Friday, April 28, 2006

Easterly vs. Sachs on global poverty

I started reading Jeffrey Sachs' new book The End of Poverty. The first 30 pages are excellent, but it starts getting arrogant and annoying quick. Substantively, I'm uncertain whether a big new development aid push will solve things.

Since I enthusiastically bum around course websites I'm not taking (bad habit, will stop real soon now), I was fortunate to run across an excellent debate between Sachs and William Easterly:

Easterly's view on Africa: The West Can't Take The Lead which has some amazing anecdotes about African educators and entrepreneurs. (Or, I think they're amazing only because I'm a condescending Westerner?)

Easterly reviews Sachs. Choice quote:

"Success in ending the poverty trap," Sachs writes, "will be much easier than it appears." Really? If it's so easy, why haven't five decades of effort gotten the job done? Sachs should redirect some of his outrage at the question of why the previous $2.3 trillion didn't reach the poor so that the next $2.3 trillion does. In fact, ending poverty is not easy at all. In those five decades, poverty researchers have learned a great deal about the complexity of toxic politics, bad history (including exploitative or inept colonialism), ethnic and regional conflicts, elites' manipulation of politics and institutions, official corruption, dysfunctional public services, malevolent police forces and armies, the difficulty of honoring contracts and property rights, unaccountable and excessively bureaucratic donors and many other issues.

and finally a debate in the Letters section! Oh what fun. And dreadfully important. I've got to read Easterly's The Elusive Quest for Growth next...

1 Comments:

At 2:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just awesome. Thanks for linking me. :)

I'll have to read Easterly's book too. I really liked his substantive criticisms of Sachs. And didn't much care for Sachs' silly whining in response. ;)

Jessica

 

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