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aquitaine
2008-Jun-15, 05:00 AM
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=satellites-eye-view-of-africa


A good look at environmental degredation in Africa. I thought what was particularly telling was the massive expansion of that diamond mine in Angola over that last 18 years. What do you guys think about it?

sarongsong
2008-Jun-15, 05:30 AM
Pix! http://www.bautforum.com/images/icons/icon10.gif
The natural wealth of Africa has been plundered over the past 35 years, as illustrated by a new atlas of satellite imagery...a few of the thousands sent back to Earth from the U.S. Landsat satellites since they were launched starting in 1972...

Disinfo Agent
2008-Jun-15, 11:52 AM
...And people say that colonialism is over. :rolleyes:

novaderrik
2008-Jun-16, 02:43 AM
...And people say that colonialism is over. :rolleyes:

like it or not, there will always be a lower of people concentrated in certain areas of the world. right now, it's the people that live in Africa that make up a good chunk of that lower class. but some day they might wake up and start to beat the rest of the world at their own game.. in a couple of hundred years, Europe or North America might be the slums of the world, and Africa will be where all the wealth and power is located.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Jun-16, 10:07 AM
Oh, there are plenty of lower class people in Europe and North America, too. Perhaps one day they will wake up.

Daffy
2008-Jun-16, 06:48 PM
Oh, there are plenty of lower class people in Europe and North America, too. Perhaps one day they will wake up.

With 2 corporations owning most of the mass media outlets in the US, I wouldn't look for that any time soon.

Ronald Brak
2008-Jun-17, 12:01 AM
From the article:


Roads now lace the untamed tracts of the rainforest in Congo...

So the rainforest is laced with roads, but it's still untamed? Just what do they have to do to this rainforest in order to tame it then? Teach it to sit and beg?

Of course, whether or not the rainforest is tamed is a moot point when the side of a denuded hill slides down and crushes your village and your cousins.

novaderrik
2008-Jun-19, 10:59 AM
Oh, there are plenty of lower class people in Europe and North America, too. Perhaps one day they will wake up.
i guess you didn't get what i was saying..

Jetlack
2008-Jun-19, 02:08 PM
Sorry but blaming modern Africa's ills on colonialism is like giving Charles Manson an excuse to murder some more folks.

Africa is a basket-case because of their corrupt, and undemocratic governments. For heavens sakes, even Mandela has not spoken up about a) Mugabe or b) Mbkeis stupid psuedo-science bull about HIV not causing AIDS. African leaders have a very odious habit of not being able to criticise eachother...because that would take away the old chestnut excuse about "colonialism".

So they let hundreds of thousands and maybe even millions die through stavation and disease. Nice continent - happy i dont live there.

Ilya
2008-Jun-19, 02:27 PM
like it or not, there will always be a lower of people concentrated in certain areas of the world. right now, it's the people that live in Africa that make up a good chunk of that lower class. but some day they might wake up and start to beat the rest of the world at their own game..

Yes, some day they might "wake up" and magically install rule of law, property rights, honest elections, respect for learning, and meritocratic social advancement.

Somehow I think all this takes more than just "waking up".

Argos
2008-Jun-19, 02:40 PM
On the bright side, Angola and Mozambique are two of the fastest growing economies in the world, with figures around 25%. Also, Mozambique seems to be getting serious about AIDS prevention and treatment. Furthermore, mobile communication experiences a boom in the continent.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Jun-19, 02:59 PM
Sorry but blaming modern Africa's ills on colonialism is like giving Charles Manson an excuse to murder some more folks.Like I said (with irony): "and they say that colonialism is over". Newsflash: the West is still running the show in Africa today. You can blame them for the basket cases and the corruption you see.

Halcyon Dayz
2008-Jun-19, 04:00 PM
Africa is a basket-case...

Africa is continent with nearly a billion people living in it.
With annual per capita GDPs varying from over $14,000 to less then $200.

You are generalising.

Celestial Mechanic
2008-Jun-19, 05:12 PM
Like I said (with irony): "and they say that colonialism is over". Newsflash: the West is still running the show in Africa today. You can blame them for the basket cases and the corruption you see.
The way Robert Mugabe does, for example. ;)

Argos
2008-Jun-19, 05:48 PM
We all know what the West could be doing to help breaking the vicious circle of poverty and ignorance, which are the real plagues in Africa [opening western markets to African farmers, for instance]. It could also nudge the continent in the right direction by helping the efforts of the emerging intellectual class - there are respectable artists, writers, journalists in Mozambique, Angola, Egypt, South Africa, etc. But more often than not we see this class being suppressed in the name of western interests there. To fingerpoint the occasional western puppet in Africa as the sole responsible for the situation [and indirectly label the African people as lazy, corrupt and not deserving of salvation] does not shed light on the issue.

