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What is the cause of poverty in the third world?


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The cause of poverty depends on how you define poverty and what you consider a viable route to prosperity. If someone kidnapped you and dropped you in a shanty-town somewhere, what would you do? Would you try to build a slum house, establish plumbing, seek water, food, etc. or would you start walking to seek better conditions? Probably because of your citizenship, you would start walking but when people in shanty towns in developing economies attempt this, they get stopped by police. So, assume you got stopped by police and had to walk back to the shanty town, what would you do to improve your condition? This is essentially how these people have to approach alleviating their poverty. They can petition people with resources to help, but they don't have the power to force them to provide needed resources, so what then?

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poverty is the result of low productivity. The solution is to remove the barriers and allow impoverished people to be productive.

Like which barriers? Lack of building materials? Lack of social security number to apply at McDonalds in developed economies?

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In your example, the society enforces and perpetuates poverty by through class discrimination. The barriers in your example are put there by the society as a whole. This is often but not always the case. Lack of resources like building materials are almost never the issue, the barriers are more often deeper seated. In the US, lack of a social security card is indication of lack of citizenship or work permit and is another form of discriminating between those with privileges and those without, but the more fundamental issue is low productivity and low opportunity in the parent country.

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In your example, the society enforces and perpetuates poverty by through class discrimination. The barriers in your example are put there by the society as a whole. This is often but not always the case. Lack of resources like building materials are almost never the issue, the barriers are more often deeper seated. In the US, lack of a social security card is indication of lack of citizenship or work permit and is another form of discriminating between those with privileges and those without, but the more

fundamental issue is low productivity and low opportunity in the parent country.

 

Your words Cypress: In the US, lack of a social security card is indication of lack of citizenship or work permit and is another form of discriminating between those with privileges and those without.

 

Not trying to be factious or derogatory guy, only questioning. But why would you consider the lack of a SSC or work permit to be indicative of discrimination? Do you live in the United States? And if so; are you familiar with our laws and customs? Man, we don't even allow beavers to dam up streams and rivers because of their destructive process. Your idea seems to be, if a person is here; regardless of how or why, they should be an equal! Could you give me a (short} dissertation as to why the rules should be bent or changed to accommodate some, and not for the majority? A legal immigrant in this country will have a SSC. You can bet on it!

Edited by rigney
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Your words Cypress: In the US, lack of a social security card is indication of lack of citizenship or work permit and is another form of discriminating between those with privileges and those without.

 

Not trying to be factious or derogatory guy, only questioning. But why would you consider the lack of a SSC or work permit to be indicative of discrimination? Do you live in the United States? And if so; are you familiar with our laws and customs?

 

yes I do and yes I am. Discriminating (setting some apart from others, and treating them differently) can be and is and should be legal in some circumstances so I did not mean to imply I don't approve of it or that I think it should be made illegal discrimination. Thank you for allowing me to improve on my explanation.

 

Man, we don't even allow beavers to dam up streams and rivers because of their destructive process. Your idea seems to be, if a person is here; regardless of how or why, they should be an equal! Could you give me a (short} dissertation as to why the rules should be bent or changed to accommodate some, and not for the majority? A legal immigrant in this country will have a SSC. You can bet on it!

 

Again sorry for giving the wrong impression. I do not have the idea that all that are here should be equal. I don't have a good argument for why the rules should be bent or changed. I attempted to indicate that I think the problem lies with the parent country.

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I think poverty, ignorance and oppression become knotted together. Outsiders can try to address the poverty and the oppression, but not much helps until the people become educated. In turn, education helps them to relieve themselves of both their poverty and their oppression.

 

Here is just one example of how the destructive force of ignorance dooms such people to poverty.

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In your example, the society enforces and perpetuates poverty by through class discrimination. The barriers in your example are put there by the society as a whole. This is often but not always the case. Lack of resources like building materials are almost never the issue, the barriers are more often deeper seated. In the US, lack of a social security card is indication of lack of citizenship or work permit and is another form of discriminating between those with privileges and those without, but the more fundamental issue is low productivity and low opportunity in the parent country.

