This is not a satire

CommuniquéMeeting of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda in Bali, Indonesia, 27 March 2013

We discussed how to build a global partnership ... for our development ownership of a shared development agenda.... consulted with a range of stakeholders....... a renewed Global Partnership that enables a transformative, people-centered and planet-sensitive development agenda .... partnership of all stakeholders. the context of sustainable development ....a single and coherent post-2015 development agenda .... social inclusion and environmental sustainability...

Our approach... should be universally applicable while at the same time implementable at the national, sub-national, community and individual levels... strengthen global governance.... all development actors effectively support the post-2015 development agenda.... Enhanced and scaled up models of cooperation... at the global, regional, national, and sub-national levels...

Our people-centered and planet-sensitive post-2015 agenda will need to be grounded in a commitment to address global environmental challenges.... promoting global cooperation in line with each country’s level of capacity and responsibility to act.... There should also be changed behavior in this regard in all countries in order to make more efficient use of environmental assets and resources. ..

We agreed that a post-2015 agenda should clearly specify the means of implementation... Ownership at all levels...North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation....Enhanced knowledge sharing, capacity building... will also be key.

...Stronger monitoring and evaluation at all levels, and in all processes of development ....will help guide decision making, update priorities and ensure accountability. ... registry of commitments... to ensure accountability....

Full communiqué is here.

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The woman who would not shut up

I have been reading Sheryl Sandberg's new book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.  Despite being a self-appointed feminist, I feel unqualified to comment on many of the debates around the book. But what inspired me and reminded me of development discussions is Sandberg's willingness to speak out where there have been so many evasions and euphemisms:

In addition to the external barriers erected by society, women are hindered by barriers that exist within ourselves.

If current trends continue, fifteen years from today, about one-third of the women in this audience will be working full-time and almost all of you will be working for the guy you are sitting next to...If you want the outcome to be any different, you will have to do something about it.

Within traditional institutions, success has often been contingent upon a woman not speaking out but fitting in...

It was a no-win situation. I couldn't deny being a woman...{but} pointing out the disadvantages women face in the workplace might be misinterpreted as whining or asking for special treatment.

I decided it was time to stop putting my head down and to start speaking out.

Social gains are never handed out. They must be seized.

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A. Lincoln reviews Jeb Bush's new immigration book

Jeb Bush's new book, Immigration Wars, has attracted attention for its proposal of a second-class status for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants, that they could become permanent legal residents, but not citizens. A former Congressman from Illinois, A. Lincoln, received an advance copy of Jeb's book and made the following comments. While not attempting to fully resolve the complex problem of illegal immigration, former Congressman Lincoln commented on the proposal of second-class status:

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that all men are created equal. We now practically read it, all men are created equal except negroes. When the Know-nothings {anti-immigration movement} get control, it will read, all men are created equal except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.

We have....among us, perhaps half our people .. {who} have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equal in all things.....when they look through that old Declaration of Independence, they find that those old men say that "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," and then they feel that ... it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh, of the men who wrote that Declaration; and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together; that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists ...

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How to thrive on chaos

From Matt Ridley's review of new Nassim Taleb book, Antifragile, in Wall Street Journal:

From the textile machinery of the industrial revolution to the discovery of many pharmaceutical drugs, it was tinkering and evolutionary serendipity we have to thank, not design from first principles. Mr. Taleb systematically demolishes what he cheekily calls the "Soviet-Harvard" notion that birds fly because we lecture them how to—that is to say, that theories of how society works are necessary for society to work. Planning is inherently biased toward delay, complication and inflexibility...

If trial and error is creative, then we should treat ruined entrepreneurs with the reverence that we reserve for fallen soldiers, Mr. Taleb thinks. The reason that restaurants are competitive is that they are constantly failing. A law that bailed out failing restaurants would result in disastrously dull food.

Something that is fragile, like a glass, can survive small shocks but not big ones. Something that is robust, like a rock, can survive both. But robust is only half way along the spectrum. There are things that are anti-fragile, meaning they actually improve when shocked, they feed on volatility. The restaurant sector is such a beast. So is the economy as a whole: It is precisely because of Joseph Schumpeter's "creative destruction" that it innovates, progresses and becomes resilient.

