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The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good Paperback – Feb 27 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
No one who attacks the humanitarian aid establishment is going to win any popularity contests, but, neither, it seems, is that establishment winning any contests with the people it is supposed to be helping. Easterly, an NYU economics professor and a former research economist at the World Bank, brazenly contends that the West has failed, and continues to fail, to enact its ill-formed, utopian aid plans because, like the colonialists of old, it assumes it knows what is best for everyone. Existing aid strategies, Easterly argues, provide neither accountability nor feedback. Without accountability for failures, he says, broken economic systems are never fixed. And without feedback from the poor who need the aid, no one in charge really understands exactly what trouble spots need fixing. True victories against poverty, he demonstrates, are most often achieved through indigenous, ground-level planning. Except in its early chapters, where Easterly builds his strategic platform atop a tower of statistical analyses, the book's wry, cynical prose is highly accessible. Readers will come away with a clear sense of how orthodox methods of poverty reduction do not help, and can sometimes worsen, poor economies. (Mar. 20)
Copyright Â© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* As the dictator of Haiti for decades, Papa Doc Duvalier had good reasons--tens of millions of them--to praise international aid agencies for their generosity. As a former analyst in the World Bank system that coordinates such generosity, Easterly thinks it is time to start listening to people other than corrupt dictators and self-congratulatory bureaucrats in assessing international-aid projects. Though he acknowledges that such projects have succeeded in some tasks--reducing infant mortality, for example--Easterly adduces sobering evidence that Western nations have accomplished depressingly little with the trillions they have spent on foreign aid. That evidence suggests that in some countries--including Haiti, Zaire, and Angola--foreign aid has actually intensified the suffering of the poor. By examining the tortured history of several aid initiatives, he shows how blind and arrogant Western aid officers have imposed on helpless clients a postmodern neocolonialism of political manipulation and economic dependency, stifling democracy and local enterprise in the process. Easterly forcefully argues that an ambitious new round of Western aid programs will help the suffering poor only if those who manage them wake up from the ideological fantasy of global omniscience and begin the difficult search for piecemeal local approaches, rigorously monitoring the results of every project. Proffering no blueprint for bringing poverty and disease to an end, Easterly does set the terms for a debate over how to give foreign aid a new start. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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