Business Eye: We could learn a thing or two from China

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

Have you considered it might not be politicians, bankers and bureaucrats who are to blame for everything?

Our disappointment with politics and institutions now means too few bother to vote, an issue that runs deeper than the European Union, UKIP or MP’s expenses. Perhaps capitalism itself and its underpinning democratic foundations will in the end prove unsustainable?

Karl Marx suggested each political era automatically sews the seeds of its own downfall. Are we on an inevitable downhill run towards the new politics of place above populism?

There are about twice as many of us today than when I was born, a burden that is placing intense pressure on basics like water, food, and energy.

Fracking and nuclear power are needed to satisfy our burgeoning energy demands and only unpopular new technologies like genetically modified crops and new desalination techniques hold a realistic prospect of feeding and hydrating us into the future.

Thankfully, the top level Chinese Government, populated by highly educated engineers, has worked out that because we in the West are consuming at the level of three times planetary resources, there will not be enough to go around if the East copies the West.

A different politics is required, one where the frontiers of individual freedoms are curtailed for the benefit of the community as a whole.

Too many curtailments of individual freedoms and we get communist disasters, too few and we have ended up careering towards bloated unaffordable expectations.

I never thought I’d hear myself think that more regulation might be a good thing.

The EU accounts for just 7% of the planet’s population and 25% of GDP, but 50% of social spending.

We have grown used to treating welfare and state involvement like an all you can eat buffet, compared to the weightwatchers regime in our self-reliant Asian competitors.

This tells us more about our own unrealistic expectations than others’ failures.

When half the population relies on state hand-outs it votes for even more unfundable promises.

Offering them becomes the only way to get elected, creating perverse decisions and inevitable failure, which feeds more disrespect of politics and even stronger protest votes.

The Chinese look to do what is right for generations ahead, while we now do what is popular today.