Globalization refers to the integration of people, corporations, and governments as they interact in international trade with the assistance of information technology. Despite the evident positive effects, better connectivity and faster movement of goods and information across the globe, globalization is marred by several challenges as the global economy becomes more integrated. One of the main effects of this process is the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. In his book titled The Tyranny of Experts, William Easterly argues that the worlds economic experts focus excessively on top-bottom solutions and goals that are mostly implemented at the state level (Easterly, 2015). He argues that this is the main reason why many people are still living in abject poverty despite the formulation of policies to fight it. Easterly asserts that the best ways to combat global poverty are creating bottom-up solutions, embracing innovation especially in the information technology sector, and respecting individual rights in the entire world. On the other hand, Radelet argues that globalization is beneficial to the poor countries and it has emancipated almost 700 million people from the scourge of poverty since the end of the Cold War (Radelet, 2015). This difference in the opinions of the two scholars is significant. Therefore, the philosophies of Friedman and Milanovic are used in the essay to compare and contrast the ideologies of Easterly and Radelet. This essay analyzes the theories of Easterly and Radelet concerning the poverty in developing countries and assesses whether the situation is improving. At the same time, the essay uses the theories suggested by the two scholars to discuss the possible roles and responsibilities of the worlds rich individuals and countries and the ways they can help the poor using the most appropriate strategies for accomplishing this task.
The Causes of Poverty in Developing Nations
Poverty exists in many developing countries, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and the Caribbean, where most of the citizens suffer from abject poverty and live on less than a dollar a day. Easterly presents arguments on some of the causes of poverty among the majority of the citizens in developing countries. The main argument that dominates the entire book is Easterlys assertion that the committees of experts who are positioned to suggest adequate solutions in order to alleviate poverty are actually the cause of poverty in these nations. Easterly describes such tyrannical experts as the members of D.C. think tanks, the policy arena, and the international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He is critical of the role of these experts in developing countries and argues that they are partly responsible for such slow progress in helping the countries. The case of Somalia can serve as a good example: it has been receiving donations, money in particular, from Western countries and yet the country has been in the state of turmoil suffering from wars. It seems that the donated funds have done very little to alleviate the plight of the poor Somalis who suffer the most in the case of ethnic clashes.
According to Easterly, the main cause of poverty in developing countries is the unchecked power of the states and governments against poor people with no rights (2015). In fact, todays Africa and Latin America may be viewed as the replicas of Medieval Europe. The only difference between them is the fact that the serfs in Medieval Europe had to contend with the divine rights of kings while today, the poor citizens in developing countries have to contend with the selfishness of the dictators. Unfortunately, international non-governmental organizations and monetary organizations never seem to care about the activities of these regimes provided that these dictators and autocrats act in accordance with their bidding. Easterly gives the example of Ethiopia under the rule of Meles Zenawi at the beginning of the 21st century. The administration of George Bush chose to ignore the atrocities that Zenawi perpetrated against the opposition and the citizens in the country. Zenawi used money that had been donated by the World Bank and the Gates Foundation to fight his opposition and their supporters. While the country was suffering from such unfairness, the powers ignored what was happening: the abuse of aid money that was not used for the necessary development projects but for satisfying the selfish needs of an autocratic leader. According to Easterly, this is one of the reasons why a great number of the citizens of many developing nations are still languishing in poverty.
Furthermore, Easterly states that the second cause of poverty in developing nations is the tendency of the tyrannical experts to only try to understand why developing nations are in the current state of backwardness. These studies are carried out instead of making actual deliberate attempts and developing strategic and detailed plans that would help to solve the problem of global poverty. A significant part of the academics in the field of development economics do not create feasible and working solutions that could really help the poor and the needy. Instead, these scholars are merely theorists who have no practical answers and are not concerned with the solutions that they propose being feasible in the third world countries. This situation is illustrated in the ideologies of the two prominent economists, Gunnar Myrdal and Friedrich Hayek. These two financial experts represent two extremities as far as economic thought is concerned. Ironically, they both received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974.
