Yesterday we asked, with tongue in cheek, why people were freaking out over Thomas Friedman’s wet kiss to the authoritarian rulers of China?
The more we think about it, though, we’d guess that Friedman really wishes we had that system over here.
What clicked was reading a recent quote from Bentley professor Scott Sumner, who recently wrote:
My hunch is that consciously or subconsciously, the urban residents of China are not thrilled by the idea of a pure democracy that would effectively turn the country over to the rural poor. But wait a few decades, when China goes from being 60%-70% rural, to 60%-70% urban, and from mostly poor to mostly middle-income, and from mostly undereducated to mostly educated.
This is probably true. You saw the same phenomenon in Thailand, where urban residents supported a coup against a leader whose interests were seen as too aligned with rural Thailand.
Now think back to what Thomas Friedman said, and how that applies here.
It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.
Basically, he’s saying: urban, modern thinkers ‘get it.’ Rural, backwards types don’t. If he were talking about the US, that would mean: City-dwelling Democrats get it. Republicans don’t. Without pesky Republicans coming out of the corn and into DC, we could pass all these wonderful green measures that enlightened thinkers like Friedman have been banging the drum about for years.
Unfortunately, we have democracy.
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