Trish's Reviews > The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good

The White Man's Burden by William Easterly
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Sep 10, 2011

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When this book was first recommended to me, I quietly asked, "It's not racist, is it? The title bothers me" and for the first chapter of the book, it continued to do so. In this case, he's not literally talking about actual white men, but instead quoting Rudyard Kiplings poem, "White Man's Burden" 1899. The ideas he puts forth in this book are similar to the ones I've developed while living out here in The Gambia. 1) NGOs/Aid, free of independent critique go unchecked 2) They serve the need they want to serve, NOT the need as defined by the poor they're "helping" and 3) It comes from the west's need to aid/help out of guilt and self-benefit. What he brings up that I hadn't considered is that aid, in a lot of ways, is nouveau-colonialism.

The only major detraction was his graphs. While one could sit down and really work through what he was attempting to explain, they were expressed in a very unnatural way. I'm a champion graph reader, but decided to make a graph titled "Per Capita Income at Various Levels of Democracy, 2002" and then making your y-axis read "Per Capita Income (log base 2 scale) in US Dollars" is just mean. I would like to further derail this graph (as an example of the many that made me roll my eyes) but it's so much nonsenes that I can't explain it clearly.
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