01 August, 2017

Why is the "Developing World" Still in Very Dire Need of Development?

Executive Summary: If you give a bunch of poor people a bunch of money and do nothing else for them, in the short term you'll have a bunch of poor people with money. In the long term, you'll again have a bunch of poor people. This is the state of things in Latin America, pockets of the United States, the middle east, and much of the continent of Africa (I feel the need to stress that Africa is indeed a continent, as many people, especially in the U.S., seem to view it as a monolithic country).

An article appeared today on Quartz (https://qz.com/1024546/stop-blaming-poor-countries-poverty-on-corruption-sometimes-its-just-bad-luck/) titled, "Stop blaming poor countries’ poverty on corruption—sometimes it’s just bad luck."

If we accept the hard luck thesis, it doesn't leave us much in the way of constructive ideas as to how to be of assistance in improving the lives of people in these benighted precincts. After all, how does one change luck for the better? If life is nothing more than a succession of (fair) coin flips, is there anything within the laws of physics that can guarantee nothing but heads coming up?

Having the temerity to observe that because, largely due to human nature (which can be pretty darned inhuman), oligarchy, corruption, theft, graft, "kleptocracy," and "the resource curse,"a lot of people in the world are stuck in poverty is not the same as shaming the poor and oppressed as being morally flawed. But demographic, social, and societal problems have taken generations to take root and result in the status quo that we see. Fixing problems of economics, education, health & welfare, and lack of opportunity for upward movement are not reasonably going to be amenable to an overnight fix. Bill and Melinda Gates, as a case in point, have done admirable and compassionate work to improve availability of drinking water in parts of Africa. Despite the dollars invested in easing this problem, the efforts still appear to stall when they confront the issue of sustainability. So, for example, a village water pump stops working because no one in the village understands how to replace a fan belt and the village is back to women carrying jugs of water on their heads.

A lot of well-intentioned people in the west seem to view large swathes of the population of Africa the way marine biologists view dolphins: "They're super smart and industrious and the only reason they never invented the radio is because they live in water which would short everything out."

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