Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Sarup: Living Standard Increases Are Technologies

Living Standard Increases Are Technologies


By Kamala Sarup

In a 2001 comparison of 174 countries, Nepal ranked 150th in per capita income, a universal indicator of material wealth and living standards, since money enables people to buy at least the basic living needs for themselves and their families: food, drink, shelter, clothing, medicines, and health care. Why is Nepal this poor compared to other countries? Can the people of Nepal realistically expect to gain more wealth relative to other countries in the future?

The direct causes of per capita income and living standard increases are technologies, new and old. These are the tools, machines, materials, power sources, medicines, and manufacturing and commercial practices) that are transformed into consumable goods and services comprising basic living standards that are summarized in per capita income statistics.

Technologies affect living standards in three ways: (1) They create goods and service that people want, but don't have. Automobiles, telephones, most medicines and medical care did not exist at one time, but were created by innovators. (2) They improve the quality of goods and services that people already have. Medicines, foods, clothing, medical care are improved compared to those available in former times. (3) They increase the availability of goods and services to more people by reducing the effort, waste, and cost to produce them.

Food, clothing, housing, medicines and medical care became cheaper and, simultaneously, their quality improved since earlier times. Technologies and associated incomes devoted to preventing people from killing and stealing from each other, i.e., judiciaries, prisons, police and military personal and institutions, restrict their being used to raise incomes and basic living standards, so however necessary they are in a world of aggression and acquisitiveness, they are counterproductive to raising incomes.

There are other ways to increase per capita incomes, of course, but they are limited. But as an alternative, a poor country that wants to be richer cannot expect to develop its own technology.

That would futile because it would take a very long time, and in the meanwhile, the rich countries would have obsoleted it with newer technology, or else conquered the country with its more advanced military technology to use its land and resources for the people of the conquering country. Therefore, a poor country like Nepal must import technology that produces more and better goods and services for its own people and for producing goods and services for trade with foreigners.

This acquisition of technology requires large amounts of money ("capital"), which cannot be accumulated at home because that requires technology. It's a vicious cycle: technology depends on capital, which depends on technology, etc.

However, its geographical disadvantage is offset by its geographical location at former trade routes between rich countries that allowed it to accumulate sufficient capital and technology to "move mountains" (or, at least penetrate them with tunnels and cross the valleys with bridges) and prosper. The Balkan countries in southeastern europe enjoyed no such advantage and suffered economic stagnation. Switzerland also has the advantages of culture, economy, and polity. If Afghanistan and Tibet were included, they would, no doubt, also fall into this group for the same reasons.

In particular, countries with too many mountains and too few waterways are unlikely to become richer relative to other countries, although they certainly will become absolutely richer because of the inevitable trade of cheaper goods and services provided by their richer neighbors.

The use of technologies depends not only on geography and culture, but also on the economy and polity of nations. Subsistence economies, like those of the nations' aboriginies, resulted in their subjugation and doom by people with more advanced economies that featured the division of labor, technologies, and trade, i.e., capitalist economies.

It is clear that a country with an unfavorable geography, or culture, or economy or polity is severely handicapped to make sufficient technological advances that increase the wealth and living standards of its people. It is likely to remain poor, despite the enthusiastic and sanguine projections of its leaders, and planners.

*************

(Kamala Sarup is editor of http://peacejournalism.com/)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news