Thursday, May 19, 2005

stone soup

hmm, jeffrey sachs: economic prophet or "free-market evangelist"? self-aggrandizing Western charity or true redistribution of wealth? this guy, a harvard economist turned 'visionary,' is creating quite a stir with his book the end of poverty. as an anarchist (for today, anyway), i disagree with his macroeconomic paradigm (and could he sound any more arrogant?): "So it's a matter of helping them get started, whether to grow more food or to fight malaria or to handle recurring droughts. Then, once they're on the first rung of the ladder of development, they'll start climbing just like the rest of the world."

still, sachs' "ostensibly village-up rather than World Bank-down model" sounds like a viable option...if only there were no "up." and from what i can tell, he doesn't address domestic poverty at all. regardless, i think my friend lisa was right (as quoted in the first red milk): it's not that we don't have the know-how to solve the world's problems, it's that governments lack the political will to change.

read about the end of poverty on alternet.


Blogger Amy said...

I'm currently in taking a class at the center for faith and action that's reading "end of poverty," and you certainly have a point.
My biggest issue with the book is that he assumes growth is unlimited - that if we just have faith in the system, then all the economies can grow. However, what happens when new labor markets are exhausted, and there's no one to whom to pass on the menial jobs in industries like the textiles? The "bottom rung" has to be passed on to someone - that's the nature of an economic hierarchy - and eventually they're just going to run out of people to whom they can pass on the inherent wisdom of the market economy.
As a semi-Marxist (I agree with his analysis of capitalism but think he's too idealistic about what will come after it inevitably topples) I know that sachs is placing his trust for humanity in a system that is simply and fully unsustainable (that's the watch word of the moment, right?)
It's almost enough to make me an anarchist as well - but I'm not sure I'm ready to claim that label yet. Maybe as I continue my radicalization...

6:18 PM  

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