Sunday, 24 April 2016

Why is Africa so poor while Europe and North America are so wealthy?

The Washington Post did an article entitled: "Why is Africa so poor while Europe and North America are so wealthy?"

The thrust of this article (by Andrew Gelman) talks of a published paper from a couple of years ago by two economic professors (Quamrul Ashraf and Oded Galor).  Their line of thought?  Mostly a discussion over poverty and genetics.

Gelman (the Post's writer) has one beef with the published paper.....mostly over the statistics involved.

I'm not a rocket scientist but for years have read, studied and admired three general characteristics of Europeans....which translated over into the American environment.

First, craftsmanship started out over 2,000 years ago in ancient Rome to be a big deal.  If you were the local guy who built aquaducts or stone buildings.....you had some reputation, and were called upon for projects on a regular basis.  You don't see craftsmanship in Africa.

Second, as people traveled into Europe (in the beginning) and into America (in the beginning)....they had more or less nothing, and had to build to survive.  This attitude....is something that has prevailed over the past several thousand years.  For those who stalled and stayed in 'safe' Africa....they just kept waiting for something to come and change things.  The only things to come?  People from America or Europe?  That probably was a signal that the old attitude was screwed-up.

Third, innovation.  You walk around England, Italy, Netherlands, or Germany.....and ask what folks are doing in their garage or factory lab, and they just stand there and grin.  Huns has some fancy wipers that have a sensor to notice raindrops on the surface of the windshield.  Robert has some fancy wine that took twenty years to develop but it's got X, Y and Z. Zino has a fancy new ice cream that is actually healthy and nutritional that he has developed.  You go and look at the past five hundred years of Africa, and ask where innovation has been.....and they just look at you.  There's not much to talk about or brag about.

I don't condemn the Africans or the various tribes who've gone through various dramatic stages of war and peace....to find themselves mostly waiting for the next round of war and peace to occur.  It's just that if you wanted to advance or establish some level of security or wealth....you'd have to establish a craftsmanship trail, build onto something, and advance the idea of innovation and trade.  Otherwise, you stay where you are.

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