Sunday, July 27, 2008

Economic Growth Vs Bomb Blasts

Does greater economic growth imply fewer bomb blasts? I have been thinking about this ever since I started graduate school three years ago. As a Sociology major in undergrad I was taught theories that said that people were driven to a life of crime because they were poor and uneducated. So, they were forced to a life of crime beginning with petty theft to satiate hunger and pretty soon move on to bigger crimes. I have also heard this logic elsewhere about Islamic terrorists that fundamental groups target vulnerable young men and brainwash them into committing acts of terrorism and make them believe fanatical ideas. If we remove the poor economic conditions of these people through growth will there be crime no longer? So, if there is overall economic growth especially in these impoverished pockets where crime is rampant will that drive crime away? I do not see a major connection between education and terrorism at least. The marginal thief is maybe one who was forced by poverty into thieving, but recent acts of terrorism across the world have revealed that the perpetrators are well educated individuals who even have socially respectable lives. This also negates the poverty theory. 
I can understand the power of deep rooted convictions. I have been butting heads with several highly intelligent people with misguided ideas that communism is a success, so I can understand the role of persuasive but wrong ideas and ideology. However, I do think to some extent at least full stomachs can be less easily persuaded by ideas of suicide bombings than empty stomachs. It would be even better if the full stomach and other purchasing power comes in the form of reward for hard work. That way, one is not indebted to the provider. Maybe economic growth is the solution to the bomb blasts and other such violence in India and other developing countries. So! Full steam ahead in the war against terrorism, let markets rule!! As for such acts in already developed countries, I do not have an answer. Even the solution of markets I think is just a partial solution. I am not advocating an all out state sponsored war against terror or anything like that. I just believe that when individuals' lives are intertwined economically, and they are aware of the network connection, it would be in their self-interest to ensure that no harm comes to the trading partner. I know its a simplified model, but hey! its somewhat better than the model of perfect competition we read in micro. 

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