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The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Must Reading for Every American Classroom

At 50 fewer words than Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, I'd make these powerful facts from Jeffrey Sachs a memorization requirement for every student in America. These 235 words were issued by him on ABC's 'This Week,' Sunday, March 13, 2005: 'There are still about a...
At 50 fewer words than Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, I'd make these powerful facts from Jeffrey Sachs a memorization requirement for every student in America. These 235 words were issued by him on ABC's 'This Week,' Sunday, March 13, 2005: 'There are still about a billion people that are struggling for survival every day, extreme poverty that is so unrelenting that it means chronic hunger, it means disease, and it means early death. 'That kind of extreme poverty afflicts about one sixth of the planet. 'The amazing thing is that we live in an age of such scientific and technical know how, and in an age when prosperity is spread to so many places that we can really envision the end of extreme poverty within our generation by the year 2025. 'This can be done through the practical steps of helping the poorest of the poor to be empowered to grow more food, to be healthy, for the children to grow up with the proper education, and to have the basic means to be productive members of the world economy. 'The rich countries have said that they would give seven cents out of every $100 of their income, just that little amount, 0.7 percent, seven cents out of $100, to the poorest places on the planet to help them grow more food, have safe drinking water, have the children in school, be able to fight the diseases like AIDS, TB, and malaria. If we do that, we will succeed. 'We haven't done it yet. I think we will do it because it really is the bargain of the planet. It's the bargain of the century.'

posted by Anonymous on March 14, 2005

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Optimistic to the point of being simplistic

Way too optimistic, reviving outdated theories of the '50s and '60s (esp Rostow), forgetting all about the reality of evil, corruption, injustice, both of the rich and of (leaders of) the poor and forgetting almost all about participation, empowerment and advocacy, assu...
Way too optimistic, reviving outdated theories of the '50s and '60s (esp Rostow), forgetting all about the reality of evil, corruption, injustice, both of the rich and of (leaders of) the poor and forgetting almost all about participation, empowerment and advocacy, assuming that macro scale economics are the same at micro (village) scale. Just a small example: one of the main ideas in the book is: give villages a big push, so that they can start climbing the economic ladder. Increased economic activity leads to increased taxes which leads to increased public services, which helps increase economic activity. The first causal relation overlooks the fact that 80-90% (to sometimes 100%) of economic activities in African villages take place in the informal economy, where there are no official tax systems. The second causal relation overlooks (as said above) the fact of corruption. The example of Nigeria (enough income through oil exports, and corruption not mainly at the lower ranks but even at the very highest rank) shows that corruption is not a matter of need because of lack of money. The milleniumvillages approach is, as a friend of mine said 'thinking big inside the box'. I have not yet met people who have lived in an African village for an extended period of time (more than just a honeymoon time of 3 months) who believed Sachs' methods are workable. Is it a case of 'give it a try'? Well, you are working with people, impacting their mentality and worldview. It's not a business which if it goes bankrupt you just say 'I've tried, let's start another'. I agree though, with someone who said: Sachs is the best fundraiser of the age. he is performing well in that area.

posted by Anonymous on September 21, 2006

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  • Posted June 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Useful, if flawed, study of poverty

    Jeffrey Sachs is special adviser on the UN's Millennium Development Goals to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The Goals are to halve extreme poverty by 2015 and end it by 2025. Sachs points out that $27 billion a year could save eight million lives. Three million people die every year of malaria, which is preventable and treatable.

    He recounts his work in Bolivia, Poland, Russia, China, India and Africa. He notes, "today's development economics is like eighteenth century medicine."

    He attacks the IMF, writing, "The main IMF prescription has been budgetary belt tightening for patients much too poor to own belts." It still always says, "cut welfare spending, privatise, liberalise, pay your debts". In the 1990s, the IMF (and the EU) refused to reschedule Yugoslavia's debts, pushing it into chaos and war.

    The G7 hurt Russia by opposing support for the rouble, aid for the poorest, and debt cancellation. The G7 backed what Sachs calls 'the massive theft of state assets under the rubric of privatization', 'selling' $100 billion of Russia's oil, gas and other resources for just $1 billion.

    Sachs argues for the public sector to provide health services (particularly anti-malarial bed nets, vaccines, contraceptives, antiretroviral medicines and oral rehydration therapies), education, railways, water and sanitation, and for public controls to prevent overfishing, pollution, logging and deforestation.

    He argues strongly against privatisation and against 'social marketing', i.e. charging user fees for health, education, water and sanitation. He urges cancelling the debts of highly indebted poor countries and strengthening the UN.

