Saturday, March 02, 2013

Everyone is Fighting Their Daemons

Many economies in the world are struggling currently. It may have to do with lots of different things, and probably peak oil plays a big role here. That will probably be the topic of another post.

Living abroad, I usually read from different sources, mostly Germany, France, USA and UK. And I always get a good laugh at how other countries always know better for the others, but no one knows how to reform itself.
"France should lower its work cost, reform its pensions, simplify work laws", "Germany should try to get more children", "UK should move back to manufacturing", "The US needs to update its infrastructure".

Still, none of this happen. Or almost nothing. Interestingly enough, local journalists (as well as local people) are not so enthusiast about discussing or even promoting those topics the way they deserve. We all concentrate on gossip, tragic events, the usual political fights, but in the end, the real important issues are never really discussed.

Mainly, this is because those deficiencies are linked to much deeper anchored traumas or legends in the country history. You cannot understand the french economics without knowing that social benefits were established just before WWII, and that a good part of the rules the country now live by have been brought by De Gaulle, just after the country was freed from an invasion. The aversion of the US from a big government has also deep rooted reasons, as old as the country itself. That plays a role preventing a simple unified and - at first sight - costly infrastructure renovation. An airport is so much more standalone and self-reliable than a 500 miles high speed train way.

The good thing is, there are not much countries who haven't their own daemons. Imagine if the US had a top notch electric grid, if France had an economy so dynamic no one could counter it, or if Germany had the birth rate of the US. But it's not just the case, so every country is dealing with a limited growth, but somehow there is a glass ceiling that cannot be broken. All engineer know that every solution, whatever good it is, brings its own problems. Cultures have the same issue as well. Live with it.