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David Apgar: The Trouble With Jeff Sachs

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Yves here. This post echoes some of the messages of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s article The Fourth Quadrant and our piece Management’s Great Addiction

By David Apgar, the co-founder of GoalScreen LLC, which has a free cell phone app in testing at www.goalscreen.com that helps you test what you think drives results in your job, fitness program, love life, investments, and upcoming sports events in order to determine which assumptions are helping you succeed and which ones are undermining you

Jeff Sachs has always been the most outspoken advocate of development aid so it would be out of character if he were not outspoken about becoming the head of the World Bank. But there has always been a lingering concern about his projects and his approach to development. And it sheds a lot of light on where development, economics, and politics are heading even if it’s the wrong concern.

The concern is that because Sachs is so sure he has identified the best places to apply development aid – and so outraged aid offered to date has failed to meet his standards even for obvious causes such as health – he brushes aside risks like corruption and mistakes in program design. Worse, he sometimes seems to accuse aid critics of bad faith. And yet there are cases like Ethiopia where government military offensives have indeed followed periods of drought that saw big increases in assistance – at the urging of Sachs, among others.

In his defense, however, corruption in Africa is probably nowhere as vicious, privileged, and pervasive as what he saw in post-Soviet Russia. In Russia, furthermore, Sachs was only tangentially involved with Jonathon Hay’s conflict-ridden Harvard Project. And aid critics in the US routinely level baseless accusations of corruption, most recently at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.

A deeper question for Sachs is whether impatience is really always a good thing in development. It’s a natural response, of course, when rich countries squabble about assistance levels in the middle of an acute famine in poor ones. Beyond the emergencies, however, impatience with the provision of funds for development is hard to separate from impatience with the often very slow process of learning about which interventions work. And his impatience puts Sachs in the company of the glassy-eyed optimists who have an enduring belief in the simplicity of development solutions.

The Millennium Development Goals, for which Sachs served as Special Advisor at the UN under Kofi Annan, represent a stark belief in the simplicity of development objectives if not solutions. The Goals focus on health, education, and poverty reduction. It is no coincidence that these are exactly the areas that allow statistical tests of effectiveness. You can jab a random sample of the kids coming into a clinic to see if they avoid tuberculosis but you cannot start dam construction near random villages up a river to see which ones supply the best labor.

Partly as a result, a cottage industry has sprung up, centered on MIT’s Jameel Poverty Action Lab, to test development effectiveness in the kinds of programs that admit randomized trials. Even as these trials shed light on health and education interventions, however, they are having the unintended effect of marginalizing the vast majority of programs that do not let you set aside a control group.

Money for metrics is the new mantra. On its own merits, it is a very powerful mantra. Monitoring and evaluation have transformed development assistance into a learning enterprise over the past ten years. And if formal impact evaluation is limited to health and education – well, those are not bad places to start. The trouble is the background assumption that everyone needs to measure the same thing. After all, that’s what statisticians do. It’s certainly what the Millennium Development Goals do.

And it’s true that indicators defined inconsistently across countries or aid projects can ruin an otherwise brilliant PhD dissertation. But what matters to a government trying to tackle endemic poverty or a region fighting a collapse in its water supply or a village with too many three-year-olds dying is just this – whether someone measures what people are doing about the problem with enough consistency to tell from results whether it works. Health and education programs that are amenable to control groups will benefit from faster learning. But learning does not stop in areas where control groups are impractical. It just slows down, as in much of the rest of life.

There is something that those governments, regions, villages, and aid organizations need to measure. They must measure outcomes of the most precisely described components and risk factors of the programs or strategies that they are pursuing. The more precise the strategy description, the more information actual outcomes will provide about whether and how it works. Just don’t expect those components and risk factors to mesh with other projects in other places attacking related problems.

In one sense, this cautionary note is not new. The Millennium Development Goals have drawn criticism precisely because their uniformity contrasts with the growing sense that every country has a separate path to development. The newer concern is the idea that you just cannot tell whether those paths are heading in the right direction unless you describe them precisely.

