7 Sep 2009

Surreal Sachs

I've had a good time lambasting Jeff Sachs's continued faith in big government, top-down "solutions," but now (via NMC) he seems a caricature of himself. While discussing a program to aid small farmers in Africa, he says that the money should be given to the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Then:
Governments in hunger-stricken regions, especially Africa, would then submit national action plans that would provide details on how they would use the donor funds to get high-yield seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, farm tools, storage silos, and local advice to impoverished farmers. An independent expert panel would review the national plans to verify their scientific and managerial coherence. Assuming that a plan passes muster, the money to support it would quickly be disbursed. Afterward, each national program would be monitored, audited, and evaluated.

[I did NOT take anything out here. He REALLY does continue to say...]

This approach is straightforward, efficient, accountable, and scientifically sound.
Poor Hayek must be rolling in his grave. Sachs's "straightforward" prescription is full of information and incentive holes big enough to drive a truck through.

Bottom Line: The best way to help farmers in developing countries (and the people they feed) is to protect property rights, improve markets and free trade. Yes, less government, more entrepreneurs!