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Author Topic: The rich really do own the world
Archie2K
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The right tit is too busy getting off its arse growing the economy for all and fighting democracy threatening fascists across the globe to bother with useless trash like poetry, so the left tit can write about the unfair harshness of capitalist economics in an open society with genuine press freedom. I think all political analogies should involve breasts.

@Silas: I read it as parody at first too. I tend to read anything controversial as parody. It keeps me sane.

I've always been sceptical of these sorts of surveys though. Lets take a micro society such as a town. Is it unfair if the town is 90% owned by 10% of the popultion if that 10% got there through hard work rather than having the family estate handed down to them. Should be punish the millionaire director of Megacorp who keeps prices low so the poorer people can buy cheap food each week? I'm not saying that the world is entirely fair and meritocratic, but I am saying that you can't quantify fairness by looking at how much people earn.

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Zachary Fizz
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Too late for propriety now, Ryda - that wicked Canuckistan has returned and we all know what he's like....
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Canuckistan
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Don't make me get the peasants to rebel against you again, Zachary.

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Mr. Billion
The First USA Noel


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Here's another way of looking at it: The richest people in the world (billionaires) totaling about 793, have a combined worth of 2.6 trillion dollars. That's more than the GDP of any single country in the world except the top five.

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"For the U.S. to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who's going to govern Iraq strikes me as a classic definition of a quagmire." ~Dick Cheney.

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Dog Friendly
Carol of the Bills


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quote:
Originally posted by Archie2K:
I've always been sceptical of these sorts of surveys though. Lets take a micro society such as a town. Is it unfair if the town is 90% owned by 10% of the popultion if that 10% got there through hard work rather than having the family estate handed down to them. Should be punish the millionaire director of Megacorp who keeps prices low so the poorer people can buy cheap food each week? I'm not saying that the world is entirely fair and meritocratic, but I am saying that you can't quantify fairness by looking at how much people earn.

OK, Archie, let's play "dueling skepticism". You see, I'm always skeptical about the "hard work" excuse myself. I don't understand, and I've never heard a coherent explanation for, why a coal miner, or a farmworker, or some such, isn't considered to be doing hard work when compared to a college student pulling a few all-nighters in an air-conditioned dorm room with a coffee machine three feet away.

Oh, I've heard all about the "stress" involved in taking out a student loan, and knowing that you'll have to pay it back for the first several years of your career. I don't see how that's necessarily more aggravating than watching your eight-month old child getting sprayed by pesticides while you pick strawberries.

And if the director of Megacorp is keeping prices low so the poor people can buy cheap food each week, does that justify the same director keeping his own employees' wages so low they can only afford to buy cheap food for three days a week?

Another point raised in this article is that the gap is growing. Thew super-rich are gaining more and more, and the poor are making do with less and less. This is not good news for our culture, or for our planet.

I'll grant you that you can't quantify fairness by looking only at how much people earn. I ask, in return, that you offer some other means of quantifying fairness. Either that, or perhaps we could come up with some minimum level of wealth, below which governments should subsidize the folks at the very bottom.

What do you think?

Dog Friendly

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"Nobody ever got stoned and beat up his old lady" -- Spence, snapdragonfly's friend

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Damian
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To say it's unfair that a coal miner earns less than a university graduate ignores the basic principle of supply and demand.

If coal mining pays poorly (miners are very well paid in Australia) then they could get a better paying job. The university graduate chose a career path and accepts the remuneration on offer, so why can't the miner?


"First we get the money, then we get the power, then we get the women."

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"I always tell the truth. Even when I lie." - Tony Montana

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Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Damian:
To say it's unfair that a coal miner earns less than a university graduate ignores the basic principle of supply and demand.

If coal mining pays poorly (miners are very well paid in Australia) then they could get a better paying job. The university graduate chose a career path and accepts the remuneration on offer, so why can't the miner?


"First we get the money, then we get the power, then we get the women."

I'm a university graduate, but I'd much rather be, say, a billionaire tycoon. And yet I can't figure out how exactly I'm supposed to choose that career path. I'm willing to accept the "remuneration" but it just isn't being offered.

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Darnit Damian, what is that quote from? It's on the tip of my tongue, but my eyes can't focus that closely...

