>Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn makes a good pitch in this recent article. Within, he describes the transition from our traditional First World, Second World, Third World mentality – which within the last decade or so has migrated towards High Income, Middle Income, Low Income nomenclature – to a new paradigm.
The world now consists, or will soon consist of, a different structure. First Tier is used to describe Western and Northern Europe, the United States and Canada, and Japan.
The second tier, comprised of former middle- and low-income nations, is represented by countries like India and China.
The third tier are represented by countries in the Middle East and South America. These countries have significant economies yet do not have the influence within the world economy to either require significant help or have the ability to significantly influence world economic policy. At least according Wolfensohn. I would suggest that while, overall, this may be true, certain economic sectors are certainly influenced by countries in these regions. The Middle East is a significant player in petroleum, which influences energy prices. Brazil and Argentina are significant players in agriculture, which carries over to subsidies, food costs, and perhaps energy (think ethanol).
The last tier of countries are chiefly found within Subsaharan Africa. There are a few other countries that fit into this are found outside the region, such as Haiti.. These countries have extreme human poverty, benefit little from the forces of globalization, and unless there is outside intervention (which may have been the initial catalyst for their problems), will probably continue to lag behind the rest of the world – at best.
The article is very detail-rich and Wolfensohn does offer some advice to counteract some of the forces currently at work that undermine potentials across the globe that seek to elevate countries to higher tiers. Finally, being European, I would guess, he challenges Europe to rise up and take a leadership role in eradicating the extreme differences in growth and wealth around the world.
A certain amount of income-disparity is important to have, I believe. In fact, in a free-market world, there will certainly be a stratification of wealth and income. Not everyone is predisposed to risk, entrepreneurial attitudes, climbing the corporation ladder, or the means-justifies-the-end type mentality. Thusly, there will also be disparity in wealth. One cannot eliminate the ability to achieve a better standard of living, however. Maybe it could be likened to a football game (American), where one team gets down so far, becomes demoralized, and loses. There are examples of comebacks, however.
The Houston Oilers and the Buffalo Bills game comes to mind.