It should also be noted that unlike the investments by the Soviet Union in the Third World the Chinese have not particularly engaged or seen a need to supply military arms to friendly governments or entered into military alliances. The Chinese involvement is almost exclusively economic. It should also be noted that while the Chinese have in fact invested billions in the Third World much of their investments are at best problematic. They have essentially have had to write off 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 billion of investments in Cuba. Their deal with Venezuela for Oil is at best economicly doubtful.
Since 2008 China has also invested between 5 and 10 billion dollars in the Nickel, tin and copper industries of the Andes countries. At this time has actual production not gone up but capacity has also remained rather stagnant. And let's not even mention the investment black hole that is Brazil, where the only thing that disappears quicker then international investments is accountable politicians.
Now I hope (for the sake of the people in Latin America) that the current wave of Chinese investments actually raise economic production and living standards but from the prior experiences of the British, French, Germans, Americans and Canadians I think that Chinese investments are even less likely to work out either for the Chinese investors or the people of the of the effected Latin American countries. I say this because nothing that the Chinese are doing or the other nations have done has changed the fundamental business culture in those countries. It's not so much that the economies in those countries work on crony capitalism but that their economic system actually resembles more a crony type of fuedalism with a dash of fascism thrown in. Until that fact changes the likelihood that conditions in those countries will substantially improve is in my opinion doubtful at best.
Actually the amounts they have spent have all been on a reciprical bases. They are getting deals on natural resources in return for their investments. Also your historical knowledge of the amounts invested in the Third World by the West is faulty at best. The amount of loans to the Third World and other investments by The World Bank and private lenders that have had to be written off simply dwarfs the investments that the Chinese have and are making. I also see nothing terribly wrong with such investments. The Third World is getting capital which it is for once using to actually grow their economic production and the Chinese are getting raw resources.
"The purpose of the government is to direct the efforts of a society toward a better future. That includes directing the market through taxes and incentives. Left on its own, tobacco companies would be trying to get kids to smoke. Government intervened once we realized the dangers of smoking, introduced taxes on cigarettes and restrictions on tobacco advertising."
The purpose of government is to protect from foreign and domestic threats to the society.
"some R&D necessitates government intervention, and renewable energy is one of them."
Really? What makes renewable sources of energy in the 21st century any different then the development of steam and then combustion engine power in the 18th and 19th centuries? What makes it different from the development of oil as an energy source in the 19th centrury or natural gas in the 20th century? You are making a claim based on your preconceived notions of the limitations of the market not on any rational argument based on hard facts.
The government intervention as such only quickened the market reality. Once the nature of tobacco smoking was scientificly known the rate of smokers began to decline. The purpose of the taxation of tobacco like all "sin" taxes was to raise revenue on the backs of products with only limited sociatal acceptance.
The market would certainly use fosil fuels rewards of the market would also incentivise the development of knew renewable and cheap sources of fuel. As the supply of fossil fuels would begin to decline and prices would rise, there would be greater and greater market incentive for private parties to develop renewable energy sources.
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