Precisely described strategies, however, are not widely shared. The challenge for brilliant, articulate development economists with an enduring belief in the simplicity of development solutions is not that simple solutions, be they free-market or statist, are inherently ineffective. The challenge is that solutions must be at least as complex as the problems they are to solve. And the simple problems have already been solved.

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49 comments

  1. polistra

    Well, you don’t really need precise description. You just need to do two things: (1) Observe what ALREADY WORKS in each situation, and do more of that. (2) Observe what DOESN’T WORK in each situation and do less of that.

    Amazingly, when you do what works, you’ll find out that it works.

    Economists are incapable of perceiving this obscure and unknown principle.

    1. Mel

      The Hell of Science is making sure that the thing that worked is the same thing that you think you observed. That’s what the double-blinding and randomized trials and all are about.

      Once that’s established, then they can do it your way.

      If they can’t afford to establish that, being short of time, or money, or both, then they pretty much have to do it your way and hope.

    2. Stelios Theoharidis

      The problem with the development industry in general, and it is an industry, is that it is often a lot of well-meaning urban upper class highly educated international individuals that are trying to provide a service-based approach to resolving the problems of populations that are characteristically the complete opposite of their background. It is full of consultants and technical specialists that privilege their western technical education and don’t believe that the poor could fundamentally do the same tasks themselves without a degree. When they actually do provide instruction it is based upon a western model that facilitates the movement of poor rural kids to urban areas because they aren’t adapting the educational system to the lives of the poor to give them skills to get them out of poverty. When they do provide projects the wealthier individuals in impoverished areas are in a much better place to take advantage of a new roadway, agricultural inputs, water resources, so it furthers social disparities concentrates wealth and pushes those worst off into increased marginalization.

      Your fundamental purpose in development is to work yourself out of a job. That isn’t done through providing a technical service to the poor, building a roadway, a damn, a well, healthcare, or whatever project. It is done through transfering your knowledge and skills to the poor and facilitating the iteration of that transfer so the poor can do all of these things themselves. The model I am suggesting is the barefoot college model. Where you provide training and help the poor become the agents in their own change, they become building engineers, solar engineers, water engineers, but without the pricey degrees. These people can then be used to train others in the same manner which is the iterative part.

      Savings and loan societies versus micro-finance is an easy example, the savings and loan societies teach poor women to save as groups and lend to each other, all the money goes back into the group, the microfinance institution provides a service at a high interest rate which ends up often predatory and returning the wealth to the institution and into the hands of the technical specialists that do the lending. One is top down and the other is bottom up.

      One caveat is that we have huge populations on the margins that are starving, in terrible health, aged, or otherwise that are going to need charitable care. We have to accept that someone in those straights may not be able to fully support themselves.

  2. jake chase

    The fundamental problem with development economics is the inherent conflict with the predatory canon which demands substantial futility in any program the purpose or effect of which is not aggressive accumulation by the already rich. Sachs and his pals did a truly impressive development job in Russia, which resulted in the ownership by seven or eight people of substantially all of that country’s wealth. I eagerly await his work in Africa.

    1. craazyman

      It’ll be one lunatic with a size 52 waist, 16 gold chains, wacky head-gear and a leopard skin robe. He may even be a cannibal.

      Sort of a roll-up/consolidation thing. There it’s real. Here it’s just the metaphor.

      It increases efficiency!

    2. liberal

      Correct. But I think it’s best to point out that the link throughout is economic rents.

    3. sgt_doom

      Sachs and his pals did a truly impressive development job in Russia, which resulted in the ownership by seven or eight people of substantially all of that country’s wealth.

      Darn! You beat me to it, Mr. Chase!

      Which is why, no matter how Sachs tries to politically reposition himself, just like Blinder at Princeton (or Marta Tienda at Princeton, for that matter), they are ALL a bunch of fraudsters who have caused much harm to the masses.

