Monday, January 19, 2009

Poor Man's Burden

Bill Easterly's latest, Poor Man's Burden, appears in this month's Foreign Policy. Reminding us that economic freedom is the driver of development, not state planning. As Ben Franklin warned centuries ago "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

The role of the state is to provide economic freedoms- consisting of property rights, business rights, and freedom to associate- not to try to pick winners (although one might argue that picking winners is better than bailing out losers). These attempts to force outcomes are (in) vain. I doubt the second $350 B is going to have a different impact than the first, even with different leaders in charge (although this is probably some social scientist's dream experiment).

While I agree with much of what Easterly writes, I wonder about the gratuitous Sachs-bashing. I think you've made your point, Bill, now move on. Time for a change, isn't it?

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