Monday, January 19, 2009

Animal Spirits

What is the best way to improve the lives of the poor?

Give them a chance to make some money. But how?

Mary Anastasia O'Grady writes, "the evidence is piling up that neither government nor multilateral spending on education and infrastructure are key to development. To move out of poverty, countries instead need fast growth; and to get that they need to unleash the animal spirits of entrepreneurs."

Of course, the dilemma we face is that you can't plan animal spirits. You can't control them with a committee. You can't count on their methods or their results. No wonder governments prefer to stick with development plans that consist of conspicuous spending. It's too hard to claim political credit for something that happens out of sight, even if it works.

In other words, most of what is presented as economic development is really political development, and most of what is really economic development has nothing to do with politicians.

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