Our hearts go out to those Chileans affected by the horrible 8.8 Richter Scale quake that hit the country over the weekend. For those in the center of the action, all the preparation in the world could only do so much.

Thankfully there was plenty of preparation, however, so the news has been quick to compare the relatively small death toll in Chile compared to what happened in Haiti. Most people have reacted by saying it was worse in Haiti because they are so poor. But Time magazine says those people have it backwards: some countries are just more committed to a government that has its act together, which is exactly why they aren’t poor.

“Chile is more developed because it’s doing things right. The same goes for Brazil, Uruguay, Costa Rica and a handful of other Latin American and Caribbean nations that have decided in the 21st century to stop running their societies like medieval fiefdoms. They’ve conceded that niceties like rule of law, accountability, education, entrepreneurial opportunity and administrative efficiency actually have merit. And they’ve stopped making worn-out excuses, like the threats of communism or U.S. imperialism, for not modernizing their political and economic systems.”

Many investors are missing this point, thinking these countries are just doing well because they have a lot of commodities to sell. In fact they are doing well because their citizens are getting wealthier each year and have more money to spend. That can only happen with a stable, transparent government in place. With that happening, growth is almost a sure thing. (As opposed to Venezuala and Bolivia, countries that have plenty of commodities but a corrupt and backward-looking government.) Argentina could go either way, but right now it’s not looking promising.

Read the full Time article here.