This summer Faith and I went on a beach holiday in France with my mother and father; my brother and sister-in-law (and their daughter); and my sister and her boyfriend.
I noticed that the younger the couple, the nicer their towels were, even though the older the couple, the wealthier they were.
How can the wealthiest couple, have the scankiest towels?
Towels are fairly durable goods, and I presume that most people won't replace them anually. Indeed we've been using the same ones for years, but there's a certain time at which it makes sense for the children to all buy their own. The youngest will buy theirs later, and so they will have the newer towels.
One of the greatest books in the field of Public Choice - or Political Science itself - is The Rise and Decline of Nations, by Mancur Olson. The book is a grand narrative, and covers a history of the c20th century through the lens of his interest group theory. The basic idea is that over time special interests obstruct the functioning of an economy , and become embedded within the system. He claims that Germany and Japan enjoyed post WWII growth because their sclerotic institutions had been wiped out, and they could start from scratch.
In other words, there's more to politics than what is immediately visible. Underneath the surface of a mature democracy will lie a complex web of lobby groups and hindrence. This is important, because it tells us why revolutions are almost always exaggerated. Single moments can produce monumental alterations in the direction of government, but we overestimate the lethargy of the system within. One year after the Orange Revolution, there is frustration. It is to be expected.
There are two types of policy: quantitative, or structural. The former will take the existing system as given, and manipulates economic variables toward a specific target. The latter sees the economy as a complex ecosystem, and try to alter the dynamics of the underlying institutions. Mainstream macroeconomics is typically the former.
Notice how the Flat Tax debate in the UK is usually grounded in projections of taxation incidence, based on current income levels. In Estonia, it was seen as a part of a broader alteration of the relationship between citizen and state. This is because if policy is to stick, it must be compatable with the foundational institutions.
Olson offers us hope that a country can have a fresh start, but it's easy to simplistically assume that a new President is all that's required. A revolution may start with a flash, but it's ultimate success rests in the gradual and arduous task of structural policy.