Sent: Friday, April 27, 2001 9:48 AM
...Frankly, if there are no significant complicating factors, black people in the US would say the index doesn't reflect them properly, and this looks like it's probably right.
...The mathematical workings of changes in the index for people of varying life lengths and incomes are in fact extremely complex, but all of them raise moral issues, like how you deal with the index ignoring children who die.
Even if I'm completely wrong on the index for some reason, I now know enough to ...suggest indices that logically improve on Sen's.
...some economists are studying issues that are not - logically - the ones they say they are answering.
On the poverty goal, that's really the easiest target, where other disciplines (physicists!, lawyers) can say that it has no known relationship to welfare overall, and some potential inverse relationship to survival, and so isn't something an ethical social scientist can ever consider. If you put it to the people who judge professional standards, and bring out the logical implications as ethical, not academic problems, they can't really say no in public. Unless I'm missing something here too....