Sunday, 11 November 2012

Meritocracy Versus Democracy
10 Nov 2012
An interesting piece by a good apologist for the Chinese system, one well-versed in English rhetoric.
 Of course the dichotomy is false: we both have meritocracies, merely selected by different folks on different criteria.  In China, bosses pick who was the best at running things while towing the party line.   
             In America, political activists pick who they think is best at winning elections.

Problems?  China will be run by the Peter-principled: a group of guys who were good at their last job.
                  America will be run by the slick and plausible fund-raisers

It may never happen, but hybridization would be fun to see: 
A China where the party puts up two and everyone votes on which.
   (including letting them turf out the incumbent)
An America where one must have been a state governor before running for president. 
   (Or where congressional candidates have to pass the civil service exam.)

The Elections, Gridlock and Foreign Policy 
 November 7, 2012 | 1000 GMT
I would add one impetus to America’s overseas strategy: since 9/11 it has been dictated not only by events, but by opinion polls.  Bush and Obama intervened where they thought public opinion wanted them to, and they did so with inadequate forces because they feared that public opinion would not go with them if they asked for enough manpower and money to do the job properly.

One of my friends thinks Boris Johnson (Tory clown and current Mayor of London) might not make such a bad Prime Minister for the UK because he is an idle sod, and nothing is better for the country than an idle politician.
 Still, I worry that the American impasse we have created (or maintained, if you will) could stuff us badly when strong action is really needed – e.g the approaching fiscal cliff.  It may be we will muddle through that as well, but perhaps at a cost higher than it would have been under decisive leadership.

Finally, I despair of any President or any American government coming up with a clear, well-thought-out strategy, given that they have only 2.5 to 3 years before the next election consumes all attention.   During the British Empire that Mr Friedman praises, governments came and went, but election campaigns were 60 days from start to finish and the sovereign remained the same.   That gave a chance for a longer view to form and prevail.

Victory of the Demagogue By Hyatt Seligman
American Thinker, 7 Nov 2012
"Kill your opponent by character assassination and promise freebies to your base."
That also sounds like a pretty good description of the Romney campaign against Obama. Both sides seem to concentrate less on what they stood for and more on who they were running against. Both sides promised freebees to their bases: federal spending programs for the Dumbocrats, tax cuts and defense spending for the Retroblicans.
If conservatives had taken 1/5th of the time, money and effort that was spent on demonising Obama and put it on getting the converted to the polls, the result would have been different.

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