Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Book Review: "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good" by William Easterly (2006)

This book by NYU economist William Easterly takes a look at last summer's "Make Poverty History" campaign and suggests that the problems with Third World hunger lie much deeper than anything that mere sloganeering can absolve. For Easterly, there are two major tragedies: first, the hunger itself, and second, the fact that bucketloads of cash have been dedicated to absolving poverty over the years, with barely visible results. He argues quite forcefully that the reason for this is because bureaucrats, donors, and aid agencies love grand plans rather than incremental projects which are less sexy but more modest in their goals. (Hmm ... measuring progress by intention rather than results... sound familiar?)

This book should be mandatory reading for anti-poverty activists and political science and sociology students who don't often hear an economists' point of view about what's really workable and what isn't. You'll likely agree with Easterly that a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to schemes like the kinds promoted by NGOs, the UN, and other bodies like them is a good thing. For a healthy dose of real-worldism, check this one out.

Overall rating: 8.5/10


Post a Comment

<< Home