by Jeffrey D. Sachs (Penguin Press, 2005)
To be born on the earth today is to be the subject of a giant craps shoot. If youÃ¯Â¿Å“re among the lucky small minority, youÃ¯Â¿Å“re born into a family as affluent as middle-class North Americans, Europeans, and Japanese. If youÃ¯Â¿Å“re less lucky, youÃ¯Â¿Å“re born into the global middle class, where life is harder, but where (at least under normal circumstances) your ability to survive is not in question.
But if you are unlucky enough to be born into the more than a billion people living in desperate poverty, your life is likely to be full of suffering, and needlessly short. Jeffrey D. Sachs would like to change that, by funding workable plans to raise every person on the planet out of life-threatening poverty. His ideas are controversial, and his approach resented by some, but if you want to understand the essential nature of global poverty in our times, you simply must read his book.
Ã¯Â¿Å“TodayÃ¯Â¿Å“s situation is a bit like the old Soviet workersÃ¯Â¿Å“ joke: Ã¯Â¿Å“We pretend to work, and you pretend to pay us!Ã¯Â¿Å“ Many poor countries today pretend to reform while rich countries pretend to help them, raising the cynicism to a pretty high level. Many low-income countries go through the motions of reform, doing little in practice and expecting even less in return. The aid agencies, on their part, focus on projects at a symbolic rather than national scale, just big enough to make good headlines.Ã¯Â¿Å“