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Comments

Factory

Hmm the problem here is that kidnapping, torture and murder are crimes, but mismanaging an economy is not. Additionally India and Sri Lanka have been democracies since independence, in a democracy you vote out the current government if they are not doing a job to your liking, you don't arrest them later on if their policies turned out not to be a good idea.
As for Indonesia, the quarter of a million ppl Suharto killed off to cement his rule would surely loved to have known about the positive aspects of a dictatorship.

John Top

Certainly at least the number of people that died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Not one person lost their job or was held responsible for the collosal failures that resulted in 3,000 deaths.

John Top

slightly off topic, in listening to the POTUS's remarks yesterday I found it interesting that he knew that the US gave $2.4 billion in relief last year, which was 40 percent of the total but didn't know about the state of the US early warning system in the pacific. What I find odd is that he wasn't breifed on this point (but was briefed on the amount of aid). You gotta know that some reporter was going ask about the US vulnerability.

TM Lutas

The idea that the trial and eventual imprisonment of Gen Pinochet is anything other than power politics is naive. Leaders on the left who are responsible for quite a few more deaths live out quiet pensioned lives all over eastern europe. The comment that these people governing the Indian basin have actually committed no crime is just as touchingly naive. What will protect them from international retribution on behalf of the dead is sovereignty.

The idea of sovereignty is coming under review, most famously in George W Bush's policies but all over continental Europe as well. There may well come a time when such things can get elevated to an international tribunal but we're in no way prepared to do so sensibly in the next decade. The sovereignty system (also called westphalianism) dates back to 1648 and sovereignty reform needs to ensure we enter an improved post-westphalian world and not fall back on some barbaric pre-westphalian rerun. This article touches on very big issues that are interrelated in a huge number of ways. Taking it in isolation isn't going to get you anywhere interesting.

Dave Tufte

Caught y'all reading and thinking, did I? In order:

Factory: 1) My point is not that economic mismanagement is not a crime, but that it should be. The stakes are far larger than most people can envision. 2) Yes, India and Sri Lanka are democracies, but does that absolve their leaders from crimes? In any event, I'd settle for the leaders having to post a performance bond so that their incentives were in line with those of voters. (Also, how many Nehru-Gandhi offspring have to be elected before we stop the fib that India is a democracy?) 3) Agreed about Suharto, which is why I focused on the case of Sri Lanka.

John Top: I'd like to see some heads roll for 9/11, but I think the cases are different here. With 9/11, there was no standard along the lines of more than one country was attacked, and some approaches did better than others.

John Top: Good one. I think not being briefed on something like this is just the sort of irresponsibility that bureacrats routinely get away with. It's hard to see harm from this instance, but it is of a piece with the past policy choices around the Bay of Bengal.

TM Lutas: You're way out in front of the rest of us. I'm aware of the soveriegnty issue, but I hadn't even thought of it in terms of this disaster. I do think though, that there needs to be a general recognition that crimes have been committed in cases like this before mitigating soveriegnty can gain much ground.

Factory

"Yes, India and Sri Lanka are democracies, but does that absolve their leaders from crimes?"
No, but the issue is whether it is a crime or not, and I disagree that it is.

"In any event, I'd settle for the leaders having to post a performance bond so that their incentives were in line with those of voters."
Erm, well if you can convince a party to run with a platform, that would be a good idea. But such a thing would tie the party to meeting that goal, rather than doing what is best for the country at a particular time. War, for example will hamper economic development, but sometimes you have little choice in it.

"(Also, how many Nehru-Gandhi offspring have to be elected before we stop the fib that India is a democracy?)"
Hmm Kennedies? Bushes?
The heads of state since independance have been elected by the ppl, in free and fair elections (ignoreing Kashmir), Indian democracy is in fine shape.

Dave Tufte

Now we're getting somewhere.

1) Everyone is entitled to a position, and your disagreement is accepted as is. My post is about getting people to line up on that issue. I submit that a lot of people haven't even considered if lagging behind in economic development might be a crime. So, the vote is now 1-1 ... does anyone else care to vote?

2) Ooh ... do you know how bad your suggestion sounds? Are you kidding me: "such a thing would tie the party to meeting that goal"? Isn't that what we'd like to do? Why couldn't they be tied to that goal, and make their country better off by making the best decisions in the face of changing circumstances? It seems to me that this is what sports teams do successfully with athletes.

3) I'm no fan of either American family, but they haven't matched the Nehru-Gandhi family's success (4 for 4 of Jawaharlal, 3 for 4 for Indira, 1 for 1 for Rajiv). And now we have Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka on their way up.

Craig

Transparency International lists most of the countries affected by the tsunamis as among the most corrupt countries in the world. CIA World Factbook indicates that most of the governments of the countries affected by the tsunamis spend more than US$1 billion per year.

I think you are right - bad policies, either caused by or correlated with corruption, contributed to the aggravated death toll.

john top

One of items that's popped up in coverage is that while there is a large initial response to a disaster, there is often a neglect of the rebuilding effort. I believe that POTUS could use the tsunami as an opportunity to unilaterally drop all trade restrictions to the countries (or at least areas) affected. Of course, it would help if we had a president that actually behaved as if he believed in the benefits of free trade, rather than simply talking-the-talk.

Dave Tufte

Craig: you are awesome for bringing in that news!

BTW: Craig has an excellent blog called Heavy Lifting (http://heavylifting.blogspot.com/) covering economics, with heavy doses of sports and Dallas metroplex issues. Go check out his recent post about the ongoing disaster that everyone has forgotten about.

Dave Tufte

John Top: Excellent, excellent, excellent!

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