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On the one hand, Myrdal advocated for a centrally led development. This scholar believed that people are not able to make voluntary and independent choices. As a result, they should be led and controlled by an enlightened few who have the power to make such decisions and devise plans on behalf of the people. On the other hand, Easterly argues that this warped perspective is one of the reasons why many developing nations have not experienced profound progress over the years. Nevertheless, the theories of Myrdal were supported by many academics. However, the centrally planned development agendas infringed on the rights and liberties of an individual, without which, according to Easterly, there can be no real development from the grassroots levels. Easterly affirms that as a result, the main cause of poverty is the interference with an individuals rights and liberties. At the same time, Friedman places a great emphasis on the individual effort and the conscious choices that a person makes. According to Friedman, if an individual works hard and is determined to succeed in life, more often than not, this individual will achieve success and reach their goals
Based on the perspectives of Easterly and Friedman, the elimination of poverty is set squarely upon an individual. Friedman believes that poverty is not permanently fixed in the lives of individuals (2002). He further asserts that the only way to overcome poverty is the exercise of the will and the use of internal stimuli, such as perseverance. Therefore, all the stakeholders should join their efforts and pool the available resources to free the individual. It is almost impossible for people who are under oppression to be determined and work hard toward their financial liberation. Perhaps this explains why Radelet argues that for many individuals, the development in most African countries and the march toward prosperity started on the day when these countries destroyed the chains of colonialism. When people were under colonial rule, their personal liberties were limited, and as a result, the citizens could not work hard and with determination.
The Current State of Affairs
Easterly and Radelet differ significantly in their perspectives concerning the current state of affairs in developing nations. On the one hand, Easterly opines that things are only getting worse and the solutions proposed by the different commissions that were established by rich individuals and countries only seek to further the aims of these parties. As a result, the welfare of people that these organizations supposedly seek to serve is not as important as the business and political agendas that they wish to follow in these countries. Thus, Easterly remains critical of the activities of the experts. He argues that the situation is only escalating. On the other hand, Radelet takes the opposing view that the experts have been effective in the continuous eradication of poverty. In fact, Radelet supports his assertions with data that shows that approximately 1 billion people have been saved from poverty in this generation because of the activities of the charitable organizations, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Evidently, the two scholars see the globalization agenda from different points of view with Easterly proposing that experts should change their strategies. On the other hand, Radelet focuses on the positive effects of the activities of these committees of experts. In fact, Radelet argues that many people who oppose the current development agenda probably only focus on the bad things that happen in the world and ignore all the good. He argues that the opposition takes into consideration only the stories of wars, diseases, famines, and failures of politicians. As a result, these observers lose a sense of the wider perspective.
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As far as the arguments of the two scholars are concerned, there are two possible scenarios for the current state of affairs in the third world countries. The first one presupposes the development gospel that is preached by Radelet. According to the scholar, the development of many third world countries started in the 1960s. He argues that it is especially true for a great number of African countries because many of them severed their ties with their colonial masters in the 1960s. Radelet further argues that the development in these nations accelerated considerably in the 1990s. The main reason for this accelerated development is the removal of many of the factors that had previously hindered development. Some of these factors include seizing the power from tyrants and replacing these tyrannical leaders with the individuals who are open to reforms.
In addition, because the two scholars have different perspectives on the causes and effects of poverty, it is important to take into consideration the opinion of other notable scholars in the field. For example, according to Milanovic, the poverty rates in the world have decreased in most countries. In fact, the millennium brought the so-called golden age when many countries had a great number of their citizens emancipated from slavery (2013). Milanovic argues that the past two decades has been the best for most of the poor population in the world. He further argues that the evidence is manifested in two main statements. The first argument is the following: the past two decades have witnessed a sharp decline in the number of poor people and in the magnitude of poverty throughout the world. Secondly, there is a decrease in global inequality while the gap between the rich and the poor is reducing significantly.
Therefore, it is clear that Milanovic agrees with Radelets point of view. It seems that both scholars believe that the level and magnitude of poverty are decreasing across the globe, and the world is turning into a better place to live and plan the future. If this is the case, it means that the statements of Easterly concerning poverty and inequality are inaccurate. Based on the evidence presented by different scholars, it is clear that Easterly has focused on the poor with no regard to the number of people that leave the poverty class every year. Thus, technology, innovations, and international policy have been effective in the war against poverty. As a result, if people ignore the positive aspects of globalization and focus on the wars, famine, and the people living in abject poverty instead, the development and the examples of notable success in eradicating poverty and inequality will not be noticed.