You're taking for granted the institutions of the developed world that work against people in the developing world, such as a social security card, border-control, or the capitalist market system for distributing building materials. I'm looking at it from a simple perspective of someone who goes out in search of resources to improve their daily life. If they are content living in a shanty town, they might just be searching around for building materials to improve their makeshift structure, or a shovel to dig a better ditch for drainage. It's really up to them how far they want to go to improve their situation. Think of it like settling into a campground and having to build up a sustainable life from there. Then the question is what kinds of barriers you run into. Of course these barriers are deep-seated for the people they benefit - otherwise they wouldn't be effective barriers!

 

When you say "the more fundamental issue is low productivity and low opportunity in the parent country," it reeks of nationalist assumptions that everyone in the world is responsible to a national "country" which is in turn responsible to them and only them. People forget that the nationalist model of regional solidarity is a relative cultural institution, not a fact of nature. Why shouldn't people be able to freely roam the Earth in search of resources? If people want to police those resources against exploitation, that is fine but why do humans have to be kept in national regions and prevented from seeking better opportunities elsewhere? When Europeans were in search of more land and resources, they roamed the Earth and harvested what they could. Why should non-Europeans be denied the same privilege?

 

 

 

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You're taking for granted the institutions of the developed world that work against people in the developing world, such as a social security card, border-control, or the capitalist market system for distributing building materials. I'm looking at it from a simple perspective of someone who goes out in search of resources to improve their daily life. If they are content living in a shanty town, they might just be searching around for building materials to improve their makeshift structure, or a shovel to dig a better ditch for drainage. It's really up to them how far they want to go to improve their situation. Think of it like settling into a campground and having to build up a sustainable life from there. Then the question is what kinds of barriers you run into. Of course these barriers are deep-seated for the people they benefit - otherwise they wouldn't be effective barriers!

 

Ok I don't think I have any major issue with this paragraph.

 

When you say "the more fundamental issue is low productivity and low opportunity in the parent country," it reeks of nationalist assumptions that everyone in the world is responsible to a national "country" which is in turn responsible to them and only them. People forget that the nationalist model of regional solidarity is a relative cultural institution, not a fact of nature. Why shouldn't people be able to freely roam the Earth in search of resources? If people want to police those resources against exploitation, that is fine but why do humans have to be kept in national regions and prevented from seeking better opportunities elsewhere?

 

I think you have answered your own question when you speak of policing natural resources, and by extension, a particular society's notion of property rights. Nationalism comes into play because there is a traditional practical limit on the resources and capability available to police large areas. A second explanation for nationalism is that societies only function to the extent that the individuals honor societal customs and norms. Large groups of immigrants generally do not integrate into society but instead establish sub-cultures. When the total size of sub-cultures approaches a critical limit, society as a whole tends to fail. Therefore successful cultures limit immigration to ensure that sub-cultures don't form.

 

When Europeans were in search of more land and resources, they roamed the Earth and harvested what they could. Why should non-Europeans be denied the same privilege?

 

What was done is done. I don't think that is a particularly good model going forward.

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Ok I don't think I have any major issue with this paragraph.I think you have answered your own question when you speak of policing natural resources, and by extension, a particular society's notion of property rights. Nationalism comes into play because there is a traditional practical limit on the resources and capability available to police large areas. A second explanation for nationalism is that societies only function to the extent that the individuals honor societal customs and norms. Large groups of immigrants generally do not integrate into society but instead establish sub-cultures. When the total size of sub-cultures approaches a critical limit, society as a whole tends to fail. Therefore successful cultures limit immigration to ensure that sub-cultures don't form.

I'm pretty familiar with various legitimations for nationalism, but I can't really discuss/debate them without identifying specific practices. The claims you make are very general and vague and therefore not practically debatable. I don't know if you realize this but would rather avoid subjecting them to critical scrutiny or if you just generally accept these logics validating nationalism because you view it as dominant culture.

 

The only one of your claims that I'm pretty sure isn't true is the need to prevent sub-cultural formation to be successful. Certainly this makes sense within the logic of monoculturalism, but monoculturalism is biased in favor of monopolization of power and institutional domination of individuals. There are others who would claim that this approach to cultural power tends to be de-stabilizing by provoking opposition/resistance and more successful social relations occur when people are able to negotiate cultural differences and plural identities democratically. A culture that regards multiple cultures as a threat is more apt to have civil strife than one that recognizes cultural multiplicity as fundamental and negotiation of conflict/difference as a relatively non-violent part of everyday life.

