August 01, 2007
The Olympic Athelete Goes, "*GASP* *COUGH* *CHOKE*"

Ron gets a filthy no-prize for bringing us this quick review of the unforeseen difficulties involved in hosting a first-world event in a third-world country.

Optimizing an economy for maximum growth requires minimal regulation, especially of the environment. Eventually, as average per-capita income rises to a certain point*, people will start demanding a cleaner environment, and pollution controls can (well, should) be gradually introduced. Unfortunately, while China is rapidly getting a first-world economy, it's definitely not there yet. Equally unfortunate, the requirements of effete first-world left wingers run right up against this reality, and so China has a potentially intractable problem on its hands.

This is most likely worrying China's leadership far more than you'd think. China as a country is almost psychotically obsessed with getting this chance to prove they've "made it" right. They take it extremely seriously, and should it fail I'm not quite sure what would happen. It's probably not too far fetched to picture riots and revolutions. Certainly that's what the leadership must fear.

The ironic thing is the air pollution in Beijing is almost certainly no worse (probably better) than that experienced by the athletes of the first few Olympiads. One need only read about conditions in turn of the last century London to understand this.

* As I recall, $8000 per year in 2000 dollars.

Posted by scott at August 01, 2007 10:54 AM

eMail this entry!

Even more fun, from the article I believe they mention not allowing roughly 1 million cars to be driven the month prior to help clear the air up even more.

Imagine say, San Francisco or New York trying to do that just to look better for people.

Posted by: Ron on August 1, 2007 12:08 PM

I'm pretty sure the average San Franciscan or New Yorker would love to be able to do something like that... to OTHER San Franciscans / New Yorkers. Don't you dare tell them to practice what they preach, it's an instant apoplectic rage button.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian on August 1, 2007 07:23 PM
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