This is the infamous memo of the Chief Economist at the World Bank , Larry Summers in 1991. He went on to be President Clinton’s Under Secretary to the Treasury and then President of Harvard.

“Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDC’s   (Less Developed Countries). I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage countries is impeccable and we should face up to that.”

 Comment: “The logic is impeccable in the sense that an inhabitant of, say, the US produces more income and consumes more products than the inhabitants of low waged countries. The potential loss of global income and productivity caused by ill health and / or death resulting from pollution is thus far greater in rich countries than in poor countries. The world is thus run by a simple rule: a person’s worth is measured by their capacity to contribute to the global economy. People have value as producers and consumers; since the poor produce little and consume less, they are worth less. What matters is profit not life. His statement thus exemplifies the idolatrous logic that rules the world.” (i)

Petrella, Ivan in Rowland, C, “Cambridge Companion to Liberation Theology” CUP (2007) p.280


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