Picturesque and Primative

Tuesday, May 19, AD 2009

From last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, an article on the not-yet-crowded heritage treasures in the world:

As dawn breaks on top of a mountain near the China-Vietnam border, hundreds of water-filled rice terraces reveal themselves, clinging to the mountainside in geometric patterns in every direction. The rising sun, reflecting off the water, turns some of the terraces bright shades of orange and gold. Then solitary figures appear, black against the rising sun — peasants with their water buffaloes hitched to wooden plows.

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5 Responses to Picturesque and Primative

  • I recall riding on a chartered bus tour of the Ring of Kerry 15 years ago … before Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” really took off. The Irish bus driver, who was local to the area, stopped the bus at one particularly beautiful vista and told us that this was to be the site of a new factory.

    Several of the people on the bus gasped at the prospect. The bus driver turned around in his seat, looked at his passengers, and said of the landscape we were viewing:

    “It’s lovely. It’s green. It makes for a nice postcard. But you can’t eat it.”

    He turned back around in his seat and drove us away.

  • That is a breathtaking picture.

    I’d like to visit it when the Communist government in China is removed.

  • Tito:

    I strongly doubt that the Communist government in China will ever be removed, especially given the remarkably considerable power that they now wield and will (unfortunately) inevitably transform their nation into The New World Power.

    Besides, don’t you know these guys hold our currency hostage?

  • I strongly doubt that the Communist government in China will ever be removed, especially given the remarkably considerable power that they now wield and will (unfortunately) inevitably transform their nation into The New World Power.

    The communist government may be around for quite a while, due to their willingness to moderate enough to let their people develop while still holding on as what is these days effectively an oligarchic dictatorship. However, I’d very much doubt that China will ever to a hegemonic power. If the US is to pass that mantle on soon, I would imagine it would do so to India, which is another Anglosphere nation with all the global cultural benefits that entails. I’d bet more on the US remaining the world hegemonic power for a quite a while longer, though.

    Besides, don’t you know these guys hold our currency hostage?

    To an extent. But then, we hold their whole economy hostage, to a great extent. One can’t be an export based economy without having somewhere to export to.

  • I agree with Darwin. China will never become a world power due to their limited opportunities for growth. Combined with their inability to raise the standard of living outside of the coastal regions, we will see huge upheavals in the social structure of China which is already being felt. Throw in the disproportionate amount of males due to their one-child policy, we have a highly turbulent present and future awaiting communist China. Communist authorities will be spending an inordinate amount of time trying to quell their underclass in addition to crushing Islamist movements out in western China as well as Tibetan aspirations for freedom.

    It won’t be a cakewalk for the totalitarian authorities in Beijing. On top of all that mess they want to upgrade their military capabilities to match the United States and pursue the boondoggle of space travel.

    I won’t be surprised to see communist China collapse within my lifetime a la the old Soviet Union. China is not a homogeneous nation. They have competing ethnic groups (besides the Muslims and Tibetans), they still have Mongolians, Koreans, Cantonese, and various assortment of other peoples that don’t like being second fiddle to the dominate Hans.

Capitalism is 3rd World's Safety Net

Monday, March 16, AD 2009

While Americans weather layoffs and watch their 401ks dwindle, the developing nations in which many of our products originate are being hit even harder by the global downturn. Many of these developing nations have virtually no social safety net, and job loss can be crippling. However, as jobs manufacturing good to be sold to the West dry up, many are turning to the “informal economy” the open air markets, street vendors, and in-home manufacturers which make up more than half the economy in countries ranging from India and Mexico to much of sub-Saharan Africa.

The informal economy consists of cash and in-kind transactions and its practitioners do not pay taxes, hold licenses, or obey regulations. Pay is simply however much money is made, and there are no benefits. Because informal businessmen pay no taxes and work on a cash only basis (they seldom capitalize through loans, nor do they put savings into banks) economists have generally seen them as a drag on the economy. But as export-based jobs dry up, it provides a fallback safety net for many workers:

pilaporn_jaksuratUntil late December, Pilaporn Jaksurat, 33, was working full-time on a cotton spinning machine in a textile mill in Bangkok. She made about $7 a day and her benefits included bonuses of $30 a month for good attendance and a severance package worth about $800.

Then she was laid off when her factory, which sells fabric to clothing manufacturers in Europe, said it had to cut costs to cope with the global economic crisis.

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2 Responses to Capitalism is 3rd World's Safety Net

  • I thought the free market was an uncharitable monster. And I thought that the underground economy was only for drugs and guns.

    Why do you have to go and use reality to smash stereotypes, you capitalist freedom-loving monster.

  • Wilhelm Röpke had a lot of insight into this.