Ever since Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe confiscated the land of some white farmers, Zimbabwe’s economy has been going down hill. The latest news is that it has about $200 left in its treasury. See here.
It’s too bad this happened, but it was obviously inspired by leftist rhetoric, which sounds wonderful in theory but gets things horribly wrong in reality. The idea was that of course the rich – in this case, not just rich, but white – are evil and things need to be redistributed to the poor. I don’t know if any actual redistribution to the poor ever happened, but as the article mentions, that act dismantled the country’s agricultural industry.
There was a better way to do things. Point out to the international community that there were many blacks in Zimbabwe who wanted a better life, but who couldn’t have one because of the stranglehold on the economy by those whites who owned those farms. If outsiders in the West were to donate, then poorer blacks could offer to buy parts of those farms, or if the owners wouldn’t sell, they could start their own businesses. Either way, things would have worked out better than they have.
And would Westerners have donated? Absolutely. People in the West have donated plenty of money to Africa. Whether it has done any good is doubtful, but they are always willing to give. And such a solution would have been better than the outright theft perpetrated by Mugabe.
The Turks May Be Right
Since this blog promotes self-critical leftism, then it behooves me to admit that the Turks may be right about the assassination of the three Kurdish women in Paris that I mentioned here. The Turks suspected that this was an internal feud among Kurds, and since the only suspect so far is the driver of one of the three women, that seems about right. There may still be involvement by other parties, but at the very least, a Kurd was almost certainly involved.
Bicycles in a Post-Apocalyptic World
Megan McArdle in this post wonders why in post-apocalyptic fiction, bicycles are seldom present and people seem to spend their time walking or else in trucks. My question is a little different. It’s not about fiction, but reality, namely if the rural county I live in were suddenly cut off from the rest of the world, what mode of transportation would we be using a century from now? I assume it would be the horse. Cars are out since, even though there is some oil in my county, I doubt if there’s enough to keep all the cars in the county going for very long, especially since we don’t have a refinery. Plus, cars are breaking down all the time, and eventually we would run out of new parts. Bicycles would last longer, since they don’t use fuel, but most won’t last more than a few decades, and they can’t be replaced. They can’t be replaced because they are very sophisticated machines requiring lots of parts and materials from a variety of places; the result is that no one makes a bike from scratch, at least not very easily. Finally, bikes aren't very good at hauling heavy loads. Horses, on the other hand, are easy to replace since they reproduce themselves. They need to be fed, but there are plenty of fields in my county where they can, and in fact do, graze. Nor do the roads need to be kept as smooth for horses as they need to be for cars and often for bikes, too. The horse is the obvious answer.
Jane Austen Again
This article from the BBC was linked to by Instapundit. I read all the comments, and since comments are closed there, I’ll have to make my own here.
One fellow points out that people should have pity on him because he was forced to read Jane Austen in school and hated having to do it. I myself never read her till I was thirty, when I happened to pick up Pride and Prejudice in an idle moment. It was a good age for me to do it because I was old enough to appreciate it. It was wonderful, and funny as well. The father is especially funny. However, both Dickens and Shakespeare were forced on me in school, and I never want to have anything to do with either of them again.
The main masculine character is Fitzwilliam Darcy, yet some of the commenters called him D’Arcy. Why? This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this spelling. It doesn’t appear in the original edition, so where does it come from?
As for so many Americans being fans, I don’t think there are more fans here, in terms of percentage of the population, than there are in Britain or Australia.
Lots of people insisted that she didn’t discuss the poverty of the day, but she touches on it in various places, such as the section on Portsmouth in Mansfield Park. One commenter also suggests that we aren’t told where Darcy got his money and concludes it must have been from the slave trade. But there’s no need to reach such a conclusion. Darcy gets his money from the land he owns in the form of rents from tenant farmers. Exactly how his family got that land is unclear, but it may go back generations, or it may be that an ancestor got it the way Mr. Bingley’s father got his money, namely via trade. There is no need to invoke slavery here since the trade was likely to have been trade within England and not something international.
A Puzzle about the Cape Verde Islands
Since I’ve been watching the African Nations Cup, and since Cape Verde advanced to the second round, I got curious about it. These islands were discovered by the Portuguese, Portuguese is the main language, yet our pronunciation of the name is French. Why? At the very least, it could be Spanish. Incidentally, the name of its capital is Praia, which means “beach” in Portuguese.