Jetlack
2008-Jun-19, 06:57 PM
Like I said (with irony): "and they say that colonialism is over". Newsflash: the West is still running the show in Africa today. You can blame them for the basket cases and the corruption you see.

They are sovereign nations. It is up to them to decide which foreign corporations they feel represent the best value when investing into their economies, whether that be mineral extraction, oil, agriculture etc....

You cannot blame that on colonialism. Capitalism or globalisation perhaps, but that is a whole other issue.

Problem is the more Western commentators there are reinforcing the idea that they (Africans) are still "poor victims" of colonialism the longer large parts of Africa will remain a basket-case. The perceived retroactive guilt felt by many in the West is doing more harm than good.

Doodler
2008-Jun-19, 07:00 PM
We all know what the West could be doing to help breaking the vicious circle of poverty and ignorance.

Carpet bombing is outlawed, unfortunately.

Jetlack
2008-Jun-19, 07:02 PM
Africa is continent with nearly a billion people living in it.
With annual per capita GDPs varying from over $14,000 to less then $200.

You are generalising.

True, but unfortunately that disparity you mention is aided because the more successful African nations such as SA are not using their leadership to rein in crazies like Mugabe. Or sorting out Sudan, or a number of other conflicts on the African continent.

captain swoop
2008-Jun-19, 08:30 PM
As the present national borders were artificialy created by the Colonial Powers then yes, I would say they are to blame.

Argos
2008-Jun-19, 08:39 PM
True, but unfortunately that disparity you mention is aided because the more successful African nations such as SA are not using their leadership to rein in crazies like (...)

On post #16 you said they [the former colonies] were sovereign nations, now you want SA to chime in...

As for the lastest Doodler comment, I appreciate your black humor [no pun], Doodler, and it really spices this board. But I know you´re aware that it is only wishful thinking. Their problems are the West´s problems, and they won´t disappear. Remember our #1 public enemy was forged in the slums of Sudan.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Jun-20, 01:08 AM
The way Robert Mugabe does, for example. ;)Excellent example: Mugabe dared to challenge the might of the West (mainly the U.K.) What happens? International embargo, soaring inflation, starvation, social unrest, etc., etc. The usual.


They are sovereign nations. It is up to them to decide which foreign corporations they feel represent the best value when investing into their economies, whether that be mineral extraction, oil, agriculture etc....

You cannot blame that on colonialism. Capitalism or globalisation perhaps, but that is a whole other issue.Call it what you like, but please don't make me laugh. It's up to them?! Most of those nations are in the hand of international institutions controlled by the West, like the World Bank and the IMF. They set the agenda, not any national sovereignty.

And then the West has the gall to turn around and accuse the Africans of being backwards!


We all know what the West could be doing to help breaking the vicious circle of poverty and ignorance, which are the real plagues in Africa [opening western markets to African farmers, for instance]. It could also nudge the continent in the right direction by helping the efforts of the emerging intellectual class - there are respectable artists, writers, journalists in Mozambique, Angola, Egypt, South Africa, etc. But more often than not we see this class being suppressed in the name of western interests there. To fingerpoint the occasional western puppet in Africa as the sole responsible for the situation [and indirectly label the African people as lazy, corrupt and not deserving of salvation] does not shed light on the issue.You are right about that. I won't deny that there's more to the story, besides Western cynicism.

Doodler
2008-Jun-20, 02:48 AM
On post #16 you said they [the former colonies] were sovereign nations, now you want SA to chime in...

As for the lastest Doodler comment, I appreciate your black humor [no pun], Doodler, and it really spices this board. But I know you´re aware that it is only wishful thinking. Their problems are the West´s problems, and they won´t disappear. Remember our #1 public enemy was forged in the slums of Sudan.

Gallows humor. Africa is a problem without a solution because it suits the interests of no one in power to create such a thing. Believe it or not, the West is better suited by the preservation and continuance of strife and conflict in Africa, because look at what is becoming of the world now that Southeast Asia is not only recovering, but prospering. If you think there's a resource crisis on now, wait until Africa picks up a burgeoning middle class.

There's a little something that I don't think has quite settled into the minds of too many idealistic Westerners just yet that is currently kicking the commodities markets of the world square in the genitals. There really isn't enough to go around for everyone. Prosperity on the scale that's been enjoyed by the US and Europe comes at a significant cost to the rest of the world's ability to succeed, because our ways of life are so resource intensive that the world can barely sustain it for just us. Seven billion people living an American or European lifestyle would shatter the infrastructure of global civilization in a few weeks because of the astounding level of resource demand it would generate.

