Gunnar Myrdal, fully Karl Gunnar Myrdal

Myrdal, fully Karl Gunnar Myrdal

Swedish Economist, Sociologist and Politician, awarded Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

Author Quotes

It is good proof of Keynes? intuitive genius that he reaches practical results that in many respects are very much superior to his deficient statements of certain theoretical problems.

The big majority of Americans, who are comparatively well-off, have developed an ability to have enclaves of people living in the greatest misery almost without noticing them.

White prejudice and discrimination keep the Negro low in standards of living, health, education, manners and morals. This, in its turn, gives support to white prejudice. White prejudice and Negro standards thus mutually ?cause? each other.

As low wages and sub-standard labor conditions are most prevalent in the South, this danger is mainly restricted to Negro labor in that region. When the jobs are made better, the employer becomes less eager to hire Negroes, and white workers become more eager to take the jobs from the Negroes.

It Is in the Agricultural Sector That the Battle for Long- Term Economic Development Will Be Won or Lost.

The breakdown of discrimination in one part of the labor market facilitates a similar change in all other parts of it. The vicious circle can be reversed.

Compared with members of other nations of Western civilization, the ordinary American is a rationalistic being, and there are close relations between his moralism and his rationalism. Even romanticism, transcendentalism, and mysticism tend to be, in the American culture, rational, pragmatic and optimistic.

It is natural for the ordinary American when he sees something wrong to feel not only that there should be a law against it but, also that an organization should be formed to combat it.

The bright side is that the conquering of color caste in America is America's own innermost desire. This nation early laid down as the moral basis for its existence the principles of equality and liberty. However much Americans have dodged this conviction, they have refused to adjust their laws to their own license. Today, more than ever, they refuse to discuss systematizing their caste order to mutual advantage, apparently because they most seriously mean that caste is wrong and should not be given recognition. They stand warm heartedly against oppression in all the world. When they are reluctantly forced into war, they are compelled to justify their participation to their own conscience by insisting that they are fighting against aggression and for liberty and equality.

Correlations are not explanations and besides, they can be as spurious as the high correlation in Finland between foxes killed and divorces.

It is no accident that the Victorian age, the heyday of conventionalism, was the cultural bloom of economic liberalism.

The further away a scholarly opinion is from direct observation and the more abstract and ?theoretical? it is, the more defenseless it becomes against insidious opportunist errors of judgment. In economics, model thinking in particular creates scope for systematic biases... But of course all social studies must nevertheless aim at generalization. It is thus important to be able to think concretely at the same time, as I learnt from Gustav Cassel.

During the ?thirties the danger of being a marginal worker became increased by social legislation intended to improve conditions on the labor market. The dilemma, as viewed from the Negro angle is this: on the one hand, Negroes constitute a disproportionately large number of the workers in the nation who work under imperfect safety rules, in unclean and unhealthy shops, for long hours, and for sweatshop wages; on the other hand, it has largely been the availability of such jobs which has given Negroes any employment at all. As exploitative working conditions are gradually being abolished, this, of course, must benefit Negro workers most, as they have been exploited most?but only if they are allowed to keep their employment. But it has mainly been their willingness to accept low labor standards which has been their protection. When government steps in to regulate labor conditions and to enforce minimum standards, it takes away nearly all that is left of the old labor monopoly in the ?Negro jobs.?

Language, as we know, is full of illogicalities.

The Negro problem, like all other political problems, is fundamentally a moral issue. This is realism, not idealism. Those of my colleagues who believe that they are particularly 'hard boiled' because they overlook the fact that human beings are struggling for their consciences are simply unrealistic.

During the three decades of its existence, the effectiveness of the United Nations has, on the whole, tended to decrease, particularly in the field of peace and security and, more generally, all issues in which the developed countries feel they have important stakes.

Looking backward on a period which is finished, we are looking at actually realized returns, costs, etc., as those items are registered in the bookkeeping of business. In such an ex post calculation there is, as we will show later, an exact balance between the invested waiting and the value of gross investment [Phil: he appears to mean savings and investment]. Looking forward there is no such balance except under certain conditions which remain to be ascertained. In the ex ante calculus it is a question not of realized results but of anticipations, calculations, and plans driving the dynamic process forward. Had this distinction been kept in mind, much confusion about ?saving and investment? would have been avoided. There is in fact no contradiction at all between the statement of an exact bookkeeping balance ex post and the obvious inference that in a situation in which saving is increasing without a corresponding increase in investment, or perhaps with an adverse movement in investment, there must be a tendency ex ante to disparity.

The objective of an educational campaign is to minimize prejudice?or, at least, to bring the conflict between prejudice and ideals out into the open and to force the white citizen to take his choice

Education has in America's whole history been the major hope for improving the individual and society.

Of all the calamities that have struck the rural Negro people in the South in recent decades?soil erosion, the infiltration of white tenants into plantation areas, the ravages of the boll weevil, the southwestern shift in cotton cultivation?none has had such grave consequences, or threatens to have such lasting effect, as the combination of world agricultural trends and federal agricultural policies initiated during the thirties.

The only possible way of decreasing Negro population is by means of controlling fertility.

Education means an assimilation of white American culture. It decreases the dissimilarity of the Negroes from other Americans.

On the one hand, the negroes? plane of living is kept down by discrimination from the side of the whites while, on the other hand, the white?s reason for discrimination is partly dependant on the negroes? plane of living.

The ordinary American is the opposite of a cynic. He is on the average more of a believer and a defender of the faith in humanity than the rest of the Occidentals. It is a relatively important matter to him to be true to his own ideals and to carry them out in actual life.

For these anticipations determine the behavior of the economic subjects and consequently those changes in the whole price system which during a period actually occur as a result of the actions of individuals.

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Myrdal, fully Karl Gunnar Myrdal
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Swedish Economist, Sociologist and Politician, awarded Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences