I loathe the diamond industry simply because it exploits some of the most impoverished lands and people for a quick first-world buck. These gems that we're all so used to seeing promoted, especially during the holiday season, are no more than huge liabilities when it comes to a country's economic outlook.
Botswana, well known for their diamond industry (which was even supported by Kim Kardashian a while back), is now experiencing a setback despite its "relatively" positive deal with DeBeers back in the 1960s. Under their agreement, the Botswana government would split a 50/50 joint venture with DeBeers rather than simply taxing them on their revenues. Botswana quickly became the world's leader of diamond production and is now the source of over 1/5 of our world's diamonds.
When such a lucrative industry embeds itself in an otherwise impoverished backdrop, the involved parties have no choice but to scramble in a gold rush-paced growth rate. There was nothing seemingly wrong with this scenario until people began to realize that Botwana's diamond resources were quickly running out. Now it's undeniable--the industry is expected to dry up within 20 years, prompting President Seretse Khama to address this issue in his recent State of the Union.
But why should we care? Well, it's pretty obvious that the typical Botwanian isn't the average customer for diamonds, even though these stones came out of their own backyards, so to speak. DeBeers knew what it was doing when it descended upon the undeveloped nation decades ago. As long as people of means continue to desire these ethically-questionable objects, those who live at the source won't have much of a future. Despite that this industry has given way to many local jobs over the years, that same industry will move on when it has depleted all of its resources.
So for Botwana's diamond industry, we've got twenty years to go. Time for them to figure out how to wean themselves off this industry (and hopefully pave the way for other diamond-focused economies to follow its lead), and time for first-worlders to realize that diamonds are an archaic tradition that we no longer need to perpetuate to our future generations.