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Friday, March 11, 2011

Money and technology.

Today the tragedy in Japan is on the minds of people around the world. This was a terrible tragedy, but it lifts my spirits to see how being in a developed country can dramatically increase the welfare of a group of people in such a tangible way. The technology available to the Japanese government was not accessible in Haiti, nor was an efficient route of communication. Those lifesaving measures are the product of a modern economy, one that allows people to grow and think freely.

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  1. Haiti vs Japan is a great object lesson for those globalists who argue for the short-term expedience of cheap labor over the long-term efficiencies of a modern society. Tom Friedman's flat earth post-democratic society might be expedient in the short-run but what is lost in the long run are the qualities that make democratic societies more efficient.

    Efficient societies build cities that can withstand 8.9 earthquakes with little loss of life and property. Expedient societies build cities where a 4.2 earthquakes level entire cities while killing hundreds of thousands of people.

    Democracy is worth fighting for.

  2. Professor, I have been thinking the same thoughts. Haiti and Indonesia were both unprepared to respond to natural disaster and thousands of lives were lost. Likewise droughts in Africa. The technology is here but countries that are paralyzed by malignant politics do not generate enough wealth to protect their citizens.

  3. And I meant to congratulate you on your mention in James Taranto's column in the Wall Street Journal.

  4. It's important to notice that the deaths we're hearing about so far are from the *tsunami*-- something they aren't designed to deal with; there's video of a town being wiped out, but it's with water.

    Doesn't make it any less horrifying, unless you start to think "what would it look like if Japan wasn't designed to deal with huge earthquakes?"

    Another earthquake just hit about half an hour ago, up a little and near the opposite coast from Tokyo. (Nagano Prefecture)

  5. "Those lifesaving measures are the product of a modern economy, one that allows people to grow and think freely."

    There are so many benefits that come with free-market economic development. Environmentalists' recycled ideas do nothing compared to the good that results from development. As George Will said,

    " ... Growth is a prerequisite for environmental improvement. The worldwide pattern is that environmental damage increases until per capita income increases to a point where people enjoy a social surplus and feel they can ask government to trade some growth for environmental healing."

    I saw this firsthand in Japan where the post-war economic boom had the effect of not only increasing the standard of living and longevity in the country, but also has made the people demand an increasingly healthier environment.

  6. I must add that I'm praying for the people of the Tohoku region in Japan. The largest city, Sendai, which bore the brunt of this, is one of my favorite cities. It's lovely, and the people are very hospitable. The Tanabata Festival was taking place the night I arrived there and it was magical. A must-see!!