Monday, July 1, 2013

Interesting take on China

There is an interesting speech given by Eric X Li at TED.

In it he offers five basic statements:

  1. Democracy is not for everyone
  2. China does quiet well with it's non-democratic, Bureaucracy
  3. Bureaucracy is not for everyone either
  4. Democracy has it's own problems that China doesn't.
  5. China does have some problems but it is working to solve them and will succeed.

I agree with the first three.   I don't believe Democracy is for everyone.   To have an effective Democracy you truly need many things, including but not limited to an intelligent, educated public.   You can't run a democracy with people that are too stupid and uneducated enough to sell their votes cheaply.

China has been doing well in large part because it has a path to follow, blazed by the west.  Bureaucracies don't innovate well, but they follow very well.  As long as they are behind the west, they can follow at breakneck speed.  But they can't innovate.

Which of course is why I agree with part 3.

Now for the last two.  Those I find to be laughable.   All the problmes that US democracies have, China has as well, they just don't publicize them.

Key problems that the US currently has include Congressional stagnation caused by dramatically different political views.  China has that as well, they just cover it up by letting one side win and burying their opponents.  

Other issues that the US deals with include things heavily involved with morality, of which China ignores one side completely.   Whether it's homosexuality, abortion, torture, we lead the way on issues they sweep under the rug.

Ignoring an issue is not dealing with it.  The US looks so combative because we face the major issues head on, rather than sweeping the other side under the rug.

He brags about China's leader's experience, and the lack compared to US politicians.  Experience is the enemy.  We want innovative solutions, not the same old stuff.  We want new blood, which is why terms like maverick, new blood, outside the beltway, are all positive terms.

Honestly, if we already knew the solution, then it is easy to solve the problem.  That is why bureaucracy works so well in those situations.

But the US is not following the path of another country. We are blazing the path. China is, to use a  Nascar analogy, drafting behind us.    We solve problems that NO ONE knows the solution to.   To do that, you need the innovative power of Democracy, not Bureacracy.

Mr. Li. knows a lot about China's history.  But fails to understand why it has succeeded.  He fails to recognize that it's success is on the back of the work done by the West.   Just as we taught them how to make cars, computers, etc, we also taught them how to run a country.  

He thinks China will continue it's growth.  He predicted that China will become the largest economy in the world.  That is likely - population counts.  He also predicts it will do well on a per capita basis, that is not going to happen.   When you pass the lead car, you can no longer draft, and that's the only economical technique they know how to do.  They can't get anywhere near us without the drafting.  I can see their per capita rising to about half of what the US will have, but not much more than that.

He thinks corruption will be curbed but not eliminated.   That is likely.  He also thinks they will do a good job of curbing.  I doubt that.  Their system by it's very nature lends itself to corruption.   Bureaucracy is not good about curbing it's corruption.  Their culture and system is about respect, not challenge, which lets corruption flourish.

He also thinks that economic reform will accellerate.  I disagree.  It is already near the economy they are drafting against, they have to put on the brakes to avoid cruising past the west's car.

He also thinks political reform will continue, which is a given, and the one party system will hold firm, which I also agree is likely to happen.  It takes a generation to realize your mistake, and they haven't made the mistake yet.  China has at least 40 years of one party system left to go.   

Not because their system works so well, but because they are blind to the fact that they are drafting behind the west's economies.

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