Now, to the question at hand...

What is that coal miner doing? He is gathering up rock for people to burn, a very common rock that nearly anyone in the country can do (sans disability). What does MegaCorp's CEO do? Manages thousands, coordinates contracts and makes or delivers commodities that people may or may not want. It is my firm opinion that NOT everyone (sans disability) can do this job.

This is why MegaCorp's CEO makes a bazillion dollars a year.

It really is a case of supply and demand. Demand is high for a person that can Iacocca a deal into huge expansions and mega-profits. Supply is very low for people that can deliver.

The coal miner, on the other hand, is truly on the other hand... supply is MUCH higher than for CEO's, and demand is nowhere as great.

Same goes for Wal*Mart employees.

Look at fast food restaurants in richer parts of a city. They pay their employees significantly higher wages just to attract them, as the supply of people to make $6.15 an hour is very low. Supplies of people wanting to make $11 and hour are higher, so they pay $11 an hour.

I am amazed that people don't grasp this. You get paid both what the job is worth, what you are worth, and what the market will bear.

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Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

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Damian
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
Darnit Damian, what is that quote from? It's on the tip of my tongue, but my eyes can't focus that closely...

Scarface.

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"I always tell the truth. Even when I lie." - Tony Montana

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Damian
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
I'd much rather be, say, a billionaire tycoon. And yet I can't figure out how exactly I'm supposed to choose that career path.

I worked nightshifts whilst at university. I started a business several years ago. I started out small (just myself) and with a LOT of hard work and luck, I now employ 40 people. I would be considered rich by most people, but I had to work 80 hours a week for many years and sacrificed two marriages. I have earned my money. Now I can afford to sit back and let others do most of the work.

That, my friend, is how you choose a career path.

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"I always tell the truth. Even when I lie." - Tony Montana

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Salamander
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I guess the catch with the "Why don't you just get a better job?" is that we still need all those people currently in menial, low-paying jobs.

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Mad Jay
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:


This is why MegaCorp's CEO makes a bazillion dollars a year.

It really is a case of supply and demand. Demand is high for a person that can Iacocca a deal into huge expansions and mega-profits. Supply is very low for people that can deliver.

I have seen so many bad highly-paid CEOs that I beleive that the law of supply and demand breaks down. A highly paid CEO doesn't really translate to "good" CEO. The pay that a CEO gets is more dependent of the CEO's negotiation *cough*bullshitting*cough* skills than on the CEOs business-running skills.

Although a CEO definetly needs to be paid more than a coal miner, I don't see any justification why some CEO's need to be paid millions of dollars a year to run companies into the ground.

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Nico Sasha
In between my father's fields;And the citadels of the rule; Lies a no-man's land which I must cross; To find my stolen jewel.

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Damian
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:
Originally posted by Mad Jay:
I don't see any justification why some CEO's need to be paid millions of dollars a year to run companies into the ground.

Simply because someone is willing to pay them. If there were no coal miners left, mining companies would pay mega bucks to get someone to dig the coal.

Actually, miners earn a pile of cash in Australia because the mines are in the outback. You have to pay heaps to get people to work there. See....supply and demand at work.

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"I always tell the truth. Even when I lie." - Tony Montana

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Richard W
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quote:
Originally posted by Archie2K:
I'm not saying that the world is entirely fair and meritocratic, but I am saying that you can't quantify fairness by looking at how much people earn.

The survey isn't based on earnings - it's based on capital value. In fact, they explicitly say:

quote:
While previous global surveys have studied income, this is the first wide-ranging analysis of the international distribution of wealth, defined as the value of physical and financial assets minus liabilities.

"We find there's a lot of inequality, which is what we expected and is not that surprising," said University of Western Ontario economist James Davies, who was a co-author of the study, conducted by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations. "But it turns out, the world distribution of wealth [assets minus debts] is more unequal than the world distribution of income."

This suggests that a measurable amount of the wealth gap isn't earned, whatever your definition of "earned".

Supply-and-demand determining salary is reasonable, but I've also made large amounts of money from stocks and shares in the company I worked for. These were because of some rather generous takeover deals during the dotcom boom. It wasn't much more than luck on my part that I was in the right place at the right time. Sure, you can argue that I worked hard to get the job, and to some extent the work I did would have added to the value of the company. But I suspect the generous terms had as much to do with the negotiating skill of the people brokering the deals than it did with the reality of the situation, or with my work.