    He observes that the world's nations could easily reach the Millennium Development Goals - if the rich countries paid the aid, 0.7 per cent of their GNP, that they have been promising for 35 years.

    So why are his good and humane policies not being applied? What stands in the way? The money is there. $3 trillion went on the Iraq war. $50 billion a year went on Bush's tax cuts for the USA's super-rich - more than enough to pay the US share of reaching the Goals. (Sachs, absurdly, writes, "the reason for this dramatic shift toward the rich is not really known.")

    He writes, "There is nothing in economic reasoning to justify letting the companies themselves set the rules of the game through lobbying, campaign financing, and dominance of government policies." No, but this is what they do: capitalist states act in capitalism's interests; economics is not separate from politics.

    We must face facts - the block on reaching the Goals is what another economist called the furies of private interest, the greed of the capitalist class. Sachs admits that opposition comes from 'the political bosses in the United States and Europe', but he ignores the opposition from the employing class.

    The fatal flaw in his programme is his belief that the Goals can be reached while living with capitalism. We will never reach the Goals, until we stop capitalism misruling us all.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Good book

    This is a very good book. I highly recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2008

    A Different Perspective Based on Depth

    This book does have some points that I disagree with but overall, it gives some specific insights into the complexities behind poverty. The traditional, 'one-approach-fits-all' approach to trying to help a country or region out of a negative financial cycle doesn't work. There are so many variables to an impoverished nation, that a clinical approach is required specific to that situation. Many books in this realm take a simple liberal approach such as 'the rich countries simply don't give enough' or 'poverty begets violence' and not the opposite in the latter case. Sachs does his honest best to be fair in my understanding of this book. Finally, his comments and assessment of the IMF are 'spot on'. The IMF, World Bank and UN are amongst the many organizations that need to reorganize and retool to be effective.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2005

    Hmmm

    This book is really two books in one - the first part, detailing the education and experience of a developmental economist, is a fascinating retelling of Sachs' experience advising the governments of Bolivia, Poland, etc. The second part, the argument in favor of ending poverty is fascinating and impassioned but at times wrong-headed, for example, in its excessive reliance upon the corrupt and discredited United Nations, gratuitous swipes at the Bush administration, etc. On balance, an important, interesting, impassioned but somewhat flawed book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The End of Poverty made me think

    We all know poverty is a problem, but for those of us who live in privileged societies, we often forget it about it, it doesn't hit close enough to home. We feel bad that poverty exists, but it is not necessarily our personal problem. Sachs challenges our complacency on so many levels that there's no way we can ignore reality. He hits us not only with compelling statistics but with real-world here and now solutions. Sachs posits that solving extreme poverty is not about creating lofty academic governance models but about investing in the basics - water, sanitation, disease control. And he shows us that the cost of doing so is not as daunting as we might think. If you're into reading about ways we can individually help povery and other social problems, you'll want to read this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2008

    School Project

    In Jeffrey Sach¿s bestseller The End of Poverty, he gives his own plans away about ending extreme poverty with a little bit of the world¿s help. He explains the economic situations the world, and what exactly we can all do to pitch in and help those who are less fortunate by far. The story actually starts off by comparing different countries economic status, from rich too poor, and then escalates into a source for information on Jeffrey¿s plan to achieve global satisfaction. In conclusion Jeffrey¿s plan would end extreme poverty worldwide by the year 2025. What I found most intriguing about the story is that most poor countries have received a lot more help than expected. Even though Sub-Saharan numbers of extreme poverty have doubled, the birth rate is very high. Most surprisingly, Eastern Asia had the biggest number of extreme poor in 1981 and has dropped from 800 million to less than 300 million, lower than the total of sub-Saharan numbers in 1981. From my perspectives, I have great hopes for the world to come and I think that Jeffrey¿s plan was well though and should make a break for the world¿s poverty. Who knows, maybe we can achieve contentment internationally sooner than we think.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2008

    Climbing the ladder of Economics

    This book takes you on a journey through the early developments of economic success and the current status of many of the impoverished nations. The various countries that Sachs focuses on and analyzes helps to create a visual understanding of his concept of the 'economic ladder'. While ending extreme poverty isn't the easiest idea to grasp, Sachs does offer various ideas and goals to help ensure this possibility. This book clearly shows a wide spectrum and demonstrates how an analysis of a particular economic problem is key to providing a solution to it. I highly recommend this book to all, whether it be someone who has a a small interest, or well informed economist.

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    Posted October 21, 2008

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    Posted July 24, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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