CourtiersThere are many courtiers serving powerful state & corporate interests, in the US, and in most countries. Some of them are disguised as economists, just as they were in Stalin's USSR, Hitler's Germany, in the British Empire, etc.
In the current global destruction, led by the US, Jeffery Sachs is a typical example of the economist-courtier. His crimes against humanity are well-documented, and obvious. But he works hard to polish his public image. He serves power so effectively, yet works so hard against the interests of people, that well-meaning journalists cannot understand him, and it's easy to find articles about him, which jump back and forth, confusing the frames of reference of the rich and the poor.
Sach's current obsession with debt relief, along with that of Bono, should immediately raise one's suspicions. On a recent PBS documentary, Bono answered some of his critics by pointing to their successful debt cancellation, saying something like "you can't argue with our success".
Well, yes you can. The debt was just a weapon: the banks didn't need the money. Debt was a 'means', not an 'end'. So far, this debt relief either 1) is used to further restructure a country in line with IMF rules or 2) make room for more destructive development money.
The assumption is that development/aid money is a good thing. It isn't. Because the purpose of these loans and aid are not to help people: they are intended to provide resources for a country's wealthy minority, and extract the maximum benefit for their powerful first-world allies.
The other assumption is that development itself is a good thing. It isn't. This assumption invalidates the lives & cultures of indigenous peoples all over the world, whose land and resources have been taken, and who are forced to migrate to the edge of cities & industrial centers in order to survive. Or worse.
Let's take the example of Bolivia. You can find essays everywhere, including in Sach's new book, about the miracles he performed there, as a young man. I think I'll just quote Noam Chomsky on the subject:
Take Bolivia. It was in trouble. It had brutal dictators, highly repressive, huge debt, the whole business. The West went in. Sachs was the advisor, with the IMF rules: stabilize the currency, increase agro-export, cut down production for domestic needs, subsistence agriculture, etc. It worked. The figures, the macroeconomic statistics, looked quite good. The currency has been stabilized. The debt has been reduced. The GNP is increasing.
There are a few little flaws in the ointment: poverty has rapidly increased. Malnutrition has increased. the educational system has collapsed. But most interesting is what has in fact stabilized the economy: agricultural exports. But not coffee. Coca.
It's interesting to me that, in principle, anyone listens to servants of power. They are bad sources.
Certainly people like Thomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, or Jeffrey Sachs would be in the same position no matter which kind of state system they were serving. That's clear from the fact that they will distance themselves from polticians they believe are declining in power (Bush, for example, in Friedman's recent conversion).
To reposition themselves, they simply change their double-speak as needed.