Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wealth, Food, and Governmenal Priorites

The Economist has put up an interesting map of the world, which looks at poverty vs wealth through a rather unusual prism. Not that the results are any different from what you'd expect them to be. Societies that have wealth have it better than those that don't no matter what parameter you choose to measure it by, and no matter how much some people in the wealthy societies like to kvetch about how bad everything is for everyone except the privileged few.

Still, I do have a few comments.
1. Israel is so small that it doesn't even appear on the map. So much for expansionist colonial land grabbing imperialists.
2. Were Israel to appear on the map, it's color would be the same as the rest of the wealthy.
3. Iran, Israel's arch-fiend of the moment, is in the camp of the poorest, in spite of having all that oil. Whatever they are meant for, Iran's massive armament efforts (including this overtly and unambiguously aggressive program) are not intended to improve the lives of the Iranian citizenry.
4. The same goes for Iraq, though in a different way, of course. While it does seem that the Iraqis are slowly but surely getting their act together, they spent a ghastly 5 years on all sorts of other things that seemed to have a higher priority than getting on with life. (I planted this little nugget to provoke the usual suspects. Heh.)
5. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf folks. Remember them? The ones pulling in $136 per barrel of crude, down by $9 from last week poor fellows? This is what happens when you have a society with a small group of ultra rich at the top, and then everyone else below them including a large caste of disenfranchised laborers.
6. South America looks dreary. I don't know much about South America, but so far as I know they've been on the sidelines of most of the larger calamities of world history these past 150 years or so so you'd think they might have had the opportunity to fix things. Since we've got our own Argentinian here among the frequent commentors, I wonder if I can ask Ibrahim to explain to us why his country is in such bad shape. (And try, Ibrahim, not to put all the blame on the CIA or even the generals, who were last in charge some decades ago).
7. Why is Japan where it is? Beats me.
8. Perhaps the single most interesting country on the entire map is Uganda. Disconnected from its entire continent and most of the next continent, with a disastrous political past that exceeds even Argentina's for destructiveness, Uganda is right up there with the rich boys. Yoweri Musaveni or somebody, must be doing something right. Which just goes to show that if you put your mind to it, you actually can drag yourself up by your shoestrings.


Anonymous said...


Wonderful post. And, to make it work really well, you need a map of the world, so you can spot the "one green spot" in Africa. And, what's that to the side of India?

As to the world EVER destributing resources evenly or well, IT HAS NEVER HAPPENED! The travails of the conquered is that their wealth was stolen ... as it traveled "back to Rome."

A side issue for FDR, before America committed to WW2. And, then in December 1941, when Churchill came to the White House; so that the two men hammered out an agreement; you can start with this: Churchill did NOT get what he wanted! Which was an American alliance that would have saved the european colonies. Instead? FDR birthed the name, first: UNITED NATIONS. And, then he forced Churchill to obtain India's signature, separately. Though, yes India was still the biggest jewel in the British Crown.

We've been going through a century of changes never seen before. (Yes, Magellen's successf circumnavigation of the world, in 1500 brought a major shift. And, produced the middle classes, in Europe that were necessary precursors to our eventual growth.)

But the truth remains that it's easier to get words out (via the Internet), than it is to do the legal stuff that would bring a better assortment of "fairness" to many pockets, where religions still stand in the way of progress.

Yes. In the American system, inh 1787, the Founding Fathers (locked behind closed doors) argued that the Europeans had been wrong. That you could, in fact, have a republic that GREW IN SIZE; and that that growth would make the republic stronger. And, also that you needed to instruct Congress it could "make no laws favoring any religion." We call this "the Separation of Church and State."

And, it took about 25 years for America to emerge from its cacoon. And, challenge the dominant countries of that time. The countries that had armies, for instance. Like Britain. And, France. (Spain was a basket case.)

With the advent, beyond the steam engine, of the car; it became obvious that this engine needed gas (also called petrol), to run.

And, those who had fields of oil, became rich. Getting rich in a hurry does not produce a US Constitution. From events in history, you see the opposite is true.

You also see that the current wave of despots use the same sort of mind-bending stuff that was used by the Mother Church, to condemn Jews.

There is also another elite system at play. The Academics. Who took over the credentialing aparatus. Which at one time needed math discoveries to advance to higher levels of Ph.D's. And, they began giving away paper. That doesn't quite match up to common sense.