It sucks to say it so coldly, but those nations in the "First World" gained their way of life at an incredible cost to the rest humanity. For those of you with the privilege of sitting at a computer enjoying the fruits of your ancestors utter contempt for the rest of the world, I'd suggest you swallow your pride and consider how life could have been if it were you on the bottom. Fate isn't sympathetic to the losers in a cultural conflict, and we haven't figured out how to generate enough resources to let everyone prosper, so you'd best stop whining about how unfair life is to the losers and make darned sure you keep on winning, because today's losers won't give a rat's butt about you if you let the tables turn.

RalofTyr
2008-Jun-20, 04:16 AM
Doodle has a point. I'm seeing it right now. A father was an engineer, who owned his own home and had 3 children when he was in his mid-30s was more wealthy in the 50's/60's/70's than his son would be in the 90s/00s who also has three children, in his mid-30s, an engineer and yet rents a two bedroom townhome.

I would worry about the environment of Africa. It will grow back after the miners leave.

Jetlack
2008-Jun-20, 07:55 AM
Argos,

"On post #16 you said they [the former colonies] were sovereign nations, now you want SA to chime in..."

Where is the contradiction in that? Yes, SA should use more of its influence to put pressure on mass murderers such as Mugabe. There is zero contradiction between that stance and the fact that African nations are sovereign.

If we followed your logic then there would be no UN, no WTO, no IMF etc etc

Jetlack
2008-Jun-20, 10:37 AM
Disinfo Agent,

"Call it what you like, but please don't make me laugh. It's up to them?! Most of those nations are in the hand of international institutions controlled by the West, like the World Bank and the IMF. They set the agenda, not any national sovereignty."

Those organisations provide aid and funds to those countries which need it the most. I am not a huge fan of these global organisations, particularly the UN, however if we got rid of them those African nations would get alot less funding and development aid.

I guess you are more comfortable with the Chinese model of harvesting African resources without putting any humanitarian conditions on that aid.

But frankly listening to your polemic one could easily imagine one is listening to Mugabe. Just dont expect me to agree with you, as we are obviously from complete opposites of the political spectrum.

"And then the West has the gall to turn around and accuse the Africans of being backwards!"

I called them basket-cases, not backwards.

Jetlack
2008-Jun-20, 10:39 AM
Wow more guilt than you can shake a stick at :-)

Argos
2008-Jun-20, 02:54 PM
Doodler, Jetlack, with all due respect. If you had your way, the world would submerge in chaos. I know that today's economic woes are a real, practical, issue for you, especially those of you living in the US, and maybe you´re not in the mood to talk about problems somewhere else.

But it seems that your thinking assumes that the world economy is a closed system, and wealth cannot be created, which contradicts the very foundations of modern western societies. Your rationale is based on oil economy, that, while real and thriving, is not the only option for the homo sapiens. See the efforts of some countries [including mine] to steer away from oil, or at least reduce its importance, struggling to generate wealth within a matrix other than oil. Think of the alternatives. We are the elite. It´s up to us to do the deep thinking. I´m talking about the long term, and you seem to be willing to get problems solved by tomorrow morning.

If wealth cannot be created in Africa, it cannot be created in anywhere, including within western nations, with serious implications for our welfare and stability.

Jetlack
2008-Jun-20, 05:13 PM
Argos,

I'll let Doodler speak for himself, but I dont disagree with anything in your last post. All i was saying was I'm tired of the colonialism excuse from African leaders. Zimbabwe is a perfect example of why its not valid to blame the regions ills on colonialism. It was doing fine 15 years ago; the bread basket of Africa, and one man alone has destroyed what was one of Africas few tangible success stories.

Western commentators who reinforce that cololonial victimhood excuse are only providing more fuel for the next generation of Mugabes.

Of course we need to primarily help them with sustainable development, less handouts, and help them maintain good governance with minimal corruption levels. It needs a combined effort but giving them excuses for failure is not part of the solution.

novaderrik
2008-Jun-20, 09:12 PM
If we followed your logic then there would be no UN, no WTO, no IMF etc etc

it would be a good start..

yes- there are poor people and there are rich people. the wealthy and powerful got that wealth and power because they earned it over the centuries and millenia. some people might not like HOW it was earned, but it was earned. our modern western way of looking at things might try to make us feel guilty for being at the top of the pile- but SOMEONE has to be at the top. it's the way we are wired as a species.
someday, the people on the continent of Africa might very well "wake up" and get organized like the evil colonial European superpowers did and start taking over and imposing their way of life on the rest of the world. but, honestly, i don't see that happening any time soon. much like the Middle East isn't going to be a peaceful place because of a few thousand years of animosity amongst the various groups, Africa will probably never be seen as any sort of a global superpower since they have largely been kept in a tribal mindset and lifestyle as the rest of the world has passed them by. it's too bad for them- but that's life.
but that's not to say that individuals from Africa can't make a better life for themselves, and, by extension, their people. but i don't think we should give up our status at the top of the pile out of guilt over events that got started thousands of years ago when all of humanity was just a bunch of roving nomads that lived off the land. our people clawed their way to the top, and they can claw their way up, too.

Argos
2008-Jun-20, 09:23 PM
Darwinism does not apply to global affairs, and to life in society. It would be a perfect chaos. That´s why there are laws. Imagine the bully next door clawing his way through your lawn because, well, he might like to be at the top, in your beautiful house...

And I´m glad some members are conformed with life-as-it-is, for the problems of Africa are here, the UN is here, the IMF is here, and they won´t disappear.

Maha Vailo
2008-Jun-20, 10:25 PM
This is sad. Is there anything an ordinary individual can do to lift this poor continent out of its misery?

- Maha "I need to bless the rains" Vailo

Halcyon Dayz
2008-Jun-21, 02:54 AM
the wealthy and powerful got that wealth and power because they earned it over the centuries and millenia. some people might not like HOW it was earned, but it was earned.
'Earning' being an euphemism for armed robbery.

Doodler
2008-Jun-21, 04:07 AM
Doodler, Jetlack, with all due respect. If you had your way, the world would submerge in chaos. I know that today's economic woes are a real, practical, issue for you, especially those of you living in the US, and maybe you´re not in the mood to talk about problems somewhere else.

But it seems that your thinking assumes that the world economy is a closed system, and wealth cannot be created, which contradicts the very foundations of modern western societies. Your rationale is based on oil economy, that, while real and thriving, is not the only option for the homo sapiens. See the efforts of some countries [including mine] to steer away from oil, or at least reduce its importance, struggling to generate wealth within a matrix other than oil. Think of the alternatives. We are the elite. It´s up to us to do the deep thinking. I´m talking about the long term, and you seem to be willing to get problems solved by tomorrow morning.

If wealth cannot be created in Africa, it cannot be created in anywhere, including within western nations, with serious implications for our welfare and stability.

Wealth isn't the problem, its resources. You can print all the money you want, everyone in Zimbabwe is a billionaire, yet everyone is broke because the cost of food, gas, and other stuff is outrageous because of lack of supply, but if you can't make enough stuff for people to buy, then the demand will escalate the cost of resources ever higher as people become willing to throw more "wealth" at the resource to ensure their share.

Money is vapor, especially since the end of precious metal standards. The limit to sustainable prosperity isn't money, its resource production, the limit of which is availability and extractability. We're close to the limit of what the world is capable of coughing up.

novaderrik
2008-Jun-21, 01:03 PM
'Earning' being an euphemism for armed robbery.
just like in nature- the strong dominate the weak.
our modern mindset might not like it, but it is what got the human race where it is today. as i said before - someone has to be at the top of the pile, and some one has to be at the bottom.
right now, people of European descent are on "top"- with Asians and Indians (from the Indian sub continent) fast catching up- and the Africans are at the "bottom".
love it or hate it, it's how it is right now.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Jun-21, 01:07 PM
just like in nature- the strong dominate the weak.You don't understand nature as well as you think you do. Another law of nature is cooperation. Humans are social beings. Some of us like to make-believe they're lonely predators, but that's just an immature fantasy.
To the extent that we in the West have succeeded (though, with global warming on the horizon, it may turn out that we've just managed to tie a nice rope around our necks to hang ourselves), it was, as Newton said "by standing on the shoulders of giants". It was through cooperation, not by crushing others.


as i said before - someone has to be at the top of the pile, and some one has to be at the bottom.Rubbish.



right now, people of European descent are on "top"- with Asians and Indians (from the Indian sub continent) fast catching up- and the Africans are at the "bottom".
love it or hate it, it's how it is right now.You should tell that to Jetlack, who thinks western-controlled financial institutions are angelic charity-workers with only the best interest of the Africans on their collective minds. :lol:

But regardless, so what if they're currently "at the bottom"? Why should I cherish that state of affairs?

Delvo
2008-Jun-21, 01:26 PM
Wealth isn't the problem, its resources. You can print all the money you want, everyone in Zimbabwe is a billionaire, yet everyone is brokeThat's not a lack of resources; that's a lack of utilization of resources. The farmland there is the same now as it was when the country was productive, but isn't being farmed decently now because of ownership and other such issues. They didn't run out of anything. They just got stupid about how to manage what they had and still have.


The limit to sustainable prosperity isn't money, its resource production, the limit of which is availability and extractability.And human policies (such as the one the American government seems to currently be reconsidering on the issue of oil in Alaska and offshore in the East).

Only a few resources are actually in danger of running out if the world were to use them at our rates, and there are ways to work around some of them, leaving only one that is a serious problem that I'm aware of: fresh water. (Many people worldwide and here in the USA get it from wells, but wells have been known to dry up...)

Doodler
2008-Jun-21, 03:51 PM
That's not a lack of resources; that's a lack of utilization of resources. The farmland there is the same now as it was when the country was productive, but isn't being farmed decently now because of ownership and other such issues. They didn't run out of anything. They just got stupid about how to manage what they had and still have.

Lack of utilization stems from a few different things. The big one right now is the environmental movement being a major roadblock to expansion of resource extraction. Heck, there are movements opposing wind and solar power for various reasons (mostly NIMBYists). There's also the increasing difficulty of extracting resources from ever more difficult sources as the easy sources end up in ever increasing environmental protection areas or dry up.

Agriculture, particularly in the US, is extremely efficient. Not sure how much you've read up on farm technology lately, but long long long long LONG gone are the days of animal drawn plows, especially when tractors of a modern commercial farm are being driven by GPS navigated computer autopilots and fertilizer distribution systems that vary the per square foot dispensation of liquid fertilizer based on sensor readings taken every other second...

Prices are driven by the profitability of the crop on the market. Like any other manufacturing industry, they go where the money is. Right now, its corn for ethanol, which is displacing wheat and a few other breadbasket crops, because its more profitable for the farmers. Its a trade off, you either pay $6 for pure oil extracted gasoline and $1 for a loaf of bread, or its $4 for a gallon of gas and $2 for the aforementioned loaf.

Right now, the expansion of the ethanol market is having a double whammy effect. Food crops are being planted less in favor of energy crops, driving the price of food crops up, and the increasing demand for energy crops is driving their prices up regardless of increased supply. No matter what happens, gas prices are going up because of investment demand, and food prices are going up because its better for the farmers to feed the growing industry instead of your growling belly.


And human policies (such as the one the American government seems to currently be reconsidering on the issue of oil in Alaska and offshore in the East). Yeah, agree there.


Only a few resources are actually in danger of running out if the world were to use them at our rates, and there are ways to work around some of them, leaving only one that is a serious problem that I'm aware of: fresh water. (Many people worldwide and here in the USA get it from wells, but wells have been known to dry up...)
US wells are facing contamination problems from MTBE on a pretty massive scale. Sure, it did the job and cut air emissions in gas by nearly half, but the cost is the release of a super water solvent fossil fuel byproduct that contaminates water supplys in the dozens of parts per billion range. The most extreme example of this would be Santa Monica, that I know of off the cuff, though there are tens of thousands of others.

Fresh water's always going to be a headache, even when you have a reasonable supply of it, because once its identified, the herd comes along and wants their piece of it, and will quickly overwhelm it. Purification ain't cheap, but then it comes back to "how much is your life worth?"

People who think I'm crazy for thinking in Darwinian terms should look at the big picture I see. You cannot defeat the laws of supply and demand, technology and science can only expand the limits of growth, but they cannot unchain growth from those limits without eventually reaching a breaking point. The chokepoint will always be extraction efficiency. Even if there were unlimited resources available, you can only extract so much so fast with available technology, and woe to any civilization that exceeds its ability to sustain itself, as most African nations have done.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Jun-21, 06:49 PM
People who think I'm crazy for thinking in Darwinian terms [...]Social Darwinist terms.

Doodler
2008-Jun-21, 06:57 PM
Social Darwinist terms.

Societies are people. What I'm talking about is as much about "natural selection" referring to survival as those idiotic warning labels on electrical devices because there are morons in the world who will use them in the bathtub.

Societies survive only as long as the people who make it up survive, so when I speak of cultures dying or failing, I am talking about human lives, not some ambiguous set of rules that define human behavior.

novaderrik
2008-Jun-21, 10:20 PM
But regardless, so what if they're currently "at the bottom"? Why should I cherish that state of affairs?
you don't have to "cherish" the current state of affairs- just accept that it's how things are right now.
like i said- if they want to get out from the "bottom" of the world social order, then they have to do it themselves. i'm not giving up anything just so some warlord in some small country in central Africa can use whatever i gave up to hold power over those that he controls. Africa has the means to dig themselves out from under the boots of the people that oppress them- they are a hardy and intelligent people with virtually unlimited natural resources at their disposal- but they just keep squabbling amongst themselves and much of the aid that we send over there just gets used to feed the militias that are fighting for control while the people they are fighting to control starve and get run out from their homes.
i personally feel no guilt for living the way i do while people in Africa- or anywhere else- live the way they do. my lifestyle is the result of my ancestors doing what they did to get themselves closer to the top of the social ladder than the people below me. yes- it's sad that some people live the way they do- but it is what it is.
and it seems like every time someone over there decides to actually do something about their situation by trying to do things that we take for granted- like, say, growing their own food so they don't need to rely on grain shipments from the west- some western environMENTALists raise a big stink because some rare breed of monkey might experience some sort of mental distress because of the trees getting cut down to make room for their crops. how does that make the locals feel, when to them it seems that the west thinks that some vermin monkey is more valuable than they are?
if you choose to spend your time feeling guilty because you're born to a better life than someone else, then have at it. hell, give up everything that makes your life so cushy and move to the jungles of Africa if you want just to make some sort of point or try to make the world a better place or give "pennies a day" to that big guy with the beard that has commercials on tv just to placate some sense of western guilt or because you genuinely think it will make a big difference overall- i don't care. that's your choice.
but i'm going to stay right where i am and live the life that my ancestors fought to allow me to live- by some standards, i live a rather barebones existence- but it's the life i know how to live. and i'm going to live it without feeling any guilt or remorse. hopefully i will have children of my own, and they will appreciate everything everyone that came before them did to get them where they are. call me selfish, greedy, narcisistic or whatever- i have no problems with that. i know my place.
i guess i could spend my time hating the 5/8 of me that is of European descent because of what those ancestors did to the ancestors of the 3/8 of me that is of native American descent, but really, what would that accomplish? i am who i am, and i don't have time for self loathing. and realistically, i'm better off for having been raised the way i was.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Jun-22, 07:25 PM
i'm not giving up anything just so some warlord in some small country in central Africa can use whatever i gave up to hold power over those that he controls.You already do that with your taxes, which is how institutions like the IMF and the WB are financed.


Societies are people.We're going to have to disagree on that. Societies are not people, and more importantly Darwinian evolution does not happen to societies (or people). It happens to species. Those people whose well-being you are disregarding are of the same species as you. But enough semantics. You do make some points I agree with, namely:


Societies survive only as long as the people who make it up survive, so when I speak of cultures dying or failing, I am talking about human lives, not some ambiguous set of rules that define human behavior.Societies neither survive nor die. They change, they mix, or they are absorbed by others. I do think you are confusing evolution (a biological reality) with culture and politics (social realities). I'm more concerned with the former.

Still, I believe we agree on one fundamental point. Our species -- or at least our modern way of life -- are under threat, and we should do what we can to preserve them. The technology that we in the West discovered and created has come back to bite us (and others), for example in the form of global warming. This will be the challenge of the new century, and perhaps of the whole new millennium. In order to meet this challenge, we must use our evolutionary talent: our brain power.

The problem we're faced with is clearly a difficult one, so we're going to need all the brain power we can get. When we neglect the well-being of other human beings in the world, and allow their lives to be wasted, that's not just cold and heartless -- it's self-defeating for our species.

neilzero
2008-Jun-22, 09:01 PM
Helping Africans is a bit like helping drug addicts here in the USA. You can give them a meal or try to teach them a skill, but typically their brains only work for the meal. Of course not everyone is a drug addict in Africa, but their are enough drugies that crime and government corruption is a serious deterent to trying to help lift the standard of living. USA will be poor in a few more decades, perhaps much sooner, unless we change our ways. Neil

blueshift
2008-Jun-22, 10:26 PM
Helping Africans is a bit like helping drug addicts here in the USA. You can give them a meal or try to teach them a skill, but typically their brains only work for the meal. Of course not everyone is a drug addict in Africa, but their are enough drugies that crime and government corruption is a serious deterent to trying to help lift the standard of living. USA will be poor in a few more decades, perhaps much sooner, unless we change our ways. NeilAfricans, by and large, do not want our help. Furthermore, they don't need it. Democracy is new to most and the beginnings of their experiments in democracy are strikingly similar to the beginnings of the United States in the late 18th century. Slavery was legal in 1776. Working class people and women could not vote. There are some rulers in Africa who are women and, considering that many independences did not become realized until the 1950s, they are progressing at a faster rate socially. Industrially they are not far behind but are hampered by the number of foreign interventions that the United States did not suffer after the 1776 Revolution.

Now don't get me wrong here. I am not painting some perfect picture of their intentions nor am I ignorant of brutalities. Their murder rate is the same as ours and even African born sociologists get irritated by western socialogists, liberal or conservative, that paint an either a "beautiful people" or "ignorant masses" view that permeates western cultures.

The food we send over to them is quite often something they cannot digest. Celiac disease has broken out in many African nations because wheat and gluten is not a natural part of their diet. The industrialized parts reject us as well. Like their American counterparts, they see aid as interfering with the free market they wish to take hold on its own. Drugs made in the west are pushed on people who, if allowed to follow market instincts, would buy from local pharmacies that use drugs made by local chemists who take it right from the rainforest for far cheaper prices than western medicine. Many of the drugs in western civilizations come right out of those same rainforests.

When we send personal gifts to those in need we actually hamper them quite a bit worse. Just like those in the former Soviet block countries, they must pay a fee for incoming parcels that can equal a year's wages. Sending the item back is seen as an insult by their cultural traditions to whoever sent it, so they bear the burden and cough it up, destroying their independence further.

The Africans will do fine if they are left alone to deal with life themselves. Meddling only makes messes.

novaderrik
2008-Jun-22, 10:28 PM
You already do that with your taxes, which is how institutions like the IMF and the WB are financed.

which is one reason i try to keep the amount of money i pay in taxes to a minimum.
you don't really want to know how i feel about institutions like the UN, IMF, WB, and all those other shadowy institutions that my tax dollars fund against my will. you also don't want to know how i feel about all the social engineering programs that my government is doing right here in the USA...
i'll just sum it up this way- i don't like them.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Jun-22, 10:33 PM
The point is that you can't pretend you're neutral in the matter. Like it or not, you share some of the responsibility, through the taxes you still do pay, and through the politicians you elect. And by all means, when I say "you" here I really mean "we".

I guess this was my main point all along. It's very easy to point fingers. But the problems of Africa are not solely of the Africans' doing. The West, whose media so like to be condescending towards everyone else in the world, has its hands dirty in the matter, too.

Doodler
2008-Jun-23, 02:20 AM
Societies neither survive nor die.
Sell that line to the former Soviets, if you can.

Maha Vailo
2008-Jun-23, 02:27 AM
Nobody really answered my question re: What can an ordinary citizen like me do to help get this continent out of its misery? For example, is there really any hisrtorical precedent that leaving a country alone will help it so much better than trying to help?

C'mon folks, I'd like to lend a hand here.

- Maha Vailo

novaderrik
2008-Jun-23, 02:47 AM
Sell that line to the former Soviets, if you can.
i'm pretty sure a good chunk of the Soviets are still alive, and their society is still going.. it's just not called the "Soviet Union" any more- we just call it "Russia" now. seems like every bit of news i hear coming out of Russia is about how they are inching their way back to the Soviet ways of doing things- and about every third piece of news i hear from the USA is how we are also going to the socialist ways of doing things.
which is yet another reason why i try to keep my tax contributions to a minumum- even if it is done in my name, doesn't mean they get to use as much of my hard earned money to do it as they would like to.

novaderrik
2008-Jun-23, 02:49 AM
Nobody really answered my question re: What can an ordinary citizen like me do to help get this continent out of its misery? For example, is there really any hisrtorical precedent that leaving a country alone will help it so much better than trying to help?

C'mon folks, I'd like to lend a hand here.

- Maha Vailo
maybe buy goods that are made in African factories by African workers? and that big guy with the beard is always on tv asking for pennies a day... or maybe sell all your worldly western possessions and move there and show them how to help themselves..
or there is always the Madonna/Brangelina way- adopt their children and get them outta there..

blueshift
2008-Jun-23, 03:21 AM
i'm pretty sure a good chunk of the Soviets are still alive, and their society is still going.. it's just not called the "Soviet Union" any more- we just call it "Russia" now. seems like every bit of news i hear coming out of Russia is about how they are inching their way back to the Soviet ways of doing things- and about every third piece of news i hear from the USA is how we are also going to the socialist ways of doing things.
which is yet another reason why i try to keep my tax contributions to a minumum- even if it is done in my name, doesn't mean they get to use as much of my hard earned money to do it as they would like to.Labels can be pretty shallow and not worth paying attention to. The United States is no where near socialism and the old Soviet Union never really was. In 1917 there was competition in an open market amongst newspaper enterprises in Russia. One of them was called "Iskra" and another "Pravda" along with many others. Funds wound up going to the company (party) that outsold the others and dominated the market. When the government (Kerensky's) tried to regulate it and take the private property of Pravda, the owners (who called themselves "socialists") took the state to prevent it. Then they renamed thier private property "state" property.

Don't tell that to any Russian communist because his religious feelings (his or her blind faith) won't allow it. If they were socialistic or any other country was, then I have one question: What workers organized these movements? Each one of them were sons of riches. None of them were workers. They own the most gold on the planet and the most diamonds.

As for evidence that leaving a country alone makes it more independent capitalistically? China. They made sure they were left alone.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Jun-23, 02:31 PM
Nobody really answered my question re: What can an ordinary citizen like me do to help get this continent out of its misery? For example, is there really any hisrtorical precedent that leaving a country alone will help it so much better than trying to help?Lobby your politicians until they are so annoyed that they stop destroying Africa.

Some people are already fighting these injustices in an organised way. Find them, and join them. Give the Africans a fair chance. The rest is up to them.

Argos
2008-Jun-23, 07:08 PM
Wealth isn't the problem, its resources. You can print all the money you want, everyone in Zimbabwe is a billionaire, yet everyone is broke because the cost of food, gas, and other stuff is outrageous because of lack of supply, but if you can't make enough stuff for people to buy, then the demand will escalate the cost of resources ever higher as people become willing to throw more "wealth" at the resource to ensure their share.

Money is vapor, especially since the end of precious metal standards. The limit to sustainable prosperity isn't money, its resource production, the limit of which is availability and extractability. We're close to the limit of what the world is capable of coughing up.

