Sachs' strategy to end poverty is a 'must-read': book shatters myths about why poor countries don't progress.
THE END OF POVERTY: ECONOMIC POSSIBILITIES FOR OUR TIMES
By Jeffrey D. Sachs
The Penguin Press, 396 pages, $27.95
KEN HACKETT and JOHN RIVERA
Anyone who would write a book called The End of Poverty is asking to become a target.
And Jeffrey Sachs Jeffrey David Sachs (born November 5, 1954, in Detroit, Michigan) is an American economist known for his work as an economic advisor to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Africa. , the Columbia University Columbia University, mainly in New York City; founded 1754 as King's College by grant of King George II; first college in New York City, fifth oldest in the United States; one of the eight Ivy League institutions. economist who has become the rock star of the international war on poverty, has plenty of arrows in his back.
Dr. Sachs, who counts an actual rock star, Bono, among his friends, and who was featured earlier this year on the cover of TIME magazine, has become the most articulate spokesman for the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals “MDG” redirects here. For other uses, see MDG (disambiguation).
The Millennium Development Goals are eight goals that 192 United Nations member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015. , an ambitious agenda that seeks to cut world poverty in half by 2015 and end extreme poverty (defined as those earning less than $1 a day) by 2025.
Dr. Sachs' basic premise is that much of the world that lives in extreme poverty--which includes much of subSaharan Africa--is caught in a "poverty trap poverty trap
the situation of being unable to raise one's living standard because any extra income would result in state benefits being reduced or withdrawn
Noun 1. ," inhibited by factors such as chronic disease, geographic isolation and environmental factors such as persistent drought that keep them from getting a hold on the ladder of economic development and growth. The problems of the world's poorest nations are difficult, but are solvable through practical and proven technologies.
A huge push with key investments in people and infrastructure will provide the tools necessary to break out of the poverty trap and start on the path of sustainable development.
Faster than you can say Pollyanna, the critics piled on. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times columnist David Brooks called Dr. Sachs a "materialist," who "dismisses or downplays those who believe that human factors like corruption, greed, institutions, governance, conflict and traditions have contributed importantly to Africa's suffering." In the pages of The Washington Post, William Easterly, an economics professor at New York University New York University, mainly in New York City; coeducational; chartered 1831, opened 1832 as the Univ. of the City of New York, renamed 1896. It comprises 13 schools and colleges, maintaining 4 main centers (including the Medical Center) in the city, as well as the , dismissed Dr. Sachs' proposal to end poverty as nothing more than a rehash re·hash
tr.v. re·hashed, re·hash·ing, re·hash·es
1. To bring forth again in another form without significant alteration: rehashing old ideas.
2. To discuss again. of the Big Plan that inspired foreign aid in the 1950s and '60s.
Whatever merits these critiques might have, they're missing the point. Dr. Sachs has done all of us who are concerned about poverty in our world a great service, on two levels. First, by shattering myths about why poor countries in places such as Africa have not experienced economic growth, and why the millions of dollars we have funneled into these countries have seemingly had little or no effect. And second, by hammering home a hard message about how we can and must address the suffering of the poorest of the poor.
Mr. Brooks says that Dr. Sachs "dismisses or downplays" the role that human factors like corruption, bad governance or conflict play in Africa's sufferings. Indeed, Dr. Sachs rejects the conventional arguments and explanations of both the political right and the left. While the right argues that the billions in foreign aid over the years have gone down the drain after being diverted by corrupt regimes, Dr. Sachs counters that well-governed countries in Africa--such as Ghana, Mall and Senegal--have failed to prosper, while corrupt regimes in Asia--such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Indonesia--have experienced rapid economic growth. And while the left argues that underdevelopment is the legacy of colonialism and postcolonial meddling by the West, Dr. Sachs points out that other countries with similar profiles have done much better--witness Vietnam.
As to why our aid so far has been seemingly ineffective, Dr. Sachs argues that we really haven't given that much--certainly not enough to bring about that critical mass that Africa needs to pull itself out of the poverty trap. Our approach to foreign aid, he says, is completely backward. As it works now, a poor country is told by the world's aid gatekeepers--the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank--how much aid it can expect to receive, and then is expected to design a poverty reduction plan that conforms to that figure.
The right and sensible approach, Dr. Sachs says, would be to figure out what a county really needs in foreign assistance, and then have the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank go out and raise it from the rich donor countries. We believe that the Millennium Challenge Account The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), run by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, is a bilateral development fund announced by the Bush administration in 2002 and created in January, 2004. , a new U.S. government international development program, is just such an approach. The Millennium Challenge Account awards aid to countries that demonstrate progress in achieving specific development goals that are defined by the cOuntries themselves.
To achieve the investment of infrastructure necessary to lift the 1.1 billion extremely poor people in the world to a level of sustenance, Dr. Sachs estimates that the rich nations of the world need to contribute between $135 billion and $195 billion per year for the next decade. That amounts to between 0.44 percent and 0.54 percent of the gross national income of the rich nations. Considering that these countries (including the United States) reaffirmed a pledge in the 2002 Monterrey Consensus to "make concrete efforts toward the goal of 0.7 percent of gross national income as official development assistance," Dr. Sachs' agenda doesn't seem so grandiose. (By the way, in 2004, U.S. foreign assistance amounted to 0.16 percent of gross national income).
We could quibble QUIBBLE. A slight difficulty raised without necessity or propriety; a cavil.
2. No justly eminent member of the bar will resort to a quibble in his argument. with Dr. Sachs' simple and clear-cut strategy for ending poverty by simply increasing inputs to people, communities and nations--that investments in infrastructure on a grand scale, such as roads and improved technology, and on a smaller scale, such as fertilizers and mosquito nets, will make poverty disappear. At Catholic Relief Services Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the official international relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic community. Founded in 1943 by the U.S. bishops, the agency provides assistance to 80 million people in 99 countries and territories in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the , through our 50-plus years of experience in Africa, we've learned that development is a lot more complicated. We are gradually shifting to much more of a knowledge/information/ empowerment/social mobilization focus as opposed to handouts of inputs. Hardware is still important, but you can't do it without the software--that part is actually much harder.
But all quibbling aside, Dr. Sachs' book is a positive force for the cause of development and a must-read for anyone interested in the subject. It is a call to action for all of us who feel called to make a preferential option to the poorest of the poor.
[Ken Hackett is the president and CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. of Catholic Relief Services, the international relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic community. He sits on the board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which oversees the Millennium Challenge Account. John Rivera, a former reporter with The Baltimore Sun, is a senior writer at Catholic Relief Services.]