Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > General Discussions > Other Talk > Religion, Politics and World Events
Reload this Page >

Thomas Friedman NY Times "The African Connection" (Kenya becomes more capitalist)

Religion, Politics and World Events They make great dinner conversation, don't you think? plus Political Film
View Poll Results: What do you think of this change in Kenya?
It's a good thing.
4
40.00%
I'm not sure. I have a mixed opinion.
1
10.00%
It's a bad thing.
1
10.00%
I don't care. I just like to vote in polls.
1
10.00%
This poll sucks!
3
30.00%
Voters: 10. You may not vote on this poll

Thomas Friedman NY Times "The African Connection" (Kenya becomes more capitalist)

Old 04-05-07, 10:23 PM
  #1  
Political Exile
Thread Starter
 
grundle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16,322
Thomas Friedman NY Times "The African Connection" (Kenya becomes more capitalist)

This was originally published in The New York Times.

I think it's great that Kenya is becoming more capitalist.


http://freedemocracy.blogspot.com/20...onnection.html

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

The African Connection

NAIROBI, Kenya

Was anybody out there checking out jobs with the U.S. post office in 2005? Do you remember when you called that 800 number to get details? Sure you do. Do you remember how the voice on the other end of the line helping you had this soft British accent with a slight African lilt? Do you know why? Because you were routed to a call center in Kenya.

So maybe you weren’t looking for a job, but you had just bought a new computer. And when you turned it on, you clicked the icon for one of America’s biggest Internet service providers to get broadband access. But you needed someone to talk you through getting it connected — so you called that 800 number. The techie who helped you was also a Kenyan at that same Nairobi call center.

It’s called KenCall. It is located in an abandoned avocado processing plant, and it is the largest of Kenya’s blooming outsourcing call centers, with almost 300 employees and annual revenues that have grown to $3.5 million since it opened three years ago. If you’re surprised it’s here, so are most of its customers.

“I was actually talking to someone in America who had just given birth and she was ordering high-speed D.S.L. for her new residence — three or four hours after the birth,” said Nina Nyongesa, a 25-year-old KenCall supervisor and I.T. graduate of Nairobi University. “She said to me, ‘Where are you?’ I said, ‘Nairobi.’ And she said, ‘Are you sure?’ And she was really happy — so she bought one for herself, one for her mother and one for her mother-in-law. So instead of making one sale I made three.”

KenCall is one small reason that Kenya’s economy grew 6 percent last year. Yes, Kenya still has all the ills of other African states — from AIDS to abject poverty. But Kenya also now has a democratically elected government that is learning to get out of the way of Kenya’s entrepreneurs and to get them the bandwidth they need to compete globally. It’s way too early to declare Kenya an economic “African Tiger,” but something is stirring here that bears watching — and KenCall is emblematic of it.

The company was started by the half-English, half-Kenyan Nicholas Nesbitt, his brother Eric and his brother-in-law Stephen Liggins. Nicholas Nesbitt and Liggins had made successful careers on Wall Street. But after Kenya’s democratic elections in 2002, they decided to come home and see if they could do good for their country and for themselves by taking advantage of Kenya’s large pool of educated, English-speaking talent to break into the outsourcing industry.

There was one big problem. Kenya, like the rest of East Africa, was not connected to any global undersea fiber-optic cable that would give it the cheap high-speed bandwidth of the scale needed by call centers. The Internet here all came via satellite, which is more expensive to begin with and was made even more so by the fact that the Kenyan state phone company had a monopoly.

In a rare move in Africa, the Kenyan government decided to give up that monopoly and open competition for satellite-provided bandwidth — even though it meant laying off 6,000 government workers. The competition made KenCall’s business possible. The Kenyan government is now working feverishly to get connected to the global fiber-optic network, via an undersea cable, which would make bandwidth here cheap and plentiful enough for all sorts of outsourcing.

KenCall opened in late 2004, taking orders for U.S. late-night TV commercials. Its Kenyan operators sold Yellow Page ads, security alarms and mortgages. But it has since grown its business to include data-entry for one of the premier Wall Street credit-rating firms and handling service calls for global banks and insurance companies. For an economy dependent on coffee, safaris and flowers, this is a real change of pace.

