Economic development

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Economic development embraces both economic growth (as measured by G.D.P.) and technological development, two concepts which are - conceptually at least - quite different. All that is needed to increase a country's G.D.P. is to monetize its society - i.e. to induce more people to start charging for goods and services they formerly provided for free. In itself, this does nothing for public welfare, and in fact generally tends to reduce it, since it excludes a fraction of the society who lack money. Mixed in with this is the idea of technological advancement. This often accompanies monetization since a new technology is introduced which replaces an older one that was freely available -- for example, pharmaceuticals sold for profit may replace traditional medicines which can be grown locally.


As cultural critic Ivan Illich pointed out, many modern technologies advance the early adopters at the expense of late or non-adopters. For example, cars speed individual travel while making life harder for pedestrians in ways both obvious (fumes, traffic, accidents etc.) and subtle (increased displacement of society, expectation that people travel long distances).

Former World Bank consultant and economic hitman, John Perkins, describes how he was hired to lure 'developing countries' leaders to take on unpayably large debt burdens, using technological development as the motivation.

During a visit to Malaysia some years ago I met the minister responsible for forestry. In explaining Malaysia's forestry policy he observed that the country would be better off once its forests were cleared away and the money from the sale was stashed in banks earning interest. The financial returns would be greater. The image flashed through my mind of a barren and lifeless world populated only by banks with their computers faithfully and endlessly compounding the interest on the profits from timber sales.

— Former Professor of the Harvard Business School, David Korten[1].

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