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“THE END OF POVERTY”
Reviewed byNgelima Chisanga
University of Lusaka
Is it really feasible that extreme poverty can end after a long stretch of history with failed efforts and strategies? Why now the end of extreme poverty? What has changed to call for the end of extreme poverty in our time? But encountering development economist in the name of Jeffrey Sachs, an eminent and renowned economist, a man behind a passionate and optimistic view that global extreme poverty can end in our lifetime, to be exact 2025.
This is a book a serious development scholar, practitioner and student should shelf, for it explores theoretical as well as pragmatic solutions in the quest to end extreme poverty and enhance a development that puts a human person at the center.
It is a well-researched book; experience backed with massive empirical and pragmatic data-data inspired by legitimate academic discourses, global and national policy documents. It is a book for reads! It is a book that endeavours to explore the opportunities as well as challenges of the developing world; Latin America, Asia, East Europe and Africa. It is a book that can be read by all classes simply because of its economic jargon made simple and captivating quality.
Not only is extreme poverty reported in Harvard journals, but extreme poverty encountered in villages of Africa and slums of Asia. Sachs, a man that does not only speak from an economic perspective but attaches a human face that makes him to appreciate that economic development is beyond classroom economics. The book brings out a real human situation told so simple, vivid and with humility yet profound. It is a book that provokes one’s emotion to do something for the neighbour.
Sachs in his book thinks it’s not right to have people die in masses with diseases that are preventable and treatable; people die of hunger in the world of plenty. It’s such that provokes him to elaborate in the book that it is possible to end extreme poverty only if right choices are implored-choices that create a much human world inspired by authentic respect for the human person.
He purely thinks poverty can end and he is very optimistic about it. He is a damn optimistic development economist who thinks that even in hopeless circumstances the right equation can be found in so far as right strategies and investments are implored. His passion to see poverty end is not just a fantasy but it is much more as depicted in one of his lines expressed in the book, “ I am not predicting what will happen, only explain what can happen”. What a humble scholar he is, who does not claim absoluteness. However, he is not naïve to think it’s going be easy, but not impossible and Bono, the man behind the foreword of this book aptly says, “It’s a challenge that’s hard to ignore”. Indeed it’s a challenge that’s arduous.
The book makes fascinating notes when the author goes outside the box of the traditional economics as he postulates what he calls Clinical Economics; an economic development approach that born from a medical diagnosis of human persons. This is an approach that appreciates the helical nature of economic development in the field of development economics. He elaborates the analogy by appreciating that treating a symptom is not sufficient though necessary because the same symptom can be as a result of different ailments. To enjoy the Jeff’s clinical economics reading the entire chapter will do justice.
Amidst extreme poverty in developing countries, Sachs is skeptical that poor countries will ever come out of extreme poverty unless they are helped by rich nations. He is indeed an optimist who I think, deliberately ignores that it is possible for the rich to refuse to help the poor. Assume the rich do not help; will the poor remain poor?
Having such an approach will limit other avenues in which a country a can come out of the shackles of extremes poverty. Are poor countries devoid of resources which could be their competitive advantage and earn them a way out of
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Sachs argues that the world's rich countries should double-down on the last 60 years' generally failed approach to aid and development. Noteworthy points:
- There is not example in his book of a single country that has been lifted out of poverty becasue aid broke the "poverty trap" of its people. Given that the existence of a poverty trap and the ability of aid to break poverty traps are the two primary theses of the book, it is a fail.
- The examples Sachs gives about the potential for aid to spark economic growth are only theoretical. For instance, he tries to make the point about how a small investment can have a very large return with the example of a road with half of the road paved and half impassable due to missing bridges or washed out sections. Repairing the impassable sections would double the length of road, but would much more than double the output from the road. “This is an example of a threshold effect, in which the capital stock becomes useful only when it meets a minimum standard.” (p. 250) But he doesn't talk about a real road that was really repaired and was really used by people to improve a real economy. After more than a trillion (with a T) dollars of aid poured into Africa, one should expect to be tripping over those examples (even if they were cherry-picked). But those examples are scarce because what Sachs proposes does not work. In fact, it may even cause more harm than good by propping up bad regimes...
