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The end of cheap oil may slow down the flight of capital & jobs to developing countries, thus also slowing the inflow of cheap throwaway consumer culture goods.

The question is, will this happen fast enough for at least some countries to retain some of their local skilled labor.

What is happening now is not only a huge national outsourcing of capital and work, but skill and embedded knowledge (much of what is slow to regain from books).

In that sense (loss of knowledge/know-how) we are already poorer in some sense and becoming more so, as we lose our skills for basic work.

Now, do we really have to become poorer (in terms of wealth & material well-being)? Statistics would seem to say, that on the average ("mean") no, but on the median yes. Wealth in industrialized countries has been piling up on the 5% elite and the middle-class is starting to shrink in various countries (USA being perhaps most advanced in this regard).

Now is this trend deplorable? It depends on how the wealth is distributed and what moral standards one subscribes to.

Personally I think that we only CAN afford to become poorer and that we SHOULD become poorer, at least on material consumption terms, in industrialized countries.

This is only to slow down our combined "soil erosion + lack of ground water resources + global warming" fiasco, which is slowly, but steadily spreading. Of course there are other reasons, but this is just one.

Now, can we become richer because of this? Again, I think this depends on morals and values especially. What do we value and what do we hold dear?

If it's that three car, two house and lots of excess money to burn scenario, then most of us run the risk of becoming poorer.

If it's something else we value, then we actually have options.

rgds,
 SamuM

PS www.gapminder.org

by SamuM on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 02:45:27 AM EST

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