There was one guy who worked there for about a month, wasn't doing terribly well even during that time (several unexplained absences that he was taken to task for - it was quite hit-and-miss whether he turned up at all. He missed his first day with an excuse about a pregnant woman in the flat above him needing to be taken to hospital, or something), and was let go during a round of redundancies. Simultaneously with this, he collected £30 000 from the stock deal. For one month's non-work with the company. Does that fit your definition of "earned", Archie? I imagine it would be included as earnings in a typical survey of this sort.

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Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Damian:
quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
I'd much rather be, say, a billionaire tycoon. And yet I can't figure out how exactly I'm supposed to choose that career path.

I worked nightshifts whilst at university. I started a business several years ago. I started out small (just myself) and with a LOT of hard work and luck, I now employ 40 people. I would be considered rich by most people, but I had to work 80 hours a week for many years and sacrificed two marriages. I have earned my money. Now I can afford to sit back and let others do most of the work.

That, my friend, is how you choose a career path.

The thing is, you still aren't a billionaire tycoon. You probably make a lot more than me, but I wouldn't call you "super-rich" or even rich. Excuse me for guessing, but I expect that you personally don't take home more than ten times what I do (in other words, you personally get, say, $300,000 a year). Your income relative to mine makes sense because you've worked very hard to earn what you have while I'm just starting in a career path well known for not paying well. However, does the disparity between your income and a real billionaire's make sense to you? Is there really anything anyone can do that makes them deserve having hundreds of times more money than you do?

In other words, there's clearly a non-linear relationship between productivity and wealth. Thus, it can be said that while some of the wealth of the rich is their reward for productivity, much (I'd say most) of it is theirs simply as a side-effect of already being rich: they get more money simply because they already have a lot of money.

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Dog Friendly
Carol of the Bills


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Yup. Very much my point. I haven't time this morning to post at any length, but I'm convinced that the distribution of wealth in the world, and particularly in America, doesn't have a lot to do with "hard work", but much more to do with opportunities and luck, as well as accidents of birth. I think this is particularly true at the tippy-top of the pyramid, where a lot of the really wealthy folks either inherited family fortunes, or made their pile with some pretty sharp business practices that may have been strictly legal, but were rather on the shady side of ethical (I'm thinking particularly of Enron, but there have been several similar cases recently that weren't quite as well-publicized).

Gotta go. Back later.

Dog Friendly

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"Nobody ever got stoned and beat up his old lady" -- Spence, snapdragonfly's friend

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MaxKaladin
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Mad Jay:
Although a CEO definetly needs to be paid more than a coal miner, I don't see any justification why some CEO's need to be paid millions of dollars a year to run companies into the ground.

Neither did Peter Drucker. He was a respected management expert who had a lot of influence on the development of business and the corporation in the 20th century, but he annoyed a lot of people in the 80s when he wrote that CEOs were overcompensated and said that boards should limit CEO pay to (IIRC) 20 times what the lowest paid worker was earning. He was also outraged by CEOs who reaped massive bonuses by firing thousands of workers.
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snapdragonfly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
Darnit Damian, what is that quote from? It's on the tip of my tongue, but my eyes can't focus that closely...

Now, to the question at hand...

What is that coal miner doing? He is gathering up rock for people to burn, a very common rock that nearly anyone in the country can do (sans disability). What does MegaCorp's CEO do? Manages thousands, coordinates contracts and makes or delivers commodities that people may or may not want. It is my firm opinion that NOT everyone (sans disability) can do this job.

This is why MegaCorp's CEO makes a bazillion dollars a year.

It really is a case of supply and demand. Demand is high for a person that can Iacocca a deal into huge expansions and mega-profits. Supply is very low for people that can deliver.

The coal miner, on the other hand, is truly on the other hand... supply is MUCH higher than for CEO's, and demand is nowhere as great.

Same goes for Wal*Mart employees.

Look at fast food restaurants in richer parts of a city. They pay their employees significantly higher wages just to attract them, as the supply of people to make $6.15 an hour is very low. Supplies of people wanting to make $11 and hour are higher, so they pay $11 an hour.

