Arrogance and Aid


Jeffrey Sachs thinks we can end extreme poverty by shelling out $150 billion and giving the poor a "big push" to jumpstart economic development. In Sunday's Washington Post, William Easterly calls Sachs "the world's greatest economic reformer" and then rips into his plan:

What's the alternative? The piecemeal reform approach (which his book opposes) would humbly acknowledge that nobody can fully grasp the complexity of the political, social, technological, ecological and economic systems that underlie poverty. It would eschew the arrogance that "we" know exactly how to fix "them." It would shy away from the hubris of what he labels the "breathtaking opportunity" that "we" have to spread democracy, technology, prosperity and perpetual peace to the entire planet. Large-scale crash programs, especially by outsiders, often produce unintended consequences. The simple dreams at the top run afoul of insufficient knowledge of the complex realities at the bottom.

Daniel Drezner is respectfully skeptical, and Tyler Cowen compares "the end of poverty" to Dow 36,000.