Australian  SPIN

July 2006
I first wrote this page back in the last millenium.  Things have changed a bit since then.


Back in 2000 I predicted that India might well be "The second world superpower of the 21st Century".  In some respects, India already surpasses China, and I anticipate that the gap between the two is expanding exponentially.  This is a reflection of India's labour surplus and (increasingly) it's political freedom.  


I wrongly predicted that "Chinese leaders" ... "policy of industrial expansion by absorption will probably fail, as will be clearly omened by the decline of Hong Kong."  China has prospered by applying the lesson of water to their currency.  The purchase of US government bonds has kept their exchange rate favourable (much like Japan following WWII) which allows their industry to develop.  As I recall, the Japanese suffered from (what many analysts thought was) excessive government management of their economy.


Indonesia has lost it's way after the exhuberance following Suharto's overthrow.  One particularly painful event was the loss of the West Timorese colony.  Other colonies are also in revolt. (Sumatra and the Moloccas and West Irian and Kalimantan, i.e. everywhere except Java).  This reversal is producing a retreat into religion, which in this case is Islam.


Political and economic growth in this country of 50 million is atrophied while the military rule.  Neighbouring democratic Thailand has fewer natural resources, similar population, and a PPP of around $8,300 p/a, compared to around $1,700 p/a in Burma.  Before the Junta took over, these two countries were comparable.


Thailand was omitted from my last review.  It has become a top tourist destination in the intervening years.  This is no doubt partly due to the fact that Muslims are a vanishingly small (< 5%) minority.  It is also becoming an industrial center of note.


Malaysia is a true multicultural country, with about 51% Malays, around 25% Chinese and a mixture of other races making the balance.  To rertain political power, the governing Malays give preference to majority Malays in government and education, (much like we in Australia give preference to Women and Aboriginals in government and education.)   Malaysia is rich in natural resources (rubber and oil).


Singapore continues to prosper despite having a less than complete democratic process and next to no natural resources (they don't even collect enough water to meet their own needs).  Their growth rate is slightly less than that of sister city Hong Kong (which has even less than Singapore democratic process), however HK financial success can be in large part be attributed to the fact that it is the major port and international business node for a good part of China.

Singapore seems to be an example of the "benign dictator" state that Greek philosophers considered to be the best form of government.  Lee Kwan Yew was of the opinion (as I interpret it) that "pure (representative?) democracy" would not work, because the majority (the wage slaves) would vote for equal distribution of wealth by greater wages etc, so destroying business.

I consider that anyone who promotes anything less than pure (direct) democracy is an elitist, but must admit that the example of Middle Eastern & African states (especially Iraq) in the last few years has shaken my faith.  As I grow older my admiration for the US Democratic experiment grows.  Unlike Australia, UK and most of the other Liberal Democracies, the US seems to be keeping a reasonably tight rein on it's politicians.  I suspect their secret is the rigid division of power (executive, legislative, judicial) and the three layers of government (local, state, federal).

Switzerland seems to have a workable and successful democracy.  Chavez in Venezuela is conducting an interesting democratic experiment on the Federal level similar to that used by California to replace Governor Grey with Governor Schwartzenegger.  As with the governorship of California, Venezuelans can recall their President at any time during his term in office.

This update July 2000. Previous versions August & January 2000

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