To my surprise, my views on the causes of poverty in the Global South have remained relatively the same from the start of this course to the end. The difference is that now, I am able to back up my arguments with facts and statistics, and I have a broader understanding of how we came to be where we are.
Overall, I fall in the Sachs camp of development theory. I am skeptical of the free market and believe that the capitalist system has not only failed to serve underdeveloped areas, but has systemically prevented their growth. While the readings in this course emphasize that traditional aid projects have failed to yield the returns we expect or desire, most have also demonstrated that open market approaches are just as ineffective. And when it comes down to a battle between two ineffective approaches to aid, I choose the Sachs model. Sachs’ saving grace, in my eyes, is that the MVP approach supports the impoverished in the village over an extended period of time, as opposed to developing a system that rewards a few at the top and expects wealth to trickle down.
I was surprised, in the end, by very little, except perhaps the lack of interest that Dr. Kendhammer expressed in Jared Diamond’s explanation for long-run inequality. I stand by that model as the best macro model with which to introduce non-development theorists to the concept of developed vs. undeveloped vs. underdeveloped nations. I think that on a smaller scale Diamond’s explanations can even be used to discuss development differences within large countries like the United States.
To my knowledge the topic of this post was initially scheduled to be something like, “what is the solution?” Here is mine: (apologies in advance to Samba) …
Ohio University should sponsor “Politics of Developing Areas: Spring Semester”, which will be a practical application portion of this class. We as a group should roll into The Gambia in a bunch of Honda Pilots, take over, and begin to exercise control based on our overwhelming knowledge of development issues. We begin by revitalizing the education system, hosting conferences to write a new national constitution and then ratifying it through national vote, and seeking international contracts and monetary aid for infrastructure and business development projects.
Yes, the plan I just outlines is completely based in a white savior complex and yes I am 99% joking. The reason I framed it like I did is to emphasize the following: development is a task that requires all hands on deck. We saw this in regards to development states like Japan and South Korea. In nations like The Gambia, Yahyah Jammeh and leaders like him are not geared towards the same development mindset of a development state. I believe that with the proper people working towards the right goals, development is possible anywhere. (475 words)