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

Estados débiles, países pobres

PRINCETON – Fui criado en Escocia con la enseñanza de que los agentes de policía eran aliados nuestros y que podía pedirles ayuda cuando la necesitase. Imaginen mi sorpresa, cuando tenía 19 años y durante mi primera visita a los Estados Unidos, al recibir una sarta de obscenidades de un policía de Nueva York que dirigía el tráfico en Times Square después de que le pedí instrucciones para llegar a la oficina de correos más cercana. En mi confusión posterior, deposité los documentos urgentes de mi jefe en un bote de basura que, para mí, de verdad se veía como un buzón.

Los europeos tienden a percibir sus gobiernos de manera más positiva que los estadounidenses, para quienes los fracasos y la impopularidad de sus políticos federales, estatales y locales son bastante comunes. Con todo, los distintos niveles de gobierno de los estadounidenses recaudan impuestos y, a cambio, prestan servicios sin los que los ciudadanos no podrían vivir sus vidas con facilidad.

Los estadounidenses, como muchos otros ciudadanos de países ricos, dan por sentado el sistema legal y normativo, las escuelas públicas, la asistencia médica y la seguridad social para adultos mayores, las carreteras, la defensa y la diplomacia, y las fuertes inversiones hechas por el estado en investigación, particularmente en medicina. Ciertamente, no todos estos servicios son tan buenos como podrían ser, ni son tenidos en la misma estima por todos, pero en su mayoría, la gente paga sus impuestos, y si la manera en que se gasta el dinero ofende a algunos esto da lugar a un acalorado debate público, y elecciones regulares le permiten al pueblo cambiar sus prioridades.

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