September 22, 2009

"All we know of history is, history repeats"

The poor in unfortunate countries are supposed to improve their lot by growing what the rich countries want to buy, right? But the failures in this plan turn up in specific histories of just about every commodity, and the basic rule that 'the house never loses' makes up more than one compelling history.

Here it is again in the current news; from the Fall 2009 issue of World Ark, the magazine of Heifer International:

The rapid increase in palm oil production - more than 280 percent in the past decade - was a calculated move endorsed by the Indonesian government to take advantage of the swelling demand and price for palm oil in the global marketplace. [...]

And, as the story spells out carefully, the farmers have to invest upfront in land taken out of other production, in planting labor, in the time for the trees to grow; the commodity markets are volatile; and therefore the farmers are more likely to go broke than get rich, over a few business cycles. Hm.

So wrote clew in History (21st c.).
And thus wrote others:
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