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Jeffrey Sachs Managing Globalization

Monday 14 April, 2008

I checked out this event sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  There was a good crowd to hear this internationally-acclaimed economist over the lunch hour.

His general point was we’re @ a pivotal time in history where technology is enabling us to do much more, but it’s not sustainable, which will lead to a crash.  He cited numerous economic & population statistics, as economist do (of which I am 1)  which support his statements.  His main suggestion is we need sustainable development to avoid this crash.  I was disappointed that there was no opportunity to pose questions to the speaker.

Here are his 10 suggestions for our next President:

1.  end the Iraq war becasue money spent there can be better spent elsewhere

2.  end the Bush tax cuts

3.  invest in sustainable energy

4.  dispatch a climate envoy to the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China

5.  stop 1/3 of our corn crop going to produce gas (ethanol)

6.  sign the convention on biodiversity

7.  invite African & Middle East leaders to the drylands initiative to address hunger & H2O shortages

8.  reestablish the United Nations Population Fund

9.  reinstitute the Millennium Development goals to get US out of last place @ donating .16% of our income

10.  create a cabinet-level Department for international sustainable development

I became familiar with Jeffrey Sachs when I went to Poland after he suggested economic shock therapy for the country, i.e., don’t waste time with easing in economic changes, rather jump right in, make them, & force people to make 1 radical adjustment instead of making many small incremental changes.  It seemed to work in Poland, so there’s wasn’t much flak against it.

While I understand his arguments for a better world, I think what’s missing is the recognition that things don’t change unless people see a direct benefit for themselves as a result of it.  I’m all for limiting population growth & supporting alternative energies, but until the poor see the gains from agricultural technologies & wind/solar power prices come down, they’re going to keep producing more babies (future farmers) & not buy expensive energy sources.

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