PrestoPundit

LAST WEEK I SENT JEFFREY RESSNER AND BEN SMITH

Posted by PrestoPundit on 04/15/2008

a copy of Barak Obama, Sr.’s paper “Problems for our Socialism” from the 1965 issue of East Africa Journal.  Their article is now up here.  I had a nice conversation with Ressner, but his article is a typical left of center MSM embarrassment.  The article attacks my headline unfairly, completely misrepresents what I said, and deals with none of the rest of the content of my article.  Mugged by the bastards in the MSM, I guess.  It turns out Ressner is a Hollywood entertainment reporter.  None of what I said to Ressner is quoted in the article. Smith and Ressner go to a professor for pull quotes to attack me.  It’s very clear that the good professor did not read my article. 

Here is what I included in my article, quoting two of the leading Keyna experts in the world:

E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and David William Cohen in their book The Risks of Knowledge
(Ohio U. Press, 2004) ..  write, “The
debates [over economic policy] pitted .. Mboya against
.. Oginga Odinga and radical economists
Dharam Ghai and Barrack Obama, who critiqued the document for being
neither African nor
socialist enough.”

Note well that Ben Smith and Jeffrey Ressner failed to interview Odhiambo and Cohen, and failed to quote their informed analysis of the Obama article.

Here are some of those pull quotes from the professor Smith and Ressner chose to consult:

 “But Kenya expert Dr. Raymond Omwami, an economist and UCLA visiting
professor from the University of Helsinki who has also worked at the
World Bank and International Monetary Fund, said Obama Sr. could not be
considered a socialist himself based solely on the material in his
bylined piece.”

“The critics of this article are making a big mistake,” says Omwami,
who read the document and the associated internet debate at the request
of Politico over the weekend. “They are assuming Obama Sr. is the one
who came up with this concept of African socialism, but that’s totally
wrong. Based on that, they’re imbuing in him the idea that he himself
is a socialist, but he is not.”

ADDED:  I did some digging on the “expert” used by journalists Smith and Ressner.  When journalist Smith and Ressner went trolling for a friendly
authority, they ended up scraping from the bottom of the academic
barrel.  A Google search for “Raymond Omwami” produced only four non-Politico results.  A Google Scholar search produced two results. Professor Omwami does not appear on the web site of the University of Helsinki, nor does he show up on the web site of UCLA.  He’s not on the faculty of the economics department at the U. of Helsinki, and he’s not on the list of visiting scholars or faculty at the economics department of UCLA.  And he doesn’t show up on the web site of the World Bank.  And he doesn’t show up on the web site of the International Monetary Fund.  The only sign of Mr. Omwami is as a 2004-2005 fellow of the Globalization Research Center — Africa which is affiliated with UCLA and several other universities.  Omwami is not currently in the the UCLA spring schedule of classes, as far as I could determine (although a woman with the same last name is).  We’re clearly not dealing with the leading development economist in the world here — and certainly not with a leading historian of Kenyan history, such as I myself have cited in my own article published at PrestoPundit.

When I finally found Dr. Raymond Omwami, here is what I found.  It turns out he’s not much of a development economist.  His specialty his “investment appraisal and financing decisions” with elements of international finance and economic development (which in large part means World Bank and IMF studies — and don’t even get me started on the appalling history of LSE and Ivy League trained economists, development economics, and the NGOs).  Omwami’s only academic publication would seem to be this: Omwami, R.K. (1988) “An Economic Model Underlying the Choice of Capital Intensity in Timber Production.” Acta Forestalia Fennica 204.

Let’s compare the incompetent analysis of Smith and Ressner’s “expert” with the words of Barack Obama, Sr. himself, from “Problems for Our Socialism”:

OBAMA ON COMMUNAL OWNERSHIP OF LAND

“[Session Paper
No. 10] goes into use and control of resources.  The first statement
concerns conflict of opinion on attitude toward land ownership.  It is
true that in most African societies the individual had sole right as to
the use of land and proceeds from it.  He did, however, own it only as
a trustee to the clan, tribe or society.  He could give it on loan to
someone outside the tribe to use, but he had no right to sell it
outside the tribe .. How then can there be a conflict of opinion on
communal ownership?  ..

It is surprising that one of the best
African traditions [the communal ownership of land] is not only being
put aside in this paper [in favor of private ownership] but even the
principle is not being recognized and enhanced .. we can avoid economic
power concentration and bring standardized use and control of resources
through public ownership, let alone the equitable distribution of
economic gains that follow ..

Will [land consolidation] be
easily done through individual action, through co-operatives or through
government ownership?  Realizing social stickiness and inflexibility
and looking at the society’s distrust of change, one would see that, if
left to the individual, consolidation will take a long time to come. 
We have to look at priorities tin terms of what is good for society and
on this basis we may find it necessary to force people to do things
they would not do otherwise.

Would it not seem, then, the
government could bring more rapid consolidation through clan
co-operatives?  Individual initiative is not usually the best method of
bringing land reform.  Since proper land use and control is very
important if we are going to overcome the dual [rich Indian &
European vs. poor black African class] character of our economy and
thereby increase productivity, the government should take a positive
stand and, if need be, force people to consolidate through the easiest
way, which, I think, would be through clan co-operatives rather than
through individual initiative.”

OBAMA ON A CLASSLESS SOCIETY

“If one says that the
African society was classless as the paper says, what is there to stop
it from being a class society as time goes on?  Is what has been said
in the paper, if implemented, enough to eschew this danger?  .. The
question is how are we going to remove the disparities in our country
such as the concentration of economic power in Asian and European hands
while not destroying what haws already been achieved and at the same
time assimilating these groups to build one country?