 

What was done is done. I don't think that is a particularly good model going forward.

You think European diaspora is "done?" Actually, globalism continues growing though the visibility is obscured somewhat by the evolution of nationalist (false) consciousness as the tendency to promote the idea that national regions have separate economies, histories, etc. So, in fact, the rise of nationalism enhanced the power of globalism and, imo, has become more of a hinderance/threat than a benefit, although it still has some benefits arguably. The problem is that the trend toward detaching ethnic-culture/identity from national culture/identity has been met with substantial resistance from those who want to use national identity/culture/governance as a method of asserting ethnic dominance of some people over others. Eventually, I think that national governance will become just a method of regulating local/regional economies; and that ethnicity and migration will be more or less completely liberalized, but some economic reforms may need to occur before the hostility of resistance diminishes.

Edited by lemur
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  • 4 weeks later...

poverty is the result of low productivity. The solution is to remove the barriers and allow impoverished people to be productive.

 

What is the cause of low productivity in poor countries? For example, is it their cultures or because of biologically 'retarded' people living in these countries and not contributing (i.e. through a lack of education, food etc)? Or is it because some countries keep taking away resources from certain other countries, leaving them with nothing to export in exchange for money to the rest of the world? Or is it all these reasons? If it is, then what is the "root of the reason"? What caused all these reasons to form in the first place?

 

Why is it that the US dollar is so strong while the currency in third world countries are weaker? What makes a particular country's currency "strong" and another's "weak"?

 

Is the cause of "low productivity" because of negligent irresponsible corrupt goverments, which rule poor countries with an iron-fist? If so, what stops a nation from becoming less corrupt? How did the developed nations of the world become less corrupt than the current developing countries of the world? What's the psychological reasoning for why developed countries are more "productive" now? How did they become more "productive"? What gave these societies' an edge in forming more prosperous nations than the developing countries?

 

And, hypothetically, if we were to create a new nation in Mars, what would we do to ensure that it becomes a financially wealthy and prosperous nation? What are the people in the poor countries of the world doing wrong at the moment? I really want to know how the world became how it is now, how both developed and poor nations were created.

Edited by Voltman
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What is the cause of low productivity in poor countries? For example, is it their cultures or because of biologically 'retarded' people living in these countries and not contributing (i.e. through a lack of education, food etc)? Or is it because some countries keep taking away resources from certain other countries, leaving them with nothing to export in exchange for money to the rest of the world? Or is it all these reasons? If it is, then what is the "root of the reason"? What caused all these reasons to form in the first place?

 

The primary cause seems to be socio-political. A combination of culture and perhaps a long history of leadership that together values goals that are inconsistent with wholesale raises in society productivity. Low productivity is the immediate cause of poverty. Failure by society and leadership together to value productivity is the final cause. The drivers behind this failure are of course many and complex.

 

Why is it that the US dollar is so strong while the currency in third world countries are weaker? What makes a particular country's currency "strong" and another's "weak"?

 

Economic productivity. Producing things of value that people through out the world would like to trade other things of value is what makes a nations unit of economic activity strong.

 

Is the cause of "low productivity" because of negligent irresponsible corrupt goverments, which rule poor countries with an iron-fist? If so, what stops a nation from becoming less corrupt?

 

Leadership has a role in enabling productivity and corrupt government officials interested primarily in enriching their own lives on the backs of the people certainly don't help. Only society as a whole can encourage and insist the government leadership do their job properly.

 

How did the developed nations of the world become less corrupt than the current developing countries of the world? What's the psychological reasoning for why developed countries are more "productive" now? How did they become more "productive"? What gave these societies' an edge in forming more prosperous nations than the developing countries?

 

Social norms encouraged and required strong and fair leadership and self reliance. Those concepts where core values of society, and so society would not tolerate poor leadership and did not reward low productivity.

 

And, hypothetically, if we were to create a new nation in Mars, what would we do to ensure that it becomes a financially wealthy and prosperous nation? What are the people in the poor countries of the world doing wrong at the moment? I really want to know how the world became how it is now, how both developed and poor nations were created.

 

Individuals have to have a desire and responsibility to be productive, and a belief that leadership is accountable to society as a whole. Send people who have those beliefs. Poor countries will likely remain poor so long as social norms remain stagnant.

