Reality and Rhetoric is the culmination of P. T. Bauer’s observations and reflections on Third World economies over a period of thirty years. He critically examines the central issues of market versus centrally planned economies, industrial development, official direct and multinational resource transfers to the Third World, immigration policy in the Third World, and economic methodology. In addition, he has written a fascinating account of recent papal doctrine on income inequality and redistribution in the Third World. The major themes that emerge are the importance of non-economic variables, particularly people’s aptitudes and mores, to economic growth; the unfortunate results of some current methods of economics; the subtle but important effects of the exchange economy on development; and the politicization of economic life in the Third World.
As in Bauer’s previous writings, this book is marked by elegant prose, apt examples, a broad economic-historical perspective, and the masterful use of informal reasoning.