Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Coming Second World

We think of the nations of the world as falling into one of two categories on the development axis: First World and Third World. I believe that one of the side effects of the current global economic turmoil will be a convergence towards a more uniform level of development around the world. The first world countries will come down a peg due to mountains of debt, unaffordable government bureaucracies, falling populations, and civil unrest. The third world will rise by largely dodging the economic problems of the first world, collecting interest payments (China in particular), and maintaining stable population growth.

The most important factor leading to this convergence will be the Internet and the various technologies that it has spawned. The global economic crisis is not the driver of this change, it is merely the catalyst. The Internet and technology will facilitate our evolution.

Government corruption will hamper progress of both First and Third World countries. The surprising thing is how rife the First World is with graft. This gives well governed Third World countries time to advance while the First Worlders are spinning their wheels. Of course, that doesn't mean they'll do so—I don't expect any meaningful improvement in Zimbabwe for another generation.

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