      1. Mark P.

        My impression has always been — haven’t gotten around to the research yet — that certain specific predators learned serious lessons during the financial stripping of Russia in the 1990s that they consciously then applied to homeland USA during the 2000s.

        1. Mark P.

          Indeed, for one example of this, see today’s Links and Mathbabe’s account of the doings of Larry Summers and his buddy Andy Schleifer in Russia (in the 1990s)and at Harvard/in the US during the 2000s. As Mathbabe comments, Summers should have gone to jail —

          http://mathbabe.org/2012/03/11/why-larry-summers-lost-the-presidency-of-harvard/

          Also for verification –

          http://www.institutionalinvestor.com/Article/1020662/How-Harvard-lost-Russia.html?ArticleId=1020662&single=true

          I wasn’t even in Russia during the 1990s and there are other specific individuals who crossed my radar from accounts I heard then and who thereafter continued their criminality stateside.

  3. Tyzão

    The main issue with regard to development research in Africa, is urbanization. Development Research has barely begun to scratch the surface with regard to how poverty reduction and an enabling environment can be promoted through sustainable, transformed cities. It has always been somewhat perplexing to me, that Development Research Economics has been so incredibly fixed on rural issues, when the actual foundations(Hans Singer) were borrowed from issues related to rebuilding the cities of Post WWII Europe. Of course all these people will need to be feed, but addressing infrastructure and social services issues first, promotes an enabling environment for poverty reduction.

  4. Ed

    If the peak oil crowd is correct, you really aren’t going to get much “development” in the future due to limits on the availability of cheap fossil fuels. The challenge will be managing the “regress” in already developed parts of the world so that things are tolerable for the generations that have to live through the process.

    So from this persepective, the entire premise of programs promoting development is problematic, though programs aiming at the most low hanging fruit, like improving sanitation, are often still good ideas. Note that if the climate change crowd is correct, developing more and more of the world is also probably not a good idea if the process involves more efficiently burning more carbon.

    Philosophically, getting to a late stage industrial society really did improve the quality of lives for ordinary people, so its natural to frame policy in terms of helping more societies get to that stage. But the development process is just one means, albeit a powerful means, towards the goal of better quality of life. There are alot of plausible environmental arguments that this process is becoming either not possible or not desirable.

    The fraud you get in alot of these efforts comes in a situation where even honest and thoughtful policies will usually turn out to be counterproductive.

    1. Tyzão

      I’m not sure I get your argument. Look at the West African Gas Pipeline. Natural Gas fired from oil rigs in the Niger delta were the largest single point source of CO2 emissions in the world. Now the Government of Ghana and Nigeria have built a pipe a few kms of shore of the Gulf of Guinea to fuel combined cycle natural gas turbines of Cape Three Points, with plans on to the east. The political unrest in Nigeria also underscores the movement towards west Africa to not only drill for oil, but also to refine it and distribute it. It is not something we do out of altruism to help countries move up the development ladder, it is something we must do out of obligation, because our economy wouldn’t be where it is today without these contributions. Also see the Lewis model (Sir Arthur Lewis).

      1. JamesW

        I believe that commenter’s argument, Tyzão, is that you exist within your own fantasy world, which bears zero resemblance to reality as we (sane people, that is) know it.

        You see, the reason that the World Bank has invested in dam building in China, while China builds dams in politically unviable places for the World Bank (where indigenous populations are forcibly relocated, etc.) is that the world is a nasty, fraud-based place.

        1. Tyzão

          You don’t get my argument at all, and your reply is rather useless to begin with — perhaps you could offer something more than tangential name calling in response, and then I could at least have some idea where to start in refuting you.

