China’s GINI Ranking vs. USA

China’s GINI Ranking vs. USA

China's GINI Ranking vs. USAWould you believe that America has a greater wealth gap than China’s? 

Last week Bloomberg noted that the 2011 US Gini Coefficent was 0.463.

An official Chinese report just released states that China’s Gini Coefficient for 2010 was 0.438, as the People’s Daily notes in New Gini figures show instability risks, need for reform.

What’s more significant, the People’s Daily headlined China’s score with these words:

New Gini figures show instability risks, need for reform.

“In some developed countries such as the US, whose Gini index sometimes reaches0.4, contradictions in income distribution are eased step by step through increasingtaxation on the wealthy and improving the welfare system to help the poor,” said DingYuanzhu, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, adding that Chinacould learn from them in some way.

When will we see a headline like that in our media?

ALL AWE. NO SHOCK China’s Foreign Policy

ALL AWE. NO SHOCK China’s Foreign Policy

Some wag suggested that all China has to do to win over the world is “study US foreign policy, then do the opposite”.

Arguably, China has implemented precisely that policy through its doctrine of non-interferencea and is going further. It is reverting to its millennia-old strategy for relating to us barbarians.

China’s Grand Strategy had been in place for a thousand years when, in the 13th. century, Marco Polo was astonished by the country’s advancement:

  1. Maintain a strong defense but no offense (too expensive)
  2. Administer the country from a moral, Confucian, point of view
  3. Create a genuine meritocracy in government promotion
  4. Eliminate corruption at the top and fight it at lower levels
  5. Amaze the world with China’s advancement and civilization
  6. Make foreigners rich then encourage them to leave
  7. Plan 10, 20, and 50 years ahead, and work the plan

Let’s look at the elements of this approach as they impinge upon us.

The pentagon’s ‘alarm’ at China’s developing defensive capability is routine. It is American doctrine that no country be permitted to develop the capability to defend itself from AMERICAN aggression. Russia transgressed this rule and was systematically undermined and ruined by the US and its allies (and, of course, by traditional Russian governmental incompetence).

But Western efforts to undermine and ruin China are, if anything, backfiring. Even the effectiveness of propaganda, “civil rights”, Tiananmen “massacre”, the West’s greatest strength–is gradually being undermined by events. And our own deterioration into blatant criminality like kidnapping, torture, and assassination have not helped our cause.

Meanwhile the Chinese have constructed, at minimal cost, the means to destroy us; means against which we have no credible defense. Mobile ICBMs, “carrier-killer” IRBMs like the DF21D, and invisible “black hole” submarines.

The introduction of each inexpensive Chinese weapon system commits us, through our own logic of dominance under the guidance of our corrupt military-industrial oligarchy, to spend ten times as much on counter-measures–further hastening our ruin. To make this concrete, the life-cycle cost of our new F-35 fighters alone will be 15 times China’s annual defense budget: an impressive ratio when we consider that the chances of the plane actually fighting a Chinese adversary is almost zero. And China is out only putative adversary.

And this is precisely the point: “force” the USA to bankrupt itself by steadily upgrading cheap weapons that, thanks to our own corruption, must be countered by less effective countermeasures costing hundreds of times as much.

China’s government senior officials are greatly admired. Despite the efforts of Western media to depict them as corrupt there are few signs of corruption in China: wages have been rising steadily for 35 years, hundreds of millions lifted out of poverty, 90% home ownership, low taxes, universal medical insurance, etc. Incoming president Xi is a famously honest man. Moral leadership is the easiest and least expensive kind, as Chinese students of governance have acknowledged for 2,000 years.


US broadcaster inciting Tibetan self-immolations?

Is VOA Inciting Self-Immolations? Say it Isn’t So!

Published at 12:40 a.m. ET: BEIJING – A controversial new documentary released by Chinese state broadcaster, CCTV, is alleging that the American government’s official broadcaster, Voice of America, is encouraging Tibetans to set themselves on fire.
The story comes as China braces itself for the 100th Tibetan self-immolation since 2009.
The 25-minute documentary, roughly translated as, “Outside Tibetan Separatist Cliques and the Southern Gansu self-immolations,” ran on the CCTV show, “Focus Today” and showed a Tibetan man in a hospital bed who allegedly attempted to self-immolate.
Seemingly prompted to explain why he had attempted to light himself on fire, the man says, “I did it after watching VOA, I saw the photographs of self-immolators being commemorated. They were treated like heroes.”
The documentary coincides with a story printed earlier this week in the English language government newspaper, China Daily, which also suggested that the American government broadcaster was influencing Tibetans’ decision to set themselves alight.
Citing the example of one 18-year old Tibetan named Sangdegye, who attempted to self-immolate last December, the China Daily noted that he “adored the self-immolators VOA reported on,” citing them as “heroes.” Read more…

China’s Minorities Oppressed?

