Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Donald J. Harris And His Daughter Kamala Harris

 Now the Democratic candidate for Vice President of the United States, a historic pick, no matter what one thinks of her, and I know quite a few people on the left and Dems more generally who are not fans of hers, although many observers think she may be the strongest VP candidate for Biden to beat Trump and Pence, and I am looking forward to her tearing current VP Pence to shreds in their debate.

Anyway, as I have noted a few times before here, I have come to realize how old I am because I know parents of people running for president, and one of those happens to be the father of the now-selected Dem VP nominee, Kamala Harris, who was running for prez before she strategically pulled out early back in January, now an obviously smart move (and I do think she is plenty smart, whatever else one thinks of her).  I have never met her, but I know her dad, Don Harris quite well, although I have not seen him for some time now.

I first met Don in 1968 when he arrived at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I was in my senior year as an undergrad. I took Development Economics from him, and he had a serious influence on my thinking.  He was the first faculty member I had encountered who took Marx seriously.  Like his friend Joan Robinson, he is not a Marxist, seeing too many problems with Marxian theory. But he took Marx seriously and had us read people who had Marxist perspectives on colonialism and imperialism and how these issues affected poorer less developed nations.

Later as a grad student there I would take Advanced Macroeconomic Theory from him, and he was even on my committee briefly before he left for Stanford in 1972, where he was on the faculty until retiring in 1998.  He is still alive, and I think 82 years old, or so.  He did a lot of advising the UN as well as the government of his home nation, Jamaica.

Two papers by him that I think are important are his 1973 "Capital, Distribution, and the Aggregate Production Function," in the American Economic Review. In this he provided an excellent perspective on the Cambridge controversies in the theory of capital, and with Amit Bhaduri, "The Complex Dynamics of the Simple Ricardian System," 1987, Quarterly Journal of Economics. Besides showing his links with the neo-Ricardian school of Sraffians, it showed how chaotic dynamics can arise from that model, something of considerable interest to me.

An unfortunate matter is that apparent the father and daughter are not on particularly good terms right now.  Some of this may reflect actual political differences, with him probably to the left of her.  But most seem to think that it mostly has to do with the apparently bad divorce between Kamala's parents, with her and her sister going with their mother, who was from Tamil Nadu in India.  BTW, Kamala's sister resembles their late mother, while in fact Kamala looks like Don.

More recently there was a contretemps over marijuana, which Kamala supports legalizing, even though she put pot smokers in jail back when she was DA in San Francisco, even though she has admitted having smoked pot herself.  In an event in New York she was asked about this and said "Of course I am for legalization, I am from Jamaica" or something like that.  This upset Don, who is proud of his family background in Jamaica, which is quite elite actually, with him a very proper person personally, despite his leftist politics.  I do hope they overcome their differences so he can stand up for her, especially given that her mother is no longer around to do so.

Barkley Rosser


PlayGames said...

Many Thanks for the shared this informative and interesting post with me.
I’m much pleased with your good work. you have good knowledge for article writing and this article is amazing. I am waiting for your next article…. Thank you so much
Airport Clash 3D
Orc Invasion

kevin quinn said...

Thanks, Barkley, for making this connection. Also, Kamala Harris majored in Economics and Politics at Howard. My heterodox alma mater, American University, has supplied several Professors and Instructors to Howard over the years -- though I don't know who she took courses with.

Speaking of heterodoxy, one of my teachers at AU, Jhn

kevin quinn said...

John Weeks, passed this week. He was an an inspiring lecturer with a wonderfully dry wit. RIP, John.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...


This is sort of going the other way, but Robert Blecker, an econ prof now at American University, had Don Harris as a major prof at Stanford.

kevin quinn said...

