?

Log in

No account? Create an account
So it turns out that I missed a really obvious option in the Scotland… - Sally's Journal
October 30th, 2007
11:40 am

[Link]

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
So it turns out that I missed a really obvious option in the Scotland question
d) Be richer.
(Not saying it's the truth in this case, I'm still confused, but it might well be part of it)

If one country has identical tax rates to another country, but makes more stuff, and therefore more money, then it will have more money in the pot to spend on good stuff for its inhabitants.

Why might a country be richer? It might have more natural resources - more oil and gas, better soil to grow food in, nicer mountains to support a tourist trade. Or it could have harder working people - if people worked 10 hours a day tilling the land, making pots etc instead of 2 then they'd have More Stuff.

Should rich countries be obliged to give money to poor countries? This is just a scaling up of "should rich people be obliged to give money to poor people" which is of course a bottomless pit of arguament, but as a fluffy left winger my answer seems to be yes. And it just comes with scaled up arguments about whether the poor countries are poor through no fault of their own, or poor because they just don't do anything. And remarkably similar confusions about how responsible countries / people are for being in situations they can't get out of.

Obviously the answer is for us just to become the United World Government and acknowledge that we're all part of the same team (although even then I think the United World Government would have a tough job persuading rich countries to give money to poor countries. On a micro-scale, governments that try to make rich people give too much money to poor people get voted out quite quickly. Except in civilised places like Sweden) It seems amazing that there's no tax flow from rich countries to poor countries. I mean, we give some aid , but it all seems to be less than about 1% of GDP. That's a very low and optional tax.

Yes, obviously we need a United World Government that taxes the whole of the earth and redistributes it sensibly.

(Does the EU do anything like this? I know we give some money to the EU, but is it very much, and what do they do with it?)

(15 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:fluffymark
Date:October 30th, 2007 12:39 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The EU does redistribute quite a lot of money around europe. It's of the order of a few billion euros from each of the richer countries to each of the poorer ones.

In fact, something like this.
[User Picture]
From:oedipamaas49
Date:October 30th, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
(Link)
"It's of the order of a few billion euros from each of the richer countries to each of the poorer ones."

or rather: a few billion euros from each of the richer countries, and a few billion euros to each of the poorer ones.

As far as I'm concerned, the EU is a Good Thing almost entirely because it redistributes so much wealth (in this way and also by allowing migration, which redistributes from the poor in the rich countries to the ambitious migrant workers from the poorer countries). That pretty much outweighs the problems with bureaucracy, and with democracy not really working on this scale - but only because I'm a lefty internationalist.
[User Picture]
From:angoel
Date:October 30th, 2007 01:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Why might a country be richer? It might have more natural resources - more oil and gas, better soil to grow food in, nicer mountains to support a tourist trade. Or it could have harder working people - if people worked 10 hours a day tilling the land, making pots etc instead of 2 then they'd have More Stuff.

Or it might have fewer people to divide the natural resources that the land has between. [e.g. Given two otherwise identical countries, the one with half the population of the other would be 'richer' because you can get more agricultural production per head out of it.]
From:hsenag
Date:October 30th, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You lose on economies of scale, though.
[User Picture]
From:ilanin
Date:October 30th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Is there any credible evidence economies of scale actually apply to nation states? Anecdotally it seems the most efficient national governments are the smallish ones - Switzerland, Sweden etc., and the larger the nation gets the more bloated and inefficient government becomes.
[User Picture]
From:fluffymark
Date:October 30th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Sweden small?? It's the 3rd largest country in Western Europe!
[User Picture]
From:half_of_monty
Date:October 30th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
In terms of land mass, yes. In terms of population, it's way down. In fact, it's one of the least densely populated countries in Europe.

