Monday, August 15, 2005

Good governance and national pride

I like what Fidel Ramos said in a Time interview published in the most recent issue.

In the global economy, anything that a country lacks, it can import and
outsource -- except for two items: good governance and national pride, which
must be homegrown.

Do we have those? I'd like to think so! And that's my fundamental opposition to the groups of weird people calling themselves the opposition in Singapore: that fundamentally, they don't seem to be able to produce good governance. When I read all the policy commentary, I find myself frequently outsmarted by all the pundits: they raise points which make me think, "Oh wow, I never thought of that!"So obviously I'm no brilliant policy analyst. But then, these clowns make policy statements that make me think "That's stupid!" So they are either sublimely intelligent, or extremely stupid. And so far I've yet to see any evidence for the formal. No one I've read or met, in print, online, or in person, can quite tell me with a straight face that their policies are worth more than the paper/electrons they are printed on.

When I was at Stanford, there were always people who were willing to discuss policy and politics. Republicans and Democrats, yes, but there were republicans who were arguing that certain Republican policies which were dumb, and democrats who.. you get the idea. And of course, there were a couple of libertarians running around saying that Big Government is all wrong.

So let me skip all the credible reasoning and propose a solution. Have kids (like Secondary school and up) discuss policies with civil servants. Let them ask the the silly questions and find out why the decision makers decided a certain way. And, when they've absorbed it, they'll have tons more questions like, "Why? Why not this way? Why not that way? You sure or not?" that will drive the civil servants insane and take years off their lives.

Why bother? Because we need kids to grow up with an interest in how this country is run! All the important things about having a civil society and transparent government, lie on having an intelligent, opinionated, and most of all interested electorate to ask the tough questions and reward the governments that have the best plan for the country.

Let me draw a soccer comparison for you. If you were a Man United fan, what would you have done when Malcolm Glazer bought the club? (1) Worry that his financing would drive the club under? (2) Wonder why the stupid English are making such a big fuss? (3) Rub your hands in anticipation that next season the odds for Man U wins might be just a little better for you to gamble?

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