Thanks to Google those who have had a curse put on them can find numerous ways to lift it: from drinking a special potion on the first night of the waxing moon to repeating a certain incantation 13 times while holding a rabbit’s foot. (Here, here and here for useful sources.) But Google is not nearly so helpful for policymakers looking to lift the resource curse: the corruption, violence, and misgovernment that befall a poor country with plentiful quantities of hydrocarbons or other natural resources.
The best Google does for them is tout the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, a voluntary compact where the government agrees to disclose the monies it receives from the companies that produce its resource and the companies agree to report the monies they pay government. As the 300,000 plus “hits” on EITI in Google explain, the theory is that civil society will use the disclosures to hold government and the companies accountable. Unfortunately for the policymaker looking for solutions to the resource curse, Google will also pull up a long list of studies (here and here for examples) showing that so far it has had little to no effect on corruption and governance in resource rich poor countries and that at best the relief it promises is many years away.
With this post I hope to persuade Google’s powers that be to modify the search algorithm so that when a user enters “resource curse – how to lift” something besides “EITI” is returned. That something is Continue reading