La mano tesa del neocolonialismo

Per aiutare i poveri dl mondo dobbiamo fare in modo che producano, redistribuire ricchezze serve a poco. Parte da qui la riflessione di Paul Romer

… Redistribution from rich to poor has not and cannot solve more than a tiny fraction of the problem. Even if you could perfectly equalize income in Third World nations with zero effect on production, the citizens of Third World countries would remain mired in poverty…

Non dividere la produzione ma aumentare la produzione.

C’è un modo semplice per farlo: trasferire il Terzo Mondo nel Primo Mondo grazie all’immigrazione…

… there turns out to be one foolproof way for people from the Third World to drastically increase their production overnight: move to the First World…

Il lavoro di Michael Clemens, Claudio Montenegro e Lant Pritchett è illuminante su questo punto. Prendi il caso di un Haitiano medio traslato negli USA…

… Holding workers’ traits fixed, moving a Haitian from Haiti to the United States increases his wage about ten times – a gain of 900%. The lesson: Third World workers are less productive than First World workers largely because they live in the dysfunctional countries…

Ma politicamente sembra che la cosa non sia fattibile. Da qui la proposta provocatoria di Romer: trasferiamo un pezzo di Primo mondo nel Terzo

… create pockets of high-quality First World governance in the heart of the Third World. How? By persuading Third World governments to create new self-governing cities exempt from most existing laws. These new cities could be governed by foreign law, and administered by foreign governments – or even a for-profit corporation….

Costruire ex novo città governate da leggi americane (charter city) nei paesi poveri e consentire che la gente si trasferisca liberamente dal territorio.

Un’idea radicale, al limite del visionario. Ma ci sono dei brillanti precedenti storici: Hong Kong…

… The success of Hong Kong is a key inspiration. At the dawn of British rule, the land area that is now Hong Kong was sparsely inhabited. But it had one blessing denied to the rest of China: British rules…

Hong Kong ha 1) prosperato rispetto al contesto in cui era inserita e 2) ha funto da modello positivo per l’intera Cina.

… By the time Hong Kong reverted to mainland rule, it was not only a First World country, but a model for the rest of China to emulate…

Spesso la tabula rasa è l’unica via: conosciamo bene quali sarebbero le riforme salutari ma non riusciamo ad applicarle in un contesto altamente consolidato…

… Intense populist opposition aside, it is hard to graft one country’s institutions on to another’s – especially when entrenched interests fight you every step of the way….

Del resto, è vero per i paesi come è vero per le imprese

… This is true in the business world as well. Competitors often try and fail to adopt leading firms’ “best practices.”…

Un esempio…

… It is easier to open a new WalMart than to make the Kmart chain better. Advocates of charter cities argue that is also easier to bring in “outside management” to make a new city that works than to reform existing countries that don’t…

Quanto talento avremmo sprecato se Hong Kong non fosse mai nata?…

… If the native entrepreneurs who built Hong Kong had been trapped in mainland China, most would have wasted their lives in dead-end jobs on Maoist communes or joined the Communist elite. Hong Kong gave them opportunities to use talents that otherwise would have gone to waste…

E quanta ricchezza avremmo bruciato se Hong Kong non fosse stata emulata?…

… Hong Kong shined brightly enough to convince even dogmatic Chinese Communist elites that private property, foreign investment, and economic integration with the world economy were the way to go…

Il copia/incolla della Cina ha tolto dalla povertà una frazione importante della popolazione mondiale.

Altro vantaggio delle charter city: non vengono turbati gli equilibri esistenti, si inizia altrove lasciando che l’esistente prosegua la sua routine adeguandosi gradualmente seguendo i percorsi più idonei…

… Another upside of charter cities is that there is virtually no downside. A charter city begins on empty land. It can only grow by voluntary migration of workers and investors. If no one chooses to relocate, they’re no worse off…

È un punto decisivo se si considera che molti “aiuti”, oltre a non far bene, fanno male…

… the paths the Gates Foundation currently intends to pursue sound worse than doing nothing. “Build capacity of organizations working on-the-ground with the urban poor” and “Integrate the voice of the poor into the planning process” sound compassionate. But they could easily further retard the only poverty-reduction process that really works: economic growth… economic illiteracy is especially pronounced among the least educated. They are especially likely to misperceive the economy as a zero-sum game, to fear economic interaction with foreigners, and to naively focus on employment rather than production….