Surely governmental economies of scale are about population, not space?
From:hsenag
Date:October 30th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Governments have nothing to do with it. It's just basic infrastructure; if you have twice as many people in the same land area (as is assumed above re agriculture), then most of the cost of roads, pipes, cables etc is spread over twice as many people, but they all get the same benefit as in the smaller population case (until congestion hits).
[User Picture]
From:mobbsy
Date:October 30th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I've recently read Jeffery Sachs's The End of Poverty where he talks a lot about root causes for poverty (nice mountains are actually quite a lose, they massively increase transport costs for moving goods around the country and for export). He also talks a lot about Overseas Development Aid, which is one good thing that the government have done recently. Your link gives 2003 figures, British ODA was up to US$ 12606.91m in 2006, or 0.52% GNI (OECD data), and seem to be well on target to meet the 0.7% GNI target. If the rest of Europe, Japan and particularly the US met the same target, Sachs argues that it'd be feasible to end extreme poverty and put all countries on the "development ladder", where they have enough infrastructure and an educated enough population to start to meaningfully grow their economies.
[User Picture]
From:pavanne
Date:October 30th, 2007 02:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The EU gives a lot of money (well, in the billions of euros) to companies for locating factories in economically deprived areas, eg East Germany, Hungary, Slovenia. This allows people to work 10 hours a day for more money than if they had to do subsistence farming, and ensures that they can afford tractors and carry on growing enough food.

Generally it is making products for export (eg solar modules) so you could say that rich countries are subsidising twice, by giving the money and also by shooting their own manufacturing industries in the foot. Or you could say that you are removing the capital constraint on a market and enabling more efficient use of human resources. Economists argue.
[User Picture]
From:lavendersparkle
Date:October 30th, 2007 03:37 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'm rather concerned by the idea of a United World Government. I take rather a lot of comfort in the idea that if things got really bad I could always vote with my feet and leave a country to avoid the policies of its government. Of course, this is a rather elitist position because its always the educated middle-classes who manage to leave oppressive regimes leaving the working classes behind to be oppressed. For a long time I've been rather taken with the idea expressed in Plato's Phaedo that by living in Athens Socrates had implicitly agreed to abide by the constitution of Athens. I like the idea that by living somewhere you agree to abide by its rules and if you really don't like its rules you should move to somewhere where you do like the rules. Of course, this is all a lot easier in small city states with relatively free migration.

So in conclusion, I can't hear United World Government without thinking Inescapable Global Dystopia.
[User Picture]
From:atreic
Date:October 30th, 2007 03:40 pm (UTC)
(Link)
But how can you make people help out the poor and needy without making them think they're all part of the same pot? The EU can make everyone pay them some money to give to the poor countries. I can't think that my United World Government would be much more prescription than the EU (but then maybe the EU is an Inescapable Europian Dystopia. And you can't say "I want a world government but only if it's one like this"...)
[User Picture]
From:feanelwa
Date:October 30th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I see international aid a bit like:
If you see somebody about to eat chicken that's been in the fridge for a week, smells bad and they might not have cooked properly, the right thing to do is to tell them instead of let them get food poisoning just because they don't know how to tell meat is good. We in the richer nations happened to invent/discover first the causes of many diseases, immunisation, antibiotics, electric light. So, it is only right that we help out countries that haven't implemented clean water systems, widely avaiable health services and methods of heating and light that don't make everybody ill.

And if your neighbour's house burns down and they have nothing left, it's only the right thing to invite them in, let them use the shower, lend them some clothes, give them a hot meal and a cup of tea, and help them out until things are sorted out again. It's only right that when another country has an earthquake or a tropical storm or the rains don't come, we who have no huge earthquakes or hurricanes and who can mainly rely on there being rain and therefore food, should help them out. This is especially so if the industrial revolution that benefited us so much has fucked up their climate such that the rains repeatedly don't come when they always used to before.
[User Picture]
From:feanelwa
Date:October 30th, 2007 10:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Though I am rather inclined to think we should also help people in countries where the climate is buggered to find other ways of producing food, but then again how do I know we aren't already doing that, we probably are.
Powered by LiveJournal.com