“The concept of connecting to the outside world and attracting investors from the outside — that has not been here before,” remarked Stephen Ogunde, another KenCall supervisor.

KenCall’s employees can make in a month what half of Kenya’s population makes in a year: around $350. They get health care and free transportation.

Don’t give up on Africa. KenCall is a reminder that with a little less government regulation, a little more democracy and a lot more bandwidth, African entrepreneurs can play this game too. “In the old days, ‘landlocked’ meant you didn’t have a harbor,” said Mr. Nesbitt. “In the new days, it means you don’t have fiber broadband to the rest of the world. This whole market here is just waiting for that.”
grundle is offline  
Old 04-05-07, 11:16 PM
  #2  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 52,503
Great for modernizing a shithole of a country. Bad for the US, which is becoming the shithole country we make fun of.
DVD Polizei is offline  
Old 04-06-07, 08:56 AM
  #3  
Moderator
 
wendersfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Nuova Repubblica di Salò
Posts: 32,854
It would be nice if you would place as much emphasis on democracy as you do on capitalism.
wendersfan is offline  
Old 04-06-07, 09:16 AM
  #4  
Admin-Thanos
 
VinVega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Caught between the moon and NYC
Posts: 31,582
Originally Posted by wendersfan
It would be nice if you would place as much emphasis on democracy as you do on capitalism.
VinVega is offline  
Old 04-06-07, 09:58 AM
  #5  
DVD Talk God
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 68,522
I don't give a damn about democracy. All I'm interested in is the free market.
classicman2 is offline  
Old 04-06-07, 12:09 PM
  #6  
Political Exile
Thread Starter
 
grundle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16,322
Originally Posted by wendersfan
It would be nice if you would place as much emphasis on democracy as you do on capitalism.

It's capitalism, not democracy, that turns a poor country into a rich country. Singapore is capitalist but not democratic, and it's rich. India has been democratic and poor for decades - it's only because of its recent move toward capitalism that it's starting to become richer. China is not democratic, but its move toward capitalism is making it richer.
grundle is offline  
Old 04-06-07, 12:21 PM
  #7  
bhk
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Right of Atilla The Hun
Posts: 19,749
Originally Posted by grundle
It's capitalism, not democracy, that turns a poor country into a rich country. Singapore is capitalist but not democratic, and it's rich. India has been democratic and poor for decades - it's only because of its recent move toward capitalism that it's starting to become richer. China is not democratic, but its move toward capitalism is making it richer.


Exactly. Democracy is a good thing but property rights and capitalism is something that can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And despite what those unbathed anarchists say when they have their parade of human refuse at the G8 meetings, globalization is responsible for alleviating abject poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
bhk is offline  
Old 04-06-07, 12:22 PM
  #8  
Admin-Thanos
 
VinVega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Caught between the moon and NYC
Posts: 31,582
Originally Posted by grundle
It's capitalism, not democracy, that turns a poor country into a rich country. Singapore is capitalist but not democratic, and it's rich. India has been democratic and poor for decades - it's only because of its recent move toward capitalism that it's starting to become richer. China is not democratic, but its move toward capitalism is making it richer.
Sounds like c-man, but just a little long winded.
VinVega is offline  
Old 04-06-07, 04:57 PM
  #9  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Madison, WI ("77 square miles surrounded by reality")
Posts: 30,005
Originally Posted by grundle
It's capitalism, not democracy, that turns a poor country into a rich country. Singapore is capitalist but not democratic, and it's rich. India has been democratic and poor for decades - it's only because of its recent move toward capitalism that it's starting to become richer. China is not democratic, but its move toward capitalism is making it richer.
I would add that it is protection of individual rights, including property rights, that is the most important and allows for the free market and does not allow crap such as consensual crime laws and stopping business owners from running their businesses as they see fit as long as they don't violate anyone else's rights. Democracy should not allow anyone to vote away anyone else's rights. That's what the Bill of Rights was supposed to be for. Unfortunately it didn't go far enough and wasn't written clearly enough to head off erosion. Democracy is fine but without those protections it's just three wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.
movielib is offline  
Old 04-06-07, 06:06 PM
  #10  
DVD Talk God
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 68,522
You're not surprised that our libertarian friends are not a friend of democracy, are you?
classicman2 is offline  
Old 04-06-07, 06:44 PM
  #11  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Madison, WI ("77 square miles surrounded by reality")
Posts: 30,005
Originally Posted by classicman2
You're not surprised that our libertarian friends are not a friend of democracy, are you?
Don't like apple pie either.
movielib is offline  
Old 04-07-07, 12:16 PM
  #12  
bhk
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Right of Atilla The Hun
Posts: 19,749
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle1624164.ece
From The TimesApril 7, 2007