China’s Minorities Oppressed?

China's Minorities Oppressed?In 2009, local authorities in Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality discovered that 31 senior high school students had falsely claimed to be from ethnic minority groups in an effort to receive bonus points on their gaokao.

Around 800 senior high school students from North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region were caught faking their ethnic identity in 2011 for the same reason.

“They have more opportunities in terms of political activities and the pursuit of higher education,” Li Zhen, 25, a second-year Han graduate student at MUC, told the Global Times.

Wulefan Nuerlan, a first-year Kazakh graduate student from the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, told the Global Times that she could feel the envy when she received 50 extra points on her gaokao in 2007.

As with affirmative action debates overseas, sentiments expressed online are mixed.

A Web user named Xihuanheben said on a Baidu forum that “Everyone is equal, these policies are extremely unfair to Han people.”

Others opposed to affirmative action policies framed them as also being discriminatory toward minority groups. Read more…


Ten Myths About China

Ten Myths About China

MYTH 1: The lack of IP rights curbs innovation, so the Chinese economy will remain based on producing cheap knock-offs of superior Western goods.

REALITY: China now focuses on copying products because its technologically lagging, and as such it is much easier and cost effective to reproduce already existing products than to come up with your own. Much the same can (and was!) said of Japan in the 1960′s, or Germany in the 1880′s – but look at them now!

The lack of IP rights makes this assimilation far easier – why waste money paying rent to foreign software companies when you can use their products for free so easily? You’d have to be their stooge to do this! Throughout history, many successful developers, such as Germany and Britain, flouted IP rights and funded industrial espionage to modernize their economies. They only started praising the virtues of IP rights when they got rich to protect their own new interests.

With China already taking the leading positions in sectors such as High Speed Rail and supercomputers, the time when it joins the developed world in “kicking away the ladder” can’t be far off.

MYTH 2: Corruption and inequality is growing rapidly, which will lead to rising social tensions, economic stagnation, revolts, and collapse.

REALITY: Corruption is largely irrelevant to economic growth, unless it is cripplingly high (which it definitely isn’t in China). For instance, only 9% of Chinese reported paying a bribe in 2010, which is actually the same as Japan.

True, inequality has risen sharply, with the Gini index reaching 47. This figure is similar to the US and lower than most Latin American countries, albeit far higher than in Europe. However, a peak in inequality is typical of countries in the middle of their industrial development, and is expected to fall in the coming years. Indeed, this seems to be already happening, with the poorer inland provinces beginning to grow faster than the wealthier coastal regions in recent years.

MYTH 3: The brouhaha over China today ignores its bad loans and real estate bubble, which will explode and sink its economy any day now. 

REALITY: Pundits have been ranting about China’s bad loans problem for a decade, but in reality the issue is less acute now than it was then. In the meantime it is the Western financial that collapsed (and had to be bailed out at huge taxpayer expense). Chinese leaders noticed this problem early and nipped it in the bud with a series of restructurings in the 2000′s.

The real estate bubble isn’t really a bubble because, no matter how many empty apartments there are, half of China’s population is still in the countryside and will continue moving into the cities for decades to come.

MYTH 4: Back in the 1980′s, there was the same hysteria about Japan becoming No. 1, and look what happened to them! This Sino triumphalism is nothing but a passing fad.

REALITY: China’s population is TEN TIMES bigger than Japan’s. Realistically, Japan could have never become the world’s biggest economy because doing so would have required its GDP per capita to rise to double that of the US. In stark contrast, China’s GDP per capita needs only be a QUARTER that of America for it to become the world’s largest economy. Some economists think that’s already happened (see below).

MYTH 5: The Communist Party suppresses all freedom of thought, which will inevitable lead to stagnation, regional rifts, and pro-freedom uprisings.