L’aiuto diretto è umiliante e crea risentimenti, la charter city è un affare per tutti e mobilita energie: non dobbiamo contare su un “buono” per fondare una charter city ma su un affarista

… In the developing world, most people don’t yet live in big well-run cities. Given the chance to move to one, hundreds of millions of people would go there to get a job, get an education for their children, and live in a place that is clean, safe, and healthy. Other people will make a profit by hiring them or supplying them with infrastructure and other services… It doesn’t take any charity to build well-run cities.

La dimensione della città è comunque decisiva: nel Terzo Mondo le città esistenti fanno piuttosto schifo ma sono comunque il meglio a disposizione, tutti vogliono andare lì…

… In many cities in poor countries, health is bad because governments don’t enforce basic rules about sanitation. The crime rate is appallingly high because the government doesn’t enforce rules that prohibit theft and violence. Traffic fatalities and congestion are both high because they don’t have good traffic rules or if they do, they don’t enforce them. The fact that people still flock to cities with such bad rules tells us something about how big the other benefits from living in a city must be…

Oggi l’economista teorizza e consiglia riforme. Ma il problema non è tanto quello: tutti in fondo sanno bene cosa si dovrebbe fare. Il problema non è “che fare” ma “come fare”. La soluzione charter è una proposta che prende di petto proprio il vero problema…

… Economists tend to assume that societies will naturally adopt good rules… The evidence suggests to the contrary that many societies are stuck with bad rules. Moving from bad rules to better ones may be much harder than most economists have allowed. The construct of a charter city is a suggestion about how we can change the dynamics of rules….

Chi dovrebbero essere i fondatori di “colonie”? In una soluzione “minimal” possono essere i governi stessi del Terzo Mondo a stabilire delle enclaves, in una soluzione più credibile potrebbero essere quelli del Primo. Ma anche corporation e società private…

… If a national government has sufficient credibility, it could start a charter city within its own territory and administer it from the national capital… in poorer countries that don’t have the same kind of credibility with international investors, a more interesting but controversial possibility is that two or more countries might sign a treaty specifying the charter for a new city and allocate between them responsibilities for administering different parts of the treaty…

L’esempio di Cuba

… Right now, the United States and Cuba have a treaty that gives the United States administrative control in perpetuity over a piece of sovereign Cuban territory, Guantanamo Bay. I’ve suggested that Canada and Cuba sign a new treaty in which Canada would take over administration of this area, bring Canadian rule of law there, and let a city grow up that could bring to Cuba some of the advantages that Hong Kong brought to China….

Dubbio: i “cattivi” non lo consentiranno…

… Why will governments, particularly the entrenched, corrupt governments found in many countries, be willing to cede control of these zones?…

Ma qui si ricade nella falsa narrazione “buoni vs cattivi”: i cattivi non ci sono, c’è solo una congerie di interessi consolidati difficile da estirpare, meglio allora rinunciarci per iniziare altrove, l’esistente si adeguerà con i suoi ritmi…

… Systems of rules are “sticky”; they are difficult for any leader or group to change. With this in mind, suppose you were the president of Cuba. Suppose you wanted to do for Cuba what Deng Xiaoping did for China: engineer the transition from communism to rapid market-led growth. To do this, you might want to create a special zone where some of your citizens could opt-in to the market system without forcing others to make this change…

Un altro punto a favore: le buone pratiche si consolidano almeno quanto le cattive. Istituiamole ex novo, allora! La cosa avrebbe un valore in sè. La restituzione di Hong Kong alla Cina era programmata ma era chiaro a tutti che la cosa non si sarebbe verificata senza una riforma della Cina o comunque senza le dovute garanzie di continuità…

… Another good example is Hong Kong. The British clearly did not want to live up to the terms of the treaty they signed, which returned control of important parts of Hong Kong to China after 99 years. China didn’t want to wait that long to get Hong Kong back. But in the end, for 99 years, they stuck to the terms of the treaty they signed…

In certi paesi arretrati molte riforme sono un miraggio: l’economista è tenuto a dire le cose come stanno, non quello che la politica vuol sentirsi dire…

… Think about the truly important changes in political systems. Back in the middle ages, suppose that someone described a legal system that enforced rules and contracts that everyone had to obey, even the country’s leaders. What would informed opinion of the day have been? “Great idea, but it will never happen.” No question it was hard to pull off, but it did happen. People always think that the unfamiliar is impossible. Many times, all that holds us back is a failure of imagination…

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