Top Ten Solutions to the World's Problems.
Hat tip to Reason Magazine .
From Copenhagen Consensus 2008 , we get their list of priorities to world-wide problems.
Being that the problems are "world-wide", many do not necessarily directly affect the First World like the U.S. and Europe.
1. Supplying Micronutrients
A $60 Million plan to supply vitamin A and zinc to 80% of the 140 Million children who lack them on a daily basis despite reductions in income poverty. These are poorest of the poor. Total benefits exceed $1 billion. I would like to think this is feasible in the immediate. Whether or not it can be done continually and in a sustainable way is another matter.
2. Widen Free Trade
via continuing the Doha Development Agenda. Whether short term or long term, the benefits are enormous. Great strides have been made but we have a long way to go. And despite daunting obstacles on a local level in these countries from corrupt dictators to weak institutions and rule of law, continued trade liberalization in a positive direction remains feasible and possible primarily because it rests primarily on us to make it happen. We need to lower trade barriers and slash subsidies, primarily in textiles and agriculture, to give these poor people a chance to help themselves. It's good for everyone and could boost global income by $3 Trillion of which $2.5 Trillion would go to these poor areas. Meaningful and gainful employment is the best weapon against poverty and in the promotion of self-sufficiency...bar none.
Costs? Well, that depends. As far as I'm concerned, this one costs very little...aside from a some headaches fighting interests groups.
3. Fortify diets with iron and iodized salt
Many poor children lack these nutrients and it hampers cognitive growth and causes anemia and vulnerability to avoidable to diseases.
Cost: $286 million per year.
Rounding out the rest of the top ten:
4. expanded immunization coverage of children
7. lowering the price of schooling
8. increasing girls' schooling
9. community-based nutrition promotion
10.support for women's reproductive roles.
Personally, I think #10 should be up a little higher but what to do I know.
On education, economist Vernon Smith emphasized that this solution is not about lowering the cost of schooling, but rather reducing the price faced by poor parents who have to choose between sending their kids to school and making them work to help the family. This trade off has long since vanished in the US as incomes rose rapidly through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One way to reduce the price is to supply vouchers or channel more public funds to schools.Uganda, for example, cut school fees by $16 per year, a 60% decrease, and enrollment almost doubled, with most of the increase in enrollment being girls.
Anyway, all are very important and serve to address institutional failings and short-comings in poor societies...failings largely borne by rotten local social and governmental institutions through corruption and violence which reinforce the cycle of poverty resulting from malnutrition, poor education, low income and lack of respect for common law. Increased economic activity through more free trade is a key. Economic growth is the only engine that lead these struggling societies to a position of strength to be able to take off the basic "life support" programs like nutritional supplements, immunizing and basic social education and make continued self-sustained progress....progress that will only grow exponentially once the fundamentals are in place. Getting those fundamentals in place is, however, very simple in theory and very complicated at the same time due to local factors. We in the developed world, beyond basic life support programs to help in the short run, can do enormous good by doing our part and lowering trade barriers for these economies. Such efforts will have huge immediate benefits and even greater long term benefits.
Says University of Chicago economist Nancy Stokey, "Trade reform is not just for the long run, it would make people in developing countries better off right now. There are large benefits in the short run and the long run benefits are enormous."
Nobelist and University of California, Santa Barbara economist Finn Kydland urges, "By reducing trade barriers, income per capita will grow, enabling more people in developing countries to take care of some of these problems for themselves." \
The writing is on the wall. Will we do our part?
In conclusion, says Ron Baily of Reason:
The Copenhagen Consensus process is certainly not perfect. However, its use of benefit cost analysis helps concentrate the attention of policymakers, charitable foundations, and members of the public on the relative urgency and costs of the world's big problems.
We'll see how policy makers react.