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Jane Jacobs on Development: the Nation is not the ONLY possible unit of analysis

From Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek, quoting Jane Jacobs' book Cities and the Wealth of Nations:

Nations are political and military entities... But it doesn’t necessarily follow from this that they are also the basic, salient entities of economic life or that they are particularly useful for probing the mysteries of economic structure, the reasons for rise and decline of wealth.

So for example, two important factors in development are technology and culture. Neither spreads primarily at the unit of the nation.

This is the kind of helpful insight that will DEFINITELY have NO impact WHATSOEVER because it is so much more convenient both data-wise and politics-wise to focus on Nations.

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The Revolt of the Pitied

Magatte Wade, Senegalese-American entrepreneur,  in the Guardian:

a young woman asked, "For the Americans on the panel, how do you deal with being a person of privilege while working in global development?" My eyes lit up with fury as she directed her question specifically at the white Americans on the panel. I let them answer, then smiled and added with a wink: "I am an American, you know, and also a person of privilege." She instantly understood what I meant.

Her question assumed that those of us in developing nations are to be pitied. I know as a Senegalese that her attitude is precisely what disgusts us about many who work at NGOs.

For many of those who "care" about Africans, we are objects through which they express their own "caring".

I replied to the young woman, "If you see us as human beings, there is nothing to deal with. We like to eat good food, we love to talk and laugh with our family and friends. We wonder about the world, and why so often bad is rewarded rather than good."

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Adam Smith Award winner for 2013 announced

Just announced:

The Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) is proud to announce that the Adam Smith Award winner for 2013 will be William Easterly of New York University. APEE describes the award as follows:

"The Adam Smith Award is .. is given to recognize an individual who has made a sustained and lasting contribution to the perpetuation of the ideals of a free market economy as first laid out in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. The recipient of this award must be an individual who has acquired an international reputation as an eloquent scholar and advocate of free enterprise and the system of entrepreneurship which underlies it..."

Previous award winners include Nobel Prize winners James Buchanan, Vernon Smith, Douglass North, and Elinor Ostrom, and other leading economic thinkers such as Armen Alchian, Robert Barro, Harold Demsetz, Allan Meltzer, and Gordon Tullock...

Easterly's work is not just a critique of efforts at development planning due to perverse incentives, bureaucratic bottlenecks, and errors in economic calculation, but also contains a deep understanding of the role of the entrepreneurial market process in lifting individuals out of poverty and producing a social order of freedom, dignity, peace, and prosperity. Economic development follows from a society of free and responsible individuals; who participate in a market economy based on profit and loss; who participate in a political regime governed by principle, not privilege; and live in a society that exhibits neither discrimination nor dominion...

Easterly will be honored on Sunday, April 14th, 2013 at the opening banquet of the annual meetings of APEE. This years conference will be held at the Sheraton-Maui. Here is the call for papers, please consider submitting a paper and/or a panel for the meetings.

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Sad update on Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega: sentenced to 18 years for "terrorism"

July 13, 2012 story from the BBC:

A prominent Ethiopian journalist and blogger has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for violating the country's anti-terrorism legislation.

Eskinder Nega and 23 others were found guilty last month.

They were accused of links with US-based opposition group Ginbot Seven, which Ethiopia considers a terrorist organisation.

"The imprisonment… is emblematic of the Ethiopian government's determination to gag any dissenting voice in the country," Amnesty's Ethiopia researcher Claire Beston said in a statement.

"The Ethiopian government is treating calls for peaceful protest as a terrorist act and is outlawing the legitimate activity of journalists and opposition members."

That same government continues to be flooded with aid by the World Bank, US, UK, and other donors.

*See previous post on Nega July 9, letters to the New York Review of Books forthcoming August 18, 2012 and a previous one   January 12, 2012, and another post on Democracy and human rights being absent at the World Bank.

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