Most of what we call politics really revolves around the question of what you need to do to make a country richer? Rather than ask this of any specific country, let’s imagine designing a country from scratch, how could you make it as rich as possible?
Supposed the brief was to design a “Richland”, an ideal wealth-creating society, what would be the chief characteristics you’d need to build into this society? What would a nation look like that was ideally suited to success in modern capitalism?
Traditional economics guide us to eight core requirements for “Richland”:
- Military security and law and order
- Lack of corruption in institutions
- Low amount of red tape around employment legislation and taxation
- A technically well-educated mobile flexible labor force
- High-grade infrastructure and good telecommunications
- Fair transparent and competitive markets
- Reliably enforceable contracts, and
- Local operation tax (probably between 10 and 15 percent).
But aside from these eight factors, there is one thing that invariably makes a critical difference to the wealth of societies. What we might call, “cultural factors”. To make “Richland” properly rich, you’d need to ensure that a number of cultural factors were firmly embedded in a national mentality.
Here are on some of these wealth inducing attitudes:
1. Work defines who you are
In “Richland”, at parties, the first thing people want to know is what do you do?, According to how you answer, people are either delighted to see you or swiftly abandon you by the peanuts. In “Richland”, what’s on your business card is simply who you are, all the other stuff like what would you like as a child, what you think of late at night, who your parents are, don’t really matter. In “Richland”, friendship usually linked to work and involve covert status rivalries, if you fall behind your friends might drop you. You have to invest in numerous amount of effort in your career, not merely to make money but so that you can have a functioning social identity, so that people will be nice to you.
2. Love is extrinsic, not intrinsic
In “Richland”, parents place a tremendous emphasis on educational achievements. Children come away feeling not just that it’s nice to do well in exams, but that they are more lovable human beings, more worthy of existence, if they triumphed at school especially in math and science. You therefore learned early on that, love comes from successful performance, the more you achieve, the kinder people will be to you.
In “Richland” everyone is encouraged from a young age to imagine that they might one day, perhaps by around 33, be the richest person in the country, if they work hard. Posters of rich and famous people adorn on the walls of primary schools, the national anthem is called I can do it, an ecstatic rendition of human possibility. This keeps the workforce highly motivated, dreams of successful entrepreneurship. But by middle age, most people in “Richland” have by definition failed to measure up to the exalted hopes once placed in them, they keep their regret hidden, however, in a quietly prescribed tranquilizers and antidepressants.
4. Everyone is anxious, all the time
People don’t sleep very well in “Richland”, they’re often up at 4 a.m. that worries all relate to their careers. That’s because market capitalism in “Richland” is very efficient. Efficiency means constant innovation and rivalry, the weaker players in any field are always driven out of business swiftly and without mercy, stock market is ruthless about punishing under performance, normally on a quarterly basis.
5. The consumer is a king
In “Richland”, everything is geared towards the needs of the consumer, they must be low prices, they has to be excellent customer service, shops have to be open at all hours, there can be no sacrosanct high holidays or weekends. Even though most people are both consumers and producers, in “Richland” they total think of themselves primarily as consumers, in their minds there are multiple worse as producers carefully disassociated from the scale of their expectations as consumers.
6. The news is always terrifying
There is news everywhere in “Richland”, on websites, phones, and 24 hour channels, and it’s always catastrophic. Citizens thereby learned that the world is incredibly unsafe and the terror, accident, and cruelty await at every turn.
7. Spare time
In “Richland” people don’t take many holidays, generally they’re very self denying and scared what might happen if they don’t remain in the office long enough. They get up early as suspicious of any kind of indulgence and had sandwiches at their desks for lunch. On the other hand, they’re very interested in paying a lot for what they called “fun”, they pay a significant premium to have a car that can go twice the legal speed limit, and flying far away on holiday in many times of year. Activities that don’t cost much, like going for long walks around the local neighborhood or writing poetry is seen as unimpressive, slightly eccentric things. There are many of “Richland” psychologist speak of the benefit of parents spending time with their small children, most children are brought up by staff from low-wage countries while their parents go to work. This lack of secure attachment does a wonder for the children in turn, they grow up anxious, eager to please, and desperate to attain security through work.
8. Fashion rules
In “Richland” there are powerful currents of fashion around most things, what thickness your TV screen has, what kind of ethnicity of food you eat, what model phone you talk on, people can get rapidly dissatisfied with their current possession and quickly excited by new products. It feels very important to be up to date, it’s a serious blow to one self-esteem to feel that one is missing a trend. You can get into trouble if your phone is more than three years old.
9. Celebrities sparkle
Every society has famous people in it, but “Richland” is very selective about its heroes, it doesn’t reveal contemplative monks, wise sages, or philosophist,. Glamour is monopolized by wealth creates, especially ones in films that doing a constantly reported on, so that the lives of most ordinary people seem really squalid an awful by comparison, news of the famous means that people trying much much harder to work and improve their apparently miserable lot.
“Richland” is seen as a very fair place, if you work hard and a clever you’ll get there. There’s no nepotism or insider trading, the playing field is level, that’s a lovely philosophy for the winners but more punitive for those who get left behind, they are termed “losers” and judged personally responsible for their own shortcomings. It’s a culture that very hostile to the idea of luck; you’re the author of your own fate, if things go wrong don’t blame anyone else.
Citizens of “Richland” can certainly be envied for their wealth, their shopping malls are extraordinary and their restaurants truly superlative, but they do also have to be a little pitied for some of their 4 a.m. anxieties for their relentless doubts about their careers and for the worry that no one can really like them outside of what they’ve managed to achieve this quarter.