    2. Mark P.

      The Peak Oil crowd really don’t want to get their minds around the — admittedly disturbing — reality of the vast amounts of natural gas still waiting to be extracted/released. Not least from the methane clathrate under the now-melting polar caps.

      http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-03/acs-tb030909.php

      http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,547976,00.html

      http://newenergyandfuel.com/http:/newenergyandfuel/com/2009/03/26/more-natural-gas-than-ever-thought-possible/

      Before some Peaker trots out the fallback party line that natural gas is vastly difficult to transport and that running a nation’s transport fleet on liquid natural gas requires technological innovations that would be so vastly difficult as to be practically impossible in the time the world has, that’s rather implausible. There are already some 13 million LNG vehicles in the world. (Mostly in places like India, Brazil, Pakistan and such.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_gas_vehicle

    3. Dan B

      “If the peak oil crowd is correct, you really aren’t going to get much “development” in the future due to limits on the availability of cheap fossil fuels.” Good comments. However, there is no peak oil crowd if you mean a hive mentality on what to do about its hydra-like implications. Dennis Meadows, team leader of the Limits to Growth study, recently spoke on the 40th anniversary of the book’s release. He notes the many distortions and outright falsehoods published about the book, and how the rationalizations have changed over the decades. His main conclusion is that the refusal to deal with the reality of peak oil and other limits has placed modern society in overshoot. The master solution is to work to create resilient institutions because collapse -a reduction in social and technical complexity- is now unfolding. Growth, of course, is over. Most will not believe this until all other explanations are invalidated by obdurate reality. Still, it does not require a majority to bring forth fundamental change.

  5. issacread

    Tangential? No way. The take down of Russia and the name Jeffrey Sachs are inseparable. He was cheerleading in the front row.

  6. Heretic

    I believe that Wellbeing should be the goal of economic development/poverty reduction programs… Not economic growth or large scale industrialization. Wellbeing should be defined by the local culture, not the ‘industrialized west’. Many rural Africans have not been infected by the materialistic consumer virus that we in the west have, they are much more family oriented and community oriented than us. Perhap a definition of Wellbeing that better supports the life of small communities is much more appropriate than one envisioned by industrialization.

    1. Tyzão

      I mostly disagree with this idea. The vernacular is always present. Just look at the incredible diversity of local legal systems in the USA — in fact, this tower of babel we have constructed is a big part of our problem. In Africa, indigenous institutions tend to be more a part of the problem than part of the solution. As I have written here before, the price of modernity may be that many of these institutions need to be significantly reinvented or recreated. There is not one thing wrong with the more industrialized countries in the world attempting to assist the less industrialized ones, this is the Singer-Prebisch Thesis. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, in order to build a road in Africa. The same best engineering practices apply the same in Florida as they do in Ghana, whether we decide to drive on the left or right side of that road, that’s an entirely different question.

      1. JamesW

        “Just look at the incredible diversity of local legal systems in the USA..”

        Truly, you are either a trollbot, chatbot, or simply legally and certifiable nutso. That statement is completely ludicrous and you must be completely unfamiliar with American predatory jurisprudence.

        1. Tyzão

          Again, a useless response which amounts to nothing more than tangential name calling. If you look at any state in the United States of America, and the hundreds of subdivisions of those states, counties, as well as cities, you will find that each and everyone has its own legal vernacular with its own political interpretation. This becomes most evident when you get into land use law, where development regulations can be completely different even amongst neighboring subdivisions. Would you please offer something more useful in your replies, they are becoming very boring.

      2. Stephanie

        ” the price of modernity may be that many of these institutions need to be significantly reinvented or recreated”

        Though, perhaps ‘modernity’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You might consider that some indigenous institutions are ‘problematic’ because they don’t fit the mold for ‘modernity.’ Intransigence can also be the result of intentional resistance.

