[Up] [Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Bin Laden

>Wrong, my friend... with all due respect, the root cause is cultural.  When
>your cultural values prevent you from achieving success, you are prey to the
>siren song by unscrupulous liars seeking to manipulate you that "it isn't
>your fault... the great devil (read America) is keeping you down and
>preventing your success".  In other words, it's far easier to blame others
>than to deal with your own problems.  And cultural problems are among the
>most intractable, because their roots go so very very deep.
>Successful cultures, under identical circumstances,  simply do  better for
>their citizens than unsuccessful cultures.   There are many examples... look

[ Excess quotations omitted. ]

Speaking of culture, could it be culture that tends to make Americans
blame others for their problems?

>I will instead point out that roughly 6% of the world's population (the US)
>produces 59% of the world's GNP (wealth).  If you made the US go away
>tomorrow, it would NOT improve life anywhere else.  It would make it worse.
>Sad but true.  Worldwide pollution, curiously enough,  would increase
>dramatically.  World GNP would drop dramatically.  And saddest of all,  life
>in the underdeveloped countries would become more unendurable than it is.

This is true, but why stop there?

It is also probably true that we have means to make life worldwide much
more endurable.  This doesn't have to be by distributing the American
Way everywhere.  Look at microloans in Bangladesh, for example.

Curing poverty is a hard problem, at which many rich countries have failed
many times.  Look at 30 years of investment in Africa, for example, which
produced not much of anything to show for it, or earlier efforts to cure
diseases which led to overpopulation and more different diseases.
However, those same experiences could be used to avoid at least those
problems.  And there are some solutions that demonstrably work; see
above about Bangladesh.

>The real question that we amateur philosophers ought to be asking is why the
>US culture does better (in terms of the measures listed above).  In my
>opinion it is because the US culture is better matched to the realities of
>human nature, and provides carrots and sticks to bring out humanity's best
>voluntary efforts.  Enlightened self interest, if you will, with emphasis on
>the enlightened part.

Of course, it could be culture that makes you say that....
While I don't agree that unequal distribution of world resources
is necessarily a *root* cause (look at Japan, which has little in the
way of natural resources), nonetheless I always do find it ironic
when Americans, living off the bounty of much of a continent,
dismiss the possibility out of hand.

Speaking of unequal distribution of resources, maybe we're not
just talking about oil and water; maybe we're also talking about
information.  In which case I tend to agree with Joseph Stiglitz,
former chief economist of the World Bank and recent Nobel Prize winner,


that those who know more tend to be richer.  This might
indicate that one way to deal with poverty would be to spread
information.  Internet?  Education?

Speaking of poverty, if it doesn't matter, why is it that everyone on
this list isn't as rich as Donald Trump?  Now on the one hand it is
very likely true that the cultural assumptions of the very rich that
he shares and most of you do not (pop quiz: which is more important,
income or assets, and why?) helped him get where he is, but on the other
hand it probably didn't hurt that he started with some millions in pocket
change and never had to worry about where his next meal was coming from.

>Just my opinion of course, and far, far off the topic of Sinclair
>genealogy... unless you draw parallels with the stunning contributions of
>scottish engineers and scientists to the industrial revolution in Great
>Britain and the UK.... but that would only provoke more conflict, I suspect.

Is it an American cultural thing to equate reasoned discussion with conflict?
Most Scots I know seem capable of civil, even heated, discussion; some even
revel in it.  And indeed the parallels to which you allude are relevant.

 'We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.' --Voltaire

I'd also like to repeat part of something I posted on September 16:

``This is the Sinclair discussion list.  Sinclairs often brag about a
centuries-long international Sinclair strategy, even though nobody seems
quite sure what it was.

``We have seen on this list how many of us are accustomed to think
in terms of centuries and millenia across the whole world.  And we
are distributed across much of the world, with experience of much
of the rest of it.

``Well, here's your chance.''

Will we merely say the rest of the world has bad culture and it's
their fault, or will we think about what is to be done?


John S. Quarterman <jsq@quarterman.org>

>Sinclair wrote:
>> Poverty, and unequal distribution of the world resources is the root
>> cause.
>> Sinclair
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Richard Huseth" <rhuseth@ev1.net>
>> To: <sinclair@quarterman.org>
>> Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2001 10:12 PM
>> Subject: Re: Bin Laden

[ Excess quotations omitted. ]

[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, sinclair@quarterman.org
[ To get off or on the list, see http://sinclair.quarterman.org/list.html