04 June 2005

Even Better That the Real Thing.

Via Netflix, I have disc 1 (3 hours alone) of Simon Schama's History of Britain series. One thing that struck me from the very first episode was how the Vikings, as a result of the shabby way they were conducting themselves across Brittania, actually caused the (until then) separate kingdoms to throw in together. Not even Saxony could turn back the Danes, and it wasn't until 878 a.d. when a unified Anglo army, led by Aelfred the Great, was able to shove back Guthrum and give him some of his own medicine. This unified effort laid the foundation for the notion of a sole monarchy, and Alfred's grandson would be king.

It's always interesting to learn from history how often the reality we have now comes from such improbable events (clumsy transition here), and on that topic, do you ever think about the Third World, Bono, and the World Bank? I do, because I'm loathe to perpetuate things that prove time and time again to be uneffective, like the cycle of loaning money to poor nations, only to forgive the debt after a while, and then doing it all over again. There's a intersting post, and very good discussion on that very thing over at Jane Galt:
The appalling poverty of Sri Lanka or Mozambique is not some bizarre aberration that can be tracked to a cause we can cure. We are the aberration; Sri Lanka and Mozambique are the normal state of human history. Trying to figure out how to reproduce those abnormal results in a couple hundred more countries is very, very hard.
Once you accept the fact that you'll never break rocks with your bare hands, your mind is free to invent tools. I'm fascinated by this 'shoe on the other foot' way of looking at previously unsolveable problems. I wonder what kinds of results are available if you allow current models of taxation, public education, crime and punishment, social security, the poor among us, etc. to be stood on their heads.

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