I fell into deep depression reading this book. Basically, this book haunts me. Everything, every outlook seems so dismal.
Before continuing reading this review, you'd better know a bit about myself. I am essentially a child. My dream, until now, is still damn naive: changing the world. I know, I know it's quite out of question regarding my capability, but at least I can hope for a better world built by great people.
And that's why this book is so powerful. Bad Samaritans by Chang Ha-Joon is a book on Development Economics, in which the author disputes every single belief I held before hand, in which he shows pretty convincing that all recent policies especially in the last 2 decades made in effort to help developing countries turn out to be all wrong, horribly wrong, even bringing opposite impacts.
The author touches all important aspects of development. Free trade, FDI, public and private enterprises, markets and democracy, property law, government spending, and culture even. I would not say all arguments are strong and perfect, after all this is a controversial topic. Yet, I could safely assure you it is persuasive and enlightening in many ways, especially the chapters on tariff, free trade, government spending and culture. Dr. Chang uses a lot of historical facts and data to show how neo-liberalism contradicts exactly the path to economic development. He stresses the problem in short and long run outlook, and also the hard sacrifice to be made for the furture.
The horror is the way I feel there's no way out. Yes, corruption is not that bad, yes, people with less economics-background can still do great, yes, culture definitely does not determine the fate of the nation. But where to start, when you are a poor countries, with so limited resources and limited power, if we don't all co-operate. And how long would the painful sacrifice last? 30 years, 60 years, 100 years? Would people in this generation, the next generation and the one after that want it? Who finally gets the fruits? Development is a puzzle, no, it's a maze where everything is so interconnected so messy that there seems to be no exit.
In many ways I envy them so much, the developed countries' kids. Now, what could we do for ours?