The End of Poverty by J. Sachs
Written in 2005, The End of Poverty discusses the issue of global poverty and explains how through well-developed aid programs and policies this problem can be resolved. The author of the book, Jeffrey Sachs, who is an experienced economist in the sphere of global problems, passionately encourages the governments of wealthy countries and generally the citizens of the world to overcome the economic instability in developing states by 2025. In this work, Jeffrey Sachs claims that this goal is reachable, and the people of the USA should be interested in making all the countries around the globe economically stable.
The book discusses the historic circumstances that caused contemporary economic disparity as well as develops answers and solutions to this problem. Since the author emphasizes that exactly the Western powers should help the poor states stabilize their economies, the book would be interesting not only to the representatives of developing countries, where the level of poverty is rather high, but also to Americans or Europeans. Additionally, although the work was written by the economist, the language and presentation of material is comprehensible, appealing and easy to understand. Sachs does not incorporate any difficult terminology or calculations; thus, the book would be useful not only to people who are involved in the field of economy, but also to common readers, who wish to expand their knowledge.
The author of the discussed publication, J. D. Sachs is a professor of economics, who supports and spreads the ideas of sustainable development. He is also a successful writer, who publishes his newspaper column, and the author of the best-selling books, which include Common Wealth, The Price of Civilization, and Building the New American Economy, as well as a variety of academic articles. Sachs was awarded the Blue Planet Prize in 2015; moreover, he was listed as one of the most influential leaders in the world and was called the most important economist by the Time Magazine. Throughout his professional life, Sachs worked as a senior UN advisor, but later he counseled a great number of government and state leaders on economic strategy in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Americas. Additionally, Sachs started cooperating with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to help spreading and realizing the concepts of sustainable development.
The End of Poverty is focused on the issues of economic instability of the impoverished countries, discusses the causes of high poverty rates in specific countries, and explains how the situation can and should be changed for the better. Since Sachs worked in the Columbia Earth Institute at Columbia University as its director, and had the great experience in working in less developed nations, he managed to notice direct interrelations between the instability of the state government, poverty, and the unfolding threat to the safety of the United States. The author stresses that every time a country becomes impoverished and the level of the education of its population decreases, the general public starts supporting radical concepts and praising the activities of the terrorist organizations (Sachs, 2005, p. 216). Thereby, Sachs concludes that it would be more efficient to provide the necessary support to the poor countries in order to allow them become self-sufficient and to reduce the threats from such nations rather than to resort to military actions against them.
In addition, Sachs confines considerable attention in his book to the problem of public education. He believes that it is a highly important and even critical factor, which ensures the successful development of any nation. According to the author, primary education is a basic necessity of every person in the world. For example, the great speed of the population growth is typical for the countries that encounter extreme poverty. Sachs demonstrates that in those states, where education programs that explained the principles of Planned Parenthood were presented together with the general establishment of health services, the issue of overpopulation has reduced dramatically (Sachs, 2005, p. 344). The author stresses that the territories of Africa should be the first on the list where educational programs are to be spread since the citizens of this region usually live in disconnected remote villages.
The author is convinced that it would be beneficial for such communities as the ones that exist in Africa to give the members of the village rudimentary education at a very low cost so that later these people could spread their knowledge to other individuals who live within their social group. For example, a person could be taught the basics of contemporary agricultural practices, while another one would be trained to providing basic health aid. Later these educated people would share their knowledge with others; thus, the general education level would increase. Moreover, such an approach of the targeted education would allow improving the standard of education on the nation-wide scale without involving great numbers of workers (Sachs, 2005, p. 256). Therefore, for Sachs, education is the tool of national progress and one of the keys to liberating countries from poverty.
Although the author aimed at discussing poverty on the global level, he is sure that the destitution and the needs of the single family mirror the penury of the entire state. Sachs develops five lessons of impoverishment on the basis of the medical approach to curing human body. Firstly, he argues that all situations of poverty just like human bodies are distinct and complex structures. Consequently, problems with one system may start a chain that would lead to troubles with other systems (Sachs, 2005, p. 75). Secondly, the complexity of the issue of poverty requires distinctions in diagnosis: sometimes it might seem that two penurious families of one country have similar needs, but without understanding the causes of these needs, the intervention might not bring the expected results. Next, the author believes that all interventions should be family interventions; thus, he encourages social services to analyze families as a whole, rather than examining separate individuals (Sachs, 2005, p. 77). Fourthly, it is important to monitor and study the process of treatment to reach the required outcomes since well-developed and carefully chosen interventions might cause unexpected side effects. Finally, Sachs stresses that all types of interventions should be performed by professionals because otherwise any intervention might greatly harm people instead of promoting the favorable change.