So, there's a whole slew of crap out there. And, then, there's this new thing, with the Internet. That grew strong on its own, during the 1980's ... because? Teenagers spent time in their parents garages; and became sophisitcated users of computers.

A similar phenomena happened in Japan. WHere the kids, using cell phones, turned them into text messaging systems, right under the noses of their own "professors."

So, just because you have paper that says you're an expert; in this new world, you are not.

And, today's kids venture into science fiction when they want to be entertained. They're certainly not picking up the ancient texts. Whether you're a devotee of this stuff, or merely someone betting on giving it "lip service." You'd see that news from the "ash-cans" don't produce waves of fears.

The world's not looking for war. Though this is the crap the terrorists threaten.

So, who saves the day? Why, Moshe Plesser! Terrorists don't need a country driven to insanity to put a stop to their crap.

Where they live is crappy, enough.

Even if you think nasrallah is ahead, all he's done, actually, is hold back Lebanon. WHere they all hate the Jews. ANd, where this is what's used in the pulpits to tickle people. So they laugh. And, forget reality. See if I care?

Is it too early to say that in Iran, by now having gone way to the extreme with their current leader; that you're not seeing the possibilities that "it's the end of the line?" I wouldn't bet that the Iranians, themselves, won't throw off their current load of monsters.


How should I know?

As to "How" ... it was once an American Native American call ... as men on horseback, naked, and with feathers glued to their foreheads ... road in. Scared "the settlers." And, then? Well, history's not kind if you lack the skills to survive.

Darwin got that right!

And, the Economist's map spells it out, too. You've got a picture of the globe with different attributes on it, where there are humans, clustered. And, those who can adapt, per Dawrin, have the best changes of procreating. ANd, producing progeny better suited for continued existence.

Or not. In China, where they can choose the one child they're allowed to keep, the numbers strongly suggest that nature, which produces girls,isn't something parents want. And, then? You grow what parents (individually) choose.

China's other deficit is that it's "top down" ... in other words, it's depending upon a few men who took control (after Mao), of all the power. ANd, this centralizes decision-making.

Consolidating power is not the strong suit, when it comes to leadership of men.

I'd also argue with the Economist's map. Because it says ALL of the USA is green. When I know it's not. Believe me, we've got deserts out there ... where nothing grows. But a road dropped down, anyway, so you can drive to Las Vegas; and gamble. ("Green" and "gamble" are an odd-ball couple, if ever there was one.)

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

I see your logic. Since Argentina is in bad shape, there must be something wrong with Argentinians, which explains my attitude towards Israel.

But not to leave your question unanswered, I believe populism has done a lot of harm to South America. Also, we have a tendency to look too much into the past, instead of facing the challenges of the future.

Slowly, however, parts of the subcontinent are beginning to wake up. Lula's Brazil and Bachelet's Chile have begun to close the gap between rich and poor, which explains why they get a slightly better color than Argentina on the map.

Anonymous said...


Excuse me, but I blame the Mother Church. The biggest problem for South America is that it festers with Catholocism. While the western world has lifted itself out from under those burdens.

Darwin's right.

To survive you need to be able to do better in a competitve world, than others. And, you have to acclimate to your environment.

If you believe believing in make-believe religious stories helps, be my guest.

And, then what makes it worse? Communism. So you can go from the frying pan into the fire.

By the way, it's not my job to solve the problems besetting this world. A good mechanism is just to shrug.

Are some people really nicer than others? YES! Just like in a family, parents get to recognize that all their kids are not the same. And, the easiest kids to raise are the ones who are most docile. But that's not the kid who gets into Harvard!

It's also good to know that Utopia is a Greek word for a place that doesn't exist.

When you get descriptions of places that aren't really there you can misplace your common sense with wishful thinking.

By the way, you still need luck.

For some reason, I really believe that being rich isn't enough. And, that the Saud's can find themselves tackled. (Just like the germans did. Which is what makes the Swiss rich. You can't touch that money without knowing the right numbering sequences.)

While you all keep looking for rockets to fly into Tel Aviv, I keep thinking Riyadh's the target. And, we may, yet, get to see, their less than 50,000 rich guys defending their wealth ... when others "allowed into the kingdom to serve as slaves," decides to push the overlords OUT. I call this "Operation Overlord." For old times' sake.

I don't give the Saud's another 50 years. But it's in the future. So anybody's guess is about as good as any other. Unless there's a voice in the fire that talks to you.