Thursday, October 24, 2002

As outsiders looking at America it is east to picture the nation as the fabled 'land of opportunity'. From what you read of success stories it almost seems sometimes that getting rich is not just a possibility but if you try hard, it would almost be a certainty. But the New York Times has an article by Paul Krugman this week that reminds us all too clearly that in America the rich are only a few elite who not only get most of the money but also most of the attention.

Without going into the unfairness on society of having such wide income gaps I would like to parallel this article with a session I attended at the World Knowledge Forum last week. In this particular session both Korea and Malaysia presented their government's efforts to develop into knowledge-based societies. Korea emphasised speed and the need to move quickly to keep ahead of competition. But Malaysia, I felt, had a much more well thought out idea. It's plan emphasised development only with equality. The idea being that growth and wealth should only come when it can come to all citizens. This great consideration for maintaining social cohesion and equality (particularly in multi-ethnic Malaysia) seemed to me to be a better path.

As countries strive to develop their economies and become more competitive in the global market, consideration needs to be given to the long term goal. Develop is designed to benefit the peope - all people and not just a few elites. And in the end, if development is not equitible, it will lead to social unrest that could easily unravel any progress made leaving a country in a position worse off than before.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui