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A Clarification

February 26, 2010

I was talking with my friend Kat the other day and I realized I should probably clarify something.  When I write about international development for this blog I am referring to contemporary development efforts  born out of the rubble of WWII.  In order to address the reconstruction of Europe the Bretton Woods Conference was convened and new ideas and agencies were employed to oversee and finance this great undertaking.  After the initial successes the same agencies and ideas were plied to developing countries, the majority of which were former colonies.  The ensuing mess is what we are still dealing with 60 years later.

She was responding to my entry “If I Knew Now What I Knew Then”.  Her point was that if we look at human development over the recorded history of man we have been very successful.  I would agree.  Who can argue with longer life expectancies, the renaissance, indoor plumbing and the ipod?  These are all good things in and of themselves, but when we consider the externalities, the systems created and employed to produce these outcomes, we again see people’s inability to create the future they would really want.  Take the production and processing methods that have revolutionized manufacturing in order to make everything from pharmaceuticals to consumer goods increasingly affordable to most people.  These same production and processing methods are destroying our quality of life by consuming resources at alarming rates and polluting the environment.  I think most people would give up some of the “advances” they have come to live with if the industrial revolution could have developed with humankind’s current environmental concerns as an influencing factor.  Maybe “most” is more my hope than the reality currently, but I imagine in the next fifty years this will be true.  Thanks for the food for thought Kat.

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