I am amazed that people don't grasp this. You get paid both what the job is worth, what you are worth, and what the market will bear.

Yeah, but Malruhn, the offending remark was (to paraphrase) "get off your arse and work", not "go out there and when given the choice between the billionaire job or the crap one, choose the billionaire job." (cake or death?)

Which is implying that people who want stuff they can't have, are in that situation because they don't work at all.

Which is obviously wrong many billions of times over. Yes, some jobs pay less than others (and frankly I never have been convinced CEO's are worth so much more than they were 6 decades ago and never will be) but that isn't the same thing as not working at all.

The preachy, judgemental implication of "get a job" is both thick, and unwarranted. Yeah, the CEOs somehow have got everyone convinced they are worth that much (I disagree) and the coal digger's aren't, but as you say, that's a function of the supply and demand of the workforce.


NOT the morality of the individual. Someone who puts in 60 or more hours of mind numbingly tedious, back breaking, or filthy labor, that is poorly paid, is every bit as moral and Puritan work ethic-y as that CEO and should not be sneered at as if they were bums panhandling underneath an overpass.

edited

edited again: and I agree with the points Dog and Troodon make.

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(snurched because one of my nutbar family members is all about wolves and another one is all about dragons...)(with apologies to surfcitydogdad)

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Damian
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:

You probably make a lot more than me, but I wouldn't call you "super-rich" or even rich. Excuse me for guessing, but I expect that you personally don't take home more than ten times what I do (in other words, you personally get, say, $300,000 a year). Your income relative to mine makes sense because you've worked very hard to earn what you have while I'm just starting in a career path well known for not paying well.

Excuse me if this sounds like boasting, but to answer you question honestly.....my income is quite a bit higher than you guessed, but it is not solely made up by salary. As I am the sole owner of the company, all the profits come to me. I have real estate and stock investments from which I derive a large chunk of my income. I have earned this through a combination of hard work, brains, sacrificing my personal life, luck and the guts to risk everything. So no, I'm not super rich.....yet. [Wink]


In Australia, a CEO's salary is usually now determined by a board of directors. Soon it will be up to the shareholders to vote. If they are not happy with what is being paid to "their" employee, they can change it (subject to contracts).

Can anyone honestly say that they would knock back millions of dollars a year? I do not begrudge them their money because I would love some of it, too.

We can usually better our lot in life, but it takes hard work and sacrifice. A lot of people decide they would rather spend nights with their families than go to night school. That is their choice, and there is nothing wrong with that. But they have to realise that others that chose differently should not be penalised.

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"I always tell the truth. Even when I lie." - Tony Montana

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El Camino
We Three Blings


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The question is, if we assuming that this wealth disparity is a Bad Thing, what exactly should be done about it?
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GenYus
Away in a Manager's Special


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Setup things so that those in the less wealthy countries can amass wealth too. (Easier said than done.) Wealth is not a zero-sum game where some has to be taken to give to others.

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IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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El Camino
We Three Blings


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Well, obviously, that would be great, but "Easier said than done" is pretty much the biggest understatement of all time. There is an entire academic field (developmental economics) focusing on this sort of thing.

In fact, I'll be taking a class on it next semester (called Africa's Economic Prospects, promises to be very interesting). I'll let you know then. [Smile]

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GenYus
Away in a Manager's Special


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That's pretty much all that can be done though. I would guess that most wealth is real estate or corporate ownership. Unless we start a program to give stock options to Africa or make Trump Hotel and Casino a South American owned casino, the wealth has to come from the people themselves. And in order to have wealth, you first need to have an economy in order to get wealthy in.

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IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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El Camino
We Three Blings


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...and in places like Africa, you need a stable government to get a decent economy. But because the economy's so bad, warlords and such are able to dominate effectively. In others, natural resources and little other industry make corruption rampant, preventing economic growth. Quite a paradox indeed.
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snapdragonfly
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El Camino, I for one would be very interested in what you learn.

It fascinates and saddens me that Africa, with it's incredible wealth of natural resources, is so poverty stricken and such a political disaster. I know little of it, only that a lot of the problems are the aftermath of very unfortunate British colonization, or at least that's what I've been told.

I don't think there's a whole lot that some person living in war torm Somalia can do to increase their share of the world's wealth.

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"Wolves, dragons and vampires, man. Draw the nut-bars like big ol' nut-bar magnets." ~evilrabbit

(snurched because one of my nutbar family members is all about wolves and another one is all about dragons...)(with apologies to surfcitydogdad)

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Archie2K
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Compare colonial Rhodesia of 20 years ago with independent Zimbabwe of today. Zimbabwe was released from the British steadily, with the means in place for democratic elections. Mugabe was elected, and in two decades has plundered the country to a point where it has the worst life expectancy of anywhere on the planet. 34 years.

It's easy to blame Colonization for all the ills of the world. I'm not going to defend British human rights abuses done in the name of the greater good (sound familiar?), nor the likes of the Belgian Congo. However surely there comes a time when a country has to take responsibility for its own path. How much of the disaster zone that is the Democratic Republic of Congo can be blamed on Belgium? Compare the economies of former colonies in the Far East to those of Africa. Far eastern economies are some of the fastest growing in the world.

What all countries need before anything else is stable government. In some cases a benevolent dictatorship may be preferable to a weak and timid democracy. See, Iraq for example. Finding a benevolent dictator is of course pretty hard to do.

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Dara bhur gCara
As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks Buy Now Pay Later


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quote:
Originally posted by Archie2K:
Compare colonial Rhodesia of 20 years ago with independent Zimbabwe of today. Zimbabwe was released from the British steadily, with the means in place for democratic elections. Mugabe was elected, and in two decades has plundered the country to a point where it has the worst life expectancy of anywhere on the planet. 34 years.



Er, UDI? Rhodesian Bush War? Ring any bells at all?

Brief history of Rhodesia.

While Britain did have a policy with its African colonies called NIBMAR (No Independence Before Majority African Rule,) this was not really implemented with Rhodesia, on account of the Smith government's Unilateral Declaration of Independence, which was followed by a very bitter civil war.

This is not to say that the Mugabe government is good or anything, but it is entirely wrong to say that Zimbabwe had a peaceful transition from colonial rule to post-colonial democracy. You're leaving out an apartheid state and a civil war, which I for one consider fairly significant episodes in a country's history.

quote:

It's easy to blame Colonization for all the ills of the world. I'm not going to defend British human rights abuses done in the name of the greater good (sound familiar?), nor the likes of the Belgian Congo. However surely there comes a time when a country has to take responsibility for its own path. How much of the disaster zone that is the Democratic Republic of Congo can be blamed on Belgium? Compare the economies of former colonies in the Far East to those of Africa. Far eastern economies are some of the fastest growing in the world.

What all countries need before anything else is stable government. In some cases a benevolent dictatorship may be preferable to a weak and timid democracy. See, Iraq for example. Finding a benevolent dictator is of course pretty hard to do.

There are no benevolent dictators. Just dictators who are friendly or unfriendly to the market/the West. For example, Hastings Banda is often cited as a benevolent dictator, yet I used to work with someone who claims that Dr Banda personally cut off his hand with an axe, and I see no reason to disbelieve him. He certainly only had one hand.

Incidentally, Japan, the second-wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP, has had 90 changes of Government in the 122 years since some form of parliamentary democracy has been introduced, with 57 separate individuals holding the office of Prime Minister. It has had a modicum of stability in recent years with Koizumi serving three terms, which have coincided with economic recession and turmoil. Political stability doesn't appear to be all it's cracked up to be.

cite

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Posts: 2794 | From: London, UK | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
El Camino
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quote:
Originally posted by Dara:
Incidentally, Japan, the second-wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP, has had 90 changes of Government in the 122 years since some form of parliamentary democracy has been introduced, with 57 separate individuals holding the office of Prime Minister. It has had a modicum of stability in recent years with Koizumi serving three terms, which have coincided with economic recession and turmoil. Political stability doesn't appear to be all it's cracked up to be.

