hblask, on 16 June 2012 - 06:32 AM, said:
There are many other countries (e.g., USSR) that had vast natural resources that did not succeed, and many that have basically no natural resources that did succeed (e.g., Hong Kong). The thing the successful countries have in common has little to do with what is in the ground; it is institutions that matter.
It depends what you mean by succeed. Ask Germany if the USSR was a successful world power or not. The were able to have that Power ( which is what world leadership is... power..) because of their resources and their manufacturing capacity. Hong Kong succeeded because they had one of the most important natural resources.. cheap labor. Their manufacturing capacity, for their size, is why they succeeded, not because of their democratic institutions. But they weren't a world power.
hblask, on 16 June 2012 - 06:36 AM, said:
China and Russia are basically third world countries with weapons. I don't really consider them great successes. China has allowed a little bit of free enterprise in, but for the most part remains mired in poverty. Look at per capita income -- or any other measure of well-being -- in those countries.The only reason they are in the news at all is because of their *percentage* growth, but that is misleading when one country is starting from a very low baseline. For example, 20 years ago, China could have 20% growth by getting electricity. Once the low-hanging fruit is gone, they will need to adopt modern institutions or continue to fall further behind.
Are we talking about per capitia income, standard of living, or are we talking about world leadership (aka power)? China is a world power, in spite of the fact that they had some of the worst leadership in history in the 50's and 60's. They have succeeded, with huge handicaps, because they have a huge manufacturing capacity, and vast natural resources. And I don't know what planet you're on that you think China is falling further behind . They have a virtual monopoly on rare earth metals, with out which the modern world wouldn't exist. Their manufacting base is massive. Their population is not just an advantage for manufacturing, but also for brain power. More people equals more geniuses, and for their limitations as a country, they are quite efficient at spotting and exploiting genius. Yes, the average chinaman's quality of life is lower than the average americans. That has nothing to do with the power china has, and that power is growing. Also, you're using "modern" incorrectly. Modern doesn't necessarily mean good or desirable. Our institutions aren't modern. China's are.