The impetus for the book was a desire of the author to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of contemporary assistance and aid policies developed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as to confine attention of the global public to the fact that all previous assistance programs failed to produce any positive results in the Eastern and the Third World states. The main aim of the work was to present evidence, which would prove that a significant shift in approaches to helping the developing countries should be made to eradicate poverty. In his book, the author offered a considerable number of solutions, which would contribute to a reduction of the level of global poverty. Another goal of the book was to provide constructive arguments to begin reforms in the sphere of economy and social aid, as well as to start the discussion about the methods of implementation of these reforms and the effects these changes might exert on the global community.
Sachs is not the only author concerned about the inability of the Western powers to offer appropriate assistance to the developing countries. Another influential American economist, W. R. Easterly also criticizes contemporary programs in his work The White Mans Burden. Like Sachs, he stresses that after more than $ 2.5 trillion dollars was wasted by the West to address the problem of global poverty, there is no evident progress in resolving this issue. Moreover, the author claims that after the interventions the situation in Africa and other regions became even worse (Easterly, 2006, p. 113). However, unlike Sachs, who advocates for changes in the existing policies, Easterly believes that the change in the entire approach to providing assistance should be made. He claims that today the officials should refuse from the inefficient planner's approach, which often involves overambitious programs along with arbitrary targets, and start using a constructive searchers approach, which is directed to small improvements (Easterly, 2006, p. 17). Easterly is convinced that only due to such a focused systematic process it would be possible to eradicate poverty on a global scale.
The information presented in The End of Poverty is logically structured and supported by strong evidence. The first strength of the work is that the author himself made numerous trips to distinct developing countries, and witnessed himself the conditions of the people there. Therefore, this provides for the foundation created on personal experience, which makes it more appealing to the readers. Secondly, since Sachs advised ministers and national leaders on their economic issues and challenged them to search new solutions, the recommendations he offers in this work sound convincing and credible. The next advantage is the accessible language with which Sachs outlines what should be done in the sphere of economy and financing to improve the condition of the poor nations and to stabilize the global economy. Finally, one more strong point of the book is its positive tone and enthusiastic belief that there is hope to resolve the issue of global poverty.
Although the book presents solid and sound arguments supported by a variety of facts and evidence, there are several weaknesses in Sachs's work. Firstly, the author is too concerned about the economic situation in other states such as India, Poland, China, or countries in Africa while neglecting the fact that the conditions of the US citizens are also not that positive. Although it is obvious that poverty in the developing states should not be compared to the situation in the USA, generally America should not have been excluded from Sachs list of countries with socio-economic issues. In the USA, there is a great number of people, who have no homes or access to food, while the citizens of inner cities face the same challenges as the people of the Third World do, namely the living environments are unsafe, access to health care is limited, and the schools are on the verge of destruction. Therefore, his argument would be more appealing to the residents of America if he acknowledged that there is poverty in the USA too.
Furthermore, the author criticizes the US government for spending great sums of money on military programs, as well as wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (Sachs, 2005, p. 360), but at the same time, he does not explain how to change this tendency. Moreover, he does not call for any cooperation of people, NGOs, or other social activists to develop the strategy to receive the required money for the public local and international needs. If certain initiatives or alliances were created, it would be possible to support both the destitute people and distinct social services in America and in the states with unstable economy. Finally, Sachs strongly criticizes the Bush administration, specifically its fundamentalist Christian part claiming that their belief that the rise of terrorism in the Middle East was the realization of the Biblical prophecy of upcoming Armageddon caused the lasting and economically damaging military actions (Sachs, 2005, p. 360). The author, on the contrary, should have appealed to Christian values such as compassion or generosity to evoke the desire to provide assistance to fellow men around the world. Therefore, this would allow people be more eager to unite and fight for improving socio-economic situation in the world.
In conclusion, The End of Poverty is the work that offers a comprehensive study and analysis of the international economic development, which stresses the significance of the role of wealthy states in this process. The book reminds the readers that all humans are connected; thus, it is important to help the residents of poor nations and to resolve the problem of economic inequality between the developed and developing countries. The work emphasizes that only the combination of a rational approach to economics with stabilization of population and sustainable development would contribute to terminating the global poverty and ensuring economic stability worldwide.
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