The Roles of Rich Countries, their Responsibilities, and Possible Strategies
Despite having differing ideologies concerning the current state of events, Easterly and Radelet agree on one thing: the ultimate resource is the people themselves. This statement is the cornerstone on which all the strategies of helping the poor countries should be developed if these tactics are to achieve any success. The main difference is the approach that they use to empower these people in order to help to eradicate abject poverty. However, both scholars agree that development cannot be spurred from the outside, it can and will only take place when free enterprise is promoted within the borders.
On the one hand, Radelet proposes a three-fold strategy for fighting poverty and inequality. First, he believes that global leadership and conditions should be conducive to development. Second, he proposes that there should be new opportunities created, which would be driven by the better market integration and innovations in the field of information technology. Finally, Radelet recommends that the developing countries develop strong democratic systems that would improve the countrys capabilities and present adequate opportunities within the borders of the nation.
On the other hand, Easterly thinks that spontaneous solutions are the best way to solve the problems of developing countries as opposed to a previously planned scenario. Easterly seeks to draw the attention of the reader away from the abstract development goals by showing that the only feasible solution for eradicating poverty and inequality are decentralized decisions and the respect of the rights of all people. This argument is feasible only in some situations due to the fact that most of the dictators and corrupt political elite have a tendency to refuse donations with the aim to realize their personal aspirations.
It is possible to combine the solutions proposed by the two scholars and create a single development agenda that can be used to help developing nations. Both Easterly and Radelet agree on the fact that individual rights and liberties should be respected if the people are to be freed from poverty. In fact, personal liberty frees an individual from the oppression that curbs the will of a person, which is the most important factor in freeing an individual from poverty. A person should have perseverance in the face of temporary defeat, determination, and hope. Such traits cannot be exercised when the rights of people are infringed upon by the state.
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On the one hand, Easterly proposes the decentralization of solutions as one of the best ways to combat poverty and inequalities in developing nations. On the other hand, Radelet argues that the current policies are working. He proves this assertion by giving the evidence of almost 1 billion people having been saved from poverty in recent times. However, the best solution should be a middle ground between the two extremities. The contemporary experts should be allowed to proceed with their goal setting and proposal of general solutions since most of the regimes which are currently in power may not allow the strategy that Easterly has proposed. However, whenever an opportunity for a specific solution to be implemented in a region presents itself, the experts should seize the chance as quickly as possible. The best example of this is the activities of Henry Kissinger during the time of Nixons presidency. Before this period, China was completely communist and opposed the policies of the United States of America. However, the diplomatic efforts of Kissinger led to China opening its borders, and for the first time in the modern world, the people of China were offered liberty. It is this liberty among the Chinese that has spurred China to become one of the economic giants on the planet.
Thus, Radelet proposes that strong democratic governments support the rights of all people. According to Easterly, free people are the key to economic prosperity; therefore, the experts should endeavor to ensure that all autocratic regimes are replaced by the democratically elected leaders who are ready to abide by the rule of law. Libya can serve as a good example of such scenario. For many years, many citizens of Libya had been living in poverty while their autocratic leader was one of the richest people on the globe. These people did not have rights and liberties except those that their leader bestowed upon them. The pressure that America exerted until the autocrat was deposed and a democratic government was formed was probably the best gift that the people of Libya could receive.
To conclude, the state, the international community, and the rich individuals have an important responsibility to ensure that the world becomes a better place through the eradication of poverty and the establishment of full rights of each individual on the planet. Only when it finally happens, the culmination of the progress of the past decade will receive concrete results. Of course, poverty is caused by many factors, and the coordination of collective efforts of the stakeholders at the different levels of influence is necessary for the successful integration of mechanisms. These measures will ensure that more people are saved from the plight of poverty and its associated conditions, such as hunger, famine, disease, and poor sanitation. The stakeholders are the poor, the state, the academic community, and the international community. Each individual should be ready to work hard in order to win the fight against poverty. In addition, people should also be ready to fight for their individual liberties if the state or any other party threatens to limit or take them away. Moreover, the state should provide a democratic atmosphere so that the citizens are able to work together demonstrating solidarity. In their turn, the academic community should focus on discovering adequate and effective solutions that are applicable in the real world and do not merely focus on seeking to understand the relationship between the socioeconomic phenomena in the country. Finally, the international community should pool the resources of rich individuals and prosperous countries. These funds should be used to eradicate poverty and at least some of its side effects in the regions that can hardly help themselves. Thus, it is likely that the contributors will be able to maintain peace in the war-torn countries providing the citizens with a chance to improve the quality of their lives.
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