        WRT your comments on Africa’s rapid urbanization…that is an idea that is now cited as common knowledge, but this recent report suggests otherwise. Interestingly, it seems to be the engineered march towards modernity via neoliberal policies such as structural adjustment (not so different from Sach’s ‘shock therapy’) that stopped Africa in its tracks. I include the link to a discussion of the report, but the link to the report is there, as well. http://allafrica.com/stories/201202220932.html

        1. Tyzão

          Stefanie, you use incredibly hasty generalizations or are simply imbued by prejudice. If you look at the urbanization of west Africa as an example, it is completely evident that urban sprawl is occurring at rates faster than in any other point in time, than in any other place in the history of the world. Most of this “urbanization” is occuring without access to any services other than dirt roads and an electricity connection. No water, no sewer, no schools, no hospitals, etc…and who do you think is to blame for the conversion of hundreds if not thousands of square kilometers of agricultural lands to low density single family ranch style homes??? The Nana from Cape Coast (Fante) to the Nana to Kumasi (Asante). They use the customary land title system to “permit” the subdivision and construction of homes across the landscape without any type of building permitting, development controls or subdivision regulations. Similar types of methods are also used in Osu, where real estate values have been found to be similar to those in Los Angeles, but property taxes collected are essentially nothing, when all they need is simple land titling system, and a fair and open system of taxation. You really don’t understand how things work in Africa at all.

      3. Stephanie

        “The same best engineering practices apply the same in Florida as they do in Ghana.”

        But, ‘development’ (not growth) is iterative, not imposed.

        1. Tyzão

          Please tell me one place in any of my posts where anything was stating about “imposing” development. Your comments are obviously prejudicial and you have no understanding, or perhaps no reference point for beginning to either support of counter my arguments.

  7. Lambert Strether

    Drunks looking under the lamp-post; that’s the metrics fetish. Polistra’s quite right; it’s been a permathread of late that numbers can be helpful, but do not substitute for observation and judgment.

  8. Hugh

    Sachs is a reforming neoliberal. I don’t know whether it is this or just like virtually every economist out there, his ideas are something of a jumble. Personally I think it is a result of economists’ refusal to come to grips with the notion of kleptocracy.

    What does development really mean, if the mechanisms of development are seen as just opportunities for looting by both local and global elites? Perhaps this is why elite donor programs like to concentrate on easily quantifiable measures like TB shots or water wells because it provides excellent cover for looting elsewhere, precisely in the projects where quantitative measures do not apply.

    I think the comments about both urbanization and peak energy are important because they relate to what I call the PTER factors: population, technological level, environmental degradation, and resource depletion. As population and technological levels grow, environmental degradation and resource depletion increase as well.

    Population is both the most obvious factor and the one least talked about. But drawing from a post I wrote several months ago and based on Census data (the Census site has an international section with projections if you want to go there), population growth in Africa looks something like this:

    Africa as a whole had a population of 228 million in 1950, 1 billion today, and an estimated 2.27 billion in 2050.

    Regionally, East Africa had a population of 68 million in 1950, 337.4 million today, and an estimated 853.4 million in 2050.

    For Western Africa, the figures are a population of 64.3 million in 1950, 315.2 million today, and 742.4 million in 2050.

    Central Africa had a population of 28 million in 1950, 131.3 million today, and an estimated 271 million in 2050.

    This is a humanitarian emergency. So I can sympathize with Sachs’ impatience, but in a kleptocratic environment and given his personal history, I doubt his methods will even begin to address Africa’s, let alone the wider developing world’s, problems.

    1. Tyzão

      The urbanization of Sub-Saharan Africa is occurring more rapidly than in any other region in the world, at a historically unprecedented absolute rate of increase, within an institutional framework desperately lacking in resources.

      The corruption you refer to is far worse with the USA than most other development organizations. The Germans, Danes and Swedish have been far more successful, mostly because they are much more hands on, and are generally in town for the long haul. Two week visits at 300 pops a night in the Novotel, just isn’t going to hack it. Business is done face to face, and day to day, any other type of effort isn’t sincere. I haven’t seen many Americans with the mind or stomach for this type of investment.

