out of the cargo bay. It will make them richer and help us at the same time.” Cute, huh?

Ha ha, got you. That wasn’t my son at all, it was the guy many of you consider the world’s most important economist.

(And this commenter nails it.)

36 Responses to “My Son On How to Help the Third World”

  1. Dan says:

    They should just have the sweatshops produce $100 bills.

  2. skylien says:


  3. Ken B says:

    Surely drones not helicopters.

    • Ken P says:

      With a hundred billion dollar coin, you only need one drone.

  4. Matt Tanous says:

    I’m pretty sure that some people are just crazy. It’s too bad that crazy passes for economic wisdom in modern times.

  5. Bob Roddis says:

    How stupid to propose flying over Bangladesh and dumping $100,000,000,000 out of the cargo bay. Everyone knows that the proper solution is for the Bengalis to spend trillions of non-existent fiat units on a non-existent alien invasion.

  6. Ken B says:

    Am I the only one irked by “Bengali”? This is like using Walloon for Belgian. The Bengali are an ethnic group in Bangladesh and Bengal; Bangladeshi is the term for a citizen of Bangladesh of any background.

    • RPLong says:

      It’s worse than that. “Bengali” is an anglicized version of the real world, which is “Bangali,” pronounced “BAHNG-ah-lee” (i.e. not “bang-GAH-lee).

    • Bob Roddis says:

      It’s irksome to be no longer able to call it “East Pakistan” and its inhabitants “East Pakistanis”.


    • Bob Roddis says:

      I’m so ashamed.


      The overwhelming majority of Bangladeshis are ethnic Bengali, constituting 98% of the population.

      I feel even worse for the Deutsche. And the Cincinnati Bengals should be required to changed their mascot and nickname.

      • Ken B says:

        And are 98% of Bengalis Bangladeshis too?

        It seems to me Bob you have simply admitted that you and Sumner are wrong, and you don’t give a rat’s ass. Well it won’t surprise most of us you don’t give a rat’s ass about being wrong!

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Do you drink a lot of coffee as you surf the internet, Ken B.? I get really combative when I do that, I’m just wondering.

          • Ken B says:

            Well you’re right my blood is up on this today Bob, but Roddis is so frickin’ free with his accusations of racial animus aimed at his opponents that for him to shrug off something like this I found annoying.

          • Ken B says:

            I’m curious too Bob. I mean this seems like
            1. a clear error. Roddis could just say oops and move on but he didn’t, he got sarcastic and pugnacious
            2. a completely gratuitous injection of ethnicity into the discusiion. If we were talking about money bombing downtown Detroit and someone decribed this as “the blacks” spending all the money, we’d all see point.

        • Bob Roddis says:


          1. I took a course in my junior year of college on Indian, Pakistan and the splitting up of West and East Pakistan back in 1971. Everyone then called the East Pakistanis “Bengalis”. My professor was from India.

          2. I was well aware that sometime significantly after independence, the fancy “proper” word for its inhabitants was Bangladeshi. I don’t care for the word and I figure that at some point in the future, it will change to something else. I was also trolling for someone to fuss over the use of “Bengali”.

          3. People should worry more about the fact that multi-ethnic social democracies will tend towards ethnic conflict, ethnic slaughter and genocide and that the solution is limit the share of society devoted to “public goods” controlled by the state.


          • RPLong says:

            Roddis, why would it matter to anyone whether or not you “cared for” the term Bangladeshi? The word literally means “person who comes from the land in which the Bangla language is spoken.”

            What is your opinion of the fact that Bangladeshis call Chinese folks “Chindeshis” and Englishmen “Ingladeshis?” Do you also figure that will soon change in Bangladesh?

            • Bob Roddis says:

              I’m going to worry about the poor people of the planet not having the benefit of enforced property rights, contract rights, sound money, the rule of law and the non-aggression principle. When those problems have been solved, I’ll then worry why we don’t call what we constantly discuss Österreichische Wirtschaft .

