Global justice: The Locus Effect

Everyday life in lawless places

Bill Clinton calls the book 'compelling.' Tim Costello says it's a 'wake-up call' for justice and human rights. Have you ever thought of what could be worse than crushing poverty - and is part of everyday existence for billions of people?

The Locus Effect by Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros 

- Review by David Brooks, The New York Times

If you're reading this, you are probably not buffeted by daily waves of physical terror. You might fear job loss or emotional loss, but you probably don't fear that somebody is going to slash your throat, or that a gang will invade your house come dinnertime. We take a basic level of order for granted.

But billions of people live in a different emotional landscape, enveloped by hidden terror. 

When we send young people out to help these regions, we tell them they are there to tackle 'poverty,' using the sort of economic designation we're comfortable with. We usually assume that scarcity is the big challenge to be faced. 

But as Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros point out in their gripping and perspective-altering book, The Locust Effect, these places are not just grappling with poverty. They are marked by disorder, violence and man-inflicted suffering.

'The relentless threat of violence is part of the core subtext of their lives, but we are unlikely to see it, and they are unlikely to tell us about it. We would be wise, however, to not be fooled — because, like grief, the thing we cannot see may be the deepest part of their day.'

Haugen is president of a human rights organization called the International Justice Mission, which tries to help people around the world build the institutions of law.

People in many parts of the world simply live beyond the apparatus of law and order. The District of Columbia spends about $850 per person per year on police. In Bangladesh, the government spends less than $1.50 per person per year on police. The cops are just not there.

In the United States, there is one prosecutor for every 12,000 citizens. In Malawi, there is one prosecutor for every 1.5 million citizens. The prosecutors are just not there.

Even when there is some legal system in place, it's not designed to impose law and order for the people. It is there to protect the regime from the people. The well-connected want a legal system that can be bought and sold.

The primary problem of politics is not creating growth. It's creating order. Until that is largely achieved, life can be nasty, brutish and short.

Read full article: The Republic of Fear (The New York Times)

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