Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Will Small Countries Be Bought and Sold in the Near Future?

Economist Tyler Cowen discusses the future of colonialism. Specifically, how future technologies or wealth might change the ability of more powerful countries to control weaker ones.

One idea he brings up is whether small countries may be simply bought by industrialized nations in the near future. In his words:
If the world's very poor countries stay in Malthusian traps, how long will it be before wealthy philanthropists can try to "adopt a country"? Measured Haitian gdp, for instance, is only a few billion dollars a year. Yes many countries have laws against foreign investment and land ownership, but at some point a correct strategy can put the money to good use. Can an entire corrupt government simply be bought out? Just how much money, and what kind of plan, would a private philanthropist need each year to turn Haiti around, or at least bring it to the standards of Martinique?
What do you guys think? Do you think this will happen in the forseeable future? Could it be a way to improve some countries or merely a power that will inevitably be abused?

(Source: Marginal Revolution)


Anonymous said...

I don't think that this will happen anytime soon, because any country worth buying would never be sold and the only countries that would be sold would be ones that would be worthless to the countries buying them. I do htink however that countries could buy land or pieces of other countries such like the Louisiana Purchase. I do think however that it would improve the countries that were bought as they would probably have a better economy. I also think that it would be an abused power, because unless it is a unanimous decision for one country to sell itself to another it is unfair to somebody.

Anonymous said...

i forgot to put my name on the post above this one
-chris g

Anonymous said...

After reading Cowen's passage I believe that it would be a much higher cost for a country to try and take over a corrupt one, than the benefit of controlling the land and people inhabiting it. By the time you take into account wiping out crime and establishing a new government, you would have spent more money, time, and effort than it would be worth in first place. I think this could possibly happen in the near future with advanced weapon technology (kind of like the US imposing government control on Iraq) however, I don't see it being a deciding factor for several years to come. More than likely, however, if it were to happen I could see the power being abused rather than used for good.

-john schmidt