on August 31, 2008
Easterly's book is a sensitive and penetrating look at the many moral, organizational and logical failures of western aid agencies. In the words of Jagdish Bhagwati, NGO's, government aid organizations and celebrities of the Live Aid vintage 'hide behind their halos'. The road to hell is paved on good intentions, and in some situations foreign aid has come pretty close to paving it (the examples in Easterly's book are numerous, and I will leave you to read them).
Easterly's research and examples are generally empirically driven, unlike the modern, highly theoretical trend in Economic analysis. I am not saying that he doesn't employ theory. He makes extensive use of Game Theory, and its extensions with the Principal/ Agent problem. This approach, combined with insights from other social sciences (another refreshing quality, as nowadays it is the trend for Economists to impose their methodologies on other disciplines, not to learn from them) allows him to find some compelling explanations for the lack of success aid agencies have had, due to 1930's style top down planning which the Bretton Woods institutions and the UN, not to mention modern neo-cons are caught in. The big difference between his theorizing and the common Economic theorist is he puts heavy emphases on true 'positive' scientific analysis, which is empirical falsification.
Easterly generally avoids getting caught in the Left/Right abyss that Galbreth and Friedman had in the last generation, and Sowell/Stilitz in this one. He does show some bias in his discussion of AIDS (he refused to acknowledge the Ugandans success with programs advocating monogamy), but aside from that it is hard to find much partisanship in his analysis. Hopefully more young economists will follow this lead.
My only other criticism of his book is his tendency to use Economeze intermittently. Friedman, a master of public writing wisely translated Economic jargon into English, which accounts for his widespread influence. Aside from that, I think that 'The White Man's Burden' is an excellent book, and a compelling read.
on December 26, 2006
This book sucks as well as the others in the market. The truth of the matter is that Western countries are actually sucking African bloods through charities, creating artificial civil wars in order to sell weapons in exchange for diamonds, occupying Africa by constructing accomodations! by deadly cheap labors! How come charities charge volunteers 2000$ to go and help on the one hand, and get annual support from government through citizens' tax and make 5-star hotels rather than helping Africans on the other hand!? Where is the money going? Isn't it going to the pocket of charity owner, advertising companies and media by making 20 minutes ads on TV?! Every minute of advertising costs a fortune and you can guess how it is afforded! How come no charity is allowed to be established from other countries than G8?! How come people are forced to convert to charistianity in order to get food supply!? How come civil war is intensified on a daily basis since westerners have gone there to help! I, as a phd candidate in Economics, find this book a garbage as well as the others. And this is sad as the writer is a professor of ecnomics! I am quite sure he has never been to Africa to see what is really going on, but I have. Those, either a political science or economics professor, who write like this can publish. However people like Howard Zinn who speaks truthfully are rare to find; he is not always pulished though! This is the "Freedom of Speech" and "Democracy"! By the way, there was a book called "the real poverty report" came out in 1971(which is no longer published) that told the truth and the scandal Canadian government was engaged in! Among the committee dealing with poverty problem in Canada, all were bribed(except 4 people) creating an untrue report to support what the givernment was doing! However, 4 of them started writing the truth which formed the book above. These days though, you would never see such books on the shelf as there is more "Democracy" and "Freedom of Speech" and less "Cencorship" in North America especially US!!! You can find the same root in recent worldwide wars and terrorism artificially created by US.