China’s Internet 2015 Snapshot

We think of China as a developed country, but it's not. It really is a developing country, as you can see in this year's China's Internet 2015 Snapshot. If this year's snapshot looks blurry it's because China's moving so fast with such momentum. We'll learn why China's connectivity is so slow after we discover why China's internet is so darn huge. Here's what has to say about its growth and size:

China’s internet is massive. How massive? According to a new report from CNNIC, more than 668 million people are now using the web in China. That means that were China’s internet a country, it would be the third-largest country on earth, behind only India and China itself. In fact, China’s internet has more people than the two next-largest countries, Indonesia and the United States, combined.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of these people are accessing the web (at least some of the time) via their phones. CNNIC says that China has 594 million mobile web users, and that 88.9 percent of mobile phone users are now using their phones to go online. Amazingly, despite that, internet penetration in China is still below 50 percent. There are another 700 million people in China who haven’t even come online yet.

CNNIC’s report speaks to the amazing size and growth of China’s internet, but it should also be a wake-up call to those China observers who believe the entire country is as developed as Beijing and Shanghai. Even with the recent urbanization, China’s rural population still exceeds 600 million according to 2014 World Bank data, and CNNIC says that just 27.9 percent of those people are online.

Moreover, rural web development is happening fairly slowly; China’s rural web users have grown by just 8 million over the past six months, according to CNNIC. At that rate, it will be 2022 before even half of China’s rural residents are online (although admittedly the rural internet penetration growth rate is likely to speed up, not remain static). (And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)


China's Internet Speed Akamai Rankings.

China is getting better bang for its buck than most developing countries. Their average wage ranks them at 57th. in the world but their average broadband speed lifts them to 41st. So the Communications Ministry seems to be keeping to plan. As you saw in that Techinasia report, they're scrambling to stay up with the rapid urbanization of 200,000,000 people. Ultimately, the minister is responisble for installing or upgrading millions of users a month forever. 

Here are the world broadband rankings and speed in megabytes:

32  Thailand 6.6 Mb
33  Italy 5.5
34  Turkey 5.5
35  Uruguay 5.5
36  United Arab Emirates 4.7
37  Argentina 4.2
38  Mexico 4.1
39  Malaysia 4.1
40  Chile 4.1
41  China 3.8
42  Indonesia 3.7
43  Ecuador 3.6

Why?‚Äč Because of Average Annual Wages: 

49  Panama $831
50  Mauritius $783
51  Brazil $778
52  Macau $758
53  Kazakhstan $753
54  Bulgaria $750
55  Colombia $692
56  Ukraine $686
57  China $656
58  Mexico $609

The Chinese are getting bang for their tax bucks by getting better connectivity than richer countries. 

A Financial Crisis in China?

How Likely is A Financial Crisis in China? [The Diplomat]

The news that Patrick Hess is a senior financial market and China expert working at the European Central Bank is worrisome. The European Central Bank is one of the three most powerful central banks we have. And Patrick is one of their 'experts'? Let us count the misapprehensions around the three risks he enumerates:

1. Shadow banking is, as the author himself points out, "not as highly leveraged as the sectors in the U.S. and Europe, it is also insufficiently regulated and carries considerable credit and liquidity risks". So China's shadow banks have lower inherent risk than our own. 
'Insufficiently regulated'? Compared to what? The UK? Let's not confuse regulation (unenforced in the USA and risible in the UK) with control. Remember, Chinese regulators don't have to go through an 18-month Congressional hearing; they pick up the phone and explain that's there's been a policy change and that henceforth…. That way of doing things works because Chinese businesspeople generally respond and cooperate to such dictums well. There's great 'long-range' trust between Chinese business people and their government, however much flouting and cheating goes on in the short term. They've enjoyed decades of steady growth thanks to well-crafted policies well implemented. Why not cooperate if your leadership is trustworthy?

'The real estate bubble (or more generally asset bubbles)'? Bubble-pickers who completely failed to pick the GFC are a dime a dozen. Chinese bubble-spotting is a sub-genre of Western journalism on China.  The fact that none of their bubbles has popped in decades does not discourage bubble-spotters, it invigorates them. 

