Comparing Americans’ and Chinese Attitude Towards Their Government

“This reminds me of something someone told me after visiting China. She said that in America, everyone approves our style of government, but no one thinks it is capable of truly accomplishing anything important or worthwhile. In China, no one really approves of the style of governance, yet no one question the idea that the government is extremely effective in accomplishing its objectives (whether this is true is disputable, but this is the perception).

So in America, let’s say a bridge needs to get build. The US government is a bunch of people who were elected based in part on their support for the bridge building or their being against it. Then there will be commissions and reports and news and funding discussions and bureaucracy and maybe at the end of this there will be bids and maybe if it hasn’t fallen apart by this time, a deal will be struck with contractors to make a bridge, and maybe they’ll get the funding to do it and maybe they won’t, and if they do, maybe they will build it, and if they do, maybe it will be done on time. I once had a law professor say to me, “We can’t leave this issue to Congress to fix. Congress has never fixed anything ever, and whenever they try, it’ll be a disaster.”

In China, regular people aren’t too sure about how the people who are in the government got in there, and they aren’t really sure why they want to build this bridge across the river, but they know that if the government said there was going to be a bridge there in 2 years, they will be driving over that bridge in 2 years.

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