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Seems to be me you have taken more concrete steps on your "proposal". Where can I find it?

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In my view the way to make "elites’ material incentives align with policy success" would be to for Africa to run connected but still segmented development states that each sought to produce at least somewhat diversified economies and for a long period of time from the start engaged in infrastructure development and import substitution, this would give "elites" and their families the ability to be personally materially invested in the ground floor of an economic elevator that could rise for a long time before it began to have a new set of large problems, and by then they would be rich and big shots in glittering places. However, this would require countries around the continent to all, around the same time, default on Western debt so as to free up the massive resources lost to that capital flight each year, while also placing stringent capital controls on profits and other sources of capital flight.

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I agree with most of what you say here. But I think one of the reason little resources are spent on complex questions of policy development is precisely because of its entanglement with social and political conditions on the ground that if the policy ends up having negative effects the policy developers will receive the blowback. Of course they shouldn't be above criticism but the criticism they generally receive is not only targeted towards there policy development but there very intentions. Consider how much negative criticism IMF receives are of the kind that they a tool for some kind of colonial enforcement.

Even when policy developers end up succeeding like Chicago boys in case of Chile they get blamed for somehow as a US tool for propping up Pinochet. Now West absolutely deserves blame for supporting Pinochet. But if you work with political leaders to implement policy that grows the economy it will most probably end up helping those political leaders.

Again none of these is to excuse many mistakes made by international development agencies knowingly or unknowingly. I am just making the case that criticism of policy developers should be focused on there policies not on there intentions and character. Even there intentions and character are not above criticism of course but should require more substantiative proof.

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Mar 23·edited Mar 23Author

The solution to this should be to embed the policymaking process into local politics and institutions. Let people decide for themselves. This is true even in autocracies (which also typically have *some* processes).

The challenge out there is that everyone talks a big game about institutions but then when the rubber meets the road people love to cut corners.

We must trust people to be able to manage their own affairs and to develop systems to do that.

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Well said, sir! Many people are not cognizant of the fact that the USA has only been as economically concentrated as it is now since sometime within the last 20 years and up until the late 1970s the USA had effective capital flow inhibitors between its constituents states, among other things. Real growth, innovation, availability of opportunity, social outcomes, etc. have all been in an overall decline since the late 1970s and in marked decline and at increasing rate since the early 2000s...

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I think your link re: policy extraversion is broken

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You touch on it a bit here, but I feel like there’s more to say on the attitudes of most western people towards African engagement. Certainly amongst my own fellows, I seem to be the only one actually interested in the question of how to make African countries viable economies - that just doesn’t seem to be a particularly attractive proposition for most people. Instead, the overwhelming mindset is one of ‘aid to the starving children of Africa’. Everything that happens feels like it’s done in the style of charity - the only vaguely economic-development related thing that gets the time of day is education, and even then it’s generally approached with a completely different mindset to someone focused on increasing wealth. Everything has to be malaria nets, women’s rights and climate justice etc, and while all these things are important, it has the net effect of crowding out any serious attempts at thinking through hard economic problems.

My personal belief is that this relates in part to the fact a lot of the impetus on Africa is driven by the young and left wing. As someone who is both of these things, this nonetheless feels highly reflective of the tendency of my peers to focus on vibes based politics and the ability to signal to others how right on you are, rather than anything that requires technical thinking; this naturally lends itself to cultural points and fixation on ideas of colonialism etc, rather than attempting to determine a viable role for each African country in the global economy etc. This combines with a tendency for simplistic notions such as ‘corporations bad, charity good’ to mean that anything that doesn’t fit into the ‘touchy feely SDG/MDG’ type mindset gets rejected from some combination of requiring actual technical thought and not adequately showing one’s political affiliations. This then feeds upwards as I would suspect these people are amongst the only ones likely to engage with questions surrounding Africa in the first place enough to be a sizeable influence on western policymakers - most other people don’t engage with this stuff beyond a general concern, something that charities best capitalise on rather than policymakers (also furthering the problem). Combine this fact with the cross-pollination between these people and academia, the problems with academia being something you expanded on well previously, and I think this goes a long way towards explaining why policymaking around these places takes the form it does.

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