Essentially the same thing happened in China with clocks: one emperor's decision abolished clocks over China. China was also on the verge of building powerful water-powered machinery before the Industrial Revolution in Britain, but the emperor said "Stop," and so that was the end of the water-powered machinery in China. In contrast, in Europe there were princes who said no to electric lighting, or to printing, or to guns. And, yes, in certain principalities for a while printing was suppressed. But because Europe in the Renaissance was divided among 2,000 principalities, it was never the case that there was one idiot in command of all Europe who could abolish a whole technology. Inventors had lots of chances, there was always competition between different states, and when one state tried something out that proved valuable, the other states saw the opportunity and adopted it. So the real question is, why was China chronically unified, and why was Europe chronically disunified? Why is Europe disunified to this day?
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Of course there are also the famous differences between the productivities of the economies of different countries: the differing national average productivities of Japan and the United States and France and Germany. Actually, though, there are differences between the productivities and wealths of different business sectors within the same country. For example, the German metal-working industry has a productivity rivaling that of the United States, so the Germans are certainly capable of organizing industries well, but the German beer-brewing industry is less than half as productive as the American beer-brewing industry. Or take Japan — we Americans are paranoid about the supposed efficiency of Japanese business, and the fact is that the Japanese steel industry is 45% more productive than the American steel industry. Why is it, then, that the Japanese food-producing industry is less than 1/3 as productive and efficient as the American food-processing industry? Still another example: in Korea, the steel industry is equal in efficiency to American steel making, but all other Korean industries lag behind the United States. What is it about the different organization of the German beer brewers and the German metal workers, or the different organization of the Japanese food processors and the Japanese car manufacturers, that accounts for the different productivities of these sectors within a given country?
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