What will bring progress to the Middle East? Only greater equality (and implicitly the elimination of the unjust influence of royalties). Unfortunately the mixed blessing of petroleum will sustain the concentration of power as long as oil has its exceptional value. But one day that situation will come to pass. Other sources of energy will be developed and the monarchies of the Middle East will see the same fate as those of Europe.
Robert Shiller - I always enjoy reading your articles and listening to you speak. But as a controls engineer, it always irks me when someone uses the term from my domain - “negative feedback” - inappropriately. The “negative” here refers to the subtraction of feedback from the input reference signal. It is not “negative” as in “bad”, rather “negative” as in “minus” and generally is used to provide stability in the loop. See:
This is a common error made by those who have adopted the term for use in other fields (similar to inappropriate use of the term “relativity” from physics). Ask an engineer if you doubt my viewpoint. And please use the term correctly in the future (actually, if you had said “positive feedback loop” it would have made sense).
Fascinating article. So, instead of asking “what is the correct economic system?” we should be starting with the assumption that all economic systems are doomed to failure and simply ask “what is the best economic system for the time being?”
Although I agree with Sri Ram that the article was somewhat superficial, for a short article (one of Project Syndicates virtues is short articles) I found it very insightful at outlining some of the major issues of concern for Indians vis-a-vis Indian/US relationships.
We are having an ongoing discussion on perceptions of India here:
“The American Republic, after years of failed confederation, was offered to the citizens, not rammed down their throats. ”
Michael: What history book did you read this in?
Federalism in the US has had a long and stormy history. Yes, the initial Confederation had its failings, but there was far from universal accord in the forming of a stronger union. The initial Federalists met in secret and writers of the Federalist papers used pseudonyms. During the formation of the government, populist revolts (Shay’s Rebellion, Whiskey Rebellion) had to be put down in order to establish the government’s authority. Later, the Civil War was fought to re-enforce the consolidation. To this day “Don’t Tread on Me” flags are flown in every town in the country as a statement of opposition of federal power.
Humans have a natural aversion to centralized power. Anarchy (each of us being a government in ourselves) is our fantasy. Yet the advantages of sharing in a common-wealth pulls us to union. A balancing act of powers determines our final state.