"I guess Antigua does not need many economists" comes from 400 years of indoctrination into an economic absurdity. The statement above was from a census officer conducting an employment survey for the US Census Bureau. He was standing at my front door, balancing a computer while he rattled off inquiries from his prepared questionnaire. I would rather have kept many of my answers private, but I answered nonetheless. The statement exhibited a fundamental ignorance of the world, the impact of colonialism, and the belief in the deservedness of development of the global north versus that of the global south.
At the most superficial level, Antigua has an airline, an airport, and an aviation sector connecting it to the rest of the world. That air connection means it does need experts of all types in aviation. The airport and air transport section facilitates the movement of people and the movement of goods that people either consume immediately or use as inputs to produce finished goods. Tourism makes up about 80% of the GDP there, so moving people via air is vital for jobs and the economy.
Because of this belief that the global south is so underdeveloped that it does not need its human resources, its resources are regularly taken. This goes for natural resources such as bauxite, timber, cocoa, sugar, crude oil, nurses, engineers, programmers, teachers, and aviation economists. The belief is that these resources deserve the metropole, not where they originate.
I wrote a blog about how African countries are now trying to industrialize and produce finished products from their natural resources. The belief that fuels that statement is counterintuitive and hampers the development of these countries. Global trade rules that use tariff escalation, tariff peaks, and agricultural subsidies ensure cheap raw materials flow to the north without value-added. The finished, value-added product is then exported from the global north back to the global south, where the terms of trade are not in the south's favor.
The US Census agent was wrong, and I did not challenge him because I did not believe that it was worth trying to educate him. His belief system never questioned the status quo. The fact is that every country with an airport needs aviation economists. They also need their nurses, teachers, bauxite to make aluminum, cocoa to make chocolate, and cobalt to export cell phones and other electronic components. That belief causes disparities in development between the global north and the global south. Eliminating such ignorance is one of the essential steps in removing poverty in the global south over the long term.
If you missed it, please read my blog about which direction economic dependency flows in international aid policy between the global north and south.
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