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Why is it that the raw materials which are bought from Third World countries to make manufactured goods in First World Countries have historically been so inexpensive, while the finished products from the First World are so expensive? What determines the real price ratio between say the Costa Rican bananas that feed the car factory workers in Germany so that they have enough kilocalories of strength to produce a car and the sale price of the finished car when it is exported back to Costa Rica? If this ratio were adjusted to give more value to what is produced in the Third World vis a vis what is produced in the First World, we would be living in shanty towns and they would be living in their own Manhattans. But what keeps the ratios unfavorable to the Third World? Some would say it is the American Navy (and associated instruments of military and geopolitical power) prowling the seas which ultimately provides at least the threat of the ultimate use of force to keep this ratio working in our favor. When things get out of hand, such as when Allende's socialist government in Chile threatened to overtax or nationalize the U.S. copper mines, or when Arbenz's government threatened to nationalize United Fruit Company's holdings, the CIA or the U.S. military intervene to ensure that the flow of wealth from the Third to the First World is not interrupted.

 

There is also an undeniable aspect of discouragement which explains part of the problem of Third World poverty. I personally witnessed a United Nations project in St. Lucia which constructed a system of pipes to bring fresh water down from a mountainside to some villages in the valley. This pipe system required minimal maintenance, and the local people were trained in how to perform this simple task. By having this pipe system, the women of the villages would no longer have to spend the entire day, every day, walking up and down the mountainside to carry water to the valley below in buckets.

 

Within a few months of the U.N. engineers leaving the island, the local population lost the self-discipline to maintain the water piping system, which then collapsed, resulting in the villagers once again having to go up and down the mountainside forever to get their water.

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Why is it that the raw materials which are bought from Third World countries to make manufactured goods in First World Countries have historically been so inexpensive, while the finished products from the First World are so expensive? What determines the real price ratio between say the Costa Rican bananas that feed the car factory workers in Germany so that they have enough kilocalories of strength to produce a car and the sale price of the finished car when it is exported back to Costa Rica?

 

Simple, supply and demand which in turn is influenced by scarcity of the good, and the degree to which that good can be further leveraged for other goods. Raw materials compete for price based on what price all other holder of that same raw material is willing to trade it for and what buyers are willing to offer. Finished goods are desirable worldwide and will also have a price that reflects that combined desirability.

 

If this ratio were adjusted to give more value to what is produced in the Third World vis a vis what is produced in the First World, we would be living in shanty towns and they would be living in their own Manhattans. But what keeps the ratios unfavorable to the Third World?

 

Nonsense. The ratio is set by supply and demand. If raw material becomes more scarce, those in societies that value productivity would find local alternatives to these raw goods and those societies will remain living in Manhattans. The only practical solution to this reality is for third world contries to retool their social norms so that productivity and effective leadership is valued.

 

Some would say it is the American Navy (and associated instruments of military and geopolitical power) prowling the seas which ultimately provides at least the threat of the ultimate use of force to keep this ratio working in our favor. When things get out of hand, such as when Allende's socialist government in Chile threatened to overtax or nationalize the U.S. copper mines, or when Arbenz's government threatened to nationalize United Fruit Company's holdings, the CIA or the U.S. military intervene to ensure that the flow of wealth from the Third to the First World is not interrupted.

 

In these two examples, intervention seems warranted to uphold the legal agreements that were made surrounding ownership and operation of these enterprises. The proper and legal process would be for the socialist governments to buy these enterprises out at fair market value if they wish to nationalize them.

 

There is also an undeniable aspect of discouragement which explains part of the problem of Third World poverty. I personally witnessed a United Nations project in St. Lucia which constructed a system of pipes to bring fresh water down from a mountainside to some villages in the valley. This pipe system required minimal maintenance, and the local people were trained in how to perform this simple task. By having this pipe system, the women of the villages would no longer have to spend the entire day, every day, walking up and down the mountainside to carry water to the valley below in buckets.

 

Within a few months of the U.N. engineers leaving the island, the local population lost the self-discipline to maintain the water piping system, which then collapsed, resulting in the villagers once again having to go up and down the mountainside forever to get their water.

