Marvin Olasky

And what about development services such as roads, health clinics or schools that benefit not individuals but a group? Easterly proposes that vouchers be given to a village: "The villagers could then vote on how to spend the vouchers, aid agencies would find out how well they were doing at satisfying the poor based on how many village vouchers they attracted. The vouchers would at long last provide a 'market test' and a 'voter test' to the aid agencies."

Easterly, like many economists, underestimates the importance of spiritual change, but his overall message of avoiding big economic plans could clear some cobwebs from the heads of those who continue to sing, "I'm a Bepper, he's a Bepper, she's a Bepper, we're a Bepper, wouldn't you like to be a Bepper too?"

If Beppers change, they can do great good. If not, for all their good intentions, they often resemble the selfish rich folks F. Scott Fitzgerald described in "The Great Gatsby": "The were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit
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