At the AEI's Enterprise blog, I discuss a recent article on democracy in China Daily. My underlying point is that we in the U.S. spend too little time thinking about the problems of making democracy work, and this gap in our thinking will trigger serious consequences in the not-so-long-run.
See, e.g., a recent statement by CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf:
The country faces a fundamental disconnect between the services that people expect the government to provide, particularly in the form of benefits for older Americans, and the tax revenues that people are prepared to send to the government to finance those services. That fundamental disconnect will have to be addressed in some way if the nation is to avoid serious long-term damage to the economy and to the well-being of the population.
Political incentives militate against any resolution. People are treating the Federal budget as a commons, and hastening to exploit it before others can do so. In such a situation, restraint is a bad strategy -- it leaves more for others and does no good over all.
So, the rising concern about the problem actually leads to an intensification of everyone's desire to get what they regard as their just due, and the rapacity increases. DC lobbyists just had their best year ever, and it was not for any efforts to solve the problem.
The Chinese are surely watching this dynamic with interest. According to legend, Zhou Enlai, when asked his view of the French Revolution, said "It's too early to tell." Similarly, they must be interested in seeing how this novel U.S. idea of a constitutional democracy works out in practice -- at present, it is too early to tell.