20 November 2008

Following Zimbabwe Down

Americans look at images of Zimbabweans eating insects, secure in the knowledge that "it can't happen here." Widespread starvation is something that happens in Africa or Southeast Asia. The US government would never allow things to get so bad here--unless the US were controlled by a leadership as corrupt as Zimbabwe's.
Rebecca Chipika, a child of 9, prods a stick into a termite mound to draw out insects. She sweeps them into a bag for her family's evening meal.

These scenes from a food catastrophe are unfolding in Doma, a district of rural Zimbabwe where journalists rarely venture. It's a stronghold of President Robert Mugabe's party and his enforcers and informants are everywhere.

...Survival is the obsession.

Cell phones operate only sporadically. State radio has not been received since the district relay beacon broke down eight months ago.

Mhangura, a town of about 3,000 people, has had no running water for months. Power outages happen daily because of a lack of cash to maintain utilities. People walk about three miles to a dam to fill pails or gasoline cans.

Some of the scarce water is used to embalm the dead in wet sand, a centuries-old African tradition to preserve a body until family members gather for the burial.

"There's nothing here. People are dying of illness and hunger. Burial parties are going out every day," said Michael Zava, a trader in Mhangura.

The hospital that serves the district is closed, and so is its small morgue, so there's no way of telling how many are dying, Zava said. Children's hair is discoloring, a sign of malnutrition. Adults are wizened and dressed in rags — they have no cash for new clothes.

Zava said he has seen villagers plucking undigested corn kernels from cow dung to wash and eat. A slaughtered goat is eaten down to everything but hooves, bones and teeth. Crickets, cicadas and beetles also can make a meal. _Yahoo
The Republic of South Africa is on a similar trajectory, perhaps a decade or so behind Zimbabwe in its descent. Both Zimbabwe and South Africa were once booming and prosperous exceptions to a continent full of post-colonial hell. With a change in leadership in both countries came rising violence and discrimination against the market-dominant minorities that had created their booming economies. As oppression against productive members of society grew, prosperity declined, and infrastructure rotted close to collapse.

Similar decline occurred in Uganda under Idi Amin, when he forced his market-dominant minority populations out of the country. Indonesia almost made the same mistake recently.

Any government of a relatively prosperous nation needs to understand where the productivity and prosperity of the nation comes from. It does not come from the size of the government bureaucracy, from the size of the military, or from the amount of taxes collected. The country's prosperity comes from profits produced by market enterprises. Anything that reduces or chokes off market enterprise reduces prosperity.

Market dominant minorities exist in third world countries--and third world regions of first world countries--because the indigenous majorities in those countries and regions are unwilling or unable to generate enterprise as productive as that generated by the market dominant minority.

When a new leadership arises in a nation, it is tempting for the new leaders to consider impinging on the freedoms of productive groups--to increase taxes, prohibitions, and regulations far beyond what productive members consider tolerable. Whenever leaders consider such harsh measures, they should consider the examples of Zimbabwe and South Africa--nations that flogged and are flogging their productive classes out of their respective countries.

As the ongoing third worldification of the developed western world's populations continues, it would behoove governments of the west to maintain the somewhat libertarian freedoms of relative equality under the law that have allowed current levels of prosperity. If the bounds on western governments put in place by enlightened documents such as the US Constitution are loosened by populist demagogues such as those who have destroyed and are destroying much of the third world, the future of the west--and the US--may become a replay of the descent of Zimbabwe into hell.

H/T Carl Brannen

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Blogger SensibleEnergy said...

Great post as usual. The popular perception is that these people can't manage any better. I can't say I know much about African countries, but up until about a year and a half ago, the only image I had of Ethiopia was pictures of malnutritioned children. Then I met an actual Ethiopian family. I have to say, I prefer their company to most Americans. I have been helping them remodel their house for several months and they repay me by feeding me Injera; too much in fact, although it is quite good.

While there may be some differences between races, it is nothing compared to the chasm of difference between freedom and tyranny.

Friday, 21 November, 2008  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Funny that you put this post up just before it hit the news big time when they wouldn't let Carter into the country.

Saturday, 22 November, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Yes. Look at North and South Korea. One side of the border starving, the other side of the border prospering. The difference between freedom and tyranny, as you say.

The rule of law as developed in the US Constitution is incredibly enlightened, compared to the organising principles of most governments--especially third world governments.

But the other Anglospheric nations have a common law tradition that runs parallel to that of the US in many ways--which has helped to support the stability, prosperity, and civil order in that group of countries.

Small homogeneous nations such as the Scandinavian nations have also built a modern history of stability and relative prosperity and order.

As all of these nations come under the stress of large scale third world immigration from areas of the world unaccustomed to the responsibilities of citizenship in rule of law nations, it will become much harder to maintain standards and qualities of life.

Particularly when western politicians do not require the level of assimilation of immigrants that is necessary to provide for cohesiveness that binds the immigrant to his new country in a meaningful way.

Saturday, 22 November, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Carl, I see Jimmy Carter as a walking fossil of leftist incompetence and delusion. He served Mugabe's purpose as long as possible.

Sunday, 23 November, 2008  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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