How to summarize half a dozen developmental economics books in one sentence

You want to boil down hundreds of pages from several books? I came across one sentence that does a good job:

…poverty is a symptom— of the absence of a workable economy built on credible political, social, and legal institutions.

I’ve been reading a lot of economics books lately. (Okay, okay, you can pray for me – a CPA reading economics books for relaxation and learning and growth.)

(Cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

If we can figure out how we on this planet have gotten to the place where we have the highest wealth, best health, and longest life expectancy in history, we can keep going on the same path. Likewise, we can maybe figure out how to bring along those people groups that don’t share in the abundant bounty.

Here is the ache in many hearts:  How do we ‘solve’ poverty and suffering?

That is the motivational drive behind most relief and development work around the world and much charitable work in the U.S.

Why have decades of relief and development not ended poverty around the world?

There is a common thread in the last several books I’ve read, which I hope to start blogging about.

Until I can start summarizing what I’ve read, here is a one-sentence summary of lots of books, each with several hundred pages.

So here’s the question:  Why can’t we just solve poverty by dumping a lot of dollars on the issue? A one sentence answer:

Because poverty is a symptom— of the absence of a workable economy built on credible political, social, and legal institutions.

Levitt, Steven D.; Dubner, Stephen J. (2014-05-12). Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain (Kindle Locations 780-781). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I would add to the list respect for the rights of those in poverty, which is usually addressed best in a democracy. The best economic system to deliver on the possibilities of political, social, and legal institutions is capitalism. There are century old invisible barriers. Oh, don’t forget that life is complex.

This one-sentence summary also has hints of the concept of unintended consequences. There is an overlap with much of what I’ve written the last few years.

I’ll have much more to say in coming months.

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