Jobless migrants and women boxers rock the cradle of the nanny state
Roger Boyes in Malmö
If there is a revolution coming to Sweden you would not want to be on the wrong side of Josefin. Watched by open-mouthed sparring partners, she thunders her fists against a punchball as if to say: “Some iron has entered the Swedish soul.”

And so it has. Sweden, renowned for decades as the model of cosy womb-to-tomb welfare socialism, has suddenly become a much rawer place.

The centre-right governing coalition of Fredrik Reinfeldt, which came to power last autumn, is seen by David Cameron as a potential template for Tory fortunes. Since the election they have seemed determined to roll back the nanny state after many decades of Social Democratic feather-bedding.

On the agenda is abolition of wealth tax, cuts in income tax and a privatisation programme that is already starting to excite foreign investors.

But the most symbolic act so far has been lifting the 37-year ban on professional boxing, outlawed by the Social Democrats as cruel and morally dubious. “It was a political move, not a medical one,” says coach Peter Bermsten, as Josefin rubs herself down. “It took a political decision to bring us back to reason.”

We are talking in the Fox fight club in Malmö, its walls plastered with yellowing posters from the days when Sweden was a world-class boxing nation. One, from 1959, shows Ingemar Johansson set to thump the heavyweight Floyd Patterson.

Sweden has some catching up to do. “Boxing did not fit into the Social Democratic self-image of the Swedes in the 1960s,” says Åse Sandell, a towering flaxen-haired middleweight, who has risen to the top of women’s boxing only by moving to the United States.

Boxing is booming again and Sandell has become the idol of a new generation. The smack of leather on leather, the grunt of young boxers who are no longer confined to heavily regulated amateur bouts: this is the sound and the fury of a cultural revolution in the making. Not the whiff of cordite, but of embrocation and sweat.

Sweden’s social welfare model, so admired by Gordon Brown, was ripe for overhaul. Indeed, so ripe that the Social Democrats grudgingly started their own reforms, cutting down, for example, on Europe’s most generous sick-leave arrangements, which were blamed for turning a healthy nation into a society of work-dodgers.

But they ducked the key question: how much should the state steer the inner life of the individual? This, after all, is a country that bans all television advertising aimed at the under-12s, and where the Government retains a monopoly on alcohol sales to stop people drinking too much.

As we stand with Anders Ljungberg, a local journalist, in Malmö’s immigrant quarter, we see a group of Kurdish teenagers scuffling playfully at the bus stop. A Volvo draws up and a white Swede leans out of the window; the kids quieten down. “He was ticking them off,” Mr Ljungberg says. “He probably told them that there were better ways of behaving.”

The greatest compliment you can pay a child in Sweden, says Åke Daun, a sociologist, is to say that he is tyst och fin, quiet and well-behaved. The Social Democrats came into power in 1932, have ruled for 65 of the past 74 years and ensured that Swedish adults, too, were tyst och fin. They paid the highest taxes in Europe and in return got the biggest handouts. Parents pay a maximum of £90 a month for childcare, receive up to 80 per cent of their salary during their 390-day maternity leave, receive free university education and access to free retirement homes.

But the sums, even with the current strong economic growth, do not add up.
Swedes are afraid of losing their privileges. But they are even more afraid that they will slip down the prosperity league. In 1970 they had the fourth-highest per capita income in the world. Now, as the sociologist Johan Norberg says: “If Sweden was one of the states of America, it would be the fifth poorest.”