China's private real estate market is only 15 years old, growing with the exuberance you'd expect. It's very exciting to people to get a new condo with indoor plumbing and nice fixtures and a coffee shop outside the elevator as you walk to the new subway. We've forgotten what a big deal that is and take it for granted. But it's all new for them. 200,000,000 MORE of them are moving into nice condos as we speak. Anyway, you pay more per square meter for real estate in Bombay and Delhi than you do in Shanghai and Beijing. Don't get me started on San Francisco, New York or London – where, though their national economies are flat – rising prices do not signal a bubble, apparently.

Private and public debt, especially local government debt'?  The author has only to call his colleagues at the World Bank who'll reassure him that China's private, public and corporate debt-to-GDP burdens are MUCH lower than Japan's. Or France's. Or the USA's for that matter. None of them is growing like China. China's growing twice as fast today as it did ten years ago and articles like this simply distract us from this harbinger. If we don't start dealing with the reality and momentum of Chia's rise we'll be irrelevant in 10 years. Seriously.

Finally, as to 'To implement all the reforms necessary to avert a Chinese crisis is almost a “mission impossible,” or at least very difficult in the complex Chinese policymaking context, which involves a high degree of institutional overlap, conflicting goals and interests, and political bargaining. Even such a strong leader like Xi Jinping cannot change this context, and it is not even clear how high financial risks are on his agenda'. I simply append a Reuters report ripped from the front pages of Reuters: 

"China is considering bringing together its banking, insurance and securities regulators into a single super-commission, sources told Reuters, following the summer's stock market crash that was blamed in part on poor inter-agency coordination." Read more at Reuters

China Torture?

China Torture? Here's what The Guardian says:

China still uses medieval torture methods against opponents – Amnesty
Report details alleged beatings and torture endured by those taken into police custody despite government pledges to reform

Chinese security agents continue to employ a medieval array of torture methods against government opponents, activists, lawyers and petitioners, including spiked rods, iron torture chairs and electric batons, a report claims.

The Amnesty International report, called No End in Sight: Torture and Forced Confessions in China, is based on interviews with nearly 40 Chinese human rights lawyers and contains chilling details of alleged beatings and torture sessions endured by those taken into police custody.

Patrick Poon, the report’s author, said that despite government pledges to reform, Amnesty had documented recent cases of torture in virtually every corner of the country. “From Beijing to Hunan to Heilongjiang to Guangdong – there are cases of torture in many, many places. The problem is still very widespread in different provinces. It isn’t just concentrated in a certain area of China,” he said.

How Likely is it that China Tortures?

This seems unlikely for several reasons:

  1. Amnesty is a very aggressive neocon puppet (see its coverage of Venezuela for an excellent example of this).
  2. China has some of the best penal procedures in the world: it has the lowest level of incarceration and the lowest level of recidivism. That suggests that they've got their prisoner-handling procedures to a very disciplined level.
  3. Torture, though practiced by some of the most appallingly outrageous emperors in ancient times, has never been a Chinese instrument of state the way it has in the USA.
  4. Those 'human rights' lawyers upon whose testimony this report depends? When Western media hail anyone as a champion of 'human rights' it usually means that they've sold out their own country in exchange for favors. Again, look at the allegations against Venezuela. Or look at the 'human rights' praise heaped on Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and artist Ai Weiwei.
  5. This suggests a highly repressive, brutal state where arresting officers routinely torture arrestees. Everybody hates the idea of living in such a state: it's a police state. Well, the Chinese like living in their state, in China. They give their government much higher grades for things like managing the economy and telling the truth.

1. Zero evidence. 

2. An accusation from a country that practices torture as official State policy.

3. Zero motive.

4. No urgency that would suggest torture. 

5. Bad choice of victims. Nothing to gain and everything to lose by torturing people who are already notably outspoken and will certainly tell the world of their mistreatment.

4. Zero history of torture as Chinese State policy for 2200 years. The reverse, in fact. Torturers have always been held up as morally hideous.

The idea is that China NEEDS to torture its own people. Or a portion of them who are championing 'human rights'

Why would a state that's getting so much popular support shoot itself in the foot by behaving so badly, especially when everyone knows that torture not only does not yield truth, it doesn't even yield long-term compliance. In other words, it's a lose-lose. 

