A lite kick in the Sachs

What I've read from Jeffrey Sachs can be found if you root around in the following links and find a response he writes to a critique from the Washington Post, which is to say, very little. However I've found some stuff from Dan Drezner that has me curious. He, Drezner, starts a worthy discussion on Sachs' The End of Poverty and has a pretty fair (the impartial kind, not the mediocre kind) review of it in the NY Times. If anything it makes me want to pick up Sachs' book and plug away, it's just that now I believe I'll have some things to think about while I'm reading it.

Speaking of foreign policy-ish books I'd like to read, "The World is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman looks, and I use the word a little loosely, exciting. For a good review of this book check this from Slate, For an example of a writer wanking with his keyboard in search of a "good clip" see Matt Taibbi battle Friedman’s use of metaphors and completely refuse to engage with a single idea.

1 comment:

Joe said...

I finally finished the Sachs book, and I wanted to touch on a couple of things. Drezner's point that Sach's plan is nothing new, that it has been tried, is interesting. According to Sachs, the argument (made by Paul O'Neil, for instance), that the West has already given trillions of dollars in aid to africa is simply wrong. We simply haven't given very much money, and a great deal of the money that we have given has gone into administrative costs, consultant fees, some debt relief...in other words, not very much of the money has gone into actual development. He also contradicts Andrew's argument about the Marshall Plan, which ran about 1% GDP, while our development aid to Africa hasn't even been close to that. He also addresses the issue that we raised after the Tsunami disaster, i.e., the amount of money given by Americans to private charities. Including this amount only raised U.S. contribution levels from about .15% GNP to .18% GNP, not nearly enough to cover the gap between our contribution and our pledge of .7%.
Sachs addresses the corruption/authoritarianism issue more thoroughly in the latter part of the book (he even references the same Freedom House report that Andrew cited, as well as several other indeces of governance quality). Basically, his argument is that African countries are no more corrupt than other countries of comparable income level. He also argues that many of the relatively well-governed countries in Africa are poorer than decently governed countries elsewhere in the world. He further argues that although bad governance contributes to poverty, the causal chain is much stronger in the opposite direction, that is, poverty causes bad governance. Good governance requires money, for computing and accounting systems for instance.
0.7% of GNP for the next 10 or 20 years to end extreme poverty...sounds like a fair deal to me, even if he's only half right. Now, I have to figure out how I can help make it happen....