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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 – February 27, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Easterly has special contempt for aging rock stars such as Bono and Bob Geldof for soliciting money for large anti-poverty programs, but he gets apoplectic when he talks about Jeffrey Sachs' book "The End of Poverty" - which he gave a scathing review in the Washington Post. Easterly does not believe that ending poverty is a valid policy goal. He says its like mandating that a cow should win the Kentucky Derby. Anger brings out some strange analogies. Sachs represents everything that Easterly thinks is wrong with the development community.
To drive home the point, Easterly argues how "the West spent $2.3 trillion in foreign aid over the last five decades and still had not managed to get 12 cent medicines to children to prevent half of all malaria deaths. The West spent $2.3 trillion and still had not managed to get $4 bed nets to poor families. The West spent $2.3 trillion and still had not managed to get $3 to each new mother to prevent five million child deaths."
Easterly likes repeating the $2.3 trillion to emphasize how the West keeps spending and getting very meager results. Let me add one of my own: the US has incurred $2.Read more ›
He presents data that shows that economic success isn't tied to aid delivery and that aid programs have done very little to help the poor. But the West keeps applying the same broken formulas. Easterly asserts that what is needed isn't more money, but better spending.
Easterly argues that it is easy to dream up grand utopian plans, but these are typically focused on making the donors feel good and ignore the realities of actual local situations and needs. There is no feedback loop from the intended recipients, so money is easily lost or wasted. He argues that more aid should be driven by what he calls "Searchers" (bottom-up pragmatists) and much less by "Planners" (top-down bureaucrats). The West shouldn't seek to reform countries or economies wholesale. Rather it should work on delivering lots of piecemeal localized improvements that can be individually analyzed, evaluated, and either abandoned or refined.
He gives examples of the vast bureaucratic efforts spent on aid summits, planning frameworks and reports. These consume lots of energy in both the aid organizations and (worse) in the over-burdened target governments.Read more ›
"Teach a man to fish, but he won't go hungry again." Nice idea, but sometimes there aren't any fish in the sea, or the people don't live near water, or they end up overfishing the waters. Some western practices don't fit the climate or culture of Africa, so all the fishing instruction in the world won't solve the systemic problem.
"Teach a village to raise fish." Now we have something. A skill. A chance at economic development. Not for one person, for lots of persons. Something enduring. Africa needs help in learning to help itself. That doesn't mean that starving people should be ignored. It means that feeding them for a day, a month or a year does not solve the long-term problems of Africa. Worse, this charity leaves some people satisfied that they have done their share of social responsibility and leaves some people -- westerners and Africans --mad that fish are being given away.
Easterly shows that the first form of fish relief, however well-intentioned and executed, perhaps does more harm than good. And he knows that teaching fishing is sometimes not that helpful. But long-term, sustainable, wealth-creating, economic development works. Microenterprise, microfinance, granting people title to land that they can leverage into loans -- these are some of the tools that we can teach and that Africans can use. Yes, the west has done many, many things in Africa about which we can feel guilty, but charity is not the solution or the ablution.
Don't just give a person this book. Make sure he reads it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great experience with buyer. The book was in excellent condition. No complaints on that end.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I feel that this book was a worthy exploration of putting Foreign Aid into reasonable perspective. I have, for a long time, felt that such Aid was a waste of time and money. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
This is a wonderful book!
I always believed in "start small, start slow, and you end up fast, end up big".
Easterly clearly points it out.
Kudos to him!
I've been in development work for many years. Easterley's description of the macroeconomic issues is largely correct; but microeconomics and true 'development' are different from... Read morePublished 7 months ago by JDA4Him
I have not read the book, so this review is somewhat unfair. The publication date of 2006 means that Easterly was part of a group of people doing analysis on the development... Read morePublished 10 months ago by FarTraveler