March 23, 2010

The Wealth and Health of Nations

Take a look at Hans Rosling's extraordinary graphic presentation of advancement in the wealth and health of nations.

If you like that, take a look at the interactive version at his Gapminder Web site.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 23, 2010 2:55 PM
Comments
fantastic presentation. Thomas Friedman's 'Flat world' hypothesis coming to life. Metrics at the gapminder site are fantastic as well.
Posted by: Mike R at March 23, 2010 3:58 pm
Certainly interesting. Thanks. The sentence which struck me hardest was "Social change [comes] before economic change".

That sentence seems inconsistent with the general assumptions of development aid but may explain why so much foreign aid, or development aid, seems to have been an utter waste.
Posted by: del at March 23, 2010 4:19 pm
I like the focus on linking design to data, drawing learners to what they might avoid otherwise.
Posted by: Paul S. at March 23, 2010 5:26 pm
Thanks Michael, extremely interesting information & presentation.
Posted by: Ron Snyder at March 23, 2010 5:56 pm
He kinda lost me at the absent-minded setting up of Cuba and Mao Tse Tung's China as producing healthy citizens.
Posted by: Squires at March 23, 2010 10:05 pm
Squires,

Well, he was pointing at data. And he obviously isn't a communist.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 23, 2010 11:50 pm
[...] go to Totten’s website and run the TED presentation there. For that, see Totten's post, The Wealth and Health of Nations.This presentation will give you a good overview of some of what you can do on Rosling's [...]
Posted by: Mind the GapMinder! — TheLiberative at March 23, 2010 11:52 pm
[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Damir Tankovic and Kate Fullcot, Jo Pastner. Jo Pastner said: Michael J. Totten: The Wealth and Health of Nations. Take a look at Hans Rosling's extraordinary graphic presentat... http://bit.ly/aTWcQK [...]
Posted by: Tweets that mention Michael J. Totten -- Topsy.com at March 24, 2010 2:37 am
Watch Russia during the 1920s and 1930s. It bounces like a soccer ball.
Posted by: Robert at March 24, 2010 3:12 am
Robert: Watch Russia during the 1920s and 1930s. It bounces like a soccer ball.

Creepy, isn't it? And take a look at Rwanda in the last 20 years.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 24, 2010 3:16 am
Outstanding presentation, especially because:
1) Extremely easy to understand and approachable.
2) Emphasizes the vast differences between and within regions (even of the same "culture/civilization"
3) Shows the great revolution that has been rocking the (Third) world since decolonization.
4) It goes beyond ideology, showing that there is such a thing as an observable "reality," if one is scientific, skeptical and empirical, and not just the talking points of each side.

More please!
Posted by: Ombrageux at March 24, 2010 9:23 am
According to swedish students, "Western World" is long life span and small family? I disagree with that pretty intensely! My mother has three siblings, and my father has 4 siblings. The trend towards small families started with MY generation. The western world has been around a lot longer than I have. As far as lifespan, until the 20th century Europeans were quite short-lived. Again, the western world has been around a lot longer than that. And are these brilliant Swedish students unaware that the the Chinese have had the longest average lifespan for as long as such data has been recorded?

I don't dispute his data, but I think his interpretation of what it means is heavily flawed. For instance, on his charts he always has the developing world moving towards the west, rather than the other way around. I don't think Americans are more prosperous than we were when Americans had a lot of children. That's certainly not the case in my family, at least :)

Ombrageux,

3) Shows the great revolution that has been rocking the (Third) world since decolonization.

And when was "decolonization"? The Spaniards left the Americas almost exactly 200 years ago. That's nearly as long as the United States has existed. Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States when Latin America was decolonized. The French Revolution was in progress when Latin America was decolonized.

Also, some parts of the (Third) world were never colonies. China, for example. And some parts of the world which WERE colonized, are not considered to have been colonized because it was either white folks colonizing white folks or it was brown folks colonizing brown folks. And as we all know, it's only colonization when white folks do it to brown folks. And I even need to put a disclaimer in there: Even though the Turks are white folks and Europeans, they are considered brown folks and non-Europeans because they are Muslim. So I guess colonization only occurs when white European Christians do it to people who are either not Christian OR not European OR not white.
Posted by: Craig at March 24, 2010 10:41 am
PS-He's citing UN data from as far back as the 1950s. I don't doubt the UN was gathering data back then, but it can't have been very complete. Even as recently as the 1980s I met quite a few people in the Philippines who had never seen an American (or any other white person) before. So, I'm pretty sure the UN didn't have anyone out there in those provinces gathering statistical data on the lifestyle of Filipino villagers. And I doubt very much that Marcos was doing that, either. Didn't seem like that kind of guy, to me.
Posted by: Craig at March 24, 2010 10:47 am
Michael,

Thanks so much for posting it. It's the best presentation I've seen in quite some time.
Posted by: Charles at March 24, 2010 11:33 am
Craig - Yeah, totally, if your one family has lots of kids like, I mean, that must mean the whole U.S. also has lots of kids. And if your family is getting poorer it must also be true of the U.S. as a whole. Also, many scientists have shown, pretty conclusively, that people that are "melanin enriched" people have trouble counting past their fingers. Obviously, without our help, it makes things like taking a "census" fairly difficult.

More seriously, on the important question of colonization. I refer to "colonialism" as the domination by one fraction of humanity (Europe, Japan) of virtually the entire rest of humanity (Africa, Asia, whites over Natives and Blacks in the Americas). It was not the first form of domination or oppression. It was novel in that it was intercontinental and was determined not be merely have bow and arrows, but my the MASSIVE economic and technological superiority of the colonial powers. This was not true of any empire prior to gunpowder. Colonialism was a consequence of the industrial revolution. Hence (by this particular definition) the Japanese had a colonial empire in Korea, Taiwan and parts of China, a quite different form of domination than that of the Ottomans. Colonial empires generally justify their existence on grounds of superiority of race and civilization.

This form of domination came to an end in the 1940s onwards with China no longer under foreign influence or occupation, India, Indochina and Africa evicted the Europeans by peaceful or violent means. "Internal colonialism" existed in places like the American South, South Africa, French Algeria, where the ideology of racial superiority deprived a substantial non-Whites of rights. Decolonization is not completely finished of course. It is only recently that Evo Morales or Hugo Chavez - the first issued of the indigenous majority of their countries - came to govern in Latin America. The particular socio-economic pathologies issued born of colonialism have persisted, changed, and renewed. We see this, for example, in the recourse to the systematic mass incarceration of Blacks in the United States or the total absence of Muslim representation in the French parliament.
Posted by: Ombrageux at March 24, 2010 1:11 pm
Ombrageux,

Craig - Yeah, totally, if your one family has lots of kids like, I mean, that must mean the whole U.S. also has lots of kids.

Whites in the US are trending towards 1 ( or 0 ) child. Doesn't mean anything for the country as a whole. And that's new for whites. As I pointed out.

You accuse me of doing the same thing this professor is doing: taking a limited and isolated sample and extrapolating it across a whole population to come to conclusions.

The west is in decline. Do you dispute this? When the west was on the rise, westerners had large families and short lifespans. I can't think of any way to reconcile that historical fact (unless you are disputing it) with the assumptions this prof makes about what leads to a prosperous society.

And if your family is getting poorer it must also be true of the U.S. as a whole.

No, it's only true for people like me. 100 years ago my family was wealthy. My grandparents are on the virge between upper middle class and wealthy. I'm about as successful as my parents, which is middle class unless you are a democrat in which case middle class is a synonym for "rich". But anyone who has ever been around real money knows that ~200k a year is not anywhere near wealth and it's been 20 years since that income bracket even qualified as upper middle class.

So, are there many families like mine in the US? Do you even know?

And again, you are accusing me of doing the same thing this prof you praise so highly is doing. Making generalizations.

Also, many scientists have shown, pretty conclusively, that people that are "melanin enriched" people have trouble counting past their fingers. Obviously, without our help, it makes things like taking a "census" fairly difficult.

Really? My Chinese ex-wife is pretty good at math. A lot better than I am, and I'm a programmer. Everyone knows programmers are great at math too, right?

More seriously...

I stopped taking you seriously about a week ago. In fact your praise for this gentleman is the worst indictment of him and his methods there could possibly be.

But (more seriously!) one thing programmers really are good at is analysis. I can spot logical errors at a glance. I've also had extensive first hand experience with how much people tend to overstate the validity of their data. Or their thought processes, for that matter.

...on the important question of colonization. I refer...

I'm well aware of what you refer to when you talk about imperialism.

...a quite different form of domination than that of the Ottomans.

The Ottomans weren't as primitive as you seem to think.

Colonial empires generally justify their existence on grounds of superiority of race and civilization.

Sounds like the first could of caliphates, to me. And they weren't as primitive as you seem to think, either. The Arabs were far more advanced than Europeans until about 800 years ago.

And by the way, the "age of empires" predates the industrial revolution by quite a bit. In fact, the US had fought and won the revolutionary war and the Spanish had abandoned their holdings in the Americas, the French Revolution had happened, Napoleon rose and fell... all before the industrial revolution.

You aren't a genius swedish college student by any chance, are you? I ask because you are wrong on the basic facts. Again. You're batting pretty much a thousand on that. Did you actually pass high school history? I'm just curious, because I clearly remember this stuff being covered. But I was in high school a long time ago. Maybe westerners were better educated in the past, as well. I wonder if this prof would have the "developing world" moving towards the west as the west continues to rise, rather than the west and the developing world drawing closer together as the west declines and the developing world ascends? Seriously, doesn't that seem strange to you? It's indicative of a world view that is invalid, in my opinion.
Posted by: Craig at March 24, 2010 2:07 pm
Craig,

Don't forget that poor Americans today enjoy luxuries that even kings as recently as the 19th century could not have imagined.

A wealthy family 150 years would have had a large house and servants, but no light bulbs, car, Internet, air conditioning, vaccines, indoor plumbing, etc. We all live better now even if we don't have very much money.

I rather like our current lifespan and do not want to go back.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 24, 2010 2:17 pm
Don't forget that poor Americans today enjoy luxuries that even kings as recently as the 19th century could not have imagined.

I agree with you there. As a tech-junkie I can't even imagine life without all my toys :)

Although, I used to be perfectly happy reading when I was a kid in the 1970s.

A wealthy family 150 years would have had a large house and servants, but no light bulbs, car, Internet, air conditioning, vaccines, indoor plumbing, etc. We all live better now even if we don't have very much money.

They also had time to read and write poetry, study and debate philosophy, religion, the meaning of life and etc. I'm not so sure that sitting in front of the TV every night or spending all your time coming up with cute status messages on facebook qualifies as living better! Living easier and more comfortably, maybe. It's a good thing the American revolution happened when it did, because the US isn't capable of producing the sort of "elite" that our founding fathers were, anymore.

I rather like our current lifespan and do not want to go back.

I'm with you on that! Having your teeth fall out at 30 and dying of a heart attack at 40 doesn't sound like a very good deal to me :)
Posted by: Craig at March 24, 2010 2:57 pm
"Maybe westerners were better educated in the past"

I've dug up school textbooks in a public library from my era (50s, 60s) and compared them to the white pages and pretty pictures my nieces lug around; it's not so pretty. And why didn't I realize there was so much to feel guilty about, and so much less to be proud of back then?

And tech:

Technical sophistication today? Absolutely; the kids instruct me. Now, is critical thinking "progressing"? Engage young people in Why questions and see where it goes. Or doesn't.

Life span:

My aging memory thinks it remembers an average lifespan of 49 in 1900 for westerners.
Posted by: Paul S. at March 24, 2010 3:32 pm
Craig . . . dude . . . Ombrageux ain't always right . . . no need to sucker punch him though ;-)

MJT, all of what the professor says has been conventional wisdom in my entire social circle from High School on.

Asians have in my life time been perceived as very smart hard working rich people who learn calculus in 2nd grade . . . and the type of people you will be calling boss when you grow up. The default stereotypical assumption among Americans (including Caucasian Americans . . . conservative and liberals) I interact with was that Asians were super smart nerds who studied all the time and would soon dominate international business and technology.

This proves that Californians are much smarter than Swedes. :LOL: :-)

This presentation is another piece of evidence suggesting that Europeans are far more racist and backwards and clueless about the world than Americans. Did I mention that Europeans are extremely naive and cynical too?

OK, :LOL: so I am painting with a broad brush. However, Americans generally understand that Asia is in ascendants and Europe is in decline. This applies across the political spectrum. Most Americans (Republican, Democrat and Independent) have heard of the Asian economic miracle.

Only a few ultra stupid American leftists don't know about the rise of Asia and the developing world. But then, what do they know? :LOL: Many American ultra academic leftists are racists anyway . . . most foreigners find their racist condescending notions that foreigners lack power, capacity and agency extremely offensive. Most foreigners don't need their condescending pretentious help. American ultra leftists should leave the rest of the world in peace.

MJT, what about the presentation was good, other than the graphics and humor (which were good I admit)? It feeds into the grain of current American conventional wisdom.
Posted by: anan at March 24, 2010 3:37 pm
"Europeans are far more racist and backwards and clueless about the world than Americans. Did I mention that Europeans are extremely naive and cynical too?"

These are the exact reasons Europeans overwhelmingly favor the Palestinians, and Americans overwhelmingly favor Israel.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at March 24, 2010 8:25 pm
Neither Europeans, non Palestinian Arabs, the broader muslim ummah, Americans, Israelis, nor the international community is pro Palestinian.

That is the tragedy and immorality of the whole thing. Some Europeans are anti Semetic; but few are pro Palestinian.

I think everyone should be both pro Palestinian and pro Israeli. Both of these are really the same thing.

Why isn't the world helping Palestine become another Dubai? Why isn't Israel offering to help build a large sea and air port in Gaza that is integrated into the broader Israeli and Arab economy?

Why isn't the world doing more to increase the capacity of Palestinian institutions? Abominable.

Why isn't Israel treating its own 1.5 million Palestinian Israeli citizens better? To my mind this is the most important priority. If Israel does a better job treating its Palestinian Israeli citizens; peace and good relations with Palestinians will follow.

Wouldn't hold my breath for good relations between Israel/Palestine and the broader Arab world. Arabs mistreat Iraqis, Israelis, Palestinians, Kurds, Shiites, Sufis, Africans, Bangladeshis, Philipinos, Americans, . . . in other words many people.

However, if the Palestinians and Israelis unite; they would collectively have more leverage with the Arabs; which is something.
Posted by: anan at March 24, 2010 9:35 pm
"Neither Europeans, non Palestinian Arabs, the broader muslim ummah, Americans, Israelis, nor the international community is pro Palestinian."

Maybe or maybe not, but one fact that is certain is that you are an annihilationist antisemitic bigot, as is proven by your unbroken support for and toadying to outfits whose explicit goal is the murder of Jews - not settlers, not "Zionists" not Israelis but Jews, all Jews. It should be noted that anand has lied almost every single time he has made an assertion.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at March 25, 2010 1:38 am
Does everything have to be about the endless BS in the Levant?

Craig - Wha, wha, whaaaaaaaa..
Posted by: Ombrageux at March 25, 2010 4:33 am
Thank you.
Posted by: Steamboat Jack at March 25, 2010 7:18 am
Another important factor in the advancement of the health and wealth of nations is Norman Borlaug's Green Revolution. Most of the improvements we've seen in everyone's standard of living have been due to technological advances. When politics gets involved, it usually mucks things up.

Speaking of important tech advances, Rosling would probably love Ushahidi:

http://ushahidi.com/

"After Kenya’s disputed election in 2007, violence erupted. A prominent Kenyan lawyer and blogger, Ory Okolloh, who was based in South Africa but had gone back to Kenya to vote and observe the election, received threats about her work and returned to South Africa. She posted online the idea of an Internet mapping tool to allow people anonymously to report violence and other misdeeds. Technology whizzes saw her post and built the Ushahidi Web platform over a long weekend.
The site collected user-generated cellphone reports of riots, stranded refugees, rapes and deaths and plotted them on a map, using the locations given by informants. It collected more testimony — which is what ushahidi means in Swahili — with greater rapidity than any reporter or election monitor.
Posted by: Mary Madigan at March 25, 2010 7:31 am
Gary, didn't know you were a fellow American.

Why do you think I am not pro Israel and pro Jewish? I believe that Israel doing right by the Palestinians advances Israeli interests. Being pro Palestinian is by definition being pro Israeli.

Gary, if you want to help Israel, be pro Palestinian.

Why do you think I have lied?

Haven't I treated you with respect and tried to understand your perspective?

As a fellow American, please try to understand that justice for Palestinians is strongly in American interests.

America's alliances with Iraq, Turkey, Greece, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman are collectively more important to American interests and American security than America's alliance with Israel.

Is it too much to ask Israel to treat their Palestinian siblings better? Is it too much to ask Israel to try to appease America's close allies? As a friend of America, shouldn't Israel try to help America?
Posted by: anan at March 25, 2010 10:35 am
Gary, from a strictly "interests" perspective, what does Israel do for America that Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman can't replicate?

The only thing I can think of is protect the Suez Canal; which is something. But even in this case, the Suez canal is much more important to the Asian and European economies than it is to the American economy.

Let Japan, China, India, South Korea and the EU sweat to protect the Suez Canal.

I thought Bush was brilliant when he sat back and forced other countries to take the lead to handle Somalian piracy.

We need more of this Bush 43 style brilliance. Let others sweat to protect the Suez Canal.

We Americans should ask Israel; what have you done for us? What do you plan to do for us? If you want to shoot yourself continually by mistreating your Palestinians because you like hurting yourself; please at least stop hurting yourself . . . if you care about your friendship with us.
Posted by: anan at March 25, 2010 10:42 am
"Why do you think I have lied?"

Because you never tell the truth.

"Haven't I treated you with respect and tried to understand your perspective?"

No, you have done exactly the opposite. You repeatedly lie and advocate for antisemitic annihilationist savages like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iranian mullahs who want to kill me. If you or anyone thinks this is exaggerated or paranoid, I would point out that anand's spiritual buddies in Hezbollah bombed a Jewish community center in *Argentina* - the Western Hemisphere - that killed nearly 100 people. In short, anand, you have over and over made it very clear that you want me dead, along with the rest of my fellow Jews.

"Is it too much to ask Israel to treat their Palestinian siblings better?"

Israel has treated the Palestinians better than anyone else ever has. When Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, after centuries of Moslem rule, they were miserable backward third-world shitholes. Under Israeli rule they have made trememdous advances in life expectancy, literacy rate, and reduction in infant mortality. In fact the Palestinians are better off in all these categories than the Iranians who live under the bloody rule of the mullahs who anand consistently advocates for. It is quite obvious that you don't give a damn about the well-being of anyone in the Middle East, anand. All you want to do is kill all the Jews.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at March 25, 2010 9:56 pm
Pay per view grudge match: Anand vs. Gary. I'll sell popcorn.
Posted by: Paul S. at March 26, 2010 1:50 am
"Why do you think I am not pro Israel and pro Jewish?"

Because you enthusiastically support groups that want to wipe out Israel and kill all the Jews, you lying sack of Jew-baiting horseshit.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at March 27, 2010 2:42 am
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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