    2. Tyzão

      and to add one more comment — Africa is not a kleptocracy in its entirety, some Ministries are in fact still very corrupt, but others are very modern, reform minded and understand the consequences of bribes and corruption. Likewise with customary or indigenous institutions, some tribes are still very corrupt, while others are very modern and forward thinking (the Asante in Kumasi come to mind, they are in the process of surveying and recording all of the Asante region). Again, it takes face to face, hands on interaction to make these things work. It also helps if you start speaking some Twi, Swahili or whatever the local language in town may be. Liking ugali, fufu, banku etc…also dosen’t hurt.

      1. Hugh

        I am thinking about kleptocracy as a deeper kind of systemic political, economic, indeed elite class corruption. You could say the same about the many employees of the US government that they are not corrupt but the US government still remains overwhelmingly kleptocratic in what it does.

        1. Tyzão

          Which is exactly the reason why American businesses should have criminal charges brought against them, by the United States Federal Government, when they engage in bribing African officials. Just because an American citizen is not physically located within the boundaries of the United States of America, does not mean that person is not required to abide by our laws.

    3. JamesW

      “Sachs is a reforming neoliberal.”

      Completely disagree, he’s a neocon simply repositioning himself after the complete amoral travesty he was culpable in Russia. And if you’ve followed all his articles and speeches, he’s still just another apologist for Wall Street.

      The problem with American economists is that most of them are completely on the payroll, just take a close look at the members’ list of the Bretton Woods Committee”

      http://www.brettonwoods.org/members/

      Well, surprise, surprise there’s old Sachs himself.

      And what’s the Bretton Woods Committee? One of the top five influence peddlers (all with international membership of course) and the premier lobbyist group for the international ultra-rich.

      (And they have shared the same fax number and D.C. business address with the Group of 30 since their inception. G30 is the outfit of international financiers and central bank reps, founded by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1978.)

      And should you wonder about the other four top influence peddlers: Group of Thirty, Peterson Institute, Trilateral Commission, and Council on Foreign Relations.

      And the problem with American economists is also that the top three are: Prof. Michael Hudson, Prof. David Graeber and Prof. Joseph Tainter (and if you don’t recognize the last two it’s because they are anthropologists — which may be the problem!).

      Full BWC members listing:

      http://www.brettonwoods.org/members/

      http://www.brettonwoods.org/members/index.php/3/International_Council_Forum

    1. JTFaraday

      I like Doug Henwood, and it does seem to be the case that there isn’t much crossover between the longstanding critics of capitalism on the web and the new critics of neoliberalism that have emerged in the blogosphere.

      Perhaps it is, in part, a technology thing. If Henwood changed LBO-talk, the email list, into a blog site, it would make his work and his longtime followers more visible to the new crowd.

      I sometimes pop over to the lbo-talk archives “to see what the marxists have to say” about this or that, but it’s not something I do regularly. It’s not all that hospitable, technically speaking, in comparison to the blog format.

      More crosstalk would probably be good. It would be interesting to know what they thought about MMT, for example.

    1. Lambert Strether

      See debunking comments here on the writing style and odd similarity to other past material.

      I defer, of course, to Yves, but I’d want to be crystal clear on the provenance before spreading what would well turn out to be disinformation. Say what one will about Mr. Smith’s dedication to ping pong, we know he is Mr. Smith.

  9. Sissy Smith

    Forgot to add to my post…Yves here is part of the letter from the anonymous person:

    Hello, I am a current JPMorgan Chase employee. This is an open letter to all commissioners and regulators. I am emailing you today b/c I know of insider information that will be damning at best for JPMorgan Chase. I have decided to play the role of whistleblower b/c I no longer have faith and belief that what we are doing for society is bringing value to people. I am now under the opinion that we are actually putting hard working Americans unaware of what lays ahead at extreme market risk. This risk is unnecessary and will lead to wide-scale market collapse if not handled properly. With the release of Mr. Smith’s open letter to Goldman, I too would like to set the record straight for JPM as well. I have seen the disruptive behavior of superiors and no longer can say that I look up to employees at the ED/MD level here at JPM. Their smug exuberance and arrogance permeates the air just as pungently as rotting vegetables. They all know too well of the backdoor crony connections they share intimately with elected officials and with other institutions. It is apparent in everything they do, from the meager attempts to manipulate LIBOR, therefore controlling how almost all derivatives are priced to the inherit and fraudulent commodities manipulation. They too may have one day stood for something in the past in the client-employee relationship. Does anyone in today’s market really care about the protection of their client? From the ruthless and scandalous treatment of MF Global client asset funds to the excessive bonuses paid by companies with burgeoning liabilities. Yes, we at JPMorgan that are in the know are fearful of a cascading credit event being triggered in Greece as they have hidden derivatives in excess of $1 Trillion USD. We at JPMorgan own enough of these through counterparty risk and outright prop trading that our entire IB EDG space could be annihilated within a few short days. The last ten years has been market by inflexion point after inflexion point with the most notable coming in 2008 after the acquisition of Bear. It is rather surprising that what should be well known liabilities on our balance sheet have not erupted into wider scale scrutinization. I call all honest and courageous JPMorgan employees.

    1. Lambert Strether

      “b/c”? Misuse of “meager”? “inherit” for “inherent”? “market by” for “marked by”? “scrutinization”? If indeed the writer is “in the know,” what they know didn’t — unlike the real fraudsters — require credentialling from the Ivy League.

      The high probability is that this is a hoax, and if I were the webmaster at CFTC I too would have taken it down. Any truth in the letter would not be a barrier to it being mis- or disinformation; the technique used in the famous “serifs” scandal about George Bush’s to-this-day unproven National Guard service provides an example: True information was embedded in fake documents provided to Dan Rather. Rather accepted them at face value, and then the trap was sprung, (a) taking down Rather, gratifying conservatives and, more importantly from the standpoint of Bush’s elite faction (b) discrediting the true information as well. This letter could very well be something of that kind.

      UPDATE See ‘I write you in the finest green ink…

  10. CB

    The Fourth Quadrant is a terrific article. No mathematician here, but the ideas are fascinating and the math isn’t too steep.

  11. liberal

    Yawn. Henry George had it all figured out over a century ago. Why are we still debating this?

    1. JamesW

      Because only you and I have read George’s Wealth and Poverty and how many have even heard of Thorstein Veblen?????

      And truly, as one commenter mentioned here awhile back, we are living in Thorstein Veblen times.

  12. MonkeyMuffins

    absurd rubbish.

    but i would expect nothing else but rubbish from someone like David Apgar, who thinks “free apps” like GoalScreen are substantive, meaningful, worthwhile, necessary or helpful on a finite planet ruled by the diminishing returns of capitalism (“unenlightened self interest” or no — as Orwell shrewdly observed, “Fascism after all is only a development of capitalism”).

    Vandana Shiva, on the other hand, has already debunked the bullshit that is Jeffrey Sachs and his odious ilk in a 2005 article titled, “Two myths that keep the world poor”:

    “From rock singer Bob Geldof to UK politician Gordon Brown, the world suddenly seems to be full of high-profile people with their own plans to end poverty. Jeffrey Sachs, however, is not a simply a do-gooder but one of the world’s leading economists, head of the Earth Institute and in charge of a UN panel set up to promote rapid development. So when he launched his book The End of Poverty, people everywhere took notice. Time magazine even made it into a cover story.

    “But, there is a problem with Sachs’ how-to-end poverty prescriptions. He simply doesn’t understand where poverty comes from. He seems to view it as the original sin. ‘A few generations ago, almost everybody was poor,’ he writes, then adding: ‘The Industrial Revolution led to new riches, but much of the world was left far behind.’

    “This is a totally false history of poverty. The poor are not those who have been ‘left behind’; they are the ones who have been robbed.”
    - http://odewire.com/60038/two-myths-that-keep-the-world-poor.html

    naked capitalism is fascism.

    and this simple problem has yet to be solved let alone recognized.

    Yves isn’t about truth, she’s about amerikan propaganda and protecting her criminal-way-of-life.

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