I'd forgotten that. AU was an interesting place when I was there. John Weeks, Robin Hahnel, John Willoughby all deeply influenced me. And, on what we called the "straight" side, Tom Dernburg and Robert Auerbach taught me monetary theory. Auerbach had been a cab-driver in Chicago who frequently had Milton Friedman for a fare. They talked about economics, Friedman urged Bob to study at Chicago, and so he did. I was his TA and dreaded it, since he had nothing good to say about the heterodox side of the department. But he was interesting and funny and I learned a lot from him.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Progressives Didn’t Want Harris for VP They’re Backing Her Anyway

NY Times - August 12

From the moment Bernie Sanders exited the presidential race in early April, many activists, organizers, progressive groups and elected officials had held out hope that Joseph R. Biden Jr. would elevate one of their ideological allies to the vice presidency — someone like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or Representative Karen Bass of California. Kamala Harris, an establishment-friendly senator from California and more of a moderate, was near the bottom of their list.

So when Mr. Biden announced on Tuesday that he had selected Ms. Harris to serve as his running mate, his choice reaffirmed what many progressives had long feared: that any potential Biden administration would govern as the former vice president had spent most of his career — firmly rooted in Democratic establishment politics. ...

Larry Cohen, the chairman of the Sanders-aligned group Our Revolution, described Ms. Harris as “extremely competent.”

“She’s not Warren or Bass in terms of her background, but I don’t think it makes sense for us to criticize the reality,” he said.

The public declarations of enthusiasm for Ms. Harris underscore how delicately progressives are approaching this moment, as they try to balance their demands for change with the understanding that Democrats across the spectrum must remain united behind Mr. Biden to defeat Mr. Trump. They are also negotiating another political reality: that Ms. Harris could be the party’s face of the future, and crossing her now will have political consequences that did not exist at the week’s outset. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(In other news...)

Israel and United Arab Emirates Strike Major Diplomatic Agreement

NY Times - August 13

President Trump announced that Israel and the United Arab Emirates will establish “full normalization of relations” and that in exchange Israel will forgo for now “declaring sovereignty” over disputed West Bank territory.

... and forgo for now plans to annex occupied West Bank territory in order to focus on improving its ties with the rest of the Arab world.

In a surprise statement issued by the White House, Mr. Trump said that Israel and the U.A.E. will sign a string of bilateral agreements on investment, tourism, security, technology, energy and other areas while moving to allow direct flights between their countries and set up reciprocal embassies in each other’s nation.

“As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” according to a statement released by the White House and described as a joint declaration of Israel, the U.A.E. and the United States.

Mr. Trump summoned reporters to the Oval Office and said that he had spoken with leaders of the two countries. “Things are happening that I can’t talk about” but they are amazing, he told the reporters. ...

kevin quinn said...

Fred: why are you filing up our comments sections with article dumps having no bearing on the topics??

Fred C. Dobbs said...

My latest went here because it wouldn't fit in another
area, more on topic, that actually *is* full apparently,
and this is important news.

The earlier one above is actually on topic, more or less.

ilsm said...

Thinking out loud.

Visa status of Ms. Harris' parents in 1964 is 'playable'!

Suppose the GOP has house...... in 2021.

Kara Whitaker said...

Please share as you read okay you may save a soul today, natural herbs
are really great, I was cured from HSV by a doctor called DR Okiti from West Africa, now I believe that natural herbs and roots has their own way of working, based on medical report I was told that HSV has no cure even when I saw a post about Dr Okiti how he cured many people with his herbal medicine I doubted it at first but just decided to give it a try because I was so desperately trying to get rid of my problems not knowing it was going to be the end of this deadly virus in my body, please if you have anyone with this same virus or diseases like this contact Dr Okiti via email drokitiherbalhome100gmail.com or whatsapp +234 705 067 0365. I'm a living testimony of his herbal medicine and don't forget to share as you read okay, please save a soul today.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...


Visa status of parents is completely irrelevant to the conditions for being an American citizen by "natural born" birth in the US. That is unequivocally clear, and there is no question she was born in Oakland.