How “Progressives” Prevent Progress, Case # 23,098

by Don Boudreaux on January 10, 2011

in Cleaned by Capitalism, Environment, Everyday Life, Growth, Hubris and humility, Risk and Safety, Standard of Living

This report in yesterday’s New York Times offers evidence of the extent to which “Progressives” will go to stop progress – evidence of the filth and pollution that flesh-and-blood individuals are obliged to endure when economic growth is forcibly halted – evidence of the utter arrogance and selfishness of rich-world elites, and of their propensity to treat other human beings as objects for amusement.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

Abba Maiga stood in his dirt courtyard, smoking and seething over the fact that his 150-year-old mud-brick house is so culturally precious he is not allowed to update it — no tile floors, no screen doors, no shower.

“Who wants to live in a house with a mud floor?” groused Mr. Maiga, a retired riverboat captain.

With its cone-shaped crenellations and palm wood drainage spouts, the grand facade seems outside time and helps illustrate why this ancient city in eastern Mali is an official World Heritage site.

But the guidelines established by Unesco, the cultural arm of the United Nations, which compiles the heritage list, demand that any reconstruction not substantially alter the original.

“When a town is put on the heritage list, it means nothing should change,” Mr. Maiga said. “But we want development, more space, new appliances — things that are much more modern. We are angry about all that.”

It is a cultural clash echoed at World Heritage sites across Africa and around the world. While it may be good for tourism, residents complain of being frozen in time like pieces in a museum — their lives proscribed so visitors can gawk.

Read the whole report – but only on an empty stomach.

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