Poverty Reading List

The End of Poverty book review

endofpovertyThe End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time

by Jeffrey Sachs

This book seeks to lay out the facts — both historical and present — on the state of global poverty and with concrete recommendations about how to move forward.

Here are a few facts:

  • world population — about 6.1 billion
  • extreme poor (< $1 income/day) — 1 billion — live at subsistence without core basics
  • poor ($1 – $2/day) — 1.5 billion — above subsistence (survival ok), but hard to meet ends meet
  • middle-income (few $1,000’s/year) — 2.5 billion — most live in cities, have housing and maybe indoor plumbing, children go to school, nutrition and clothing are adequate — but not like USA middle-class
  • high-income — 1 billion

He advocates two goals by 2025: (1) End extreme poverty; and (2) Enable all poor a place on the economic development ladder. He demonstrates how a modest 0.5% of GNP provided as as official development assistance (ODP) by the developed countries through 2015 would be adequate to achieve the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDG) which target reducing extreme poverty by 50% from 1990 levels. Since Sachs was one of the key contributors to MDG, he provides details into why these goals were chosen and how they can produce these (seemingly) dramatic results. He then declares a 2025 goal to extend MDG objectives for 10 more years at a decreasing % of rich country GDP investment level to finish off the task. Why a decreasing investment level? Because with fewer poor people, growing GNP in poor countries and continued growth of overall GDP in developed countries, the cost for ODP is simply lower.

One thing that stuck out to me is the lack of follow-through that the USA has had towards promised aid to developing nations. The US has publicly committed (signed multiple documents) that it will make “concrete efforts” to contribute 0.7% of GNP to ODA. Our current level is about 0.2%. We spend all told about $15B on aid per year (vs. $450B on military.) And of the $15B, more than half is on activities other than ODA (e.g. paying USA consultants.) For the USA to reach 0.7% of GNP as ODA here is what it would take … “With the U.S. per capita GNP rising by around 1.9% per year, the extra amount represents less than one third of a single year’s growth in GNP. So, if the U.S. were on track to reach a $40,000 disposable income by, say, January 1, 2010, it would instead reach the same income on May 1, 2010, one third of a year later.” (p. 304)

More blog postings based on this book and Sachs:

4 thoughts on “The End of Poverty book review

  1. The rest of the developed world considers the US to be outside the consensus, thus the consensus +1. But the numbers don’t reflect what the US provides in keeping stability in conflict regions so that economies can grow, and markets can function. Essentially, the $450b. is paying for America’s service, be it cop-like to some and war-like to others, that other developed nations like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, which are near or over the .7% of GNP, don’t have to provide. It’s like paying a security company to watch over your business’s premises. You will be happy to pay for them monthly. Controversial I know!


  2. Follow the pathogy with me:.Information Communication Infrastructure (ICI) –>Information Communication Technologies (ICT) –>Education –>Capacity Building –> Development –>More Capacity Building –> Sustainable Development..Kofi Annan said: While education unlocks the door to development, increasingly it is information technologies that can unlock the door to education..In other words: we know the answer. . . . . . We also know that 1 geostationary satellite can cover 1/3 of the globe. 3 satellites = the entire globe covered with wireless broadband..So, a 2-way mobile satellite service with alot of capacity is all that’s needed, right?.For example, find a $10B satellite project that can handle 100mn connections. CAPEX (capital expenditure) would be $100 per connection..Every Government that has signed the Monterey Consensus is obligated to pay up to 0.7% of its GDP towards ODA (Official Development Asistance). .How many ICI projects are on ODA budgets right now? .ZILCH..Governments are not serious about ICI deployment. In fact YOU are not serious, if you really think about it & are truthful..You are all just playing around the edges – thinking you are hot stuff. But really you are just trying to big note yourself – on a level you can handle — on a country-by-country basis. The world will need 192 heros like you simultaneously to rise up, invest $1-5B per country & still you heros will not have even made a dent in the digital divide – let alone deploy ICI at $100 per person! .Meanwhile 2015 comes long – 5 billion digital-poor still don’t have personal internet internet connections. .The UN MDG of Universal Education for 370 million children is now a DEAD DREAM..When will someone stand up & approach this globally?.That’s right. It’s about power & ego & money. Who will control the system? Not you. AND then you will be cynical IF such a project does exist – you would look for a way to cut it down, criticize it, mock it. If it’s not about you, then if you are truthful again, you don’t want someone else to be a hero – and succeed over & above your well meaning, measly drop in the ocean. .What if 100 million poor people access the internet – then THEY would have power. You TRUTHFULLY don’t want that, do you? You want to help THEM, to make you feel good. But unshackle them from poverty? No way. .Your government and every developing nation’s government DON’T want this to happen. They will TAX the heck out the system to operate in “their” country. It’s called landing rights- every governement is greedy & wants to CREATE new taxes, taxes, taxes. They are stupid & greedy: they eat the corn seed, instead of waiting to tax the harvest. .EVIDENCE? No government is looking for a global ICI solution – that provides cost effective 2-way mobile satellite service.


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