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It's a marshmallow test on a national scale.

You're a public institution and the taxpayer gives you a marshmallow with the expectation of using it to create some public good. You can eat the whole marshmallow yourself and feel pretty good for a while, but after that you'll have nothing but a heap of dirt (and soon that heap will be washed into the sea).

You can take a bite for yourself and get a dysfunctional society, but at least you and your countrymen get some kind of half decent jobs, food on the table, education and healthcare.

You can just nibble a little on the edge, and you get western society.

What happens if you save the whole marshmallow? Who knows.




Wait, who is eating the marshmallow ... and what is the marshmallow in this analogy?


I presume marshmallow = taxes/wealth. Eating it = corrupt politicians pocketing it/corrupt usage of it.


> what is the marshmallow in this analogy?

The surplus of resources, I guess. The disposable income of a nation.


If Haiti had, say, vast oil wealth but wasted the proceeds and you compared it specifically to Norway (who have, all things considered, responsibly handled their oil wealth) then sure. But I cannot see what resources or wealth representing the "marshmallow" that they are supposed to have foolishly, greedily gobbled up.

It doesn't make sense, it's just someone painting the Haitians as a short-sighted and reckless people (which I believe is untrue) without giving any reasons why they believe this.


>But I cannot see what resources or wealth representing the "marshmallow" that they are supposed to have foolishly, greedily gobbled up.

The entire reason they were a colony was due to having vast amounts of arable land where coffee and sugar cane was grown. That's ignoring the natural beauty of the country that would be ripe for tourism if they had corruption and crime under control.

It doesn't make sense to act as if Haiti is a barren wasteland with no possible way to generate wealth. The "marshmallow" is quite literally the wealth the country as a whole can generate. They are one of the worst countries in the entire world when it comes to corruption index:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index


> It doesn't make sense, it's just someone painting the Haitians as a short-sighted and reckless people

Who did that?


The public institutions are eating the marshmallow and the marshmallow is the public funding available to them, whether it's from taxes, foreign aid or bribes extracted from ordinary people. Eating it is taking the public funding for their own personal use, or offering tenders to friends who have no intention of actually doing the job.

Here's the first result that comes up when I do a web search for "how corruption works", it's pretty informative for those who are unfamiliar with the concept: https://www.transparency.org/en/what-is-corruption


Thanks, HN. Now I'll have Sir Daniel Day-Lewis saying "I eat your marshmallow" in my head all day.


> You can just nibble a little on the edge, and you get western society.

That would be Singapore.

Western societies are really great at consuming unconstrained amount of taxes without efficiently generating returns.


> Western societies are really great at consuming unconstrained amount of taxes without efficiently generating returns.

Your personal observation, scientific fact or last nights night club small talk?


Seems like every week there's a "why does the west have to drop a billion bucks over a decade on X when Asia can do it for a cool ten mil in a year?" article on the front page of HN. This is pretty well researched and written about stuff, at least on the govenrment and public works side of things.


If you nibble a little on the edge, while eating everyone else who have saved it around the table, you get the western society. Haiti and DR got theirs eaten by France and Spain.


Exploitative colonialism and multinational corporations are definitely things that exist, but countries that do neither still manage to produce a high standard of living by having low levels of corruption. This is what all countries with high standard of living has in common, not stealing from other countries.

Besides, such exploitation doesn't even help the standard of living in the home countries anyway, since the profits are more likely to be stashed in offshore accounts or reinvested in more of the same shenanigans, rather than be invested in the home economy.


>What happens if you save the whole marshmallow?

Given the heat over there, I'm guessing a puddle of sticky goo.


[flagged]


The thoughts of someone who thinks "Western society" is where it is by being conscientious of how they consume and preserve resources for future generations, and is apparently unaware of "Western society" eating other societies' marshmallows.

Another option is they are intentionally ignoring "Western society" consuming other society's marshmallows to make them seem more deserving of their spoils, and others more deserving of their lack of spoils.


No, even countries where exploitative multinationals contribute an insignificant portion to the economy can be prosperous if and only if they have low levels of corruption. Even if they have no natural resources, they still have people who can produce value that can be exported. But only if government officials don't steal all of it first. In a lot of places you can't start a company of any kind without paying tons of bribes.





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