“We have to make it easier to get work,” says Djordje Jovanovic, 72, a former waiter who helped to vote the Social Democrats out of power. “I don’t want us to lose our wealth. When I go to my place on the Costa del Sol I see really poor Brits pocketing the bread that they get with their soup in cheap restaurants. We shouldn’t stoop that low, and that means working harder here, securing our future.”

At H&M, the Swedish fashion retailer, we meet Johana Hållin, a 28-year-old teacher. “We have to make it more profitable to work than to be on social welfare,” she says with passion, and she really does seem to be the voice of young Sweden. Certainly she fits into our caricature of a Swede: blonde, funny, she even teaches the Swedish language.

Yet Sweden is losing its blonde-ness. Some 23 per cent of the population of Malmö, Sweden’s third city, were born abroad; if their children, born in Sweden, are taken into account, over 35 per cent have foreign connections. Somalis, Afghans, Turks, Iraqis and Palestinians are all wedged into the state-sponsored estates in Malmö’s Rosengard district and almost all live on welfare.

So here is the most explosive issue in Prime Minister Reinfeldt’s quiet revolution: if he wants to cut social welfare handouts to force people to work, what happens to the foreigners who cannot get jobs because they are foreigners? They get poorer and, since they are being told constantly to behave more like Swedes, they will start to become more demanding. No more tyst och fin.

That is why Mr Reinfeldt has taken the unusual step of appointing Nyamko Sabuni as Integration Minister. She is neither blonde nor blue-eyed: she is originally from Burundi and is a Muslim. And rarely has a Swedish minister openly uttered such tough sentiments.

She wants to ban the head-scarf for girls under the age of 15, make visits to the gynaecologist compulsory for schoolgirls to ensure that they are not forcibly circumcised, cut state funds for Muslim schools and stopped funding for a Centre Against Racism. There is one central aim, she says: to get migrants into jobs. “Language and work are the keys to integration,” says Ms Sabuni. “The Social Democrats drove people into a dependency culture.” The Swedish model was based on a homogenous society — not only white, but also hard Protestant workers shy of public conflict and ever ready to work out consensus. That was the starting point for Gunnar and Alvar Myrdal, the spiritual founders of the welfare state in the 1930s. The assumption was that if it did not work in Sweden, with its population of only nine million, it would not work anywhere else.

It really does seem to be foundering. Sweden is a society full of hidden tensions and unemployment, an intrusive state and citizens frustrated by their lack of choice. It has been defeated not only by the arithmetic (of how to support an expanding legion of welfare claimants and pensioners on the basis of a shrinking workforce) but also by sharpening global competition.

Travel on the 999 bus from Copenhagen to Malmö across the formidable Oeresund bridge and the accompanying music is of clinking glass — bottles of booze bought in cheaper Danish shops. State-controlled alcohol sales, in southern Sweden at least, are sure to buckle.

In the 1970s toy shops were forbidden from selling warlike toys, even water pistols: now everything is available over the internet and 10-year-olds in Malmö can admire a plastic replica Nazi Tiger tank in a cheap unregulated high street store.

The Social Democrats trumpeted the defeat of street prostitution after passing a law that jails kerb-crawlers rather than women who sell their bodies. But trade has simply moved from the red light district on Industry Street to the laptop, with most assignations being made online.

The nanny state is on the retreat. The idea that a just society can be engineered by an all-seeing bureaucracy has had its day.

The admiration for Sweden from the British Left and Right is thus slightly puzzling. The interest of the Conservatives — David Cameron and George Osborne are recent visitors — can be explained by the need to find an example of how a long-lived Centre-left government can be toppled without polarising society.

But the real change in Sweden is coming from the people themselves. They want more freedom of choice and are willing to put with a few punches on the way. Ask Josefin. But watch out for her left hook.

