Healing Development Mistakes and the Language of Global Affairs

Recently I’ve heard Chinese officials (and before that, Vietnamese, Indian, Mexican and others) complain about the US “preaching”, particularly about labor and environmental practices. A key piece of that, “why are you denying us the same benefit you had”. This one saddens me deeply. We saw the destructive nature of our actions and seek to purge that from our psyche. No, this isn’t an attempt to rob you of advantage, it’s an attempt to help you avoid our costly mistakes. The US is still healing from the environmental degradations of our history. Still coming to terms the destruction from the dishonest and ill-treatment of our indigenous people, or slavery. 

The goal, for me, at least, isn’t to maximize our grain. Really, it should be about avoiding the same costly mistakes we made in our development. The available mistakes to make are manifold, probably unknowable. Learn from us. If we’re wise, we’ll learn how to learn from the rest of the world. But that’s a blog post for a different day.

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