Dispelling common myths about the so-called developing world
Hans Rosling, professor of global health at Sweden's Karolinska University made a rather dramatic presentation at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) in February 2006. I always appreciate good speakers (and writers), and his ability to make these kinds of statistics both entertaining and relevant is truly amazing. This video is a little long (20 minutes) but worth every minute. He quickly shows you why everything you thought you knew about the third world, health and poverty are wrong. There are a few things I could possibly take issue with, but think about the following while you watch and I think you will see why I enjoyed this presentation beyond his wonderful humor.
  • While he is talking about global health, it becomes increasingly clear that the problems are local. There may well be a number of things that "we" in the Western World can do to help, but global initiatives which look at the Third World as a whole likely will not be useful. Even regional data is not detailed enough to formulate policy.
  • The gap between rich and poor? That really surprised me. The whole concept of developing countries and the traditional idea of aid is questioned. Watching the graph as the years progress really fascinated me. It put a new facet to my view of wealth. All of these countries are closing in on us, something that we hear continually lamented by President Bush. After all, this is a graphic depiction of the global economy we are worried about competing in. But what happens to US wealth as the other countries close in?
  • There is a catalyst in the upswing of many of these nations: loosening of trade regulations and a general freeing of the economy.
So basically, he very graphically presents my view of wealth: wealth generated by the free market generates wealth and problems need to be addressed at the local level rather than globally. Enjoy!