April Reading Group
The Tyranny of Experts:
The Forgotten Rights of the Poor
by William Easterly
Thursday, April 23, 2020
7:30 - 9:00 am
Online Zoom Meeting.
Topic of Discussion
William Easterly’s The Tyranny of Experts: The Forgotten Rights of the Poor, 2013
What can be more interesting than a foreign aid shoot out between a well respected Professor of Development Economics at NYU, William Easterly and a well respected entrepreneur philanthropist Bill Gates? No one would deny that Mr. Gates is not serious about his recommendations for aiding developing countries since as a co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he and his wife have reportedly committed $10 billion over the last 20 years to help fund Gavi ( The Vaccine Alliance), the Global Fund and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Using the well known trade off of giving the needy fish or giving the needy fishing poles, Professor Easterly sides directly with the fishing pole approach. He claims that while the World Bank, where he worked, promised to make loans based on market-oriented reforms, “They were just giving the loans away, to really bad governments”. According to Adam O’Neal of the New York Times quotes Easterly, “Counties respond to incentives to grow, and organizations like the World Bank and IMF don’t design aid programs around incentives…instead, they offer magic-bullet solutions like population control”. On page ix of his book, Easterly says“ The book describes how the development community too often winds up on the side of the autocrats---often unintentionally and often contrary to the private sympathies of development experts and officials of freedom”.
Easterly faults the development community for favoring “benevolent dictators” and calls the United Nations “a very ineffective club of dictators”. Bill Gates has constantly sparred with Easterly at the Davos convention and in the New York Times. The differing views of Easterly and Gates are discussed in the book. O’Neal says that Easterly is opposed to Gates ’technical expert-driven solutions’ and his support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
Despite Easterly’s criticism of private and public current foreign aid policy, he optimistically believes the future is bright for the developing counties with the correct foreign aid assistance. Unlike other pessimists today, Easterly rejects the economic growth ‘stagnation theories’ and, instead, envisions constant progress for the future.
The book is introduced with positive credits by such well known academics as Angus Deaton of Princeton, Paul Romer of NYU, Francis Fukuyama of Stanford Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia and Tyler Cowen O George Mason.
Please join us for a lively debate on how best aid the needy in developing countries, and while we are at it, does our recommendations equally apply to the needy in the United States?