1396

That’s not the date of some important Balkan battle involving the Ottoman Empire. It’s the number of World Bank employees with a higher salary than Secretary of State Rice.
This is the number that will stand out for me as the Paul Wolfowitz matter fades away. During that dispute, we heard much about how Wolfowitz’s girl friend made more money than Rice. But the smear artists and their accomplices (such as Wasington Post hack columnist Eugene Robinson) hid the fact that the same can be said of 1,396 World Bank employees (about 14 percent of its workforce).
This fact tells us just about all we need to know about the World Bank. This is a bloated outfit that exists to provide a comfortable living for its bureaucrats. I see these folks around town and in my neighborhood (they’re the ones who get home from work early). They are well-meaning, sophisticated people who like to travel. It’s hard to blame them for holding cushy jobs, but it’s also hard to believe that any good will come out of their organization.
The evidence is that little has. George Will argues, pursuasively I think, that the the World Bank is irrelevant in today’s environment in which “the world is awash in capital available at low rates.” Others try to imagine a World Bank that could make a contribution. But that assumes, at a minimum, a body able to make the major changes that might make it relevant.
I can think of 1396 reasons why the World Bank is not that body.

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