Over the last century, global poverty has largely been viewed as a technical problem that merely requires the right "expert" solutions. Yet all too often, experts recommend solutions that fix immediate problems without addressing the systemic political factors that created them in the first place. Further, they produce an accidental collusion with "benevolent autocrats", leaving dictators with yet more power to violate the rights of the poor. In The Tyranny of Experts, economist William Easterly, best-selling author of The White Man’s Burden, traces the history of the fight against global poverty, showing not only how these tactics have trampled the individual freedom of the world’s poor, but how in doing so have suppressed a vital debate about an alternative approach to solving poverty: freedom. Presenting a wealth of cutting-edge economic research, Easterly argues that only a new model of development - one predicated on respect for the individual rights of people in developing countries, that understands that unchecked state power is the problem and not the solution - will be capable of ending global poverty once and for all.
©2013 William Easterly (P)2014 Recorded Books
One of the most important criteria I use to just books like this is the ability of the author to critically think and not be a mouthpiece for some ideology.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
William Easterly argues that economic progress is a function of individual human rights; more than any past or current form of government. William Easterly is an economist with a theorist’s interest in history. He particularly vilifies autocratic and collective forms of government like North Korea, Ethiopia, and Cuba.
Easterly infers that former imperialist and colonial governments like France and Great Britain have impeded rather than accelerated economic growth of other countries. The suggestion is that, in the long arc of history, the poor are better off without expert’ intervention from today’s World Bank, yesterday’s League of Nations, or other outside organizational experts. Easterly argues that supporting indigenous leaders that focus on individual human rights are the best catalyst for economic growth. He argues for Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” as the best guarantee for economic growth.
Easterly, like all human beings, views the past through eyes of the present. Denying individual rights remains a threat to society but definition and understanding of those rights may be more universally appreciated today because of technology, and the internet. Easterly may be on the right track for societal improvement but his arguments, based on history, are weak. Economies have grown dramatically in the past; despite the denial of individual human rights. Sadly, as Easterly knows, economic growth does not raise all boats, whether prescribed by experts or a free indigenous population.
Guaranteeing individual human rights is not a magic bullet for reducing poverty or improving the lot of the poor. The tyranny of autocrats, experts, and dictators will continue. The poor’s only voice is through consensus building movements like Occupy Wall Street. Movements like Occupy Wall Street are only at their beginning. Public understanding and demand for individual rights is growing because of the internet, but social change remains part of the long arc of history. As in Plato’s time, knowing the good is part of the difficulty of being the good.
I enjoyed the book. It makes a good case against authoritarian growth but fails to persuasively show how political freedoms would stimulate growth.
This is a very good book. It goes through the history of development. But, after finished reading the book, I wondered how William viewed the American development in Iraq. As a person who witnessed the liberation of Iraq and the millions of dollars from Tax payer’s money goes into sinks and got stolen, I believe there are other factors such as religion, culture, and corruption player a major role. The book talks only in terms of History of that Nation. But, how do you deal with people whose corruption is part of their DNA, love government chairs above their people? Who will kill in name of God to stay in power?
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