User Review - Flag as inappropriate
This book deals with very basic concept of the world problem. I would recommend for beginners in the field of world development
User Review - Flag as inappropriate
While the world at large, caught in the midst of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, was coming to a conclusion that the current state of economic affairs is dangerously unsustainable, Jeffrey Sachs publishes his second New York Times bestseller book Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet. In this passionately written and inspiring book, one of the world’s leading economic policy activists, Sachs sets out a plan for solving the world’s most pressing issues of XXI Century. Five essential parts of his ‘plan for a crowded planet’ encompass solutions for problems such as: extreme poverty, disparities in world’s resource distribution, rapid population growth, climate change, pollution, water shortages, threat of pandemics and probable conflicts about scarce resources.
Sachs' biography is impressive. Among other things he is the Harvard University’s youngest professor of economics to-date. He was a Special Advisor on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and still holds this position under the current Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. He is also a Professor at Columbia University School of International Affairs and School of Public Health. This remarkable background makes his sound analysis of the current global issues and challenges they portend and his advice quite readily accepted, at times dangerously uncritically.
In a very systematic way of a true academic, Sachs presents his recommendations on how to approach burning global problems in a new way. His opening is prophetic-sounding sentence, that “the 21st Century will overturn our basic assumptions about economic life” (p.3). He further projects that the 21st Century will witness great changes in power balances, but assures of peace because “the world has become much too crowded and dangerous for more ‘great games’ in the Middle East or anywhere else” (p.3). Although he is right about the global shift of power, as the growing influence of China shows, he is politically short-sighted in seeing ‘no great games’ happening in the Middle East anymore. Unfortunately, the ‘great games’ took place in the Middle East in the past two years. The games destroyed Libya, and are killing thousands in Syria, while forcing millions into exile. Inevitable economic and socio-political consequences have affected the entire region. Paradoxically, later in the book he comments that “the prospect of a spreading conflict in the Middle East… could easily engulf the region” in a war, in particular the American Iran policy (p.288). Hence, his idea that the world is moving towards cooperation falls flat on its face here.
Book’s central idea is that unsustainable “current trajectory of human activity” (p.57), can be solved by “global cooperation… [which] has been enormously successful in the past” (p.5). It reappears several times as a warning that continuing with ‘business as usual’ will bring “social and ecological crises with calamitous effects” (p.5). Although well placed amidst the ongoing global economic and political crisis, and in accord with the prevailing global public stance on the causes of the poor state of world affairs, it sounds like whistle blowing against corporate capitalism that dictates American politics. Yet, his attitude is well understood considering global consequences of American-triggered 2008 global financial crisis, which blatantly support his argument that “markets alone will not do it” (p.81). Admittedly, global recession is the corpus delicti of their epic failure, because, as he rightly notes, “economic development is a complex interplay of market forces and public sector investments” (p.219).
His critique of the prevailing neo-liberal approach to global problems as lacking cooperation, common concern and foresight, at government levels is laudable. Yet, he weakens his own argument by often vacillating between his