 

I would say this is an excellent example of the difference in social norms. The aqua duct was a productivity enhancer that can improve the standard of living for all who are able to use it. Yet this society did not perceive the value to maintaining it. You call it discouragement, I call it a social norm that does not value productivity.

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But if Third World countries withheld their supplies of raw materials (the way the OPEC countries have done with oil, for example), they could adjust the supply/demand relationship to make us poor and themselves rich, just as the oil producing nations in the 1930s were poor while the First World was rich. The issue can't be resolved by just pointing to the laws of supply and demand, but has to be considered in light of the deeper question why nations do not have the geopolitical power to exploit their natural resources to put other nations at a disadvantage. The main thumb on the scale of the supply-and-demand relation is military power.

 

Since Chile was a sovereign nation it had a perfect legal right to adjust its laws so as to nationalize or tax to death the American-owned copper mines under the Allende government, which was in power long before international trade agreements allowed capitalists to sue against such legislation. What was illegal at international law was the CIA intervention to overthrow the democratically elected Allende government and replace it with Pinochet's dictatorship to protect the American interests in Chile's potash and copper. But that's just one example of a military thumb being placed on the scale of normal economic laws to keep the First World richer than the Third World.

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But if Third World countries withheld their supplies of raw materials (the way the OPEC countries have done with oil, for example), they could adjust the supply/demand relationship to make us poor and themselves rich, just as the oil producing nations in the 1930s were poor while the First World was rich. The issue can't be resolved by just pointing to the laws of supply and demand, but has to be considered in light of the deeper question why nations do not have the geopolitical power to exploit their natural resources to put other nations at a disadvantage. The main thumb on the scale of the supply-and-demand relation is military power.

 

Nonsense. Opec's rise in monetary influence was not supported or enabled by military power.

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Of course the price of oil used to be low because of military power. The reason why it used to be cheap was that the oil of the Third World was owned by the First World colonial powers, whose control was ultimately based on military power. Insofar as the First World did not own the Third World's oil supplies, it invaded those countries and stole them, as Britain and the Soviet Union did in their joint invasion of Iran in 1941. The present-day oil producing areas that were not colonized at the time, such as Saudi Arabia, were also not yet oil produces, since the oil reserves there were only exploited after the Second World War.

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Of course the price of oil used to be low because of military power. The reason why it used to be cheap was that the oil of the Third World was owned by the First World colonial powers, whose control was ultimately based on military power.

 

That's not correct. Historically when the price of oil is low it's because of oversupply. I would refer you to the Pulitzer-winning "The Prize" by Daniel Yergin for starters. Oil drilling is frequently cited as an example of the Tragedy of the Commons. This was also part of the reasoning behind the creation of OPEC -- to control supply in order to prevent another repetition of the oversupply crash cycles that so plagued the early industry.

 

 

 

Insofar as the First World did not own the Third World's oil supplies, it invaded those countries and stole them, as Britain and the Soviet Union did in their joint invasion of Iran in 1941. The present-day oil producing areas that were not colonized at the time, such as Saudi Arabia, were also not yet oil produces, since the oil reserves there were only exploited after the Second World War.

 

Yeah that's a nice theory, so long as the casual observer overlooks the date. The Shah was sympathetic with the Nazi cause. Persians are Aryans, not Semitics like most of their Arab and Jewish neighbors, and there was an obvious identification with that whole master-race god complex thing going on. The Nazi movement had a foothold there that continued after the war and even (albeit rarely) still crops up today.

 

The Persian word for Aryan, by the way, is "Iran".

 

(Not to suggest that mainstream modern Persians are Nazis, of course, I've just always thought that fact interesting, not to mention little-recognized in the West.)

 

Anyway, one of the outcomes of that invasion is that Hitler had virtually zero access to petroleum for the remainder of the war. Germany actually *manufactured* its petrol during most of the war (which made for some rather obvious bomber targets). Another outcome is that it provided the Soviets with oil to fight Hitler with.

 

Sounds like a pretty good plan to me.

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When will poverty be eradicated? How do you eradicate poverty?

Are we in the Western World doing enough in the world to stop it?

the following might be considered an opinion, and I am not going to bother to back it up with links and sources. (Sorry).

 

The Western world is doing everything to keep the 3rd world poor.

We give huge amounts of money to the 3rd world, which they have to pay back with interest (so they pay more to us than we give to them). As any creditcard holder knows, borrowing money costs money.