I was about to say "here's where UK and US differences in terminology cause confusion," but I see that you are responding to a fellow UKer. In any case, when I was talking about a "stable government," it was in an entirely different context than you were (and I wouldn't be surprised if Archie was as well). In the US, we don't really use the phrase "form a government" like you do, since we are not a parliamentary democracy. And when I discussed a stable government, I didn't mean something like Tony Blair's government being in power for a while. I meant having a stable system in place over a long period of time, regardless of who is actually elected. Japan has that, as does the US, despite by necessity changing presidents at least every 8 years.

Countries where there is no stable system (or there is a system, but it's seriously corrupt) have little chance at economic growth because of huge amounts of uncertainty and poor property rights (among other reasons).

ETA: Incidentally, China passed Japan in GDP PPP a while back. China's is $8.9 trillion, Japan's is $4.0 trillion. (cite). China also has a much higher nominal GDP: according to my 2006 World Almanac, China's nominal GDP is $7.3 trillion and Japan's nominal GDP is $3.7 trillion. Of course, Japan's per capita GDP is much higher than China's, but many other major countries have higher per capita GDP PPP than Japan, such as Norway, the US (obviously), Ireland, Iceland, Denmark, Canada, Austria and Switzerland (cite). Obviously this has no real impact on your statement, just thought I'd throw it out there.

There's a lot of interesting information on the CIA's world factbook, check it out. One thing I found pretty interesting is total military spending . Obviously, the US is number one, with spending over 6 times that of the next highest, China. What was funny is the number 3 country: France, which has been repeatedly ballyhooed in the US as being made up of soft and militarily weak.

ETAA: I just realized that I started my ETA with "Incidentally," which might be read as some sort of mockery. I can assure you that it is just a coincidence, as I just realized it myself. It does make me look like a real smartass, though.

Posts: 1048 | From: Brunswick, Maine | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Silas Sparkhammer
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quote:
Originally posted by Dara bhur gCara:
There are no benevolent dictators. Just dictators who are friendly or unfriendly to the market/the West. For example, Hastings Banda is often cited as a benevolent dictator, yet I used to work with someone who claims that Dr Banda personally cut off his hand with an axe, and I see no reason to disbelieve him. He certainly only had one hand.

Minor cavil: that, by itself, isn't enough information. By this definition, there is no such thing as a benevolent government of any form, since they all commit injustices upon the people.

If you define a word so strictly that it never applies, then the definition is probably too strict.

In any case, it is certain that there are (or have been) *relatively* benevolent dictators, such as the better Roman or Chinese Emperors, some of the decent Kings and Queens of Europe, etc.

Egypt's Nasser, for instance, while far from wonderful, was better than, say, The Philippines' Marcos (let alone Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, etc. etc.)

In classical political theory, an "enlightened despot" is the best possible form of government, since the power and the will to do good are united. The drawback is not intrinsic to the system, but to the problems of the succession (just ask the Romans under Commodus.)

One *could* argue, philosophically, that the denial of the right of the people to determine their own destiny is intrinsically bad, in which case even the saintliest of despots would not be "benevolent." However, the definition usually referred to has to do with the outward benefits of civilized government -- economic wealth, safety, law & order, peace, diplomatic relations, etc. -- rather than the higher and more abstract benefits, i.e., individual representation.

Of course, this invites the question: how much of the latter would you surrender in order to obtain the former? Even democracy entails a great deal of the loss of individual liberty in pursuit of the goal of getting along together; we may all agree that "the freedom to swing my arm ends where your nose begins," but, nevertheless, that does mean that "the freedom to swing my arm ends somewhere."

Or, as a friend of mine once said, "A sufficiently gilded cage is indistinguishable from freedom."

Silas

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pinqy
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quote:
In classical political theory, an "enlightened despot" is the best possible form of government, since the power and the will to do good are united. The drawback is not intrinsic to the system, but to the problems of the succession (just ask the Romans under Commodus.)

Not the "best," but "the most efficient," which, shocking coming from an economist, is not necessarily the same thing. A dictator can decide and execute his/her decisions quicker than any democratic or group process. One person responsible means little to no shifting of blame, things are relatively clear and simple. That doesn't mean tha the decisions themselves will be the best, but only that the process and execution are easier to accomplish.

And the problem of succession is a huge one.

As for "benevolent dictator" the understanding is that it refers to a dictator whose primary interest is the best safety and well-being of his people instead of personal gain.

pinqy

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