General Question

DominicX's avatar

Are the places in the world that are low in development ever going to improve significantly?

Asked by DominicX (28762points) June 15th, 2009

It just seems like the places that have been bad are always going to be bad. How long has Eastern Europe been in the “2nd world”? Are they ever going to improve? What about Africa? Most of it has been poor in development for so long…do you think these countries are ever going to significantly improve? What would make it happen?

This was inspired by looking at the map of human development: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/2006nian_Renlei_Fazhan_Zhishu.svg

The countries in green are the highest developed and the countries in red are the lowest. It measures things like wealth, literacy rates, life expectancy, standard of living, etc.

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15 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It will take a long time. First things first: Stop the violence in Africa. Things will improve after.

Lightlyseared's avatar

“2nd world” was NATO code for the soviets and countries aligned to the soviets and Russia got into space before the 1st world countires for example.

“3rd World” countires were those that were not aligned to either NATO or the soviets and while some of those were under developed it also inlcuded places like Japan and a lot of oil rich middle eastern countires that you would probably find hard to describe as under developed (have you seen down town Dubai). Given that a lot of these countries had health care systems ranked above the US the last time the WHO bothered to produce a table I think the terms 2nd world and 3rd world are no longer useful in trying to describe underdeveloped nations.

edited for annoying repeats of the phrase – for example

DominicX's avatar

@Lightlyseared

Okay. I can’t change it now, though, but I would if I could.

Jayne's avatar

I would expect so, as long as we avoid anything catastrophic like nuclear warfare or irreversible climate change. I mean, it’s only been a couple hundred years since human society has become truly global, and much less since people began to think in terms of peace and progress for all people, which is a minuscule part of our collective history. It would be cynical beyond even my capacity to believe that in such a short period of time we have exhausted our potential to improve our new civilization.

DominicX's avatar

@Jayne

Yeah, I know, and generally I am not cynical at all. And some countries are improving. Botswana was one of the poorest countries in Africa after it became independent. It’s now one of the most developed countries in Africa, on the same level as South Africa.

quasi's avatar

being that developed nations are predominatly sustained at the expense of less developed nations, i am not sure.

cak's avatar

I don’t know. There is a lot of corruption, in some of the countries. That reason alone, tends to be a huge stumbling block for some of the countries.

I would love to see it happen, but I remain doubtful on that front.

Ivan's avatar

That’s the attitude.

cak's avatar

@Ivan – It’s not something I like to say or admit, but it’s an honest answer.

lloydbird's avatar

Even the so called ‘developed’ countries in the world are only are only so in pockets, with luxury and squalor existing side by side. Perhaps one of humanity’s upcoming great collective projects will be to make all areas into good places to be.

DominicX's avatar

@lloydbird Yes, but overall they have it better. And I think ideally people do want all areas to be good places, but we don’t money for that and what not…

juwhite1's avatar

Ever? Yes. Anytime soon? No. All the foreign aid they receive has so many strings attached to it, that even when government corruption doesn’t prevent it from being used as intended, the countries end up worse off than thay were before they accepted the aid.

Jack_Haas's avatar

You’re kidding right? Do you know where India, China or even Brazil were 20 years ago? China now owns a major part of the US economy, India is on its way to be the only nation capable of challenging China’s coming domination, Brazil is fast growing into a major power. Oh and I forgot Russia! After the fall of communism they were the 4th world, now they lead the EU by the nose and play benefactor to their former satellite countries. You bet there’s hope! And all this happened after the fall of communism and the triumph of American-style capitalism and America’s support for democracy abroad.

The only reason why eastern EU countries are still considered 2nd world is that france & Germany are fighting tooth and nail to keep their own power intact. The eastern countries have experienced the evil of socialism first hand and are, consequently, weary of Western European style socialism. They also have experienced Western Europe’s indifference and weakness first hand and are, understandably, more sympathetic to Washington on the foreign policy front. It will take the US moving the axis of Occidental power from London-Berlin-Paris to London-Berlin-Warsaw (or Prague). Bill Clinton had started this shift and Pres Bush had the perfect opportunity to follow this route but he simply wasted it. The actual apologizer-in-chief is all too happy to throw the East under the bus to appease Moscow, Berlin and Paris. Hopefully the next US President will bring US foreign policy back on the right track.

Africa’s situation is different. First, there is a big string attached to foreign aid and it is called diplomacy: African leaders have 2 aces up their sleeves when asking for fresh money. The slavery card for the US, the colonialism card for Europe. Western governments have to give cash and they can’t ask for accountability without fear of being called condescending, patronizing, infantilizing or even the career-ending word: racist. Basically, 10% of foreign aid is used on real projects, the rest is laundered and reinvested in Europe and the US anyway. Don’t be fooled by the pro-EU studies that show how generous European governments are toward Africa, it is nothing more than a large-scale oil-for-food program. And if you remember who the biggest scammers were in Iraq’ oil-for-food, you’ll find that they are also at the heart of West Africa’s problems. West African countries have long been maintained as quasi-colonies by European powers, but mainly france. Only now, with China’s economic audacity, and America’s higher African profile thanks to Pres. Bush (W), have Western African nations started to be independent. The disappearance of the last puppets of the french govenment, like Omar Bongo recently, the diminishing influence of the french African intelligence services, the waning interest from Sarkozy’s party, many factors make an independent and competitive West Africa possible but the road is far from clear. There remains the problem of guilt money and we’re talking about billions of dollars/Euros so that could ensure the dominance of corrupt regimes for a long time.

The solution? Western governments should get out of the charity business. They should lower taxes and give more breaks to their citizens to donate privately. Individuals aren’t bound by diplomacy, they donate based on transparency and results.
Also, China is investing massively in Africa to fill its growing needs. If equally growing and exponentially hungrier countries like India jump on the bandwagon it will create a healthy competition that will benefit Africa. Otherwise China will simply replace Europe and the colonizer.

By the way, you can learn more about the vicious cycle of foreign aid by reading the brilliant young African economist Dambisa Moyo’s spot on account on her website, dambisamoyo.com.

Jayne's avatar

@Jack_Haas; I’m somewhat confused; you say that European governments are both help in the thrall of African governments playing the slavery card, and at the same time are operating those governments as puppets. The two seem rather mutually exclusive.

But in any case I do agree that investment rather than charity is the way to go. Charity, as you say, funds corrupt governments that create instability in the region, and when it does get to actual aid projects, those projects have the potential, as I wrote here, to cause further damage. Direct investment through microloans to farmers or larger loans to entrepreneurs, at fair but profitable rates to encourage private investment, and perhaps even public works projects under UN supervision, would promote the growth of a self-sustaining foundation of financial security among the general population, which would make African regions less volatile as well as more prosperous.

DominicX's avatar

@Jack_Haas

I agree with most of what you said. However, Russia’s population declines every year and it has since around the turn of the millennium. That’s not usually a sign of improvement. But it’s true, Russia’s HDI has been improving, which I find interesting. These countries: Russia, China, and India, are still “medium-level” and have been for a long time. I would like to see them with less poverty, less alcoholism, less censorship, less pollution, etc. I’m just going to hope they are on their way to that. One thing’s for sure, though, India and China are overpopulated.

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