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re: EQ and international codes

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OK, not completely a technical post.. Sorry, delete now if you want!
Harold had an interesting point about economics dictating a country or region's quality of construction, adherence to codes, and engineering/architectural knowledge. This would make a great ASCE/Structure magazine article. California has lead the world in seismic engineering, design and codes, and is also an economic powerhouse that would rank it between 7-10 of the top economies of the rest of the world (depending on who you ask). Chicago, NYC and Boston have also been forerunners in engineering and construction due to their economies and therefore the need to go vertical with buildings and big with bridges.
You could say the same for economics, need, and knowledge in countries such as Japan (bridges & buildings), France (buildings, dams and viaducts), Netherlands (water and land management), Scandanvia with ships and oil rigs, Switzerland and Austria with viaducts and tunnels, etc etc... And the list goes on. If you have money as a country or region, and you need complex buildings and infrastructure, you can develop them and maintain them, and develop the knowledge and skill base you need to accomplish these things.
From what I understand about India is there are lots of university trained engineers and scientists that cannot find work in their economy. They certainly have a knowledge base capable of better construction and engineering, but if there simply is no money for it, it cannot be done. I would imagine the same for China. Other things contributing I am sure are the lack of available materials like Harold said, proper equipment, all of the standards and testing agencies, and local cultural issues such as nepotism, cronyism, bribery, etc. And in China who knows what happens in a communist country, if someone wants something built fast and cheap, they can probably steamroll it through. There are not lawyers on every corner either, and a court system that will support legal claims....
I noticed in two developing countries that I travelled to, Peru and Thailand, that in the big cities of Lima and Bangkok, you see big concrete highrises as modern as anything we have in the US. The skytrain in Bangkok is as modern as any city, and the toll road out of Lima makes you think you are at home... Now you go out into the country, and in Peru you see mud brick factories- somebody with a small plot of land, some mud, and a kiln... And that is what they build their houses out of. In Thailand you go out into the country and there are houses on rivers on bamboo poles. You make due with what you have, better to be dry and protected in a building that does not meet code then to be wet and miserable outside!
You see this in this country also, ever travel around the rural south? My ex wife from Spain was amazed by our manufactured and mobile homes, it was shocking to her that in the US we would have this type of construction.
To rip off Churchhill, "The US has the worse building code system in the world, until you compare it to all of the others..."
Andrew Kester, PE
Principal/Project Manager
ADK Structural Engineering, PLLC
1510 E. Colonial Ave., Suite 301
Orlando, FL 32803