Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dambisa Moyo - is China the new model?

Interesting, isn't it? Just look at what America is doing with our own democratic system. Half of us don't even want to make sure we have access to healthcare, let alone the rest of the world. Half of us don't even want to educate ourselves, let alone see others being educated.

Just recently, Republicans brought our country to the brink of default, because they couldn't accept that they'd lost an election. Even getting over that hurdle only gave us a three-month breathing space, with right-wingers threatening to go through with their threats next time.

This has happened twice already in recent years, and each time it does, it damages our economy. Now we're going to go through it every three months? No one is doing this to America. We Americans are doing it to ourselves - not all of us, admittedly, but still, what example does this show to the rest of the world?

Here's Thomas L. Friedman:
Having lived and worked abroad for many years, I’m sensitive to the changing ways that foreigners look at America. Over the years, I’ve seen an America that was respected, hated, feared and loved. But traveling around China and Singapore last week, I was confronted repeatedly with an attitude toward America that I’ve never heard before: “What’s up with you guys?” ...

“Few Americans are aware of how much America has lost in this recent episode of bringing the American economy to the edge of a cliff,” said Kishore Mahbubani, the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy here, and the author of “The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World.” “People always looked up to America as the best-run country, the most reasonable, the most sensible. And now people are asking: ‘Can America manage itself and what are the implications for us’ ” — if it can’t? ...

Worse, whenever you’d visit China or Singapore, it was always the people there who used to be on the defensive when discussing democracy. Now, as an American, you’re the one who wants to steer away from that subject. After all, how much should we be bragging about a system where it takes $20 million to be elected to the Senate; or where a majority of our members of Congress choose their voters through gerrymandering rather than voters choosing them; or where voting rights laws are being weakened; or where lawmakers spend most of their free time raising money, not studying issues; or where our Congress has become a forum for legalized bribery; or where we just had a minority of a minority threaten to undermine America’s credit rating if we didn’t overturn an enacted law on health care; or where we can’t pass even the most common sense gun law banning assault weapons after the mass murder of schoolchildren?

I hear similar remarks from Europeans who are just astounded at the level of superstition in America. OK, call it religion if you like, but when such large numbers of the population don't accept evolution, global warming, or even the age of the Earth - 6,000 years old? really? - that's superstition, whether there are religious beliefs behind it or not.

Face it, most of these examples are issues and policies being pushed by the religious right. And yet, our only enemies in the world are also religious nuts. I've heard arguments similar to those in the video above, but with the idea that we should spread secularism worldwide before we even try to spread democracy. But as a nation, we're horribly faith-based ourselves.

What does that show rational observers in developing nations?

And do we really have 'private capitalism' in America? To some extent, sure. But in court cases like Citizens United, we've basically legalized corruption. How different is this from 'state capitalism,' if corporations run our government?

Yesterday, I posted Robert Reich's video about income inequality. Well, did you see that graph of income inequality in the video above? Did you see how income inequality is getting worse in America at the same time it's getting better in China? What does that tell the rest of the world?

Finally, how many people in America don't even bother to vote? How many don't vote regularly, in every election? We end up with a minimum of a minimum picking candidates in primary elections (this is why fanatics can control the Republican Party, even as a minority within the party), and with a minimum even bothering to pick between the two once you get to the general election.

Why should the rest of the world care about democracy when we obviously don't? Maybe China does have the better model government. For decades now, Americans have apparently been trying to demonstrate that we don't.

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