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Apparently I'm not the only guy who teaches economics using cartoons. Larry White uses South Park to score a damning point against Jeff Sachs:

One of the all-time greatest episodes of South Park is “Underpants Gnomes,” wherein the coffee-addled character Tweak finds that his missing underpants are being stolen by -- you guessed it -- a group of underpants gnomes...

When asked to explain why they are stealing underpants, the gnomes offer the following as their business plan:
Phase 1: Collect underpants
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit


The gnomes themselves don’t understand Phase 2; the underpants are simply piling up. The lesson...: profit doesn’t appear by magic. You have to do something appropriate that actually yields a profit.

Now consider Jeffrey Sachs’ plan for enriching sub-Saharan Africa:

The rich world should offer impoverished regions like sub-Saharan Africa more economic support to break out of poverty. Of course, aid should be directed to specific needs – for example, malaria control, food production, safe drinking water, and sanitation – whose fulfillment can be measured and monitored to resist corruption. By raising living standards, we would also be empowering both civil society and impoverished governments to defend the rule of law.

Or in essence:

Phase 1: US taxpayers give (more) money to sub-Saharan African governments or multinational aid agencies, “directed to specific needs”.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Africa embarks on cumulative growth.

As Cartman says, "Sweeeeet!"

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (11 to date)
paul writes:

touche! great parallel. I also like the South Park episode about downloading music.

David Thomson writes:

Jeffrey Sachs is simply another second rate mental midget who graduated from Harvard University. How can we ever forget the mediocre John Kenneth Galbraith? Sachs essentially gets a free ride because of his eager willingness to do the bidding of the leftist establishment. It’s nothing more complicated than that. Possessing a Harvard degree often means that you will never again have to earn what you get in life.

Ozzy Osborne writes:

Yeah, I wasted $30 on an impulse buy of Sachs's "The End of Poverty" and I regretted it right away. Its chapter on why some countries are poor and others are rich is so weak -- like blaming Bolivia's poverty on "geographic isolation" and mountains. Well, then why isn't Switzerland poor? Or Colorado?

He never even considers the "IQ & the Wealth of Nations" thesis.

David Thomson writes:

Jeffrey Sachs's "The End of Poverty” is a stupid book. It is ridiculously easy to demolish his central theme. And yet, the leftist establishment made sure Sach’s work received glorious reviews. Some people, alas, are likely to dismiss my attacks on Harvard University as exaggerated and even somewhat weird. Nothing could be further from the truth. My arguments are quite sane and level headed. Harvard and a number of other so-called elite schools are often nothing more than intellectual whore houses. Someone like Sachs is, for all practical purposes, protected by nonviolent left-wing thugs who damage anyone who dares to get in their way. Everyone who has a lick of sense knows that I’m right. They are simply afraid of consciously admitting it to themselves. The financial and social repercussions could be enormous.

Blue state liberals are scared of red state values which soundly reject post modernist reasoning. Their degrees were often fraudulently obtained. The willingness to slut on behalf of the left-wing agenda was the number one thing which truly mattered. This nonsense is coming to an end. Democrats are losing elections. A more Republican nation will compel these people to begin earning what they get in life.

John Pertz writes:

To David Thomson,

Im partialy on your side. I dont really find leftism as a coherent or intellectualy atractive ideology. However, do you mind toning down the rhetoric a bit. If you dont like Sachs then you should just stick with the facts and explain why? Its may be easy to say that you can smash the central thesis of his book but would you mind stating why? I think Sachs is one of the most dangerous human beings alive because the current model that he is espousing for Africa's growth is nothing more than a plan to further strengthen the parasitic government's grip on power. I am a firm believer in providing aid to Africa through DECENTRALIZED NON-GOVERNMENTAL aid agencies but any plan, such as Sach's proposal, that furthers the cause of a bunch of crony oligopilists then I am firmly opposed to.

John Pertz writes:


Mr. Thomson you may want to get your head out of all of those anti-liberal right wing books and start to read some material with a bit more intelectual merit. To say that left wing academcis have fraudulent degrees sounds like extremism. And if your notion of a just nation is one where the red state religous right has a heavy say in the nations affairs then count me out. This nation could use a heavy dose of the wisdom of Hayek or Bastiat before it could use any more red state ideology.

David Thomson writes:

“I think Sachs is one of the most dangerous human beings alive because the current model that he is espousing for Africa's growth is nothing more than a plan to further strengthen the parasitic government's grip on power.”

We are in complete agreement. I simply thought that it would be redundant for me to offer specifics. Sorry about that.

“This nation could use a heavy dose of the wisdom of Hayek or Bastiat before it could use any more red state ideology”

Friedrich Hayek and Frederic Bastiat, I contend, are a few of the leaders of “red state ideology.” Sadly, you may mistakenly believe that only Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson speak for this somewhat diverse movement. I was also thinking of websites like, National Review, and The Weekly Standard.

Blue staters are tacit post modernists and radical socialists. Do they admit this to themselves? Not always. Still, folks like John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Nancy Pelosi truly represent this mindset. Please also remember that red states are growing economically---while many of the blue states are on the decline.

Chris Bolts writes:

I haven't read Jeff Sach's "End of Poverty", but I know that what he proposes is not the answer. On international economic development matters, I'm quite partial to William Easterly and his work.

John Pertz writes:


You are oversimplifying political ideology. This organizing of political views into two major camps is the unfortunate cause of a two party system. Thats why American conservatism in itself is not really a specific ideology. There are way too many streams of thought flowing into it in order to characterize it as a singular ideology. That is why it is important to follow Hayek's advice and recognize that there are three ideologies, socialist, liberal, and conservtaive. I would argue that I am liberal in the classical sense which would make me a libertarian in America. Socialists are labeled as liberals and true European conservatism is really hardly noticeable in America except for the Pat Buchanons and Ross Perot's of the world. Also, please realize that many liberals like Bastiat and Hayek would probably throw up all over themselves if they read the Weekly Standard or The National Review. The Warfare state and the welfare state are both enemies of the idealized liberal vision.

K writes:

I personally think Sachs is simply going for the brass ring - propose something so radical it will never be tried but is certain to be adored by the left. That makes headlines, you are loved, you are rich. You may have to wait, but you are certain to be Nobel material and lauded endlessly until then.

And he can never be proved wrong. Any contrary evidence will be dismissed by saying the program was not totally implemented in a pure form.

To put it simply - a few years ago a flow diagram of how to create impossible things was popular. The diagram looked serious until you noticed that one procees box included the words "a great miracle occurs here".

Dezakin writes:

Nice to see the commenters on this site are so full of actual details on how Sachs is wrong and prudently avoiding being merely dogmatic sycophants of ideological demogogues.

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