Pundita’s response to Sach’s “Global War on Poverty”

Foreign-policy blogger Pundita graciously took
the time to summarize her perspective on Jeffrey Sach’s proposed solution to global poverty.

My basic query
was:

If I may summarize, it
sounds like your position is that poverty is primarily structural, so we need to
force or incentivize systemic change if we really want to cure poverty. That
would imply ground-level bottom-up assistance a la Sachs is better than top-down
projects that breed corruption, but since [the former] still rely on handouts
that would reinforce crippling paternalistic
stereotypes.

Her response was a
surgically-precise dissection of the causes and cures of the failure of modern development practices. Though
she may object to my terminology, it actually aligns well with my views on post-modern paternalism — where the focus is
on raising adults, not merely nurturing children. Some of her most salient
points
(
emphasis
mine):

What makes Sachs or
you assume that “ground level” projects don’t breed
corruption?…

Mr. Sachs
has a history… of taking a blitzkrieg approach to solving the problems of
people in poor countries. That approach pays no mind to the horrific
consequences that occur when one treats large numbers of people like game pieces
on a chess
board…

Sachs aside, it
is not by any one way that the world’s poorest nations got into their
predicament. Thus, it is not by any one way that they extricate themselves. To
help them do this takes a variety of approaches, administered on a case-by-case
basis, as I indicated in my “Africa who?”
essay…

However, there
is also a
pattern of
catastrophic
failures

…should
the developed countries continue to take a “paternalistic” approach? Or should
they take the position that no matter how poor an adult is, he’s still an adult
and thus he should act like
one?

Indeed, on the eve
of the Gleneagles G8 meeting, an African economist pleaded to the world’s
development nations, “For God’s sake, stop the aid to Africa!” I wouldn’t go
that far but his point is well taken. It’s gone beyond swallowing obvious lies.
In many cases we have been actively encouraging criminal and even fiendish
behavior…

Jeffrey
Sachs and the crew he represents are making a specious argument… implying that
there is a cause-and-effect connection between poverty and crime/terrorism…
That argument grossly insults human beings and it completely ignores character,
not to mention facts on the ground. Many if not most of the world’s poorest
refuse to engage in crime, or terrorist attacks on civilians, because they
believe it’s wrong. And most terrorism today is state-sponsored — a fact that
Kofi Annan and the lice he’s spent years covering for at the UN know very
well…

Thus, helping
the poor in a way that doesn’t line the pockets of thugs takes
great creativity and great
attention
to the projects.
Above all, it requires a demand for
accountability
that is backed up by punitive
measures…

…[ground-level
corruption] does not arise from poverty. It arises from no
confidence in the long
term
, which goes hand-in-hand
with living under governments that are run by thugs and riddled with corruption.

Also, before we tell
others how to clean up their show, we should first
get our own show in
order
. We can start by asking,
“What is the real aim of a US-sponsored aid program?” We need to make a sharp
distinction between trying to help a country solve their problems and trying to
help them fit into the WTO/globalized trade machine. Because the first is not
necessarily the second, when looking for
solutions…

My point is
that the best method of correcting others is by
setting an
example
, isn’t it
so?

This said, the US
government has started to wise up. But this unleashes a new set of problems. If
the crooks can’t flim-flam money out of USAID, they’ll just go weeping and
wailing to a government that would love to stick it to the USA and/or needs a
coveted natural resource…

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