In this "bracingly iconoclastic” book (New York Times Book Review), a renowned economics scholar breaks down the fight to end global poverty and the rights that poor individuals have had taken away for generations.
In The Tyranny of Experts, renowned economist William Easterly examines our failing efforts to fight global poverty, and argues that the "expert approved" top-down approach to development has not only made little lasting progress, but has proven a convenient rationale for decades of human rights violations perpetrated by colonialists, postcolonial dictators, and US and UK foreign policymakers seeking autocratic allies. Demonstrating how our traditional antipoverty tactics have both trampled the freedom of the world's poor and suppressed a vital debate about alternative approaches to solving poverty, Easterly presents a devastating critique of the blighted record of authoritarian development. In this masterful work, Easterly reveals the fundamental errors inherent in our traditional approach and offers new principles for Western agencies and developing countries alike: principles that, because they are predicated on respect for the rights of poor people, have the power to end global poverty once and for all.
A well-known skeptic of foreign aid, NYU economist Easterly (The White Man's Burden) examines efforts to produce and sustain growth in developing nations. Easterly deplores "authoritarian development" that fails to respect local knowledge and individual rights, and here assesses "benevolent autocrats" as well as "experts who aspire to technocratic power." Using historical and contemporary examples, Easterly calls for the expanded rights of the global poor and a "time at last for all men and women to be equally free." To illustrate the advantages of organic change and individual rights, Easterly analyzes gentrification of New York City's SoHo district since the 1930s. What this case study has to do with Uganda, Ethiopia, or anywhere beyond Manhattan is unclear. Mechanistic top-down international planning has many critics, but Easterly's alternatives are removed from reality. His line of thought seems to ignore the many legal, economic, geographic, and cultural forces that impede global development. This loose, sometimes incoherent collection of high-minded notes does not add up to a convincing thesis or argument. Easterly tries to craft global solutions, but fails to come up with practical proposals that will work in the messy world beyond his neighborhood. Charts, graphs, and photos.