 

We don't mind to sell weapons. In fact, all conflicts in Africa are fought with weapons manufactured outside that continent.

 

Western countries do nothing to support a local economy in 3rd world countries. We have import taxes for cheap agricultural goods to make our own farmers competitive. We dump agricultural products from the west in the 3rd world countries, and even compensate our own farmers for the lower price they get in those countries.

 

We allow companies to employ people in poor countries under their own unhealthy badly paid labor agreements... heck, we act as if it's a healthy and understandable practice when companies move oversees to "cheap labor countries" or whatever euphemism they use for "producing the same as before, but spending a lot less on the people who do the work". And we get cheap goods, and we buy it... and we're even arrogant enough to say that we help the poor countries.

 

Africans don't own Africa. Other people do. Logically (or at least, we say that it's logical), the profits go to the "owners". Up until a few years ago, Western countries owned most of Africa. Only recently, China started to invest. China itself only escaped this fate recently because they're their own owners.

 

Former colonies became independent only in name. Western countries once really owned them... now we just own the economy.

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Pangloss: The fact that Britain and the Soviet Union also had another reason for invading Iran in 1941 -- i.e., the Murmansk/Archangel supply route from Britain to the U.S.S.R. was being interdicted by German subs and air attacks from Norway -- does not mean that they didn't also want the oil. Those colonial powers had always had their sights fixed on Iran, as evidenced by the Anglo-Russian division of Iran/Persia into clearly demarcated spheres of influence in 1907 -- long before there was a World War II to justify this.

 

You note that OPEC came into existence to control oil prices by preventing overproduction, but the ultimate question to ask is why it was possible for these nations to do that? It was possible because they were not under colonial/military control of First World powers as they had been up until the decolonizations from the end of World War II to circa 1960. So once again, we see military power as the decisive thumb on the scale of economic laws to create the price differentials between raw materials and finished products which ensure the wealth of the First World.

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Like almost anything it's a conglomerate of issues relating to parent countries ran by (dictators) who do not care for the people and are out for themselfs persay.. Im not a political person so if my post is inaccurate please forgive, i am not attempting to state facts just my OPINION. Now if the people are educated as a whole they could overthrow the deppresing party and elect an official to put laws into effect to govern the country and in turn make them competitive in the world market. Considering the 3rd world countries lack serious education when left to publc schools the parents have the same if not worse education and simply do not know any other way to live. And the lack of leaadership indefinitely puts a strain on development etc. So I suppose if you had a viable leader and a goverment in place along with an military to secure the state-country and put fourth the steps to education and encourage citizenship and pride then i dont see why in a few generations they couldn't be in a sense a part of the bigger picture. But on the same note some people are happy with their situations, and do not adopt the modern philosophy of the west. Some even consider the western thought is invein unholy and were the devil.... Just my two cents right or wrong interesting topic,

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Pangloss: The fact that Britain and the Soviet Union also had another reason for invading Iran in 1941 ... does not mean that they didn't also want the oil.

 

Yes, they took oil from a Nazi ally and used it to fight Hitler. And promptly gave it back to them at the end of the war.

 

 

You note that OPEC came into existence to control oil prices by preventing overproduction, but the ultimate question to ask is why it was possible for these nations to do that? It was possible because they were not under colonial/military control of First World powers as they had been up until the decolonizations from the end of World War II to circa 1960.

 

Sure sure, victory of the common man over the violent colonialist oppressor. And yet poverty remains. Go figure.

 

You go ahead and spin all the history you like, Marat. I'm just correcting the errors. :)

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Of course the price of oil used to be low because of military power. The reason why it used to be cheap was that the oil of the Third World was owned by the First World colonial powers, whose control was ultimately based on military power. Insofar as the First World did not own the Third World's oil supplies, it invaded those countries and stole them, as Britain and the Soviet Union did in their joint invasion of Iran in 1941. The present-day oil producing areas that were not colonized at the time, such as Saudi Arabia, were also not yet oil produces, since the oil reserves there were only exploited after the Second World War.

 

Were military power the primary consideration, there would have been nothing to prevent the powerful nations from colonize these areas after WWII. These nations did and do not have military power when oil was discovered.

 

The primary and overriding factor for poverty is lack of productivity not lack of military might.

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