Spot the Contradiction

Daniel Gross’s review of Sachs’ Common Wealth was bizarre.  Consider this:

Even congenital optimists have good reason to suspect that this time
the prophets of economic doom may be on point, with the advent of
seemingly unstoppable developments like….the explosive growth of China and India.

Huh?  What kind of upside down logic makes high growth rates proof of economic doom?  Proving this was no idle slip Gross goes on to say:

Things are different today, [Sachs] writes, because of four trends: human
pressure on the earth, a dangerous rise in population, extreme poverty
and a political climate characterized by “cynicism, defeatism and
outdated institutions.” These pressures will increase as the developing
world inexorably catches up to the developed world
. (emphasis added)

Silly me, I thought rising life expectancy, increasing wealth, and lower world inequality, which is what it means to say that the developing world inexorably catches up to the developed world, was a good thing.  And then there is this:

The combination of climate change and a rapidly growing population
clustering in coastal urban zones will set the stage for many Katrinas,
not to mention “a global epidemic of obesity, cardiovascular disease
and adult-onset diabetes.”

Ok, climate change will create problems but how clueless do you have to be not to understand that a large fraction of the world’s people would love to live long enough to die from obesity and other diseases of wealth?

Don’t misunderstand, I know that growth brings problems.  My dispute with Gross is not that he thinks the glass is half-empty and I think it is half-full; my dispute is that Gross thinks the fuller the glass gets the more empty it becomes.

Addendum: Dan Gross writes to say that he was summarizing Sachs’ argument.  Point noted.


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