Thursday, January 18, 2007

On the Same Team, Fighting One Another

I find it interesting that two individuals fighting for the same goal can be at such great odds with one another.

Take, for example, Jeffrey Sachs and William Easterly. Each has written a book about poverty. Each is highly opinionated. Each is an economist. And I believe each has a passion for ridding the world of poverty. But they're at odds with one another. Or at least Easterly is at odds with Sachs.

In Jeffrey Sachs' The End of Poverty, he basically says, "Everyone is a moron except me. Here's how we can eradicate global poverty. It's fairly simple. And we must do it!"

I haven't finished William Easterly's The White Man's Burden, but it was due back at the library a few days ago and I only made it half-way through the 400-page book. But what I get from Easterly's book is "Everyone is a moron, not least of all Jeffrey Sachs, even though he's a good guy and wants to save the world. But no one can have all of the answers on how to solve poverty, and Sachs is doing more harm than good. Rather than trying to fix everything centrally, we should be happy to work on decentralized projects in which smaller organizations have more accountability, information, expertise, and incentives to deliver on their promises. And rather than dropping aid money down a rat whole called corrupt governments, let's work through non-government agencies, which are more efficient and effective."

Regardless of how convincing certain of Easterly's arguments are, I'm disappointed that he singles Sachs out as being detrimental to the fight against poverty. I think Easterly honestly believes that. But infighting is counterproductive, in my opinion. Easterly could make many of the same points without taking pot shots. I haven't decided whether I'll try to check out the book to finish it, but I'm not disappointed that I read the first half. It at least made me consider a different viewpoint. We're all on the same team, and while we should attempt to work together, it's also good to have diverse perspectives.

Interestingly, I've seen some similar rifts occurring between ONE members in an online forum of which I'm a part. I was more than a little turned off by a post that basically suggested that "we do it my way or the highway." I was pleased to see that at least one other member made a public call for unity. Which makes sense, since after all the organization is called ONE.

No comments: