This is a partially formed idea so it is very open to criticism. In my usual style it is a bit of a rant: We have been told time and time again that the people of the world need, "economic development" in order to "rise out of poverty". I have never been to china, however my two best friends, as well as a third friend, did go on a three month long journey through the interior of china, and then an equal trip to Vietnam. What they found was clean people, wonderful fresh food, and a people that in general seemed happy and content. Certainly, there were some sights that were shocking, such as some treatment they saw of the crippled that was not up to "developed world" standards. However, the quality of life did not seem terrible. In fact, there was much to be said for it. I saw a long photo journal of the trips so I was able to relate to what they said. I do not think the people believed they were living in "back breaking, crushing poverty" like we have been told time and time again in the western media. THey seemed, by and large, just fine, and very civilized. They had wonderful food, thriving small businesses, self employment, etc. They said they had never ate better and that the trip opened their minds in a profound way. Would they benefit from a "western" lifestyle of mass consumption? Food out of a box rather than 100% fresh? Life in a factory/office/cubicle vs. a life primarily outdoors? Is our level of consumption even possible for billions more people without completely destroying the planet? My point is I wonder if we have been sold a bill of goods. If you look for them you find stories of chinese farmers and communities attempting to defend their generations old lifestyle against state-sponsored, forced development schemes that destroy the lifestyle many chinese have had for so long and force them into factories (how convenient). I never would have believed this in the past, say five years ago. However, more and more I begin to question the benevolent nature of the global economy. It could very well be that the real benefit of the "global economy" is that it is a solution to the, "not in my back yard" issue. Sent the pollution, smokestacks, s exploitation, etc, to the OTHER side of the world, so I don't have to see it or think about it. The westerner sits in a nice safe office/cubicle and in return gets money for doing practically nothing in many cases, and can then trade this for real products that seemingly arrive out of thin air. The westerner is completely divorced from the requirements of his own consumption and his own basic survival. Never thought I would say the above but now I wonder if it is in fact true. Any thoughts?? Edit I am discussing non-industrial, supposedly impoverished areas of these countries.