Well, yeah, I was talking´bout wealth creation, not money printing...

Maha Vailo
2008-Jun-23, 10:27 PM
Some people are already fighting these injustices in an organised way. Find them, and join them. Give the Africans a fair chance. The rest is up to them.

Can you give me some examples? I'm not much for joining groups that make me go out and fight. I'm also not good at lobbying anyone, either.

- Maha Vailo

Argos
2008-Jun-23, 11:20 PM
Can you give me some examples?

Yes. Just like you, I´m not a big fan of street demonstrations and going to the slums to work under the sun and help the poor and hug their kids. But let me tell ya what I usually do: I vote for representatives who are against giving government money to fat and inneficient farm producers. I like best when my government opens our markets to Bolivian, African imports [yes, there is a so-called south-south collaboration, strange as it may seem to you], and I make sure my representative knows it. I´m also very fond of my government´s high instances sending positive 'we feel your pain' messages to their people. I also like when Brazilian doctors and govmt agencies go there to teach them how to make better sugar cane crops, or treat aids. You think I do so because I´m a saint? No. You know, I don´t want my family and friends hurt, or, worse, killed, because a freaking loser in Africa or somewhere else thinks my country is responsible for his evils.

You can do that too. :)

Maha Vailo
2008-Jun-23, 11:45 PM
Well, how am I to know which representatives are for what kind of policies? The presidential elections in my country are still months away. Is there anything I could do right away to help these countries?

- Maha Vailo

billslugg
2008-Jun-24, 02:42 AM
As the present national borders were artificialy created by the Colonial Powers then yes, I would say they are to blame.

Humans have been living on that continent since Homo Sapiens became a distinct species 300,000 years ago. They still have more natural resources than the people of any other continent. They can put their borders any where they want.

In that time, they have not been able to figure out how to make clean drinking water. There is a systemic problem here. I recommend Judeo/Christian Monotheism, Capitalism, and the US Constitution.

Ronald Brak
2008-Jun-24, 02:52 AM
In that time, they have not been able to figure out how to make clean drinking water.

Seeing as your ancestors were dying of cholera 150 years ago, they obviously didn't know how to make clean water either. So apparently Judeo/Christian Monotheism, Capitalism, and the US Constitution can knock 150 years off 300,000 years. Hardly seems worth it for a 0.05% reduction in the amount of time it takes to work out how to make clean water.

Doodler
2008-Jun-24, 11:03 AM
Humans have been living on that continent since Homo Sapiens became a distinct species 300,000 years ago. They still have more natural resources than the people of any other continent. They can put their borders any where they want.

In that time, they have not been able to figure out how to make clean drinking water. There is a systemic problem here. I recommend Judeo/Christian Monotheism, Capitalism, and the US Constitution.

The first idea is simply galling ignorance, since the third form of Abrahamic monotheism is spiralling out of control in select areas of the continent. Secondly, Christian leadership have shown themselves to be equally barbaric in their ignorance of how to effectively solve the continent's more serious health issues (abstinence only anti-AIDS programs, anyone?) I'm afraid this suggestion would have to be trashed on the grounds of "First, do no harm." These people are already hamstrung in the brain by mindless obedience to traditions with no place in the modern world, what, pray tell, would replacing one form of dangerous ignorance with another solve?

The second is already rampant in its most rapacious form.

The third only works when the people find the will within themselves to seize control of their destiny.

Three strikes, next batter.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Jun-24, 11:26 AM
Can you give me some examples? I'm not much for joining groups that make me go out and fight. I'm also not good at lobbying anyone, either.Then there's no point in giving you any examples. :p
I've noticed also, from your other post, that you place yourself firmly in the I'm-too-lazy-to-care camp. Well, Maha, I'm to lazy to educate you. :lol:


Humans have been living on that continent since Homo Sapiens became a distinct species 300,000 years ago. They still have more natural resources than the people of any other continent. They can put their borders any where they want.

In that time, they have not been able to figure out how to make clean drinking water. There is a systemic problem here. I recommend Judeo/Christian Monotheism, Capitalism, and the US Constitution.Strange bedfellows...

Daffy
2008-Jun-24, 03:10 PM
Personally, I would have a problem looking for logical solutions to the world's problems from a "monotheistic" religion that worships a trinity.

captain swoop
2008-Jun-24, 09:50 PM
This is in General Science because?

Jim
2008-Jun-24, 10:03 PM
Dunno. Let's try BABBling.

Oh, and, folks, let's not let this thread get off into politics and/or religion. Okay?

antoniseb
2008-Jun-24, 10:05 PM
Actually, this thread has gotten so rife with politics AND religion that I've closed it.
If you think you have a good reason to reopen it, PM me and make your case.

billslug, daffy, novaderrik... come on, you guys know better.