05
Dec

2009

The Wealth of Poor Nations

Post by Steven Dale

Call us what you will . . . Developed Nation; Advanced Nation; Industrialized Country; Post-Industrialized Country; Economically Developed Nation; Global North Country; First World Country; Et Cetera. But whatever term you choose to use, remember it’s just euphemism to avoid calling us what we are: Rich.

Nowadays, however, it’s a different kind of rich. We’ve got lots of stuff but no way to pay for it and the stuff is getting costlier and costlier to maintain and operate. To borrow a concept from home economics, the First World is house-rich but cash-poor.

No where is this more clear than in our collective need for more infrastructure. We need more transit, that’s clear, but instead of acknowledging our compromised finances, we continue to insist on transit technologies we simply cannot afford. Subways and Light Rail, I’m afraid, are no longer in our price range. We’re going to have to get used to that fact. And more importantly, we’re going to have to learn from those poorer nations who’ve learned to implement efficient transit for a fraction of what we are used to paying.

Nations like Columbia, Algeria and Venezuela have all implemented fully-integrated public cable transit systems in the last 10 years and all have met with positive results. Need further evidence of worth: Each country has, is or plans to install additional cable systems despite having a standard of living well below what we in the Developed World are accustomed to. These countries are expanding their transit systems at a rate almost unheard of because they discovered that Cable Propelled Transit is a poor country’s solution to a rich country’s problem.

Sometimes the rich get stuck in a mindset simply because they’re rich. Our wealth, we assume, is a direct result of our strategies, tactics and ideas and so we close our mind to new ideas. But the poor don’t have the luxury of a closed mind. They need to survive and sometimes that survival instinct causes them to develop ingenious, creative and remarkable solutions that we wealthy nations could never dream of.

But now the tables have turned. China, Southeast Asia, India, Brazil and Latin America are finding their feet and we’re just barely keeping our heads above water. Maybe it’s time we swallowed our pride. Maybe it’s time we played follower instead of leader just for a little while. Maybe it’s time we learned a thing or two from these so-called Poor Nations. And while we’re at it, maybe it’s time we stand up, take notice, and recognize these countries’ efforts to tackle complex problems for what they are: The true creation of actual wealth.



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