Will Amaretch go to school? Easterly begins and ends his latest book THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN with a heart-rending story of ten year old Amaretch, an Ethiopian girl whose name means "the beautiful one." Driving out of Addis Ababa "he passes "an endless line of women and girls...marching into the city". Amaretch's day is spent collecting eucalyptus branches to sell for a pittance in the city market. But she would prefer to go to school if only her parents could afford to send her. Easterly dedicates the book to her ,"and to the millions of children like her". He returns to Amaretch in his concluding sentence," could one of you searchers discover away to put a firewood laden Ethiopian preteen girl named Amaretch in school?.
There're "searchers"-Easterly's word for entrepreneurs of all kinds across the developing world who are already finding a way, in places not dissimilar to where Amaretch finds herself. The accepted wisdom is that children like Amaretch need billions more dollars in donor aid for public education. Who could object to such ideas? As Easterly presents it, the great problem with foreign aid has always been the utopian aims of "planners"-humanitarians who think they know the answers to problems in advance and insist on imposing their own solutions.During the 19th and 20th centuries, when the western countries were still colonial powers, leaders like the British abolitionist William Wilberforce and the then US President Woodrow Wilson considered themselves chosen to save the non-white. "Rest": As Wilberforce demanded in the name of Christianity and enlightment alike "must we not then..... Endeavour to raise the wretched beings"? What he (Wilberforce) and those like him failed to ask according to Easterly was whether their remedies actually helped their impoverished wards.
As Easterly shows, however the planner's big push failed. Advocates like Robert Mc Namara, the former president of the World Bank focused only on the volume of foreign aid, constantly proposing to double disbursement. But the aid had no discernible effect on growth rate and brought only modest improvement in the quality of life. What Easterly tries to show here is that donors have failed to fund education; instead they donate funds to the ignorant and corrupt leaders, who lack knowledge on how to manage and invest the funds. Easterly further show education to children like Amaretch is more important for their future than building roads in third world countries.
The core problem, Easterly contends, is that few western aid programs ever seek feed back from their consumers, the world's poor. Aid bureaucrats seldom feel accountable to anyone other that their rich - country Principals, who rate results not on how money is used but on how much of it is given out. On the basis of this analysis, Easterly's advice to western donors is that they should stop thinking of themselves as planners and begin thinking of themselves instead as "searchers". They should investigate what is in demand in impoverished countries, adapt to local conditions and stress accountability. Indeed, he shows, such programs have already achieved some measures of success.
Though Easterly celebrates such efforts, he believes that market instincts are hard - wired into all human beings, he does not tout laissez - faire capitalism as panacea. As he sees it, development agencies simply should abandon their patronizing conviction that they alone can transform the third world. The should allow the poor in Africa and other under developed regions to "be their own searchers:. At most the west should provide support for the small scale program with built - in feed back just the sort of modest intervention disdained by Jeffrey Sachs and his minions. William Easterly's book is much to explain complex economic questions; he mixes anecdotal reporting with simple descriptions of ideas and theories. To Easterly's credit, though he does not fall into the Friedman trap of extrapolating types of examples, he backs up his claims with significant research. As an attack on the international anti - poverty establishment, the white man's burden is difficult to refute. Easterly hit easy targets, like the hydra of United Nations Organizations, with their useless "summits" and onerous reporting requirements. But he also debunks the more hard - headed advocates of aid. As against Sachs, Easterly throws cold water on the idea of "a poverty trap", finding economic mobility among even the poorest states. As for the promise of the Bush administrations millennium challenge corporation – the idea that Aid can be used as incentive to promote good governance, he (Easterly) sees little evidence, that donors themselves can make such discriminations and even offer reasons to doubt that democracy makes aid more effective. Indeed, there is unwarranted resignation in Easterly's advice especially considering the economic transformation that has swept much of the globe in recent decades. Most of the high growth Asian economies he cites as success stories actually combined elements of (in his term) "both searching and planning". Each country found economic model suited to it – Hong Kong became a trading entrepot, South Korea an industrial giant and formulated national policies accordingly. Finally the white man's Burden is too dour in these respects. It is a must read book for the donors and recipients of aid. Today some private sectors and aid donors like the Gates foundation, blend element of searching and planning as well, trying to look at problems like Malaria control comprehensively while figuring out what works best in particular environments.