When's the last time you saw a Chinese design a lose-lose deal? Only we are capable of such staggering stupidity and cruelty.

This article looks like a confection whipped up to tantalize the (Western) masses with the dream that perhaps, somewhere out there, there's a regime more cruel and brutal than our own. 

China’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Most Western coverage of China is either inaccurate or dishonest or misleading – usually deliberately so. Pointing fingers at China for its emissions is an excellent example of this. Western media would have us believe that China is a climate change villain whereas the reality is quite the opposite. It's the rich Western countries that have been resisting the idea that they should take responsibility for all their emissions, not just the stuff they poured out yesterday, but everything they've poured into the atmosphere since industrialization began in 1850…and is still there.

Here is the list of per capita emissions world wide. Note China's position:
Per capita greenhouse gas emissions in 2000

Country/Year 2000/ Tonnes of CO2e with land-use; changeYear 2000 Tonnes of CO2 ewithout land-use; changeYear 2005 Tonnes of CO2e without land-use change

United Arab Emirates136.836.838.8
Papua New Guinea2,12,
Antigua & Barbuda1,1225.325.35.1
Bahrain 1223.923.925.4
United States322.924.323.5
Trinidad & Tobago1,1222.122.119.6
New Zealand19.318.518.8
Saudi Arabia16.516.516.2
Equatorial Guinea1214.54.66.7
Czech Republic13.913.913.7
Liberia 1213.910.1
Nicaragua 1213.42.50.8
Oman 1212.912.912Palau1,1212.812.85.7
South Korea11.11111.4
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland111110.6
South Africa9.59.59
Central African Republic1296.70.1
Iran7.67.58.2Côte d'Ivoire127.520.4
Serbia & Montenegro127.47.44.8
Congo, Dem. Rep.7.411.6
Congo, Rep.2,1263.21.4
Costa Rica125.42.81.5
North Korea5.25.15
Bosnia & Herzegovina124.54.54.3
Sierra Leone124.21.20.2

Now here's a list of cumulative emissions since 1850:

Cumulative CO2 Emissions, 1850–2002: Country % of World (Rank)
United States 29.3 (1) 
EU-25 26.5 (2) 
Russia 8.1 (3) 
China 7.6 (4) 
Germany 7.3 (5)
United Kingdom 6.3 (6)
Japan  4.1 (7) 
France 2.9 (8)
India  2.2 (9)
Ukraine 2.2 (10)

Here's something that shows how, despite being one of the lowest contributors to the mess, China's CO2 emissions have been plummeting lately … – Vox. []

Something very strange is transpiring in China right now. A new analysis by Greenpeace finds that the country's carbon-dioxide emissions have dropped fully 5 percent in the first four months of 2015:


This is wildly unexpected. Over the last 20 years, China's CO2 emissions have been growing at a relentless rate, as the country burned billion of tons of coal for electricity and industry. The country is now the world's biggest CO2 emitter, and officials had long expected emissions to keep rising until 2030 or so. That's one big reason global warming forecasts always look so dire.

But suddenly, China's emissions are dropping, spurred by a sharp decline in coal use. (Coal provides about two-thirds of the country's energy.) In 2014, according to official statistics, China's coal consumption fell for the first time this century. Then, in the first four months of 2015, coal use officially fell another 8 percent, year on year — which translates to a roughly 5 percent decline in CO2 emissions.


To put that drop in perspective, it's the equivalent of an entire year's worth of CO2 emissions from the United Kingdom. Because China is so incomprehensibly massive, even its little hiccups have outsized effects on international coal markets and global emissions.

China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions are low, no matter how you look at it (except by nation, which makes no sense)

Old Age Care in China

What about Old Age Care in China?

Are the West's old age care programs affordable, sustainable, if the West's economies do not grow? What is happening to those incomes right now while 0% finance is destroying the value of people's savings? Since I am one of those old people, dependent on a fixed income, I hope to God we turn our economy around soon.

We were (and still are, though maldistribution of wealth hides it) rich. We based our old age care planning on being even richer in the future. Instead, we've gotten poorer.

