Archive for December, 2009

Howard Gardner Interviews Jeffrey Sachs

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2009 by fractalbridge

Recently I had a double take when I learned that Howard Gardner, the famous author of a book that transformed education titled “Multiple Intelligences,” was the interviewer of a man named Jeffrey Sachs.
“Who is the Sachs character?” I wondered. I decided to find out by going to their interview at the 92nd Street Y.

Jeffrey Sachs is an economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and a Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia’s School of Public Health. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and the founder and co-President of the Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty and hunger. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the United Nations Millennium Project Millennium Development Goals, eight internationally sanctioned objectives to reduce extreme poverty, hunger, and disease by the year 2015.

This interview blew me away. Some of the highlights were as follows:

“We tend to remember the leaders who kill many people, but not those who imagine the possibility of peace.”

“People don’t tend to think about economics until they are older. It’s related to the question of what works in the world and what doesn’t?”

“My life changed when a Bolivian asked me in 1985 to come to his country and see what it (and runaway inflation) was really like in practice. I went. My life purpose in academia has taken a different path ever since.”

“It turns out that the basic principles of economics apply even at 12,000 feet above sea level!”

“I saw how my practical knowledge could actually be applied, which was somethin that emotionally expanded me and my life purpose.”

“I helped get the unpayable debt of Bolivia cancelled, which resulted in many other Southamerican debt cancellations. It was only because I was tenured at Harvard that I was not scared to talk about such ideas.”

“I happened to go to Poland on April 4, 1989 and was able to participate with and see a revolution happen before my very eyes that related to the dissolving of the Soviet Union and fall of the Berlin Wall.”

“In the midst of our great power, the US is one of the most insular countries in the world.”

“Remember what Margaret Meade famously said: ‘Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.'”

“Transition Economics has now become a field with thousands of followers and disciples and agents.”

“I try to define problems in such a way that they can be solvable.”

“I fell in love with Keynes who dealt with the politics of economics.”

“With most of our real world problems, specialists are not able to help us as much. We need interdisciplinary approaches.”

“I’m still black and blue from the work I attempted to do with Russia just after the USSR dissolved. The Americans simply did not want to make much of a difference there, when they could have done so much. From October 1991 until December 1993 I felt like I was in a Russian hurricane. While I was focused on helping Russia and Poland get on their feet, Cheney and Wolfowitz were focused on securing American dominance in the world.”

“I raised 1 billion dollars for Poland’s currency. I tried to do the same for Russia and hit road block after road block, thanks to people like Cheney.”

“I was told that because 1992 was an election year that my good ideas would not be put into action. I did not believe this could happen at the time. It did.”

“My wife is a physician and so helps me with using the powers of ‘differential diagnoses’ of problems.”

“I went to Zambia early on, saw the realities of malaria, and was in shock that no one was there helping.”

“I worked with the global fund for AIDS, helping Kofi Annon from the United Nations.”

“One of the paradoxes of modern times is that we have so many committed communities of people but that they for the most part of very little access to the policy-makers.”

“I now go around the world having tantrums in public places so it is heard. I had a tantrum the other day at the UN.”

“At the Earth Institute we have 800 scientists and everything on the earth is game!”

“One of my projects right now is small order farmers who can make more food. Obama seems to be excited about it.”

“I worked with Bono on cancelling debt in the developing world and Bono went on to write a book about how poverty can be ended.”

“FDR and JFK were heros of mine because they posed problems in a way that they could be solved. I believe Obama will eventually do that to the same level of skill.”

“Climate change is the absolutely most essential issue right now and so all other goals are linked back to this goal.”

“Quite simply Wall Street needs to say sorry and we need to tax them.”

“We need a better vocabulary of values and ethics.”

Thank you for a very interesting evening, Jeffrey Sachs and Howard Gardner!