Jeffrey Sachs’ Grab for the World Bank
There may be worse candidates for the presidency of the World Bank than Jeffrey Sachs (Larry Summers, also a candidate, comes to mind,) but Sachs is well worth raising an alarm about. He combines a new fangled profile as a progressive with policies that amount to full steam ahead for global growth. And he’s running as the candidate of “change” clearly hoping no one looks too closely at his record as an economic hit-man.
In the US (if not in much of the rest of the world and certainly not CounterPunch) Sachs’s closeness with the singer/crusader Bono bestows a liberal glow. He directs the Earth Institute at Columbia University, advises the UN and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and he’s winning endorsements from among others, Congressman John Conyers and economist Mark Weisbrot. He’ll attract predictable opposition from the Right who bristle at any mention of foreign aid, but although his media pals like to forget it now, Sachs was once evangelist number one for exactly the heavy-handed “fly-in-fly-out” development tactics that have made the world financial institutions so passionately hated.
Last week, John Cavanaugh of the Institute for Policy Studies and American University development professor Robin Broad laid out a raft of concerns to which Sachs responded thus: “I would be the first-ever development practitioner and anti-poverty professional to be World Bank President, just what is needed given the bank’s mission of a “world free of poverty.”
In Europe’s post-Soviet “transition” years, Sachs’s professional poverty expertise was mostly in increasing it. Russia, following Sachs’s callous “shock therapy” prescription, sold off state companies, suspended public subsidies and drove employment and life expectancy into the ground, with brutal long-term consequences, exacting the most savage costs in terms of death and suffering since the Second World War and the results of the Sachs experiment in Poland, Estonia and Slovenia weren’t much better. While a handful of global gamblers got rich off the disaster, former World Bank economist David Ellerman, said of Sachs “Only the mixture of American triumphalism and the academic arrogance of neoclassical economics could produce such a lethal dose of gall.” If Sachs could double suicide rates in Russia as a cocky young Harvard advisor, it’s hard to imagine what he could do to the world as World Bank President.
In recent years, Sachs has taken a few turns. He embraces debt forgiveness (some) and has some nasty things to say about world military spending in his book “The End of Poverty.” But the business of “poverty reduction” is a complex one. The World Bank’s calculations have been incisively discussed here by Adam Parsons. Suffice to say, there’s extreme poverty and there’s just getting by. In the same way when it comes to development, there’s total exclusion from the world economy — and there’s becoming a cog in it. Sachs’s vision of a “world free of poverty” has more cogs in more wheels, but it’s the same deadly machine driving the planet to the same nasty brink.
To cite one example. in his 2007 Reith lecture series “Bursting at the Seams” Sachs pushes new agricultural technology and commercial fertilizers to increase yields in low-life expectancy countries. “Africa can and must have a Green Revolution as India initiated nearly forty years ago.” He celebrates increased yields and dismisses concerns about environmental damage and rising debt, claiming that “Older techniques for replenishing soil nutrients, such as the rotation of farm lands, allowing the replenishment of nutrients on land left to fallow for 10 or 20 years, are no longer feasible.” To top things off, there’s a dose of “population control” in Sachs’s mix. “The evidence is overwhelming that it’s possible and necessary to have a rapid demographic transition on a voluntary basis to greatly reduce fertility rates in poor countries,” said Sachs.
Old arguments linking high population with high poverty are back in vogue in the context of contemporary planet-panic, but really, they miss the point. While growing population in poor countries has its environmental impacts, high-level consumption lifestyles in rich countries are much more of an immediate threat. Listen to the small scale farmers of countries like Mali and Burkina Faso who gathered at the World Social Forum in Kenya a few years back and they report that traditional farming techniques like fortifying soil with manure and mixing the crops grown on the same piece of land are rehabilitating degraded farms and farmers, both. Lying fallow for a generation doesn’t come up.
It’s here that one sees the “old” Sachs in the new. To return to Ellerman– the analysts of “shock therapy” have long gotten it wrong, he writes in an essay, Lessons from Eastern Europe’s Voucher Privatization. In the post-Soviet states, the crucial distinction wasn’t so much between the fast-shockers and the incrementalists, rather, Ellerman points out, “Reform-mongers, in their strategies and even more so in their rhetoric, could be divided into those who take an ideological, fundamental, and root-and-branch approach versus those who take an incremental, piecemeal, home-grown, and adaptive approach.” From what he says now about global agribusiness and it seems that not much has changed in Sachs’s approach to the adaptive, home-grown initiative — even as the sane world is increasingly convinced that those are the only strategies with any chance of heading
The fact that he’s campaigning for the World Bank job as the candidate of the new regime makes all this particularly hard to take. Since Paul Wolfowitz resigned under a cloud in 2007, new rules at the World Bank are finally permitting countries other than the US and Europe to determine who heads the world’s financial institutions (since world war two it’s been the World Bank for the US, and a European at the IMF). Europe nominated Christine Lagarde for IMF president last year. She won over other candidates. For the World Bank post, the U.S. has quietly floated names like Susan Rice, John Kerry and Larry Summers to replace Robert Zoellick when he steps down June 30. Predicting he won’t be the US’s official pick, Sachs has gotten seven countries to endorse him, including Haiti, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia and east Timor.
By March 23, we’ll know how all this plays out. Meanwhile, according to the open-source website, WorldBankPresident.org which is tracking these developments, a slate of countries with new financial capacity to compete with the US are taking steps to form a World Bank alternative. Quite possibly, at a meeting in India later this month, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa may set up their own development bank with the goal, they say, ”to escape the dollar and the euro hegemonies and, if Chinese plans go well, making the yuan a global currency.” We’ll see what Sachs has to say about that adaptive initiative.
LAURA FLANDERS is the host of The Laura Flanders Show coming to public television stations later this year. She was the host and founder of GRITtv.org. Follow her on Twitter: @GRITlaura.
No comments yet.
or go to
From the Archives
By Silvia Boarini | The Palestine Monitor | October 26, 2011
When David Ben Gurion, from the southern Kibbutz of Sde Boker, declared: “It is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel shall be tested,” the first settlers rose to the challenge and a transfigured desert became a post-war reality.
Today, driving through southern Israel on the wide motorway that cuts through the barren landscape, what stands out is not the camels. It is the forests.
Out of nowhere, hundreds of trees planted thick—within straight, geometrical borders—come into view, only to be replaced by the dry and mono-color scenery moments later.
A forest in the desert is an awe-inspiring sight, but here it serves the same purpose–and has the same consequence–as an eight-meter high wall erected in the West Bank.
More and more, the Negev and other Palestinian sections of Israel seem to share a fate disturbingly similar to that of Area C in the West Bank. … continue
Aletho News Exclusive Content
This article will examine some of the connections between the US and UK National Security apparatus and the appearance of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory beginning after the accident at Three Mile Island. … continue
Also by Aletho News:
September 19, 2011
March 8, 2011
January 2, 2011
October 10, 2010
July 5, 2010
February 25, 2010
February 7, 2010
January 5, 2010
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 4, 2009
May 9, 2009
- Palestinian home and market attacked by settlers from illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah June 29, 2015
- Israel once again commits an act of state piracy in the Mediterranean June 29, 2015
- Khader Adnan, an example for all prisoners and Palestinians June 29, 2015
- Shuhada Street 2015: Suffering from Israeli propaganda and ongoing military closure June 29, 2015
- Israeli soldier attempts to arrest Palestinian, activists intervene June 27, 2015