Median wages have fallen for 40 years; median wealth fell 40% last decade. I have yet to hear a convincing (or any) plan from our Presidential candidates to address this. Another eight years of this status quo will severely weaken us in every dimension, including our ability to pay our bills. You can see Social Security under daily attack in our media.

China (as my Chinese friends remind me) is a cruel place. It has always been. For millennia it has relentlessly eliminated from its gene pool the weak, the stupid and the unlucky. A Chinese friend told me that her father murdered one of her three sisters because she was sickly and supporting her made it impossible to give the other two girls a good education. Everyone knew. Nobody – inside her family our outside – ever said a word about it. And this was in British Hong Kong, for crying out loud. Ron Unz, the conservative writer, reckons that the genes of the bottom 5% of Chinese men get eliminated from China's gene pool every generation – and that this has been going on for 3,000 years.

The present government of China provides a better, more humane life to more old people than ever in China's history. Every Chinese knows this and will tell you so. If you could point to one area of China's social engineering that might explain the CCP's 95% approval, it's that. And, as you can see anywhere in China, the present minimalist model is working well given the low average incomes. It's visibly, measurably, statistically better than it was ten years ago. And everyone expects that rate of improvement to continue. In terms of old age care in China, it's doing far better than any of the countries in its average income bracket:

Belarus $959

Romania $954

Bahrain $917

Panama $831

Mauritius $783

Brazil $778

Macau $758

Kazakhstan $753

Bulgaria $750

Colombia $692

China $656

The bureaucrats currently making the fateful decisions about old age care in China share exactly the same values as the people they're making the decisions for: the Chinese genuinely revere old people and greatly value their presence and advice.

You'll notice that the Government has already legislated compulsory support for elderly parents, thus legally strengthening what was already a moral imperative. Rightly implemented – by ordinary Chinese shaming everyone into doing their duty as part of a propaganda campaigns (as if we don't have them!) – it will reduce the Government's burden. Universal medical care, a rebirth of traditional consciousness about right diet and exercise, and a few other tweaks and I'd bet that the Chinese government can continue to upgrade old age care and well-being with smart social engineering and a little money to grease the wheels.

Chinese Tibet: From Serfdom to Democracy

Chinese Tibet: From Serfdom to Democracy

Although universally presented as a paragon of human rights, tolerance, democratic values and peace, the true story of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan separatists is rarely discussed in the mainstream media.

Recent Hollywood films and popular culture in general tend to present Lamaist Tibet as an idyllic Shangri-la. However, the reality was rather different.

The Tibetan Lama theocracy was arguably one of the cruelest, most despotic kingdoms in the history of humanity. The monastic lama class ruled over a majority of serfs whose living conditions were often worse than those of animals. And the Tibetan monasteries were extremely hierarchical. The upper lamas lived in opulent palaces, took children as sex slaves and lived off the labour of the lower lamas who, in turn, lived off the labour of the starving serfs.

The punishment meted out to disobedient serfs included gouging out of eyes; evisceration; the severing of hands and legs and other more hideous forms of torture. Professor Micheal Parenti writes: In 1959, Anna Louise Strong, an American journalist visited an exhibition of torture equipment that had been used by the Tibetan overlords. There were handcuffs of all sizes, including small ones for children, and
instruments for cutting off noses and ears, gouging out eyes, breaking off hands, and hamstringing legs. There were hot brands, whips, and special implements for disemboweling. The exhibition presented photographs and testimonies of victims who had been blinded or crippled or suffered amputations for thievery.

There was the shepherd whose master owed him a reimbursement in yuan and wheat but refused to pay. So he took one of the master’s cows; for this he had his hands severed. Another herdsman, who opposed having his wife taken from him by his lord, had his hands broken off. There were pictures of Communist activists with noses and upper lips cut off, and a woman who was raped and then had her nose sliced away. This is not quite the idyllic paradise of Hollywood lore! Serfs often had to carry their owners on their backs. As a result, a large number of serfs were stooped and crippled.

