A few weeks ago, Bill Gates and Matt Ridley had competing columns in the Wall Street Journal discussing what’s wrong with Africa. I side with Ridley’s view.
Here’s a simple illustration of Ridley’s view.
Recently I was playing blocks with a kindergartner. We were building towers. Each time I built one, he took great pleasure in knocking it down. After the third or fourth time I stopped building towers. He asked me why I stopped. Why would I want to build towers if you’re just going to knock them down? He looked at me like that made sense and then resumed playing.
That’s essentially what keeps poor countries poor. There’s no incentive for someone to invest to improve their standard of living because when you do someone will take it or knock it down.
Why build a fence to keep out the wildlife to grow crops if you can’t own the property and will be kicked off the property by someone with a bigger gun once it appears to have value in helping you produce more crops?