Unfortunately most of what we call politics revolves around the question of what you need to do to make a country richer.
What is it that makes a country rich?
What is the secret behind the West’s success?
These are answers text books will teach you:
- Military security, law and order.
- Lack of corruption, strong institutions
- Ease of doing business, less red tape
- Low corporation tax, in-excessive personal tax
- A well educated, moderate flexible-labour force.
- Good infrastructure and communications.
- Reliable law and enforceable contracts
- Fair, transparent and competitive markets.
There are also a number of cultural factors.
To be rich in today’s world a country must have the following cultural traits.
These are the secrets to the West’s success.
Work must define what people do? It must be the first thing people ask about and your status must relate to what you do. Having a successful career means having people like you. You must invest in it to remain popular.
Love is conditional too, at least to a certain degree. Education achievements count. Children grow up with feelings that educational success particularly in maths and science makes them better more worthy beings. From an early age children learn that achievement brings love and success brings kindness toward you.
In rich countries everyone is optimistic too. All believe they can be successful if they try. That hard work can get you anywhere. This keeps everyone motivated. Everyone dreams of success. With the converse being anguish and regret when such hopes fail to materialise. Not everyone can get to the top and there are a lot of obstacles in the way. Failure is your own fault, however. You must suffer for it.
People don’t sleep well in the West either. They are often worried about their careers. Market capitalism needs constant innovation and rivalry. This means no job is secure for too long. You will suffer for your failure.
Consumers rule. Everything gears toward them. Low prices, seductive adverts, 24 hour shops. Festival and holidays too. People are taught to consume. That they are consumers. And that their problems as producers are separate from their consumer desires. It becomes hard to see that the two are linked.
The news in the West is also terrifying. On websites, on phones, on 24 hour channels there is always some disaster. The world is unsafe and full of terror. There is little positive news out there.
Accumulating money is the answer to these problems. More of it will save you from the terror.
Spare time is also something to worry about. People worry what will happen if they don’t spend enough time in the office. If they indulge themselves some time away from their desks. When they do have time they pay lots of money for ideas of fun. Trips aboard, fast cars.
Fashion is important too and celebrities selectively chosen. Status awards to wealth creators, especially ones we can watch on TV. The doings of the famous are followed and passed around so that the lives of ordinary people seem simple and boring by comparison.
Status links to what you own. People always want the latest thing. New technologies and products bring new desires and dissatisfactions with old ones.
Finally the West seems a fair place. A place where if you work hard and are clever you will succeed. This works well for winners, but is less kind to those left behind.
The role of luck is diminished, the role of connections and background glossed over. If things go wrong you have only yourself to blame. Shouldn’t you have worked harder?
The citizens of the West are wealthy. Their shopping malls are extraordinary and their restaurants are amazing. But they also have 4a.m anxieties. Restlessness over their career. Anxieties about status and money. And they worry that no one will like them without wealth and success. They work hard, but complain about having to do so.