Have to side with Sachs on this one… Russ Roberts is full of shit when interviewing development people… he either (a) has no idea about anything that happens in Africa or (b) pretends to not know anything… he’s like a high school student!
What possible evidence would he have that even one person’s “dream” was smashed? Who does a kid in Africa “dream” about anyway? Beyoncé, Shakira, Fally Ipupa, Thomas Sankara… but certainly not Jeff Sachs!
Russ: I think that’s true– Guest: through my own hubris. Russ: I think it’s true. Guest: Come on, Russ. Russ: I think it’s true that it’s cruel– Guest: You think I smashed their dreams? Russ: I think it’s cruel to smash people’s dreams. Guest: Yeah. You think that I’ve done that? Russ: Well, that’s the question, isn’t it. Guest: Well, yeah, I’m sorry. Is it the question of millions of people alive today because of scaling up of these critical health interventions, farmers getting more yields, higher yields? Do you think that kids in school, more water supply, sanitation available, rural electrification–you could say I’m–that there are better ways to do it. Russ: You’re telling stories. No. You’re telling– Guest: Russ, you could say that– Russ: No, that’s not what I said. Guest: Russ, you could say there are better ways to do it. You could say, is this really cost-effective–although I would say that $40 per capita now or $60 per capita then is hardly the extravagance it’s been painted to be. But to say that I’ve smashed their dreams. Russ: No, what I said is that I said– Guest: It is what you said. Russ: Read it again. Guest: Okay, I’ll read it in its entirety. “And yet, in many ways”–and you concede that the program had some positive effects–“but in many ways it’s one of the cruelest things in the world to come to a group of people, set their hearts on fire saying I’m going to change your life; there’s magic coming–it’s the magic of expertise and wisdom and money–and your lives are going to be different. And to take that dream, which every human being has of a better life, especially for their children, and to smash it, and through your own hubris–it just, it’s so depressing partly because those arguments tend to win.” That’s what you said. Russ: Yes. And– Guest: I haven’t smashed their dreams. Russ: Well, I don’t know if you have. Guest: Their kids are alive and they’re staying healthier and their kids are in school and they have some chances and you can say I’m an imperfect person and it’s an imperfect program and– Russ: Of course it is– Guest: maybe you could do better. Russ: That’s OK. No. No. Guest: And I’m sure that there are ways to do better. But to call this one of the cruelest things. Russ: Well, one of the cruelest things is to smash people’s dreams. The question– Guest: Yep, and as you said, smash their dreams–I think that since you haven’t even been once, you haven’t talked to one person in a village, you haven’t even been to rural Africa. To make a statement like that–you didn’t say, ‘Did he?’ You weren’t interviewing. You were making an assertion. Russ: Yeah. Guest: What is the basis of that assertion? What is– Russ: The basis of that assertion is– Guest: even one shred of evidence for that?
via Jeffrey Sachs on the Millennium Villages Project | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty. HT: Marginal Revolution.