Angus Deaton wins the 2015 Nobel Prize in economics. Cesareo/Fotogramma/Ropi via ZUMA Press

États faibles, pays pauvres

PRINCETON – L’éducation que j’ai reçue enfant en Écosse m’a disposé à voir les policiers comme des alliés à qui je pouvais demander de l’aide quand j’en avais besoin. Imaginez ma surprise lorsque à l’occasion de ma première visite à 19 ans aux Etats-Unis, j’ai été abreuvé par un flot d’injures de la part d’un policier dirigeant la circulation à Times Square et à qui j’avais demandé où se trouvait la poste la plus proche. Dans mon désarroi, j’ai mis les documents urgents de mon employeur dans une poubelle qui, à mes yeux, ressemblait à une boîte aux lettres.

Les Européens tendent à avoir une meilleure opinion de leurs gouvernements que les Américains, pour qui les échecs et l’impopularité de leurs politiciens fédéraux, de l’État, et locaux sont monnaie courante. Et pourtant, les différents gouvernements américains perçoivent des impôts et en échange, fournissent des services sans lesquels la vie serait difficile.

Les Américains, comme la plupart des citoyens des pays riches, voient le système juridique et réglementaire, les écoles publiques, les soins de santé et la sécurité sociale pour les personnes âgées, les routes, la Défense et la diplomatie et les investissements importants de l’État dans la recherche, médicale en particulier, comme allant de soi. Bien sûr, ces services ne sont pas toujours aussi performants qu’ils pourraient l’être et ne sont pas perçus de la même manière par tous, mais dans l’ensemble, les gens paient leurs impôts et si la manière dont l’argent est dépensé ne convient pas à certains, un débat public et des élections régulières permettent aux citoyens de modifier les priorités.

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