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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Some mostly convincing optimism

At Reason, Shikha Dalmia has a nice corrective to rampant pessimism about U.S. prospects versus those of China and India (and I'm not these days in a mood of knee-jerk optimism, I might add): "Long Live the American Dream: Why India and China have nothing on America." Excerpt:
An important reason why the gloom-and-doom about America is unjustified is precisely that there is so much gloom-and-doom. Indians and Chinese, by contrast, have drunk their own Kool Aid. Their moribund economies have barely kicked into action and they are entertaining dreams of becoming the next global superpower. This bespeaks a profound megalomania—not to mention lopsided priorities. There is not a culture of hope in these countries, as Giridhardas told Jon Stewart. There is a culture of hype.
What I find least convincing in the piece is the part where she identifies seasteading as an example of what's right with America:
Pay Pal founder Peter Theil has even given close to a million dollars to the Seasteading Institute to establish new countries on the sea to experiment with new forms of government. This might be wacky but it puts an outside limit on how out-of-whack Americans will let their institutions get before they start fixing them.
As I like to point out, I wrote about seasteading before it was cool or even called seasteading. But I don't see how fantasizing about starting your own country on the sea suggests any capability or inclination to fix real institutions.

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