There was a juxtaposition of articles in the Financial Times today that was quite fascinating. Clive Crook was opining in “America can square its fiscal circle” that “American voters want more public services than they are willing to pay for. He went on to elaborate on how the gridlock in Washington and the unwillingness of people across the country to negotiate with one another was leading the country toward bankruptcy. There was a sense in the article of a country that was “developed,” saw no further need of “developing” and was going to sit tight on what it had. Many of us see a financial catastrophe ahead if nothing is done, but there seems to be an unwillingness to come to grips with the future — perhaps, because we’d have to look ourselves squarely in the face?
On the previous page, Richard Lapper in “Out of the bottle” was describing how South Africa, an undeveloped country in many ways, was turning away from the developed West and turning towards other developing countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China. There was a sense in this article of people on the move. Partly because they are not developed, these countries seem to have a much greater sense of the need to develop. Problems abound, difficulties are everywhere at hand, but there is an almost Victorian optimism in the air. Unlike the USA where Obama’s “yes we can” seems to have run aground in the sands of “no you can’t” there appears to be in the developing world a bracing sense of “yes we will.” If life is about rising to challenges, then the Brics would appear to be the more lively.