Wanted! For Being in the Wrong Places at the Wrong Time (and also killing those people and keeping his country in poverty)

Burma has largely been in the sort of loser country — those of the Gap and the Seam — that we can live with. Unlike Ba’athist North Korea, Russia, Milosevic’s Serbia, Saddam’s Iraq, Syria, etc., Myanmar has kept its dysfunction largely to itself. Allowing its neighbors of India, China, and Thailand to develop in peace, Burma has long been a problem we can deal with later.


Then Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council

Then Burma, lacking refinaries and experiencing the sort of economic problems states do, raised gasoline prices. They did this at the same time of mountain economic pressure over lack of both economic and political reforms. Burmese political activists lept at the opportunity, mass-rallied, and were quickly killed.

The outrage against Burma’s rulers is a product of these facts, with one more: Burma’s neighbors are becoming rich. If the same events happened twenty years ago, the world would pat itself on the back for larger achievements elsewhere. If the same events happened in Africa, the world would not care. That the events did happen a generation agian, and are happening in Africa, testifies to this fact.

So what should we do?

Remove the junta, of course. That others are worse does not give them an excuse to remain in power. Burma is not democratizing in the idealistic (leading to free and fair eleections) or materialistic (leadering to free markets) sense. It kills its own people, and does not meaningfully participate in regional economic growth.

Free Burma.

Mark and Shane share their thoughts.

Monkey Business

gnxp links to The Economist and Science, which both tell the story of how chimpanzees play the ultimatum game more rationally than humans. (The ultimatum game featured prominently in my last two experiments on the wary guerrilla and the wary student).

One explanation is that part of humanity’s success is an innate ability to be irrational, to focus on cooperative-competition rather than one-against-all-ism. Another, not contradictory, theory would be that chimpanzees are easily disoriented (in the Boydian sense) and unable to keep ideas such as justice or fairness in mind.