TagsAfghanistan Africa al-Akhbar Al-Manar al-Qaeda American Civil Liberties Union American Israel Public Affairs Committee Argentina Bashar al-Assad Benjamin Netanyahu Brazil Canada Central Intelligence Agency China CIA Colombia Egypt EU Europe European Union FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation France Gaza Germany Hamas Hebron Hezbollah Honduras Hugo Chávez Human rights India Intelligence International Atomic Energy Agency International Solidarity Movement Internet Iran Iraq Iraq War Israel Israeli settlement Japan Jerusalem John Kerry Latin America Lebanon Libya Middle East Military National Security Agency NATO New York Times NSA Obama Pakistan Palestine Palestinian prisoners in Israel Police Press TV Russia Sanctions against Iran Saudi Arabia Syria Turkey UK Ukraine United Nations United States USA Venezuela War Washington Post West Bank Yemen Zionism
Visits Since December 2009
- 2,184,595 hits
Contact:atheonews (at) gmail.com
Recent Aletho News Posts
- As Iran nuclear deadline passes, narrative battle heats up July 1, 2015
- What’s Behind ISIS: Zionism or Wahhabism? Debate Show July 1, 2015
- Media Uncritical of Justifications for Shooting Escaped Convict June 30, 2015
- “Just Say Anything!” – The US Responds to the UN Review of its Human Rights Record June 30, 2015
- The Tunisia Massacre and the Irish-ISIS Connection June 30, 2015
- Utah police introduce programs to ‘reeducate’ civilians June 30, 2015
- Baltimore Police Called Out For Making Up ‘Gang Violence’ Stories To Scare Public June 30, 2015
- SWAT Raids Wrong Home, Breaks Windows, then Issues Family Citation for Broken Windows June 30, 2015
- After 15 Years of Killing Journalists Pentagon Writes It Into Manual June 30, 2015
- UK trade unionists, blacklisted activists demand police spying inquiry June 30, 2015
- Egypt president to change law to permit speedy executions June 30, 2015
- Spin Becomes “Fact” in NY Times Gaza Flotilla Story June 30, 2015
- The complementary tactics of Israel and the UNHRC June 30, 2015
- Crunch Time with Iran Let’s push back against Israel’s friends and avoid a war June 30, 2015
- Hindu extremists beat Muslim man in northern India June 30, 2015
- Israel/Jordan negotiate reopening al-Aqsa to non-Muslims June 30, 2015
- Israel considers leaving UN Human Rights Council after Gaza probe – report June 30, 2015
- New Iran deal demands are stumbling blocks but won’t kill deal – Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich June 29, 2015
Looking for something?
Categories"Hope and Change" Aletho News Civil Liberties Corruption Deception Economics Environmentalism Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism False Flag Terrorism Full Spectrum Dominance Illegal Occupation Islamophobia Mainstream Media, Warmongering Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity Militarism Nuclear Power Science and Pseudo-Science Solidarity and Activism Subjugation - Torture Supremacism, Social Darwinism Timeless or most popular Video War Crimes Wars for Israel
This site is provided as a research and reference tool. Although we make every reasonable effort to ensure that the information and data provided at this site are useful, accurate, and current, we cannot guarantee that the information and data provided here will be error-free. By using this site, you assume all responsibility for and risk arising from your use of and reliance upon the contents of this site.
This site and the information available through it do not, and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Should you require legal advice, you should consult your own attorney.
Nothing within this site or linked to by this site constitutes investment advice or medical advice.
Materials accessible from or added to this site by third parties, such as comments posted, are strictly the responsibility of the third party who added such materials or made them accessible and we neither endorse nor undertake to control, monitor, edit or assume responsibility for any such third-party material.
The posting of stories, commentaries, reports, documents and links (embedded or otherwise) on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such posted material or parts therein.
The word "alleged" is deemed to occur before the word "fraud." Since the rule of law still applies. To peasants, at least.
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more info go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
This is information for anyone that wishes to challenge our “fair use” of copyrighted material.
If you are a legal copyright holder or a designated agent for such and you believe that content residing on or accessible through our website infringes a copyright and falls outside the boundaries of “Fair Use”, please send a notice of infringement by contacting email@example.com.
We will respond and take necessary action immediately.
If notice is given of an alleged copyright violation we will act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the material(s) in question.
All 3rd party material posted on this website is copyright the respective owners / authors. Aletho News makes no claim of copyright on such material.