The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good
From one of the world’s best-known development economists—an excoriating attack on the tragic hubris of the West’s efforts to improve the lot of the so-called developing world
In his previous book, The Elusive Quest for Growth, William Easterly criticized the utter ineffectiveness of Western organizations to mitigate global poverty, and he was promptly fired by his then-employer, the World Bank. The White Man’s Burden is his widely anticipated counterpunch—a brilliant and blistering indictment of the West’s economic policies for the world’s poor. Sometimes angry, sometimes irreverent, but always clear-eyed and rigorous, Easterly argues that we in the West need to face our own history of ineptitude and draw the proper conclusions, especially at a time when the question of our ability to transplant Western institutions has become one of the most pressing issues we face.
Good Intentions and the Road to Hell
By Izaak VanGaalen - June 19, 2006
William Easterly, a New York University economics professor who previously worked at the World Bank, divides the international development aid community into two groups: there are planners, who have grandiose large-scale utiopian plans for ending poverty, and there are searchers, who favor piecemeal interventions by finding things that actually work. Planners have good intentions but don't motivate anyone to carry out their plan or hold anyone responsible for getting results. Searchers, on the other hand, find out first what the poor need then try to meet the demand.
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... read more
Both some good points and some ranting
By Graham - January 2, 2007
Easterly's central theme is that the West is spending a fortune on foreign aid yet cheap simple things (bed nets for $4, malaria medicine at 20c a dose) don't get delivered to the poor. Increasing spending isn't the answer as it isn't lack of money that is causing these failures. Easterly lays the blame on high-level utopian planning that is far too disjoint from what the poor need.
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... read more
Rather than charity, teach Africa to create value and develop its wealth
By Peter Lorenzi - March 18, 2006
"Give a man a fish and he won't go hungry for a day." The western world has sent a lot of 'fish' to Africa, well-intentioned charity, food, foreign aid, clothing, supplies. But too much of those 'fish' have ended up rotting in warehouses, in the hands of government officials and not people who need the fish, or putting local fisherman out of business, when they can't compete with free fish distribution.
"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... read more