              • RPLong says:

                Okay, and in the meantime, I’m just going to start calling you Susan. What do I care if that’s not your name? So long as there is a dearth of property rights, contract rights, sound money, the rule of law, and the non-aggression principle out there in the world, I have bigger things to worry about than what your actual name is.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                Get over it, Mr. Long. Sumner used the term “Bengali” too. Go drink some alcohol or something. 300,000 to 3,000,000 Bengalis slaughtered in 1971 and you worry about this.

                Get a life.


              • Ken B says:

                This is funny Susan, since I started this topic BY CRITICIZING SUMNER.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                Kennee Bee:

                It’s still a stupid, petty and irrelevant point. Drop it.

  7. skylien says:

    That sounds like job for Captain Sum Ting Wong and his crew:


  8. Joseph Fetz says:

    You almost had me, but I’ve heard many of the things that Clark says, so I smelled BS from the get go. Seriously, Clark comes up with questions and answers that are sometimes far more intelligent than anything I can come up with. That’s pretty humbling, but then, I have a feeling that he is probably operating at a genius-level IQ. Smart kid.

    • JFF says:

      Here’s the secret, Joe: all kids are this smart and observant and unfiltered naturally.

      They trick is whether or not they’re allowed to be so.

  9. Lio says:

    “PS. Here’s a policy that would enrich both Bengalis and Americans. Have 747s fly over Bangladesh and dump $100,000,000,000 out of the cargo bay. QE will boost US RGDP, and foreign aid will help the Bangladeshis.”

    PATHETIC! How can some people still confuse quantity of money printed and economic wealth?

    • Ken B says:

      Yes, that would be pathetic. But it’s not what Sumner is doing. His idea may be right, wrong, helpful, or destructive, but it is not confusing wealth with printed money.

    • skylien says:

      Ken is right here. He doesn’t think it literally creates wealth, he just thinks this action would start a process that leads to the creation of more wealth… That is just working in his mind though. That is a typical delusion central planners suffer (They always think that their “well thought out” schemes lead people to do what they are too “dumb” to do themselves but is finally what they always wanted.)

      And no Ken, it is not pathetic, however it is overestimation of one’s own capabilities.to extreme degrees.

  10. Silas Barta says:

    I’ve long ridiculed you on the Global Warming debate for the time you made an argument that (in the context) seemed to assume that Bengals aren’t scarce.

    Well, I can’t do that anymore because another economist has now beaten you for the title of “Worst Bengal Economic Blunder”.

  11. Tel says:

    I worked with a guy from Bangladesh, and yes he did speak Bengali, and was a fairly devout Muslim, although not an extremist by any means. He was a trained engineer but drove a taxi because the money was better, and a fair chunk of that money went back to Bangladesh.

    After a victorious war of secession from Pakistan, they were regarded as the poorest nation on Earth. They really started at the bottom of the heap. By the way, the US President Nixon supported Pakistan in that war, with the unerring genius of picking a loser… and hasn’t that US / Pakistan alliance done well over the years?

    Anyhow, today Bangladesh is no longer the poorest of the poor, they are ahead of most African nations in terms of GDP per capita, and their economic growth is pretty impressive compared to the stagnated Western nations. They work hard, and they have earned both their freedom and their economic growth. All expectations are they will continue to grow, the absolute last thing any of them want or needs would be Scott Sumner helping them.

    Please, go help someone more deserving!

    • Ken B says:

      The scariest words in the English language “We’re from Scott Sumner and we’re here to help.”

      • Tel says:

        Not quite the scariest, remember we got Kevin Rudd back as Prime Minister for the second time, and he is full of ideas.

  12. Michael P. Shipley says:

    It would be more effective to air drop $100b worth of guns all over the country so the people can fight a war for independence to free themselves from the military dictatorship which is the real cause of their poverty.

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