The premise for the book is simple: to provide a blue-print for how we can eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2025. And what is amazing is that Sachs is indeed able to provide such a blue-print.
Will it be easy? No. But Sachs makes a strong case it won't be nearly as hard as most people think.
Sachs writes eloquently and persuasively about how developing world economies can stabilize and grow, and provides several case studies including Bolivia, Poland, India, China, and Kenya. He offers tremendous insight as to why African economies have failed to grow, and fingers geography, ecology, and diseases such as malaria and AIDS as some of the key culprits. Yet, geography is not destiny, and Sachs argues that investments in transportation infrastructures, in sustainable agriculture, health, and education could turn around failing African economies. Moreover, he argues that such investments can be easily financed if the developed world donates a mere .7% of it's GDP to the developing world. That's right, for less than a percent of our GDP, we can pull the entire world out of extreme poverty.
But for me, the most compelling part of the book was Sachs's discussion of the poor living near the railway tracks in Bombay. As Sachs talks about the danger these people face, and the need to empower the people, my mind kept drifting back to those poor children playing cricket near the tracks.
These children are not an abstraction for me, but are viscerally imprinted on my mind. When Sachs writes that we can't afford NOT to help the developing world, I can't help nodding my head.
Now for the warning. The End of Poverty is definitely not Light Economy. There are several discussions of Donna's favorite guy, Adam Smith. I actually *liked* the discussions of economics, but, well, I'm weird.
Still, even for those of you who are a little econ-phobic, I'd urge you to push past the economics discussions and read this book. This book is incredibly important, now, in our time of financial panic, more than ever. There will be temptation by many to close the purse-strings, to offer less instead of more to the developing world. It is critical that we do not do so. The budget tightening that many of us are facing is miniscule compared to the downward spiral of poverty currently occurring in Africa. And it is important for us environmentalists to remember that it is the developing world, and especially Africa, that will be hardest hit by climate change, and indeed, is already being hit by climate change.
Star rating: five out of five stars.
Recommended for everyone who can stand some economics talk. Hey, Bono wrote the foreword! So if you hate econ, at least you're rewarded with some Bono?