Many members of the progressive intelligentsia and political class have exalted China’s investment in high-speed rail and its illusory investments in “green” technology, as eminent examples of the efficiency of one-party autocracy. Besides the Orwellian logic, these assertions have been shown to be demonstrably marked with inconsistencies and subsequent failures of policy.
Most notably, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times continues to pine for the wonders of autocratic central planning. Despite the historical repudiation of this economic model, he sneers at the lengthy and arduous debate inherent in democratic capitalism. If only President Obama was unshackled from constitutional and democratic constraints! Then, Friedman believes, the wonders of “green” energy and high-speed rail could finally be shoved down the throats of the American people, and the crisis of global warming could be averted.
The administration has echoed this sentiment, as President Obama has noticed that the rigors of being President of the United States and the pesky observance to the Constitution have thwarted many of his policy schemes. His staff noted that the President has ascertained that it would be much easier to make decisions if he were Hu Jintao, the Chinese Premier.
Nancy Pelosi has declared that elections have had a ruinous effect on our overwhelming sense of “shared values”. At a recent lecture at Tufts University, Pelosi pompously asked Republicans to “take back your party, so that it doesn’t matter so much who wins the election — because we have shared values about the education of our children, the growth of our economy, how we defend our country, our security and civil liberties, how we respect our seniors. Elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do.”
Translation: more status quo spending on failing schools, more bankrupting stimulus spending, more unsustainable entitlement spending and that annoying concerned American citizenry should not be allowed to dissent.
Regardless of these audacious arguments, the democratic process and empirical evidence that has been generated have averted even more destructive spending and tremendous debt. There is lengthy evidence on the failures of arbitrarily imposed “green” energy initiatives and now history as weighed in on high-speed rail, as its purported success in China has been a mirage, says the Washington Post’s Charles Lane:
“Rather than demonstrating the advantages of centrally planned long-term investment, as its foreign admirers sometimes suggested, China’s bullet-train experience shows what can go wrong when an unelected elite, influenced by corrupt opportunists, gives orders that all must follow — without the robust public discussion we would have in the states. The fact is that China’s train wreck (high-speed rail investment) was eminently foreseeable.”
F.A. Hayek profoundly remarked that “We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.” The best way to facilitate this process is through true constitutional democracy, not through the imperious whims of politicians and “experts”, who turn out to be sometimes very foolish.