.. On class
problems, the paper states that since there was not such a thing in
Africa, the problem is that of prevention.  This is to ignore the truth
of the matter. One wonders whether the authors of the paper have not
noticed that a discernible class structure has emerged in Africa and
particularly in Kenya.  While we welcome the idea of prevention, we
should also try to cure what has slipped in.

The elimination of
foreign economic and political domination is a good gesture towards
this, so are plans to develop in order to prevent antagonistic
classes.  But we also need to  eliminate power structures that have
been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few
individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case
now.  It is a case of cure and prevention and not prevention alone.”

OBAMA ON THE NATIONALIZATION OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE

“There
is a statement made on nationalization [in Sessional Paper No. 10]. 
True there are cases in which nationalization is bad, but there are,
likewise, quite a few benefits to be derived from it.  On this subject
I would like to refer the authors to Prof. Bronferbrenner’s
[sic] work on the “Appeals for confiscation in Economic Development”*
[sic — the referenced article is titled “The Appeal of Confiscation in Economic
Development”].  Nationalization should not be looked at only in terms
of profitability alone, but also, or even more, on the benefit to
society that such services render and on its importance in terms of
public interest ..”

*Econ. Development and Cultural Change — Vol III, No. 3, 1955 pp. 201-18

OBAMA ON THE CONFISCATION OF PROPERTY OWNED BY KENYANS OF ASIAN AND EUROPEAN DECENT

“There
is also a statement that nationalization will apply to African
enterprise.  How can we talk of nationalizing African enterprise when
such enterprises do not exit?  If we are going to nationalize, we are
going to nationalize what exists and is worth nationalizing.  But these
are European and Asian enterprises.

One need not be a Kenyan to
note that nearly all commercial enterprises from small shops in River
Road to big shops in Government Road and that industries in the
Industrial Areas of Nairobi are mostly owned by Asians and Europeans. 
One need not be a Kenyan to note that when one goes to a good
restraurant he mostly finds Asians and Europeans, nor has he to be a
Kenyan to see that the majority of cars running in Kenya are run by
Asians and Europeans.  How then can we say that we are going to to be
indiscriminate in rectifying these imbalances?  We have to give the
African his place in his own country and we have to give him this
economic power if he is going to develop.  The paper talks of fear of
retarding growth if nationalization or purchases of these enterprises
are made for Africans.  But for whom doe we want to grow?  Is it the
African who owns this country?  If he does, then why should he not
control the economic means of growth in this country?

It is
mainly in this country that one finds almost everything owned by the
non-indigenous populace.  The government must do something about this
and soon.”

OBAMA ON 100% TAXATION

“Theoretically, there is nothing that can stop the
government from taxing 100 per cent of income so long as the people
benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is
taxed.”

OBAMA ON MARX AND TAXATION

“The
paper wishes to encourage domestic accumulation.  This is a good
gesture except for the underlying assumption which one only reads
between the lines, that it is individual private enterprise and
business that tends to encourage accumulation.  True, in the paper
there is a realization that taxation can be used as a means of forced
saving, but it is given a secondary place in this respect.  Certainly
there is no limit to taxation if the benefits derived from public
services by society measure up to the cost in taxation which they have
to pay.  It is a fallacy to say that there is a limit and it is a
fallacy to rely mainly on the individual free enterprise to get the
savings.  Who are we going to rid ourselves of economic power
concentration when we, in our blueprint, tend towards what we ourselves
discredit?  In paragraph 47 the paper state that the company form of
business organization is a departure from the direct individual
ownership typical in Marx’s day.  Yet one who has read Marx cannot fail
to see that corporations are not only what Marx referred to as the
advanced stage of capitalism but Marx even called it finance capitalism
by which a few would control the finances of so many and through this
have not only economic power but political power as well.”

OBAMA ON THE POLICY OF “NON-ALIGNMENT”

“It
is a tautology to say that we want to be independent of other countries
since every country has always wished this.  It would have been more
important to talk of how we intend to break our dependence on other
countries politically and economically, since this is fait accompli. 
It may be true that this is still the case because of our lack of basic
resources and skilled manpower, yet one can choose to develop by the
bootstraps rather than become a pawn to some foreign powers such as Sekou Toure did.  While the statement of the policy of non-alignment is good and encouraging, one would wish to see it put into practice.”

[Note:  At the time Obama’s article was written Guinea President Sekou Toure was accepting aid from the United States and acceding to many of its foreign policy demands, after an earlier period when Toure had accepted aid from the Soviets
and the Soviet block.  Relations between Toure and Moscow had cooled
after Toure accused the Soviets of helping to plot the overthrow of his
government.]

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No Responses Yet to “LAST WEEK I SENT JEFFREY RESSNER AND BEN SMITH”

  1. BARACK OBAMA HID HIS FATHER’S SOCIALIST AND ANTI-WESTERN CONVICTIONS FROM HIS READERS

    Politico readers — GO HERE FIRST.[Welcome RealClearPolitics, LGF, Gateway Pundit, Hot Air, Ace of Spades, DailyKos and Marginal Revolution readers.]The “Rosebud” of Barack Obama’s Memoir — Part 1 of GREG’S GUIDE TO BARACK OBAMA’S DREAMS FROM MY FATHE…

  2. jack said

    “Politico” hardly qualifies as an outlet for the “MSM”.

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