Evaluation of Jeffrey D. Sachs The End of Poverty - Book Report/Review Example

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Student Professor Class Date The End of Poverty? When ones sees a noted economist of the level of Jeffery Sachs write a book and humbly title it “The End Of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time” there can only be one of two reactions: wild enthusiasm or vainglorious contempt…
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Evaluation of Jeffrey D. Sachs The End of Poverty Book
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The End of Poverty? When ones sees a d economist of the level of Jeffery Sachs write a book and humbly it “The End Of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time” there can only be one of two reactions: wild enthusiasm or vainglorious contempt. Unfortunately, the book excited neither enthusiasm nor contempt. Upon reading Dr. Sachs rather ponderous book, all the argument and all the explanations finally recalled for us the words of a humble teacher from a place called Nazareth: “You will always have the poor with you.” (John 12:8) However, perhaps we give the doctor short shrift. The level of explanation was excellent and the level of detail resulted in an intense thankfulness of having been born in the United States in the Twentieth Century and not in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Sachs effectively destroyed every commonly held myth about corruption, culture and economic growth in Africa. “Yet however captivating these savannahs are, they pose innumerable and unique challenges for modern economic development: disease, drought, and distance from world markets, to name just three.” (Sachs 192) In his travels, Dr. Sachs made a number of observations. “I came to appreciate that isolation and lack of basic infrastructure are the prevailing conditions of most of rural Africa, and that rural Africa is where most Africans live.” (Sachs 193) The isolation, lack of resources, lack of infrastructure and the inability to “bootstrap” past these problems is the central issue holding Africa down. Add to that the problems with disease, be it malaria, AIDS, Hepatitis or any other tropical pathogen, Africa has it on an epidemic level. Dr. Sachs does an especially effective job in explaining in great detail just how bad the epidemics of Malaria and AIDS are, their effect on the populations, economies and governments as critical people are constantly being lost. It takes years to educate and train people in order for them to begin their jobs and then more years of learning on the job before they have mastered finance, governance, economics, production, marketing and all the other critical jobs that every economy needs. Africa is losing it’s intellectual capital at an alarming rate. Dr Sachs spent quite a bit of time writing about other areas of the world, such as India, Poland, Bolivia and Russia. For this review, we are comfortable to discuss what he had to say about Africa because it seems that if the problems were solved in Africa, then the tools are available to solve the problems of poverty anywhere in the world. Dr. Sachs rightly points out that the vast majority of the solutions are already available, proven and cheap. The problem is that when aid is bestowed, the amount that trickles down often only goes to stopgap measures such as food when the real need is to build infrastructure, treat disease and regenerate agricultural production. A tall order. Yes, it is certainly possible. However, from what we can see Dr. Sachs has badly miscalculated in his equation. We do not understand why senior members of policy-making groups in the G-8 countries are calling for a reduction in the world’s population, yet Dr. Sachs expects this same group of people to give money to help the poorest of the poor rebuild their lives and start breeding again. This is not cynicism, merely an observation of reality. For an example, the National Security Study Memorandum 200 of April 1974 provided a list of 13 countries targeted for population reduction through war and famine. (Kissinger) Even if the world’s richest countries wanted to help, they have their own troubles. For all the motivational energy focused on what is possible, the fact remains that western civilization is swimming in a sea of red ink. All of world’s developed nations have made extensive promises in terms of social welfare programs that they demonstrably cannot keep. We recall an old maxim of law: the debtor does not seek to make a gift. It is all well and good for an economist of Dr. Sachs stature to discuss giving away billions of dollars and comparing it to the hundreds of billions being spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem is that it doesn’t sell very well. Swarthy, greasy turbaned men plotting the death of decent Americans while muttering suitable Islamic phrases is easy to rend into a fast, slick media message. It uses fear to sell security. At the same time, it is difficult to appeal to the hearts of Americans who see homeless on the streets and families living in their cars. While the media is practically silent on the matter, more and more shanty-towns are appearing as people who have been foreclosed upon attempt to find shelter. A very difficult message to sell in the face of major pain in America. The rest of the world? We think it unlikely. Politicians find it difficult to explain giving away money to the poor in Africa when there are needs at home. Here in the United States, the call to help the poor in Africa is likely to get the people on the street to remember what Jesus said: “"For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.” (Mark 14:7). They might think about it for a few moments and say “Yeah, what He said! I’m starving, freezing, homeless and unemployed. Help ME before you give money to Africa.” In the final analysis, the book was enlightening and enthusiastic. It was also depressing in many places, but that is the nature of reading about disease and death. We believe Dr. Sach’s underlying altruistic thesis is possible, but highly unlikely, because in the end we believe the other guy was right when he said the poor are always going to be with us. Work Cited New American Standard Bible. The Lockman Foundation. 1995, Print. Kissinger, Henry. “National Security Study Memorandum 200” April, 1974. Web. 27 March 2011. Read More
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