Bob Herbold is the ex COO of Microsoft. He has an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal about China’s great growth rates, expanding infrastructure and seemingly superior results. I got to interview Bob several years ago on Capitalist Cleveland.
Let me start by agreeing with Bob on a number of fronts. The economic illiterates in Washington are driving all of us who can calculate interest and know the details of a Ponzi scheme crazy. The nation’s aging infrastructure does not endow confidence. We all like shiny, new modern roads, buildings, power plants and technology.
Bob points out that the leadership in Beijing is laying out very clear goals for all aspects of the economy and is executing on the plan. I am forced to agree with that point as well. However we should not draw the conclusion that Washington should be doing the same.
Here is why:
1) The answers for China are obvious. When you have a poor country of 1 billion plus people with no industry what do you do? The Chinese looked at the rise of Europe, the United States and Japan. Then they said “lets do that.” Only the most hard core, delusional Stalinist would disagree that Communism was being left behind by the West.
2) The They from number one above is a very small select group of leaders in Beijing, accountable to no one that selects their own successors.
The United States is the most developed nation on the Earth. What do we do next? Washington does not have the universally obvious next course to take. The answer seems obvious to us market loving, liberty cherishing capitalists. The other side of the aisle also believes that their path of regulation and government controlled redistribution is the obvious answer. Given the millions of people on both sides, a fiver year US plan would be anything but universally obvious as the Chinese path.
The United States does not have a They. Despite some fringe rhetoric in the media of US elites and a rigged political system, the evidence is clearly to the contrary. In the Senate we have Harry Reid and Maro Rubio. In the House there is Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Bachman. The White House went from George W Bush to Barack Obama. They do not exist to create a five year plan that the nation will follow obediently. This is a good thing. Although the monolithic unchallengeable leadership in Beijing is clearly successful today, the monolithic unchallengeable leadership from the Revolution through the 1970’s could not make one good decision.
The closest the US has been to that was the first two years of the Obama Administration with a supermajority in the Senate, control of the House and the White House. Even that pales to the type of control that Beijing has. What where the accomplishments of those two years? Massive debt and new entitlements.