One of the terrible tragedies of the last 60 years has been the fact that so many of the world's poorest have stayed poor. Things we take for granted in the rich world, like efficient and honest government, simply do not exist. Yet Galbraith counselled India (where he was ambassador for several years) and anyone else who would listen that, in general, markets were bad and governments were good.
As for your other pet theories about capitalism--that it inevitably leads to greater freedom. How's that panning out in China, Vietnam? Even Russia appears to be slipping back into some kind of Authoritarian/Mafia state.
What African countries need, the West cannot give. In a word, what Africans need is personal liberty. That means a political system where there are guarantees of private property rights and rule of law. It's almost a no-brainer. The "2003 Index of Economic Freedom," published by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, lists Botswana, South Africa and Namibia as "mostly free." World Bank 2002 country per capita GDP rankings put Botswana 89th ($2,980), South Africa 94th ($2,600) and Namibia 111th ($1,700). Is there any mystery why they're well ahead of their northern neighbors, such as Mozambique 195th ($210), Liberia 201st ($150) or Ethiopia 206th ($100)?
In fact, quite the contrary has been proven. Reagan's dalliance with supply side left us with massive deficits that required ten years of tax increases (starting in his second term btw) to dig ourselves out of.
Eugene has frequently wrote about the relative virtues of regulated vs. tortious controls upon malevolent business practices.
Maybe I've missed them, but if he thinks that the tort system is more efficient, he is even more whacked out than I thought.
Galbraith wrote a good little book on stock market manias and the Great Depression. His version of the story still holds up despite the attempts of free market revisionists to do for the Great Depression what the 1960's left-wing revisionists tried to do for the Cold War. Conventional wisdom is, every once in a while, accurate.
[P]ragmatic libertarianism sounds like an oxymoron to me.
[S]omeone who claims to be a libertarian, yet draws his paycheck from a state agency.
And if I could pick the winning lotto number every week, I would be a billionaire.
That barb was pointed directly at Eugene, not you. I find it the height of hypocracy that the great libertarians in the blogosphere (Eugene, Glenn Reynolds, and although I don't read her much but I assume she is a libertarian as much as Eugene cites her fondly, Ann Althouse) are all law professors at public universities.