Going down

— Sweden’s average tax bill (incl local and municipal taxes) is 56 per cent

— In 1970 it was the world’s fourth-richest country (GDP per capita); in 2000 the fourteenth-richest

— Official unemployment rate is 5.7 per cent; Eurostat estimates it at 7.1 per cent

— Since 1995 the number of self-employed people in the EU has risen 9 per cent; in Sweden it has fallen by 9 per cent

— State spending has almost doubled from 31 per cent in 1960 to 60 per cent in 1980

— Between 1975 and 2000 per capita income rose in the USA by 72 per cent, in Western Europe by 64 per cent and in Sweden by 45 per cent

— Average number of patients seen by a Swedish doctor daily has fallen from nine in 1975 to five in 2006

Source: European Commission; Eurostat, OECD, Swedish Office of National Statistics
''The idea that a just society can be engineered by an all-seeing bureaucracy has had its day.''

I wish the Democrats in this country would learn this from Sweden's mistake.
bhk is offline  
Old 04-07-07, 12:57 PM
  #13  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Madison, WI ("77 square miles surrounded by reality")
Posts: 30,005
Originally Posted by bhk
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle1624164.ece


''The idea that a just society can be engineered by an all-seeing bureaucracy has had its day.''

I wish the Democrats in this country would learn this from Sweden's mistake.
I think this deserves its own thread.

I would just add that I wish Republicans would learn also. They may say the right things about free markets but in practice they are not much better than the Democrats.
movielib is offline  
Old 04-07-07, 01:40 PM
  #14  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 52,503
Good point. I also agree that capitalism is the problematic issue with the wealthy, not particularly democracy. However, capitalism does pollute democracy. Because if you truly had democracy, capitilism would not thrive as much. Capitialism needs a biased government who is more friends with corporations than it is the common citizen.
DVD Polizei is offline  
Old 04-07-07, 01:49 PM
  #15  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Madison, WI ("77 square miles surrounded by reality")
Posts: 30,005
Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Good point. I also agree that capitalism is the problematic issue with the wealthy, not particularly democracy. However, capitalism does pollute democracy. Because if you truly had democracy, capitilism would not thrive as much. Capitialism needs a biased government who is more friends with corporations than it is the common citizen.
I disagree. Under capitalism, the government must stay totally neutral regarding companies, employees and consumers. Its only role is to prevent and prosecute fraud and coercion. Anything else is not capitalism but is its critics myth of what capitalism is.
movielib is offline  
Old 04-07-07, 02:04 PM
  #16  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 52,503
Then if it's not capitalism, what is it. It's certainly not socialism. Call it monocapitalism I guess. Or Corpitalism. Actually, I think I might use that word in my future book.
DVD Polizei is offline  
Old 04-07-07, 02:23 PM
  #17  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Madison, WI ("77 square miles surrounded by reality")
Posts: 30,005
Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Then if it's not capitalism, what is it. It's certainly not socialism. Call it monocapitalism I guess. Or Corpitalism. Actually, I think I might use that word in my future book.
I think basically there are two systems. Capitalism (i.e. free markets) and socialism (i.e. government owned or controlled markets (and if they are government controlled that effectively makes them de facto government owned even if they are de jure privately owned.)). That doesn't mean there cannot be systems which are part one and part the other. That's what we have and that's what you are talking about: the famous "mixed economy."

Actually, your word "corpitalism" is not bad. It's not what I and other free market advocates want, however.

Last edited by movielib; 04-07-07 at 02:28 PM.
movielib is offline  
Old 04-07-07, 03:48 PM
  #18  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 52,503
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpitalism

Looks like someone beat me to it.
DVD Polizei is offline  
Old 04-07-07, 09:30 PM
  #19  
bhk
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Right of Atilla The Hun
Posts: 19,749
I don't disagree with the statement that The reps acted like the dems when they controlled Congress wrt nanny-stateism and that was one of the reasons they lost.
bhk is offline  
Old 04-13-07, 08:10 PM
  #20  
bhk
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Right of Atilla The Hun
Posts: 19,749
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au...2-2703,00.html
Getting Swedes to work

April 14, 2007

STOCKHOLM: Swedish employers will, as of January, be entitled to ask employees for a doctor's note on their first day of sick leave if they want to qualify for benefits, according to a draft bill presented last night.
The proposal is aimed at combating high levels of long-term sick leave and disability, but has been heavily criticised amid fears it could overload doctors.

It is seen as a thinly veiled bid to hunt down abusers of Sweden's generous welfare system.

Under the current system, Swedish employers can ask a sick employee for a doctor's certificate after a week's absence.

