world is unequal in material conditions as never before. It is sometimes
glibly said that the poor have only themselves to blame, that poverty is
the result of idleness, corruption and the like.
research teaches otherwise. The world’s poor suffer mightily from
scourges of disease, environmental vulnerability and degradation,
climactic stresses, and other complex and poorly understood burdens.”
Jeffrey D Sachs, director, Centre for International Development at Harvard
New York Times pronounced him “the most important economist in the
because of his awards, honours and honorary degrees. Not because of his
influence with world leaders. Not for his books, papers or considerable
is a lesson of how to be a human being. He is a courageous and passionate
crusader for millions of the world’s poor. He wants to see headlines
like ‘25,000 DIE OF NEGLECT’ everyday, (and they do), until rich
countries who are nothing short of ‘murderous’ increase aid from US$27
billion to US$100 billion.
US, he rages, is the worst offender, being the richest, but giving the
least of all 22 donor countries. He is an economic wizard who helps fix
developing countries in trouble (Bolivia, with his advice, reduced its
inflation from the hilarious number of 40,000 per cent to ten per cent).
is a flexible, agile and brilliant mind, seeing micro and macro
simultaneously, moving easily between the plight of a mother and child
dying of HIV/Aids, to the collapse of Argentina’s financial sector.
is an academic who shuttles between his ivory tower and the streets of
developing and troubled countries. His recognition of the small details in
the lives of forgotten human being has breathed soul into economic theory.
By some miracle, the Caribbean Academy of Sciences, UWI, and Republic Bank
brought him to Trinidad and Tobago last week.
Sachs tells it as he would to a six-year-old. He takes a dry, economic
term like ‘globalisation’, reaches for history, stretches across
nations, places us in context. “Some say,” he began, “globalisation
is a solution, a search for a better standard of living for everyone.
Others call it a great evil. It is neither panacea or a cure, but a
rest is a sketch of Sachs lecture here last week:
is globalisation? Simply this. The way countries and people are
11 was a vivid illustration of globalisation, of how a small, poor country
like Afghanistan could crack the very foundations of our world.
is a far more tragic effect of globalisation than September 11. It
originated in West Africa in the 30s, was identified as a disease in 1981
and has spread to 65 million people worldwide. 25 million are dead as a
result of it. Three million people die every year, 8-9,000 people die
has left Africa isolated, drowning in the cycle of disease and poverty.
One-sixth of the world, led by the US, is doing well with globalisation.
Everyone else is being left behind.
premise that globalisation creates equal opportunity is false because some
countries haven’t even had a chance to join the world economy.
climate and history have already decided which countries have a head
start. For example, countries in which slavery was practised, where there
has been a wanton devastation of natural resources, are absent in the
countries that caused the devastation have no interest in the legacy they
have left. The belief that the world is linked by technology is a farce.
The US has been growing at a steady rate since 1820, because its
large markets have stimulated specialisation, the incentive for invention
is higher. But countries geographically isolated from major trading
centres are less able to specialise and exchange goods. Brain drain,
disease, social instability, geographical isolation, have left a fifth of
the crippled world out of the race.”
shames us into understanding that no matter what our professions, we must
be driven by our individual and collective humanity, our responsibility to
one-fifth of the world, buckling under poverty and disease. (One and a
half billion people live on less than a dollar a day).
of Trinidad and Tobago?
could be in trouble. Despite our oil and gas. Our per capita income
(US$8,000) is roughly half that of Barbados (US$15,000) which invests far
more in health and education.
will come not by hanging on to yo-yoing oil prices, but by investing in
our people. He thought it
“dismal” that 30 per cent of our secondary students dropped out, that
only 10 per cent make it to university, compared to US’s 85 per cent,
Europe’s 50 per cent.
the one billion barrel oil find, we may be about to “blow it” again as
we did our first boom, and we won’t get a third chance. We need to
urgently set up planning commissions on health, education,
warns if we “wipe ourselves off the face of this earth”, by leaving
the important task of planning 20 years ahead to create jobs to political
appointees, allowing AIDS to ravage us, ignoring illiteracy, ripping
ourselves in half racially, no one will notice.
real enemy is out there, the big globalisation fish waiting to gobble us
up. We have to unite to fight it. I looked around. Was anyone listening?
Maybe one or two politicians. The rest might have been bickering
away our future in Crowne Plaza.