I wonder if Sachs and Easterly really hate each other. Sachs is up in Columbia, while Easterly is in NYU. They have different opinions on their visions of development, and was quite open about their disagreements publicly via book reviews / rebuttals / etc. I'm not quite aware of the full extent of the debate, as I don't have a crush on either one of them. What is similar though, is that they are authors with serious Economic backgrounds, making their books quite dull and overly reliant on statistics - i.e. hey I did this regression and it shows that i'm correct, disregarding the reliability of the measurement, the direction of casuality, blablhallbstuffstatisticsnerdsliketotalkaboutblabh.
Ah, I digress, the joy of writing without a coherent outline. Though problematic in its parsimony, I'd like to present this debate using the metaphor of a tractor.
1. Jeff works in the development industry, and upon a survey of a dirt poor village, claims that what those people need is an awesome tractor. Upon return, he pulls out all these population statistics all over the world, uses various ratios to find out how many tractors are needed to save the world, finds out that it's about three times more than what the rich countries spend on ODA, and then holds hands with Bono to yell "we can do this."
2. William works in the development industry, and upon a survey, sees that tractors are used as playgrounds. In another case, he sees a farmer who learned how important a tractor is, took up loans, bought a tractor, used it for a while, fixed it a couple of times, and managed a living.
I would describe Sachs' approach as detached materialism. His vision of development clearly focuses on material goods - buildings, products, tractors, and most importantly, capital. He often ignores the role of people, institutions, outsiders, governments, culture and other non-material entities, as if the reason for poverty is what is most visibly evident - the lack of material goods.
Sachs' approach is also detaced, much like a scientist experimenting on his subjects. The scientist, the observer, is not part of the project, not accountable to the results of the petri dish, and partially deaf to what the petri dish is saying. This is quite evident in the various Millenium Village Projects, the product of Sachs' visions. The website boats its efficiency and cost-effective measures, but it never mentions how many UNDP staff are employed - possibly millions in wages, insurance, air fare, living stipend, education stipend, etc, compared to the peanuts spent in the village.
Easterly envisions development to be integrated to the economy. The economy endures and continues. Material goods are part of the economy, but so are maintenance, sellers, advertisers, and regulators. More importantly, it also includes concepts such as incentive, long-term planning, personal investment/effort, and ownership.
Much reptition has been made on the Sachs - Easterly Debate. It's its first appearance on the Tomzanian, so I give the score:
Sachs 0 - 1 Easterly.
I am unfair with the use of imagery, but so is my commentary.