Friday, September 05, 2014

Kaung--excerpt from Let the Shit Fly--

Ecos. etc Q and A--answering at random--

Where you would place yourself in terms of economic thought - i.e., classical,
Keynesian...pragmatic, etc.
Who were your influences?

When I was at the Univ. of Rangoon (later the Inst. of Ecos.) none of my mentors or other staff members classified themselves publicly by schools of thought, though generally we knew (as General Honors students and later graduate students) where each prof. had gone to school, and what their dissertations had been about, what was their contribution to the store of human knowledge, even one lecturer reputed to have got his degree from a Ph.D. correspondence course. This person left for the Cooperatives Ministry and then I suppose lost his job, but he was allegedly the pet of Gen. Ne Win's brother U Nyi Nyi, and was also in a scandal involving the loss of his wife's longyis and a scandal with the black marketeers. The newspapers even though socialist covered it extensively and much much later, I heard he was making a living by telling fortunes

but my real mentors were much more grounded than this man and had their degrees from well known places like MIT (Massachusetts Inst of Technology, not myanmar Inst of Theology).

Dr. Maung Shein taught the first honors class in ecos. I ever attended, in which he spoke of the definitions of ecos, needs and wants, markets and Jeremy Bentham's "The Greatest Good of the Greatest Number."

At that time my brother had just returned from UK, so he told me about Bentham's corpse still in a glass cabinet.

We could read copies of Dr Maung Shein's thesis, which was about the Burmese Provincial Contracts when Burma was part of India (to 1937) and a British colony.

And his argument that Burma was "a milk cow of India" once it became profitable as a colony was very well put.

I still have a copy that I begged from the rector before I left Burma.

--When he became a top party cadre, Dr Shein talked a lot of Keynesian deficit financing, I guess in an attempt to justify the military government's deficit budgets.

(To be continued, I have to stop now for lack of time)-

but to jump to conclusions, I would classify myself as a pragmatist.

Most of my academic life has consisting in looking at the problems of central planning and I have lived in two command economies, Burma and Poland (before the opening)

and Prof. Herbert Levine a renowned expert on the USSR (and China) was one of my dissertation field examiners--

the Q he asked me, in 1993, was

"How can China learn from the experiences of the USSR"

and I had one week to answer this Q which was left for me in a sealed envelope.

As I had been expecting the reverse, "What can the USSR learn from China?"

I had to think quite a bit before I could write everything in longhand on paper.

(I must look for the xeroxes of my Field Exams)

All of this helped me in 2008--2009 when I was commissioned by the NCGUB (National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma or Exile Government
) to compile and write a 20 page paper (manifesto?) on how Burma should reform.

If the NCGUB website is still up, you can find it there by Googling.

Thank you, Sean Turnell, for the Qs.

Like all Qs. yours have also caused me to think more deeply what "I am all about."

Copyright Kyi May Kaung

No comments: