Friday, August 3, 2012

Why Should We Care If Our Politicians Are Poorly Informed

Jared Diamond wrote a seminal book about the factors that enabled some countries to prosper more than other countries.  A favorable geography was one of the factors that contributed to prosperity.  Mitt Romney referred to Diamond's book in a speech that he made in Israel.  His comments showed that he did not fully understand Diamond's book.  Geography was not the only factor that enabled some countries to do better than others.  Diamond makes the point in this article that there is no simple, and singular, explanation for complex phenomena.  Politicians, however, seem to prefer simple explanations that are consistent with their ideology.  Jared Diamond concludes that even prosperous nations, with favorable geographies like the US, will not remain prosperous if they elect politicians to high office who have simple minds.  Dysfunctional governments will make bad decisions that negate their advantages.  We are seeing some of that today in the US.  We are not husbanding our physical and human resources as well as we should.  Nations that are doing a better job of this will pass us by.

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