It would not be incorrect to say that before the arrival of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Tibet in 1951, the land of the Lamas was hell on earth. Over 70 percent of the population was comprised of poor illiterate serfs and nomads; they had absolutely no rights and no value.

Among the thousands of articles and news reports about the Dalai Lama, Tibetan independence, “democracy”, “human rights”, and “Chinese communist repression”, one will search in vain for the actual facts about the tyrannical dictatorship of the Lamas in Tibet.

When the PLA (People's Liberation Army) arrived in Tibet, the upper lamas tried to portray them as cannibals and vandals who were intent on destroying Tibetan culture. But the lower level lamas soon realized that the PLA’s purpose was to implement democratic reform, and that this was also in their own interest as they had themselves suffered much from the upper Lamas and the cruel autocratic Dalai Lama. Education in the monasteries was reserved for the top lamas such as the gesi. Most of the lower-level lamas could neither read nor write and were the sons of serfs. Pedophilia and sexual abuse was also rampant throughout Tibet’s monasteries.

It was not until 1959 when a tiny minority of Tibetan lamas, backed by the CIA, rose up against the communist government that the Tibetan people finally freed themselves from the yoke of tyranny. The Lamas were forced by Tibet’s liberated serfs to go into exile in India. Once the Dalai Lama and his cohorts had been exiled, celebrations followed in Lhasa as the title deeds of the manorial lords were burned in bonfires. The freed Tibetan serfs received title deeds to land, cattle and tools for farming.

The liberation of Tibet permitted other minority ethnic groups such as Loba, Monba and Deng to play an active role in society for the first time. Over half the secretaries in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Party Committee were Tibetan. The people of Tibet had never known so much autonomy and freedom in their history. For the first time in the history of Tibet, the majority of the people were taught how to read their own language. Thousands of schools and hospitals were constructed in Tibet to provide free health and free education for the Tibetan people. Tibetan Women were given equal rights to men.

Quoting from his field research notebooks, historian Mobo Gao writes: A former serf declares that without the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) there would not have been a life for serfs like him. Another interviewee, the son of a well-known living Buddha and the most outstanding Tibetan photographer, states he really believed in Mao Ze Dong and thought everything said by Mao was the universal truth. In the 1980s when he was received by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (outside China) he told his Holiness that it was the truth that the majority of the Tibetans supported the CCP because the CCP really liberated the serfs. The first interviewee, an ordinary Tibetan woman in Lhasa, states that Mao helped a lot of people, that the world cannot do without people like Mao, that Tibet used to be unfair when some were rich while some did not have enough to eat and that Mao’s revolution changed everything. For a survey of Tibetans' opinions regarding China, see this.

Rapid industrialization followed the liberation of Tibet. Roads and infrastructure were built and local industries were developed. By 1974 Tibet had, for the first time in its history, grown enough grain to feed its people. Under the despotic feudalism of the Lamas where famine was common, Tibet’s population declined by over 1 million in the 200 years preceding the liberation. By the mid 70s, however, Tibet’s population had grown by 400,000 and minority ethnic groups of Loba, Deng and Monbas, who had been the most oppressed under the Lamas, were also growing in numbers. When the Chinese People’s Liberation Army arrived in Tibet in 1950, thousands of serfs rose up against the tyranny of the nobility and the lama monks. Many monasteries were attacked and vandalized. Exactions and retribution by liberated serfs against their former oppressors were common. However, the Chinese Communist Party discouraged such actions and concrete measures were implemented to protect temples and monasteries from vandalism.

Article 3 of “The Resolution on Carrying Out Democratic Reform in Tibet Adopted by the Second Plenary Session of the Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet” on July 17, 1959, reads: The policy of protecting the freedom of religious belief, protecting the patriotic and law-abiding temples and monasteries and protecting the historical cultural relics must be strictly adhered to in the democratic reform as in the past. A campaign must be launched in the temples and monasteries against rebellion, feudal prerogatives and exploitation. The policy of “buying out” is to be followed in dealing with the land and other means of production of patriotic and law-abiding temples and monasteries. The livelihood of the lamas is to be arranged for by the government. Subsidies will be given where the income of the temples and monasteries is not sufficient to meet their proper spending. Not only did the CPC (Communist Party of China) outlaw vandalism against Tibetan monasteries and culture, they actually restored many monasteries that had been neglected during the reign of the Dalai Lama.