According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, almost 20 per cent of Swedes in the workforce are receiving sickness benefits. Out of 4.5 million people, some 540,000 are receiving early retirement benefits due to disability and a further 250,000 are on long-term sick leave.

However, there were no statistics available for short-term sick leave.

According to the Government, the new legislation would make it easier for employers to detect problems among employees who were often sick.

If an employer asks for a doctor's note and the employee is unable to provide one, the employer would not be required to pay sickness benefits, which amount to 80 per cent of an employee's salary.

Several powerful unions have criticised the proposal, saying the real problem is long-term sick leave.

The proposal is the latest in a slew of reforms introduced by the centre-right Government to get Swedes back into the workforce.
Any idea of those particular stats for the US? Or Canada? Asking for a doctors note on the first day is a bit much.
bhk is offline  
Old 04-14-07, 12:31 AM
  #21  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Milford
Posts: 989
Originally Posted by Vandelay_Inds


You're exactly right. And your comparison between India and China is very apt. There is no relationship between democracy and prosperity. Quite the opposite in fact. Outside Europe and North America, democracy has greatly hampered economic growth.

Virtually all the nations of the third world that have escaped poverty and misery to any meaningful degree did so under varying degrees of authoritarian rule. Isolated from the pressure of demagogues, technocrats were able create and sustain long-term pro-growth policies and conduct a disciplined, orthodox, pragmatic and responsible macroeconomic management.
What about Russia, Cuba (Germany/Japan's WW2 governments didn't stick around long enough for the effects of its policies to be fully felt) the former soviet satellites, etc? Authortarian rule does nothing but elevate the state above the people, leaving nothing but apathy towards a populace - it may prove beneficial at first, but given time it always tanks. Look at Cuba, the longest running dictatorship in the world - its a hellhole! Look at africa with its authortarian regimes - nothing but corruption! The leaders are in for life, there's no accountability (sounds a bit like the UN, eh?), graft and bribes are rampant - absolute power corrupts absolutely

Take a good look at China, beyond the thin veneer of communism - its becoming more democratic since becoming more capitalist. Capitalism REQUIRES democracy to grow - you can't have an increasingly wealthy middle class that has no political rights; sooner or later those newly wealthy people are gonna start demanding some rights; ignore them and you'll see your economy take a nose dive. Prosperity requires democracy; latin america aside (no one ever sad democracy worked fast - they need some more time if Chavez doesn't screw the continent too much), democracy has led to some of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen. The US is the greatest power in the world, both militarily, economically and more - democracy has been good to this country, as it has to the Europeans (welfare states aside), the same can't be said for the dictatorships of the world.

Looking at China and its decision to hold local elections is the first small steps towards this process. India's just starting to wake up and learn what its engine is capable of - both are either democratic or turning democratic. China is toning down its rhetoric towards Japan as their economies become more intertwined (a new PM didn't hurt either), for the first time, not only did local elections take place (small steps first), but they're allowing people to OWN PROPERTY! No longer do they need to lease for decades and then renew - people can actually own now. Keep watching, as their economy revs, they'll be taking off the restraints as they realize authortarianism doesn't work so well. The absolute best an authortarian regime can ever hope to do is brush aside obstacles and lay down laws that will respect capitalism - that's it. Anymore meddling and you're gonna have a problem with your economy.

For anyone who says the authortarian regime got them to where they are now - look at Japan: destroyed, rebuilt in less than a decade and now the worlds second largest economy . . . and it was democratic the entire way.

Last edited by Chaos; 04-14-07 at 12:35 AM.
Chaos is offline  
Old 04-14-07, 11:29 AM
  #22  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Madison, WI ("77 square miles surrounded by reality")
Posts: 30,005
Originally Posted by Chaos
What about Russia, Cuba (Germany/Japan's WW2 governments didn't stick around long enough for the effects of its policies to be fully felt) the former soviet satellites, etc? Authortarian rule does nothing but elevate the state above the people, leaving nothing but apathy towards a populace - it may prove beneficial at first, but given time it always tanks. Look at Cuba, the longest running dictatorship in the world - its a hellhole! Look at africa with its authortarian regimes - nothing but corruption! The leaders are in for life, there's no accountability (sounds a bit like the UN, eh?), graft and bribes are rampant - absolute power corrupts absolutely

