Tuesday, December 10, 2002

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ON CARTER'S ACCEPTANCE SPEECH: Given that I defended awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Jimmy Carter, it was not without some trepidation that I perused his acceptance speech. The BBC probably has the most overt anti-American spin on his words, but in truth most of it is harmless. I did find one useful point and one cringe-worthy point.

The useful point is banal but worth remembering: "War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good." I still favor attacking Iraq, but I certainly don't relish the prospect. No one should.

The cringe-worthy point is on global inequality: "I decided that the most serious and universal problem is the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth. Citizens of the ten wealthiest countries are now seventy-five times richer than those who live in the ten poorest ones, and the separation is increasing every year, not only between nations but also within them." The concern for global inequality is touching, but empirically inaccurate. To quote Surjit S. Bhalla -- again:

"World poverty fell from 44 percent of the global population in 1980 to 13 percent in 2000, its fastest decline in history. Global income inequality has dropped over this period and is at its lowest level since at least 1910. Poor countries have grown about twice as fast as rich countries (3.1 percent annually versus 1.6 percent) during the era of globalization in 1980-2000, reversing the pattern of the prior two decades. The poor in poor countries have grown even faster; each 10 percent increase in incomes of the nonpoor has been associated with an 18 percent increase in incomes of the poor. There has been strong convergence in world incomes over the entire postwar period and the developing countries' share of the world's middle class has risen from 20 percent in 1960 to 70 percent in 2000." Click here for more.

posted by Dan on 12.10.02 at 10:29 PM