Although pro-Tibetan separatist propaganda in the West claims that it is a separate country, Tibet has been part of China for centuries. Since the publication of Halliday and Chang’s book, Mao, the Unknown Story, in 2005, a concerted attempt has been made to demonise the Chinese communists and Mao Tse Tung, in particular. However, in his book The Struggle For China’s Past, Chinese scholar, Mobo Gao, identifies hundreds of unsubstantiated claims, inconsistencies, lies and distortions in Chang’s book. According to Professor Gao, the book ignores the most basic procedures of academic writing. Needless to say, Chang’s Mao, the Unknown Story, has become a best seller in the West and has had a phalanx of reactionary historians praising its merits.

Referring to a detailed academic critique of Chang and Halliday’s book, Gao writes: "To demonise Mao is the right politics of course. When someone pasted some criticism of the Chang and Halliday book on the Amazon sales website, it was immediately attacked as ‘ugly Chinese propaganda’(Jin Xiaoding, 2005). On the other hand, Jin’s critique of the book was met with absolute silence by the Western media (no Western media outlet was ready to publish the 17 questions raised by Jin). When the Chinese version of Jin’s critique appeared on the Chinese language website duowei, there was a lively debate. Jung Chang had to admit, when asked, that Jin’s 17 questions are good questions but refused to provide convincing replies to them. For Western media it does not matter as long as the politics is right, and the right politics is that Mao must be discredited. Source: 

Editor's note: Gearóid ó Colmáin was once a columnist of Metro Eireann. An article of his, titled Dalai Lama Cult: Postmodern Neo-feudalism and the Decline of the West was posted on on June 11th, 2012. It disclosed the 14th Dalai Lama's dark side which is rarely known to Westerners. This is an excerpt from the essay. 

Here's a wonderful book by a friend of the Dalai Lama:


As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged. Issues like this need more than just one opinion. And do feel free to add links to useful sources and stories!

U.S. & Chinese Oligarchies

U.S. & Chinese Oligarchies Decide Everything

Chinese state matters  have been privately decided for 2,200 years and the Chinese style of doing so – as a neutral government shaping national consensus – has worked better than any on earth. The fact that the occupants of the Forbidden Palace are Communists is almost irrelevant. They are doing what the Chinese State has done since before Jesus was born – and the Chinese people are responding as the Chinese people have always responded: by trusting and cooperating with their policies. The relation between people and State is unique to the Confucian countries, alas, and not something we Westerners can emulate easily.

There's plenty of debate about policies – both in the public media and in think tanks and scholarly journals. There's also a real legislative process that often delays policies for years until unanimity can be worked out. There's plenty of public criticism of government policy along the way. But Party members have a privileged opportunity to shape policy that is denied the general public, so the new regulations are really there to remind them that, once they've had their privileged say and the policy is implemented, to put all their energies into its implementation, and let others criticize.

American state matters are privately decided by what we could call the capitalist party, not by the Congress after public debates by the representatives of the people. If you want to see a hair-raising example of this, review the passage of The Patriot Act, which stripped US citizens of almost all their civil rights. Not a single Congressman had even read the act, let alone debated it, before passing it. Yet is was the most consequential piece of legislation since the Declaration of Independence.

It's silly to pretend that the West is democratic (some links below that prove this conclusively). The US is run by an unaccountable oligarchy that selects and funds candidates who will do its bidding. China is run by an accountable oligarchy that selects candidates who will carry out its policies.

Jimmy Carter: US Has no Functioning Democracy

On July 28, Thom Hartmann interviewed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and, at the very end of his show (as if this massive question were merely an afterthought), asked him his opinion of the 2010 Citizens United decision and the 2014 McCutcheon decision, both decisions by the five Republican judges on the U.S. Supreme Court. These two historic decisions enable unlimited secret money (including foreign money) now to pour into U.S. political and judicial campaigns. Carter answered:

It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we've just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. … At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell."

He was then cut off by the program, though that statement by Carter should have been the start of the program, not its end. (And the program didn't end with an invitation for him to return to discuss this crucial matter in depth — something for which he's qualified.)

