Saturday, October 4

books: The End of Poverty and The White Man´s Burden

The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs
The White Man´s Burden by William Easterly

A big part of our curriculum in Ecuador has been learning about general international aid and international development -- reading about the United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF, etc. For reading, we split the group into two, and each group read chapters from either The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs or The White Man´s Burden by William Easterly -- many people ended up reading both. Both authors are esteemed economists who have worked directly in large international organizations, the World Bank and the UN, but each has come up with drastically different perspectives about how to address poverty in the future.

Sachs, who played a large role in creating the UN´s Millennium Development Goals, calls upon developed nations to collaborate with developing nations, giving increased percentages of GDP towards extreme poverty alleviation -- a comprehensive, collaborative international effort to eliminate extreme poverty (under $1.25 a day -- one sixth of the world population) by 2025. Easterly, who wrote his book as a direct response and critique of Sachs´, calls for the opposite, essentially grassroots initiatives to assess each community in need individually, rather than money coming from the top, where it may get lost in corrupt governments.

We simulated a debate between the two, and we ended up tackling the assumptions of each author. I enjoyed reading the two, and the contrast offered really interesting perspectives about big questions.

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