Even though I think Sachs is a utopian with a completely flawed plan, I owuld have rated his book much higher than 2 stars if he had made an effective defense of his point of view. But he didn't. He gets 2 stars (as a gift) for writing in an insufferably arrogant and condescending style.
Do yourself a favor--if you want to truly understand what's going on with international aid, buy Easterly's "The White Man's Burden" or Moyo's "Dead Aid."
Marc in VA
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Yes, Sachs has done incredible work for the world's poor - but the book promises to be about the end of poverty, not a laundry list of his accomplishments. If I wanted to hear about his personal contributions and give him a pat on the back, I would have gone to one of his award ceremonies - but I wanted to learn about how people can contribute to the end of poverty in our world and, after reading Sachs' book, I'm still wondering
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My mother and I visited the fortified port of Valletta today. Aside from walking about in the centre of town, the group also took a boat cruise along the edge of the harbour, which divides into narrow sections like the fingers of two hands. Like Tallinn, Valletta has been subjected to a great many attacks and invasions, from different directions and in different periods. The ongoing strategic importance of a useful pair of islands in the middle of the Mediterranean is thereby demonstrated.
The city itself reminds me a great deal of the quieter parts of Rome. The streets are narrow and flanked by multi-story buildings with shuttered windows. Wild cats are numerous and fearless: sunning themselves and adding to the menace posed to Maltese birds by the many shooting clubs you can hear off in the countryside. The main cathedral is quite an unusual building, with a floor plan markedly different from that of any Christian church I can recall seeing, as well as a profusion of patterned wall sections composed of deep grooves cut in stone.
Today involved much less walking than the first day - a shortfall that it seems will be remedied tomorrow as we walk to and around the old capital of Rabat. I hope that the many photos I took over the course of the boat ride and wandering in Valletta will turn out well.
While I have been in Malta, I have been reading Jeffrey Sachs’ The End of Poverty. While it’s not the most well written book - his excess of exclamation marks is especially annoying - it is nonetheless one that strikes me as extremely important. The idea that we could eliminate the kind of extreme poverty that cuts people off from any chance of improving their lot and that of their children by 2025 is a profoundly inspiring and exciting one. It’s the kind of idea you really wish could take hold within the corridors of power and the hearts and minds of people in the developed world. It’s the kind of project that is enormously more important than any one life, or even the entire history of any one country. The imperative is to act as a collective in a way that humanity has never managed: to conjure the mechanisms by which bold ideas and conceptions of justice can be converted into reality out in the world. To be shown fairly convincingly that we have the power to end untold misery around the globe creates a real obligation to make good on that potential. It’s an effort that I hope to become a part of.
Review: The End of PovertyUser Review - Ohr - Goodreads
Good, if somewhat overly-simplistic (as ALL grand economic philosophies are doomed to be) prescription for eliminating the crushing burden of poverty in extremely poor countries. Aid should to be targeted and focused on health and education. Read full review
Review: The End of PovertyUser Review - Lizzie B-amissah - Goodreads
Overly simplistic and too focused on MDGs and getting money to poor countries. That is actually not the problem in Africa in particular... Needed real solutions and practical ways to maintain this organic growth from the grassroots. Read full review
Review: The End of PovertyUser Review - Hunter Marston - Goodreads
A very worthwhile read. A must for all concerned with global poverty or international development and trade. Read full review
Review: The End of PovertyUser Review - Laura Santoski - Goodreads
The entire first half of this book could have been cut or at least drastically shortened... it provides a little background information, but mostly it provides Jeffrey Sachs with an opportunity to ... Read full review
Review: The End of PovertyUser Review - Lee-Ellen - Goodreads
If everyone read this book, the historical evidence would be enough to move people into action. I've been both poor due to a job blowing up for everyone there, and I've been upper middle class as an ... Read full review
Review: The End of PovertyUser Review - Mk Tantum - Goodreads
Sachs, Columbia University's golden child and prized economist, writes yet another novel simplifying the problems of our global economy... We can end poverty using Sachs six easy steps....I don't know ... Read full review