Posted by: Bill | May 30, 2009

International Dev faceoff

I have three links for you below. All are short, I promise. The first is Jeffrey Sachs (unofficial spokesperson for pouring as much money as possible into international development) attacking Bill Easterly (previously mentioned here and here) and Dambisa Moyo (she is the author of a recent book criticizing the “aid establishment” if you will). The weakness of this “attack” does not really even need one to read the responses from Easterly and Moyo, but they are linked if you wish to review them.

I have read enough of Easterly’s work to know that Sach’s is grasping for anything to lash out with, but despite his efforts is merely wielding a plastic fork. I am looking forward to reading Moyo’s book. I find the passage below (from Sachs) downright offensive though (emphasis is mine).

Americans are predisposed to like the anti-aid message. They believe that the poor have only themselves (or perhaps their governments) to blame. They overestimate the actual aid from the US by around thirty times, so they imagine that vast sums are flowing to Africa that are then squandered. Many believe, typically in private, that by saving African children we would be creating a population explosion, so better to let the kids die now rather than grow up hungry. (I’m asked about this constantly, usually in whispers, after lectures). They don’t understand the most basic point of worldwide experience: when children survive rather than die in large numbers, households choose to have many fewer children, in fact more than compensating for the decline in child mortality. Africa’s high child mortality is ironically a core reason why Africa’s population is continuing to soar rather than stabilize as in other parts of the world.

Reading this made me angry. If we Americans are so incapable of compassion for the African continent but believe privately they should starve, how does Sachs know this? Is he basing it on what people whisper to him after lectures. Please, at least point me toward a bogus study to back up such an outrageous accusation!

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