Thursday, October 23, 2008

They Really, Really Want Me At The World Bank

Sometime back I met a fairly high ranking official from the World Bank that  I will call Person A.

I told Person A that I was an economic consultant and I also mentioned this blog. Person A happened to be carrying a laptop and checked out EPJ. After reading the blog for a few minutes, Person A asked  if I wanted to do some consulting for the World Bank.

The first thing I did after Person A said this was to make sure Person A was reading the correct blog. After that, I explained that I really believed in a private property society and that it was my belief that governments just muck things up.

Person A's reply, "Yes, yes. This is the kind of view we need at the World Bank."

Thinking, that my point must have been misunderstood, I tried to make it clearer. I said,"I really don't think there is much of a role for the World Bank. I think any loans you make are a mistake and the problem as I see it in most Third World countries is that there is a lack of respect for property rights and the rule of law---and a lack of understanding about entrepreneurship."

Person A's reply, "Yes, yes, this is what needs to be told to the leaders of these countries."

Thinking that somehow something was lost in translation, Person A was from a Third World country and English was a second language, we exchanged cards and I didn't really think too much about it  after that, until I met Person B from the World Bank.

Without identifying Person A by name to Person B, I told Person B about my encounter pretty much the way I described it here. Person B appeared to want to reply to me, but stopped for a minute,and then said, "I can understand why Person A would want you. When I first got to World Bank, I didn't understand it myself. But nobody rocks the boat on anything at World Bank. For most of the employees from Third World countries they are never going to see a better gig. They can't afford to lose these jobs, or it is back to pretty much poverty. Even me as an American, this is a job that would be hard for me to find in the private sector. In addition to my salary, the World Bank pays my taxes. Every quarter, they estimate what my taxes should be and give me a check for that amount. If they give me a check for $10,000. and my taxes are only $8,000 because of other deductions I may have, I get to keep the extra $2,000. If my taxes somehow end up being more than the $10,000 I paid and, are say $12,000, all I have to do is fill out a form and they will give me the additional $2,000. Nobody is going to rock the boat, and with some of the Third World employees there's all kind of corruption to further boost the visible income.

"The World Bank has all kinds of bonus programs for employees, so what will happen is a Third World supervisor will call in a Third World employee and say, 'I am putting your name in for this $1,000 bonus, when you get it be back in my office with half of it, $500, in cash for me.'

"So no one is going to make waves, but some of them would love to have some one like you around who is not beholden to the system and not afraid to speak his mind."

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