Book and film reviews

A refined privatizer

Jeffrey Sachs, a refined privatizer?

(Published in GralsWelt 40/2006)

Jeffrey D. Sachs “The end of poverty”, Siedler München, 2005.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is one of the world's best-known economists. His career is extraordinary. At the age of 28 he was one of the youngest Harward professors. He then advised governments of several states, and Kofi Anam, the UN Secretary-General, appointed him his personal advisor five years ago. Jefrey D.Sachs currently teaches at Columbia University in New York.

He made himself unpopular in post-communist countries because he recommended a radical, market-liberal course in the 1990s. This course led Russia into an economic chaos from which nobody has found a way out until today. In retrospect, Professor Sachs emphasizes that he has been wrongly accused for this. (P. 182).

His office on behalf of the UN and the insight that goes with it has changed his ideology, from a fundamental propagandist of the free market economy to a lawyer for the third world.
In time for the UN Millennium Summit in September 2005, he presented a book:

"The end of poverty".
This work, which is very well worth reading, begins with an analysis of the current world situation and a brief historical review. Then Sachs describes from his own experience the special situation of selected countries and their approaches to poverty reduction. Of course, he is also very familiar with the weaknesses of some institutions, such as the World Bank and the World Monetary Fund.
As a fundamental advocate of globalization, he hopes for increasing prosperity everywhere through open markets and the free movement of money and goods. However, he calls for an "enlightened globalization" in which everyone - especially large corporations - also obey the rules of the market economy and the principles of responsible corporate management. According to Sachs, critics of globalization can also make their contribution to this enlightened globalization by closely observing internationally operating companies and raising public awareness of unfair business conduct. In contrast to the “complacency of the rich”, he admits the opponents of globalization, who have achieved something, “correct ethical convictions” even if “their diagnosis of the problems is wrong”. Sachs explains, also with regard to the often misunderstood "father of the free market economy" Adam Smith:
“But the fierce criticism of international corporations and free trade goes back to a knee-jerk rejection of capitalism, which is the expression of a profound misunderstanding. Too many demonstrators do not know that Adam Smith shared their moral indignation and their specific moral demands and that some free trade supporters also see government measures to secure the livelihood of the poor and to protect the environment as necessary. Too many demonstrators do not know that believing in the power of trade and markets can be combined with an understanding of the limits of their effectiveness. The opponents of globalization are too pessimistic about the possibilities of capitalism with a human face; but this makes it possible on the one hand to use the remarkable advantages of worldwide trade and cross-border investments and on the other hand to compensate for their limits and shortcomings through appropriate collective action " (P. 430/431).

“The $ 450 billion that the US government plans to spend on the military in 2005 will never be able to buy peace if it continues to spend about one-thirtieth of that amount, no more than 15 billion, on the misery of the poorest of the world To alleviate the poor. " Jeffrey D. Sachs

In his book, Jeffrey D. Sachs finally gives practical guidance on how to fight poverty. He wants to help achieve the ambitious goal of the UN to halve poverty in the world by 2015.

In my opinion, he seems to underestimate the importance of the population explosion as a brake on growth. Like other economists, Sachs also hopes that this problem will resolve itself with increasing prosperity and particularly better training and professional opportunities for women.