Take a good look at China, beyond the thin veneer of communism - its becoming more democratic since becoming more capitalist. Capitalism REQUIRES democracy to grow - you can't have an increasingly wealthy middle class that has no political rights; sooner or later those newly wealthy people are gonna start demanding some rights; ignore them and you'll see your economy take a nose dive. Prosperity requires democracy; latin america aside (no one ever sad democracy worked fast - they need some more time if Chavez doesn't screw the continent too much), democracy has led to some of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen. The US is the greatest power in the world, both militarily, economically and more - democracy has been good to this country, as it has to the Europeans (welfare states aside), the same can't be said for the dictatorships of the world.

Looking at China and its decision to hold local elections is the first small steps towards this process. India's just starting to wake up and learn what its engine is capable of - both are either democratic or turning democratic. China is toning down its rhetoric towards Japan as their economies become more intertwined (a new PM didn't hurt either), for the first time, not only did local elections take place (small steps first), but they're allowing people to OWN PROPERTY! No longer do they need to lease for decades and then renew - people can actually own now. Keep watching, as their economy revs, they'll be taking off the restraints as they realize authoritarianism doesn't work so well. The absolute best an authoritarian regime can ever hope to do is brush aside obstacles and lay down laws that will respect capitalism - that's it. Anymore meddling and you're gonna have a problem with your economy.

For anyone who says the authoritarian regime got them to where they are now - look at Japan: destroyed, rebuilt in less than a decade and now the worlds second largest economy . . . and it was democratic the entire way.
I think the point is that economic freedom drives demands (and results) for personal freedom more than vice versa. I am not in any way in favor of authoritarian government but it is not automatically false that an authoritarian government cannot improve economic freedom. Indeed we've seen it in places like Chile and Singapore. And although India finally seems to be catching on, authoritarian China has done a much better job than democratic India in recent decades.

Plus I think you're confusing freedom with democracy. Neither authoritarianism nor democracy guarantees a sure path to freedom. Authoritarianism can be one person or a small ruling elite denying freedom but democracy can do that with a tyranny of the majority. What is needed instead is protections that cannot be voted away. The Bill of Rights was supposed to be our protection in the US but it didn't go far enough and wasn't written explicitly enough to fend off erosion. If protections for individual rights are written in stone (both economic rights and personal rights), then you can vote on whatever is left and I don't care.
movielib is offline  
Old 04-14-07, 01:38 PM
  #23  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Milford
Posts: 989
Originally Posted by movielib
I think the point is that economic freedom drives demands (and results) for personal freedom more than vice versa. I am not in any way in favor of authoritarian government but it is not automatically false that an authoritarian government cannot improve economic freedom. Indeed we've seen it in places like Chile and Singapore. And although India finally seems to be catching on, authoritarian China has done a much better job than democratic India in recent decades.

Plus I think you're confusing freedom with democracy. Neither authoritarianism nor democracy guarantees a sure path to freedom. Authoritarianism can be one person or a small ruling elite denying freedom but democracy can do that with a tyranny of the majority. What is needed instead is protections that cannot be voted away. The Bill of Rights was supposed to be our protection in the US but it didn't go far enough and wasn't written explicitly enough to fend off erosion. If protections for individual rights are written in stone (both economic rights and personal rights), then you can vote on whatever is left and I don't care.
But that's the thing - freedom of any sort is only one generation from oblivion, it's never safe. Democracy is what protects those rights, so long as its carried out correctly. Look at Venezuela - corrupt elections brought to power a man who'd been castrating the institutions meant to check his power; he's lately got the congress who's in his pocket, to give him dictatorial powers - NOTHING is set in stone, ever, under any regime. Things can change when a movement or someone at the top decides to do something, just with democracy, things need to get past the electorate; which, while not impossible, is a slow process. Look how long it took Chavez to get his dictorial powers - years, versus if China were to reverse course, they'd do it in a blink. Both governments can clamp down, just the democratic one takes longer and is harder - look at the time Carrera (spelling?) is having in Bolivia, he's trying to neuter the constitution, but he's having a hell of a time of it without Chavez's oil wealth. Point being: Democracy has more safeguards in it than any other regime, but no one's life liberty or property are ever safe so long as the legislature is in session (yeah, that line was ripped from somewhere else).

