I was just reading a thread one of our colleagues posted about the resentment of a lower class American toward one of higher economic status, and thought this summary of Amy Chua's book, "World on Fire" might be pertinent.... 1. The view of the book is that in many parts of the world, free markets and democracy, rather than being synergistic, or mutually reinforcing, can be disruptive. The cause of the instability involves anger, envy, grievances and humiliation, released by the rapid democratization and a newfound power by the less successful majority. a. While free markets make the resented minority richer, increased democracy makes it possible for the indigenous poor majority to take back riches perceived to have been stolen. 2. In Indonesia in the 1980s and 1990s, the ethnic Chinese minority, a mere 3% of the population, controlled over 70% of the private economy. In 1998, the introduction of democracy released the built-up hostility of the 95% pribumi majority population, and the Chinese suffered some 5000 shops looted and burned, 2000 killed, and many rapes. The wealthy Chinese fled, taking between $40 and $100 billion, resulting in an economic crisis from which the nation has yet to recover. 3. In Zimbabwe, the market dominant minority, of course, were the whites, who had come to Rhodesia from the 19th century and beyond. After the country's independence as Zimbabwe in 1980, what followed was political unrest and the illegal seizure of farms. 4. In West Africa, the Lebanese are the hugely successful, based, largely on control of many businesses, and links to global capitalism. In Sierra Leone, it is the Lebanese who control the diamond industry. 5. In Russia, the Oligarchs are a small group of wealthy and politically powerful individuals. Seven of these oligarchs controlled 50-60% of the natural resources, and 6 of the 7 are Jewish. The fall of communism, and the rush to privitization and capitalism unleashed waves of anti-Semitism, with politicians running on platforms such as take back the wealth from the greedy Jewish oligarchs. 6. In Bolivia, globalization and democritization has allowed leaders to appeal to Aymara and Quechua populations on an openly racist basis. President Evo Morales, who became Bolivia's first indigenous head of state last January, is holding up those values of common ownership and consensus decision-making as a model for this impoverished country -- and angering its white minority, which accuses him of playing racial politics in his self-proclaimed indigenous revolution. LatinAmerican Post - The Latin American news publication - Indigenous influence offends Bolivia's white minority 7. In Venezuela we see a fine example of what happens when the populace doesnt see gains in an economy that makes some very wealthy. All the more so, when they can be shown the wealthy to be different ethnically or in some identifiable way. Then, they vote in anti-free market, anti-American extremist leaders such as Hugo Chavez. Venezuelas light-skinned elite generally loathes Chávez, who is a pardoa darker-skinned Venezuelan from a poor family. But his expansion of literacy and health care among the poor, funded in part by intermittent nationalization of companies and expropriation of some opponents property, have won him a loyal following. The anti-American - The Week 8. It must be noted that market dominance is not always due to entrepreneurial skills or inherent instincts. While hard work and efforts may be factors, so, also may be a) colonialism, b)apartheid, c) corruption, as well as d) favoritism and crony capitalism. 9. At the global level, there is a similar phenomenon: Americans, who represent a mere 4% of the world population, are hated in may places as the Worlds Market Dominant Minority, due to economic, social, cultural, and technological authority. a. The following are not noted as having market dominant minorities: not Europe, nor Arab countries, nor the East Asian Tigers, where ethnicity is not a factor. b. In the United States, if one considers the 10 wealthiest Americans, we do not see an identifiable ethnicity, nor a general resentment. While Bill Gates wealth is equal to the total of the economic wealth of the lowest 40% of Americans, yet there is no hostility or demand to confiscate his wealth. This is explained by the somewhat idiosyncratic United States tradition of upward mobility, where a disproportionate part of the population believes that their son or daughter could be the next Bill Gates. c. While not a national phenomenon in America, there are regional market dominant minorities, such as the Koreans in LA, in an area of poor blacks. We saw the Watts riots... 10. One percent of the worlds 6 billion control wealth equal to the total of 57% of the rest. And one billion of the worlds population earn less than $1 per day. And almost half of the six billion on the planet earn less than $2 a day. http://books.google.com/books?id=luzfw0Ea2PAC&pg=PA115&lpg=PA115&dq=half+of+the+six+billion+on+the+planet+earn+less+than+$2+a+day.&source=bl&ots=MZvc4h_Lnx&sig=-HMpiw4JLdUvZKxKU3ZkgnhUC3w&hl=en&ei=ZuE9TfnXGtHpgAfT6Yz4CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&sqi=2&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false 11. The mistake we make is the belief that we in America have a system of laissez faire capitalism: no, we have a progressive method of taxation, anti-trust laws, social security, etc. yet we urge poor countries to adopt a bare knuckles form of capitalism that we abandoned long ago. That, along with the immediate imposition of elections and universal suffrage and unrestricted majority rule without the kind of constitutionalism and experience that we had is an explosive mix. We forget that democritization needs an instruction manual...and time to develop. Globalization and democracy and free markets, yes, but always beware of the unintended consequences.