I wish we could be more like Singapore

Worse, whenever you’d visit China or Singapore, it was always the people there who used to be on the defensive when discussing democracy. Now, as an American, you’re the one who wants to steer away from that subject. After all, how much should we be bragging about a system where it takes $20 million to be elected to the Senate; or where a majority of our members of Congress choose their voters through gerrymandering rather than voters choosing them; or where voting rights laws are being weakened; or where lawmakers spend most of their free time raising money, not studying issues; or where our Congress has become a forum for legalized bribery; or where we just had a minority of a minority threaten to undermine America’s credit rating if we didn’t overturn an enacted law on health care; or where we can’t pass even the most common sense gun law banning assault weapons after the mass murder of schoolchildren?…

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Singapore is not a full-fledged democracy. What it does have is a government that wakes up each day asking: What world are we living in and how do we best use the resources we have to enable more of our citizens to thrive in this world? Little things here catch my eye, like the E.R.P.: the electronic road pricing system that greets you when you drive into the center city and tells you every minute, via an electronic billboard, how much it will automatically charge you when you drive into the downtown. It constantly adjusts the price based on the number of cars that can comfortably fit the roads.

The Bush team tried to fund a similar system to reduce congestion and pollution for Manhattan, but it was killed by other boroughs and lawmakers in Albany. And that is what bothers me most today. It’s not just that we can no longer pull together to put a man on the moon. It’s that we can’t even implement proven common-sense solutions that others have long mastered — some form of national health care, gun control, road pricing, a gasoline tax to escape our budget and carbon bind.

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