Brian Doherty on Economists' Failures To Help the Poor



Brian Doherty reviews The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor by William Easterly. He writes that the author aims neither to blame nor to shame development economists for their discipline's original sin. But Easterly doesn't pull punches when it comes to telling their intellectual history. The bad ideas he chronicles are unsavory in both moral and scientific terms. They tend to treat migration of peoples away from the Third World as some unthinkable betrayal, a notion captured in the oft-repeated phrase brain drain. Instead of lamenting the loss, he says, economists should focus on the individuals who have chosen to better their circumstances through a process that helps protect rights while alleviating poverty.