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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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governance

Drought and Famine

In which John Green teaches you a little bit about drought, which is a natural weather phenomenon, and famine, which is almost always the result of human activity. Throughout human history, when food shortages strike humanity, there was food around. There was just a failure to connect those people with the food that would keep them alive. There are a lot of reasons that food distribution breaks down, and John is going to teach you about them in the context of the late-19th century famines that struck British India.

Source: www.youtube.com

Famine is exacerbated by natural factors such as drought, but those only stress the system, they rarely cause the actual starvation.  The real failure is that the political/economic systems created by governments and how they handle stains in the food production/distribution systems.  Widespread famines are very rare in democracies and are much more prevalent in authoritarian regimes.  Many of the recent examples have come from collectivation strategies that governments have implemented (currently Venezuela, but historically the Soviet Union and China).  The Choices program has some good resources about teaching current events with the famines today.

 

Tags: food, povertyhistoricalcolonialism, economic, political, governance, agriculture, crash course

 

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Venezuela Is Starving

Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela can no longer feed its people, hobbled by the nationalization of farms as well as price and currency controls. The resulting hunger and malnutrition are an unfolding tragedy.

Source: www.wsj.com

Widespread famines are very rare in democracies and are much more prevalent in authoritarian regimes.  This is because food production is but a small part of a larger picture; the system of food production and distribution in Venezuela has been decimated by the nationalization of private farms.  Individual farmers can’t make a profit in the new political economy and consequently are going to stop producing for the market.  This vicious cycle is political in nature more so than in is agricultural. 

 

Tags: food, poverty, Venezuela, South America, economic, political, governance, agriculture, food production.

Bad drivers are a good indicator of a corrupt government

“Traffic accidents kill 1.25 million people per year, and it’s well-known that those deaths are disproportionately in low- and middle-income countries. Over at CityMetric, writer James O’Malley has added an interesting wrinkle, by showing a correlation between the number of traffic fatalities in a country and the corruptness of its government.”

Source: qz.com

I love the last paragraph in this article because it echoes the “Broken Windows” theory–not at the neighborhood scale, but for the state.  Horrible driving isn’t the worse thing for a country, but it is indicative of the degree of social trust in each other and in the collective system; corruption erodes both. 

 

“Bottom line: If you’re in a country where everyone drives on the sidewalk and nobody stops at stop signs, you can be pretty sure the government isn’t working right.”

 

Tags: political, governancetransportation.

There has never been a country that should have been so rich but ended up this poor

“Venezuela has become a failed state.  According to the International Monetary Fund’s latest projections, it has the world’s worst economic growth, worst inflation and ninth-worst unemployment rate right now. It also has the second-worst murder rate, and an infant mortality rate that’s gotten 100 times worse itself the past four years. And in case all that wasn’t bad enough, its currency, going by black market rates, has lost 99 percent of its value since the start of 2012. It’s what you call a complete social and economic collapse. And it has happened despite the fact that Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. Never has a country that should have been so rich been so poor.  There’s no mystery here. Venezuela’s government is to blame–which is to say that Venezuela is a man-made disaster. It’s a gangster state that doesn’t know how to do anything other than sell drugs and steal money for itself.”

 

Tags: Venezuela, South America, op-ed, economic, political, governance.

 

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

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