The only reason I see China as having done better is because the authoritarian leaders for the time being WANT economic success, so they're easing up on freedoms to boot due to what they see will happen down the road. Put in some new leaders in the mold of mao ze dong (spelling?) and they can change the policies easily. Keep watching China - you can't have a wealthy middle class who give up all their freedom to the powers that be. Sooner or later there'll be grumbling as they want a say in their government.

Democracy is a terrible form of government, one in which the dumbest of the population have the same weight in matters and the most intelligent, but its the only one in which economic freedoms tie in with political freedom.
Chaos is offline  
Old 04-14-07, 05:25 PM
  #24  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Madison, WI ("77 square miles surrounded by reality")
Posts: 30,005
Originally Posted by Chaos
But that's the thing - freedom of any sort is only one generation from oblivion, it's never safe. Democracy is what protects those rights, so long as its carried out correctly. Look at Venezuela - corrupt elections brought to power a man who'd been castrating the institutions meant to check his power; he's lately got the congress who's in his pocket, to give him dictatorial powers - NOTHING is set in stone, ever, under any regime. Things can change when a movement or someone at the top decides to do something, just with democracy, things need to get past the electorate; which, while not impossible, is a slow process. Look how long it took Chavez to get his dictorial powers - years, versus if China were to reverse course, they'd do it in a blink. Both governments can clamp down, just the democratic one takes longer and is harder - look at the time Carrera (spelling?) is having in Bolivia, he's trying to neuter the constitution, but he's having a hell of a time of it without Chavez's oil wealth. Point being: Democracy has more safeguards in it than any other regime, but no one's life liberty or property are ever safe so long as the legislature is in session (yeah, that line was ripped from somewhere else).

The only reason I see China as having done better is because the authoritarian leaders for the time being WANT economic success, so they're easing up on freedoms to boot due to what they see will happen down the road. Put in some new leaders in the mold of mao ze dong (spelling?) and they can change the policies easily. Keep watching China - you can't have a wealthy middle class who give up all their freedom to the powers that be. Sooner or later there'll be grumbling as they want a say in their government.

Democracy is a terrible form of government, one in which the dumbest of the population have the same weight in matters and the most intelligent, but its the only one in which economic freedoms tie in with political freedom.
As some are fond of saying (correctly), we have a constitutional republic, not a democracy. I think the former can be much better than the latter, but only if the freedoms that are untouchable by either an individual or a majority are truly inviolable (I guess that's impossible but at least they should be as inviolable as possible). Thus the constitution. As I said, I think ours, mostly as embodied in the Bill of Rights, was far from being as comprehensive as it should have been or as inviolably written as it should have been.

You're right, of course, that an authoritarian government can grant some freedoms and in the next whim take them away. As I said, I don't support authoritarian governments at all. I just said they were no guarantee of a lack of all rights and democracies are no guarantee of a rights utopia. Rights can be taken away by authoritarian governments and by democracies. To the extent that the US allows Americans to vote on the rights of others, we have seen our freedoms eroded to a dismaying extent.

I don't think we are that far apart. I will grant that there are better odds for a greater amount of freedom in a democracy than under an authoritarian regime but I no more want majorities to vote away my rights than I want them taken away by a dictator (or to have that power).

I also like to quote the last sentence of your first paragraph.
movielib is offline  
Old 04-14-07, 11:20 PM
  #25  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Milford
Posts: 989
go right ahead and quote it, I'm honored (second part of it was shamelessly ripped from Murphy's Law)

But yeah you've got a point, rights can be taken away under any regime, just under democracy it needs to be done by a majority (which could be hard/time consuming given individuality/free will), instead of a few people (bribes/corruption can convince a few people real easy to side with you).

I forget where I heard it, but Freedom/civilization are only a generation away from extinction; it doesn't take much under any regime to erase the freedoms won in the past.
Chaos is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.