2004-07-02

The Third World's Dilemma

Third World countries really have the odds stacked against them. They can't trade properly and fairly with richer nations. They don't have a real voice in the global community. Their regimes can be easily ousted out of power by the conspiracies of a stronger nation. But we have to stop and think about what the root of their problems is. Is it because of their climate/geographic factors? Endowment of natural resources? Is it because of frequent wars fought with belligerent neighbours? I believe that almost all their problems can be traced back to a lack of education. The problem the Third World countries are facing is not poverty itself, rather it lies in why the countries are so poor despite many attempts at modernization.

"What can be done then, to save those nations?" you may ask. I wish I have the answer to that, but I don't. I'm actually a critic of the ineffective methods currently used in aiding the Third World. What the international aid organizations are doing now is ineffective. Their aid might actually be hindering the proper development of those nations.

I think one the main culprits of their prolonged poverty is food aid. Sustenance is a necessity to the growth of their societies, but that doesn't mean that it is the solution to their problems. Our food, (which we have too much of) while helping millions of starving people survive, is producing nations that are fully dependent on external support to feed their hungry. Moreover, our aid is partially responsible for their unrealistically large populations. They produce enough food to adequately feed about 10 to 20% of their population. Is our food really helping them on their way to prosperity?

Other forms of aid are also ineffective. Money that is given to a nation with a corrupt and illegitimate government quickly results in an elite group which oppresses the populace. More money obviously increases their stranglehold. This raises another important question: Should we offer money, and if we should, how do we know it's being put to work for the good of the masses?

Our technology could be the best gift, but we are loathe to give our knowledge. Bio-tech companies can offer resistant and prolific crops for free. With a few exceptions -- for promoting their public image and such -- they don't. Other forms of technology would probably not be used correctly or widely enough for a pronounced effect since the people are not educated. Thus, we don't give much of our technology away. There is one notable exception though. We give away our weapons quite lightly, without much thought. It's like a parent offering their baby the full use of the kitchen. Sure, the baby can peel that apple, right? It seems to be that the profit of our corporations is of greater importance than their welfare.

We must realize that offering aid DOES NOT always mean we are being of help. What's important is to analyze the implications of our aid. I believe education is the only long-term solution to their predicament. The problem is, who is going to teach them?

7 comments:

Kagami said...

I seriously don't think most third-world countries can be "saved", at least not during my lifetime. Let's use Africa for an example, since the situation there is probably worse than anywhere else. Much of the African populace is so far gone that very little can be done for them now. Excluding the Egyptians, whose citizens don't qualify as "African" in any country I'm familiar with, they have yet to establish their own civilization, putting them several thousand years behind us in terms of technological advancement (assuming they are left to their own devices without other countries interferring).

As Rama put it once, even if he were Bill Gates, with $100B+, he wouldn't invest a cent into helping third-world countries (or in this case, a continent). I think the way he put it was..."you give them their one meal and then they just starve again". While it sounds wrong, you can hardly argue against it objectively. A discussion that came up during one class in highschool also touched on this. Without proper education, any energy you give them via food/sustenance, they spend reproducing, which does them no good at all. With each child, they are simply adding to the problem. I think only divine intervention could drastically change their situation at this point.

Silph said...

Jason, if you wouldn't mind, could you elaborate on what kind of education would benefit them, and why?

Jason Yu said...

I don't know the answer. If I did, I would be famous or infamous or something, lol :P. This post is just the product of some thoughts that I have...

I'm thinking the same thing. Just feeding the hungry isn't going to solve anything. I know it sounds inhumane, but we need to think of other ways to help since this is getting them nowhere.

Bao said...

How'bout sending people there to live there and share their knowledge?

Jason Yu said...

Yeah...that might work. But I do see at least three major problems with that:
1) Very few people are willing to go
2) The impact made by the few people that do go will be negligible
3) Unwillingness or even hostility from the locals

To further elaborate on Silph's comment:
What kind of knowledge? -> The most important is probably the math and sciences, although lacking in any field would probably be unhealthy to long-term prosperity.
Why? -> I believe knowledge is the only permanent solution, thus the need for education. I thought this to be fairly obvious and I will try to explain. A lack of education results in an ignorant population, which then can easily lead to militarism, poor economy, public violence, etc. There's also a very strong correlation between the average IQ's of nations and their wealth. Thus, a strong educational background for the citizens is a necessity for any modern nation.

Kagami said...

Hmm, I think the most critical bit of knowledge for them right now isn't in math or science proper. Rather, I think condoms and the concept of contraception would do wonders. :P

Ambrose said...

I think what Jay's said so far is true: that the Third World countries need education more than anything else.

The problem (and predicament, if you will) is this:

Currently, our global mindset is that by sending over food and clothes and toys and such, we are helping the Third World nations. This, as Jason already pointed out, is not really the true solution. "Give a man a fish, feed him for a meal. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life". We are indeed focusing on giving them their fish, but not teaching them how to fish.

However, if we suddenly stopped giving them fish and just only taught them how to fish, it wouldn't really work either. Because it will take years if not decades for the Third World nation's societies to catch up somewhat in terms of education. Now, during that process the rest of the world will probably still need to aid them in terms of food and such.

Thus, the overall process required to turn the Third World nations around will be a long and tedious one. It will also consume a lot of our resources and time, which, sad to say, I don't really see happening in the capitalism driven global economy.