How to end poverty in this world is a question everyone asks themselves at some point or another; Why poverty exists is a question fewer may ask and yet. In The End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs explains to us through first-hand accounts his experience of what drives a village into a state of desperation and how international entities can intervene in a meaningful way.
What is an economist? Jeffrey Sachs, author of The End of Poverty and superstar economic adviser to countless governments, defines an economist as a person that, when he or she sees that something works in theory, he or she must try to find out if it works in practice. In his book he challenges world leaders to look at poverty - extreme poverty being defined by the World Bank as an income of less than a dollar a day - with his economic perspective, and says it can be eliminated by 2025.
Throughout his book, Sachs explains how the world would be very different if wealthy nations were to increase their combined foreign aid budgets to anywhere between $135 billion and $195 billion for the next decade, whilst overseeing that the money is properly allocated. He depicts up close and personal accounts of his travels to numerous countries throughout Africa and Asia where he describes the stories of local citizens in all their harrowing reality. He talks about visiting drought-affected Malawian subsistence farmers near Lilongwe. Here he saw a village that had no able-bodied men because all but five had died of Aids; the land on which these people "eked out survival" was "exhausted, unforgiving and unable to produce enough to live on;" the hospital was only somewhere those afflicted by Aids went to die; the water was polluted; malnourished children were in danger of slipping into cerebral malaria; and the only food available was semi-rotten, bug-infested millet. He gives a first-hand account about the impact medicine has on the future of many children and parents who are suffering from AIDS, malaria and other diseases that combined cause the deaths of more than eight million people across the globe because they do not have the proper means to treat their conditions.
If there is anything about The End of Poverty that would inspire leaders, it is the author’s very convincing argument that poverty can indeed be eliminated if countries were to properly introduce higher budgets for various causes, in particular vaccinations and prevention. His rhetoric feeds the part of the leader that would prompt him or her to take many risks to finally resolve some of the longest-standing issues that have challenged countries and organizations like the IMF and the United Nations to come up with sustainable solutions that would prevent small communities from falling into turmoil.
For Jeffrey Sachs, extreme poverty is a dreadful but not fatal disease, for which the only true remedy is a dose of strong western medicine (or in other words large budgets coming from powerful leaders). He believes economists should engage in holistic analyses of countries, which in reality amounts to filling in a long checklist tackling everything from geopolitics to cereal yields and rainfall.
This book is a good read for leaders who want to gain a sense of perspective on what the problems really are that challenge the eight million people who find themselves in extreme poverty. Just as Sachs writes about how Malawians saved about 25,000 from AIDS and HIV (pg.10) – we as individuals can create a dent in this phenomena, by applying his insights to the approaches we use when life presents itself with opportunities — we can use those opportunities to create a story filled with purpose and possibility. We can use his stories to drive our purpose and feed our minds in order to lead this world with a new sense of passion or as Khalil Gibran said, “rest in reason; move in passion.”
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