Sunday, August 2, 2009

A View of America

There was a very interesting column from BBC World News today. Their American Correspondent is ending an 8-year stay in this country, and writes his thoughts about America, from how we approach buying a home to a rural road in South Carolina to his view that our "anyone can get ahead" worldview is closely tied to our "carelessness" (i.e. lack of a Nanny State). Liberty is, after all, necessary for someone from the lower classes to move into the upper classes even if it also lets parents refuse to treat their child's disease.

I thought the one thing he missed was that the sub-prime mortgage crisis only brought down the rest of the world's economies because they were as greedy as we were (the exception being China, who only buys government paper), and that the housing bubble was not much different from other scams that helped create this country, including ones that brought the first settlers here.

In what is actually a related story, Raul Castro says he is not going to "reform" Cuba into a capitalist country. That's OK, it will become one as soon as the South Florida Cubans get over the fall of THEIR dictator and realize that the fastest way to bring down the Castro system is to let people visit there and spend money. That won't prop up the government, it will destroy it, one iPod at a time.

As Fareed Zakaria puts it in his book on illiberal "democracies", first security, then middle-class incomes, then democracy. China is well on its way down this path, whereas Russia (and the many failed democracies of the post-colonial era of my youth) failed because the people were too poor. That was the most fascinating bit of statistical politics in the entire book. Our isolation of Cuba, originally at the behest of former Batista allies, is keeping the Castro family in power!

1 comment:

Schlupp said...

Um, but isn't the "anyone can get ahead" worldview wishful thinking rather than reality? Actual economic data - as opposed to uplifting Sunday speeches about Liberty - seem to indicate that social mobility is nowadays lower in the US (and GB) than in many western European Nanny states.