Economist Scott Sumner’s 2010 piece on the unacknowledged success of neoliberalism (which I linked to yesterday and you should definitely read or reread) poses an interesting question:
There are two obvious outliers [to aggressive neoliberal reforms]. Norway, the highest-income country, is much richer than other countries with similar levels of economic freedom, and New Zealand, at 80 on the economic freedom scale and only $27,260 in per capita income (US PPP dollars), is somewhat poorer than expected […] Perhaps New Zealand’s disappointing performance is due to its remote location and its comparative advantage in agriculture holding it back in an increasingly globalized economy in which many governments subsidize farming.
Rather than challenge Sumner’s thoughts as to why New Zealand is much poorer (I think his guess explains a lot), I think I can add to it: The Maori.
The Maori are the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand, and can be compared – socially – to the Native Americans of the New World or the aborigines of Australia. Unfortunately I know next to nothing about the Maori (or other South Pacific cultures), but I do know how to draw rough inferences about things by using data!
The Maori comprise about 15% of New Zealand’s population, whereas in other states settled by Anglo colonies the population of the natives relative to the overall population of the country is minute (aborigines in Australia comprise 3% of the population, for example, and in Canada and the US the indigenous make up about 2%).
The relatively large percentage of indigenous citizens in New Zealand can better explain why New Zealand is an outlier among rich countries, but I also think it’s important to ask why the Maori (and other indigenous populations in Anglo-settled colonies) have failed to match the demographic trends of their European and Asian counterparts.
Institutions are, to me, the obvious answer, but I’m curious as to what the rest of you think. I’d also like to add that I don’t think enough of us think about the issue of land (as in ‘land, labor and capital’ when we discuss the huge demographic gaps found between – for lack of better terms – settlers and natives in Anglo-American countries).
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Thanks for the great link. My few thoughts, I am not so sure that Native Americans would choose sovereignty over membership into the federation currently in place. I lived near a reservation in northern California (and I’m sure you have the same sort of deal in Montana) and have some fairly extensive contact with Navajo Indians as well (they prefer the term ‘Indian’ to ‘Native American’, so long as they know you). These are people whose ancestors have fought for the US in all of its major wars over the past century. They are intensely patriotic.
What I think would emerge from working with the Indian tribes is a system where all of the major reservations were turned into regular states (like Montana and California) and the minor ones would just disappear. Indians would then be full-fledged American citizens but could still do what they liked culturally with their heritage, much as everybody else does.
Again, this is what I think would happen. If they wanted full-fledged sovereignty we should grant it (and include generous reparations for stolen property), but I think everybody would opt in for a spot in the federal system we have (despite its shortcomings, it’s still a very, very good system).
This leads to me to an odd-but-perhaps-pertinent musing: I am not so sure that the majority of Europeans, South Koreans and Japanese would want our troops to leave their states. Hear me out on this. Our military essentially provides for the defense of these states, and as a result their these societies are able to use resources that would otherwise go to military expenditures for welfare programs. As Americans, we can see why this is a bad thing, but the states we occupy militarily don’t necessarily think that it is such a bad thing.
As a result, I would be open to our continued occupation of these states under one condition: that traveling, working, starting a business, living, moving, etc., etc. between the US and the states whom we subsidize militarily is as easy to do as it is here in the US. So, for example, moving/etc. from Connecticut to Hesse or Nankaido would be as easy as moving/etc. from Texas to South Dakota. If this were to happen, then I could accept a continued US presence in these regions. What do you think?
Update (6/11): I was inspired to bring this up because of an old post on this subject by Dr Foldvary in the Progress Report. Do be sure to check it out.