Am I attacking Sachs too much?

Dear Readers,

Let me respond to those concerned about the tone and divisiveness of this debate (and a little bit about my levity).

In the Huffington Post, my column says (please read both Sachs' and my column):

Jeffrey Sachs, the world's leading apologist and fund-raiser for the aid establishment, has responded here with a ferocious personal attack on Moyo and myself, "Aid Ironies."

Allow me to defend myself (I'll let the formidable Moyo handle herself). It's not so much my pathetic need to correct slanders, as if anybody cared. Sachs' desperation shows when he peddles what I will show he knew were falsehoods. Besides, the sight of two middle-aged white men mud-wrestling on African aid may entertain the audience.

First, in the intellectual world as in the legal one, the accused has a right to face his accusers and mount a proper defense.

Second, the purpose of debate is to facilitate the emergence of the best ideas and to shoot down the worst ideas. I'm not always so cocksure I am right, but it is clear to me intellectually that Sachs' ideas are wrong, and I will combat them accordingly. An artificial consensus that stops the process of shooting down bad ideas is not a healthy intellectual practice. Sachs himself seems to keep trying to shut down the debate. From my column at Huffington:

Instead of Sachs' attempt to shout down critics with slanders and falsehoods, let's have a climate of open debate in which we learn from past mistakes, the guilty suffer, the good are rewarded, and we can hope that aid does start to reach the poor.

Finally, about my occasional levity. I believe in the maxim I heard long ago: "Take your work seriously and yourself lightly." The levity is because I don't take myself too seriously (if I ever do, please let me know). I take the work very seriously indeed.

Let me know if I have addressed your concerns.

All the best, Bill