Overview of the book
The author of the book “The End of Poverty” is Jeffrey D. Sachs, a world renowned economics professor from Harvard University. He worked as the director of the United Nations Millennium Project between 2002 and 2006. He also worked as Special Advisor to the former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, on the millennium development goals, a position he still holds for the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. Sachs has worked in many developing countries for many years, thus, is well-qualified in interpreting global economic issues. Currently, Sachs serves as the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University (Reese).
In his book “The End of Poverty”, Sachs looks at the concern of dependency by developing nations, where they rely on mission-related institutes and churches. Sachs explains that two things that missionaries fail to understand well are poverty and the global economy. Consequently, he gives some insights that can assist donors and other parties in solving the issue of dependency. Additionally, he outlines strategies that developing countries can use to end poverty by the year 2025.
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Critical analysis of the book
The audiences in “The End of Poverty” are missionaries and other bodies that fund and provide support for poor countries in the objective to eradicate poverty. Sachs aims at showing the stakeholders the best plan that they can adopt in order to end poverty in the world by year 2025 (Yubus and Weber 21). He recognizes that missionaries and other organizations have made significant efforts in enhancing growth in the global economy. He makes this realistic through the different insights he gives to his audience.
Sachs shows the interest of initiating missionaries to end poverty in developing countries. Therefore, he gives several critical approaches that can help missionaries and organizations to handle the matter of dependency effectively. In the first insight, Sachs distinguishes three different levels of poverty. The first level is extreme poverty. According to his reflection, extreme poverty embodies one sixth of the total population of the world (1 billion people) who fight for survival on a daily basis (National Research Council 21). World Bank terms people living within the margins of extreme poverty as “living below a dollar per day” (Reese). The second level is moderate poverty, which strikes 1.5 billion people who are beyond the survival level; however, they still struggle for survival. The last level is relative poverty, which according to Sachs, embodies 2.5 billion people, who mostly live in metropolitan areas and have admittance to transportation, shelter, some schooling, and some food (Yubus and Weber 25). Latin America, Asia, and Africa are the areas with all the latter groups of people. The situation, however, is worse in sub-Saharan Africa compared to other areas.
The second insight that Sachs presents is that the global economy has altered over the years from 1980. He shows that half of the world’s population has experienced economic growth in the last 25 years with the level of extreme poverty falling in South and East Asia, but showing a sharp increase in sub-Saharan Africa (Sachs 13). Therefore, the same strategies that countries employed in earlier years cannot fit in the current situation. Affected groups must consider changes that have taken place over years in reaching strategies to end extreme poverty in the world.
Third insight shared is that Sachs believes that the core objective should be ending poverty by the year 2025 with the secondary objective being helping all the extremely poor states make economic development out of all types of poverty. This point reinforces the main goal of the book that the world can eradicate extreme poverty by 2025 through carefully planning for the development aid (Reese).
In the fourth insight, Sachs criticizes leading international institutions, mainly the World Bank and the International monetary Fund (IMF) that have tried to help dying and weak economies. Sachs is of the opinion that significant monetary institutions have only attempted to fulfill the interests of creditor institutions as opposed to the poor and, instead, aggravated the issue of world poverty (Reese). The creditors reap more benefits than the countries that get the aid. In addition, the owners of these credit banks that give loans to the developing countries are the representatives of the rich countries. The benefits of the whole process, therefore, go back to the developed countries. This has lead to an ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor countries. The author supports the development of “clinical economics” to help the extremely poor economies through identifying the problems of each economy. This is an idea that he experienced and understood since he has helped countries such as India, China, and Poland among others to get out of their economic problems. Sachs uses China as a good example to show how its economy has grown to one of the most powerful in the world.
The fifth insight strongly condemns the prioritization of military affairs in fighting global terrorism over economic development affairs. He explains that the U.S.A. spends a higher percentage of its GNP in fighting terrorism through its military operations than embarking on economic development in affected nations (Sachs 16). He shows that there are better ways of fighting terrorism such as understanding its causes rather than using the military attacks.
In his last insight, Sachs concentrates on sub-Saharan Africa where intense poverty is ever increasing. He devalues the argument that cites poor authority and corruption as the main causes of poverty in those countries. This is because issues like corruption have also hit some developed countries severely. Sachs stresses on illnesses such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, climate change, and ecological reasons as the main causes of high poverty in these countries. Although some of these factors are evident in some developed economies, the situation has gone beyond the control in the developing economies (Reese).
Sachs concurs with the view that other countries and organizations can aid all economies in growth because several have not shown commitment to high standards of responsibility and governance (Clarke and Feeny 25). He also observes that the aid that poor nations get is not enough. The rich countries only pretend to help the poor, while they also benefit from this aid. In addition, most of the aids that developing economies get come with conditions on projects to fund, however, some of these areas are not crucial.
Funding of poor economies
Sachs observes that funding of poor nations by the rich countries is crucial in eradicating poverty by 2025 (Sachs 21). He, however, observes that the appropriation of the funds will determine the growth that that those countries will achieve. As a result, Sachs identifies key investments that the money they get can fund. One of the key investment areas the author identifies is human capital in order to enhance wellbeing, nourishment, and expertise. Another investment area is business capital to advance technology in different spheres including agriculture and industry. Additionally, they should advance communications and transport by investing in infrastructure. The forth key investment area is natural capital to enhance the ecosystem and soils. Other areas within this investment framework include public, institutional resources to enhance the legal, government, and police systems (Clarke and Feeny 29). The last key investment according to Sachs should be information capital to enhance technological and scientific capability. All these key investment areas are responsible for the rise of the gap between rich and poor economies. However, the developed countries also have their own challenges, hence the situation is not perfect.
The Millennium Development Goals
Sachs observes the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the first step in eliminating excessive poverty. He says that the MDGs should solve some key problems in the poor nations such as large foreign debts that have hindered economic growth because the countries use all their money to repay loans (Reese). This is evident from the periods of imperialism and colonialism where some nations still remain indebted since these years. He also notes that developed nations and funding organizations should improve funding by increasing the global aid they raise from $65 billion as of 2002 to between $135 and $195 billion per year by 2015 (Sachs 27). He supports the view that 0.7% of the gross national product of the first world countries would be enough to eradicate extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. He relates this to the Marshall Plan that stakeholder initiated with an aimed of rebuilding Europe after the World War II with only 1 % of the country’s GNP and the outcome was exceptional (National Research Council 19). As a result, Sachs terms this as the best approach for the United States to end terrorism. There are also other scholars who have advocated for alternative ways of ending terrorism in the world rather than military expedition.
“The End of Poverty” provides realistic ideas in eradicating all forms of poverty in the world. It is an excellent book relevant to the broad historical and political context of Latin America and Africa. Such countries consist of poor economies with high foreign debts and other obstacles to economic growth. Rich countries can help poor economies eradicate poverty through proper funding. The book clearly shows that the world can work together through proper approaches to eliminate extreme poverty now. The rich nations and funding organizations can eradicate extreme poverty by 2025 through carefully planning for the aid.