So, was this former president's provocative allegation merely his opinion? Or was it actually lots more than that? It was lots more than that.

Only a single empirical study has actually been done in the social sciences regarding whether the historical record shows that the United States has been, during the survey's period, which in that case was between 1981 and 2002, a democracy (a nation whose leaders represent the public-at-large), or instead an aristocracy (or 'oligarchy') — a nation in which only the desires of the richest citizens end up being reflected in governmental actions. This study was titled "Testing Theories of American Politics," and it was published by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page in the journal Perspectives on Politics, issued by the American Political Science Association in September 2014. I had summarized it earlier, on April 14, 2014, while the article was still awaiting its publication.

The headline of my summary-article was "U.S. Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy Says Scientific Study." I reported:

The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's 'news' media).

I then quoted the authors' own summary: "The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

The scientific study closed by saying: "In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes." A few other tolerably clear sentences managed to make their ways into this well-researched, but, sadly, atrociously written, paper, such as: "The preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of 'affluent' citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do." In other words, they found: The rich rule the U.S.

Their study investigated specifically "1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002 in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change," and then the policy-follow-ups, of whether or not the polled public preferences had been turned into polices, or, alternatively, whether the relevant corporate-lobbied positions had instead become public policy on the given matter, irrespective of what the public had wanted concerning it.

The study period, 1981-2002, covered the wake of the landmark 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Buckley v. Valeo, which had started the aristocratic assault on American democracy, and which seminal (and bipartisan) pro-aristocratic court decision is described as follows by wikipedia:

[It] struck down on First Amendment grounds several provisions in the 1974 Amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act. The most prominent portions of the case struck down limits on spending in campaigns, but upheld the provision limiting the size of individual contributions to campaigns. The Court also narrowed, and then upheld, the Act's disclosure provisions, and struck down (on separation of powers grounds) the make-up of the Federal Election Commission, which as written allowed Congress to directly appoint members of the Commission, an executive agency.

Basically, the Buckley decision, and subsequent (increasingly partisan Republican) Supreme Court decisions, have allowed aristocrats to buy and control politicians.

Already, the major 'news' media were owned and controlled by the aristocracy, and 'freedom of the press' was really just freedom of aristocrats to control the 'news' — to frame public issues in the ways the owners want. The media managers who are appointed by those owners select, in turn, the editors who, in their turn, hire only reporters who produce the propaganda that's within the acceptable range for the owners, to be 'the news' as the public comes to know it.

But, now, in the post-Buckley-v.-Valeo world, from Reagan on (and the resulting study-period of 1981-2002), aristocrats became almost totally free to buy also the political candidates they wanted. The 'right' candidates, plus the 'right' 'news'-reporting about them, has thus bought the 'right' people to 'represent' the public, in the new American 'democracy,' which Jimmy Carter now aptly calls "subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors."

Carter — who had entered office in 1977, at the very start of that entire era of transition into an aristocratically controlled United States (and he left office in 1981, just as the study-period was starting) — expressed his opinion that, in the wake now of the two most extreme pro-aristocratic U.S. Supreme Court decisions ever (which are Citizens United in 2010, and McCutcheon in 2014), American democracy is really only past tense, not present tense at all — no longer a reality.

He is saying, in effect, that, no matter how much the U.S. was a dictatorship by the rich during 1981-2002 (the Gilens-Page study era), it's far worse now.

Apparently, Carter is correct: The New York Times front page on Sunday 2 August 2015 bannered, "Small Pool of Rich Donors Dominates Election Giving," and reported that:

A New York Times analysis of Federal Election Commission reports and Internal Revenue Service records shows that the fund-raising arms race has made most of the presidential hopefuls deeply dependent on a small pool of the richest Americans. The concentration of donors is greatest on the Republican side, according to the Times analysis, where consultants and lawyers have pushed more aggressively to exploit the looser fund-raising rules that have fueled the rise of super PACs. Just 130 or so families and their businesses provided more than half the money raised through June by Republican candidates and their super PACs."


U.S. & Chinese Oligarchies decide everything. Who does the better job?