  1. The idea that the CCP truly suppresses free thought nowadays is a bit quaint. There are plenty of think-tanks – more than in the US – that are discussing exciting new concepts such as deliberative democracy, Comprehensive National Power, and new ways of measuring economic growth.
  2. The leadership is forward-thinking and responsive. To illustrate this, in a recent speech Hu Jintao called for a “circular economy” and “sustainable development.” (Can you imagine Obama voicing similar sentiments? The Republicans would devour him alive.) This is backed by concrete policy measures. For instance, in response to its reliance on coal China invested in renewable energy manufacturing capacity and now produces half the world’s wind turbines and solar panels.
  3. Not only does democracy or the lack of it have no discernible effect on the speed of development – in fact, China itself is a refutation of that theory – but its not even that oppressive compared to countries commonly called “democratic.” So it jailed Liu Xiaobo for 11 years (who claimsChina would be better off under colonialism). But in the meantime, the Marxist activist Binayak Sen got life imprisonment in India, and the US is waging a campaign to shut down Wikileaks and imprison Julian Assange. No talk of a Nobel Peace Prize for those two.
  4. It is arrogant to claim that China will necessarily want to follow in the footsteps of the West. It may well take its own sovereign road to democracy, such as a democratization of the current NEPist model. Even if it does democratize aka Taiwan, then why should it collapse? Its factories and people will remain in place; so will economic growth, albeit with a blip or two during the transition. And according to our “democratists” wouldn’t such a development make China stronger anyway?

MYTH 6: Outside showpieces like Shanghai and a few other coastal cities the entire country struggles on in Third World poverty, illiteracy and immiseration.
REALITY: This is belied by fairly basic statistics. A country with 67% cell phone penetration, 36% Internet penetration, and more cars sold per year than in the US as of 2009 cannot be “Third World” be definition. Nor does a literacy rate of 97% or an infant mortality rate of 16/1000 jive with this description.
As of 2010, the IMF gives China a real GDP per capita of $7,500 (which is lower-middle income by international standards). However, in reality this is probably an underestimate. For instance, Thailand with a GDP per capita of $9,000 had manufacturing wages of $250 per month in 2009, as opposed toChina’s $400 per month. Its consumption stats also indicate a higher living standard (which is all the more impressive given its high savings rate). In any case, China is a decidedly middle-income country.

MYTH 7: The People’s Liberation Army is full of rusty Soviet-era hardware and derelict warships that will be obliterated in a conflict with the US.
REALITY: Now resting on a solid economic foundation, the Chinese military is being rapidly modernized. In recent years it has unveiled its own drones, a fifth-generation fighter prototype, and a “carrier-killing” ballistic missile. It accounts for a third of global shipbuilding capacity, enabling a rapid naval buildup (even as US capabilities degrade due to fiscal problems and cost overruns). A recent RAND study indicates that China is already be able to establish air superiority over Taiwan in the event of a hot war over the straits.

As Paul Kennedy noted in The Rise And Fall Of The Great Powers (of which Chinese strategists are big fans), military power follows naturally in the wake of economic power. The Chinese economy will eventually be so much larger than everyone else’s in the Pacific basin that its neighbors will have no option but to acquiesce to its hegemony, even if it doesn’t win them over by its rapidly growing soft power.
The only military sphere in which China lags the US (and Russia) is in the size and sophistication of its strategic nuclear forces. But even there it may be stronger than it appears. It was recently revealed that it has built 5000km of tunnels in the hills of Hebei province. For all we know hundreds of ICBM’s could be hidden away there.

MYTH 8: The Chinese economy is dependent on exports for its economic growth, meaning that even if the US collapses it will bring the Chicoms down with it.
REALITY: Whereas gross exports are at 40% of GDP, what matters are NET EXPORTS – which are at just 7% of GDP. (In fact this past quarter it even reported a trade deficit). Or if we look at it regionally, those Chinese regions which export a lot are all located on the southern and south-eastern coasts, and account for less than 25% of the population; the rest of the country is far more autarkic.
Now true, a collapse in export demand will lead to a temporary rise in unemployment in those export-dependent regions. But the Chinese can do without the “heroic” American consumer. They’ll just consume more of their own production (as it increasingly the case anyway).

MYTH 9: China will grow old before it grows rich.
REALITY: No, it won’t. According to UN projections, its share of the population aged 15-65 will have dropped from 72.4% now to 68.9% by 2030 (by which time it will be a developed country by its current trajectory). For comparison, Japan’s working age population today is just 64.0% – that’s less than China two decades later!
Furthermore, there are still massive productivity gains to be collected from urbanizing another 20%-30% of the population. As peasants continue moving into the cities, the urban workforce which is the source of most added value productionwill continue growing well past the time China the total labor force begins shrinking. The decline in the numbers of children will enable each one to get a better education.

MYTH 10: Even if it grows at 10% a year, it will take China’s $5.9 trillion GDP decades to catch up to America’s $14.7 trillion GDP growing at 3% a year. That will come no sooner than 2025. And that’s assuming that Chinese GDP figures are accurate (they’re not, of course, given the Communist penchant for lying).

REALITY: This is a very common argument, even in respected venues, but one that shows fundamental economic illiteracy. The $5.9 trillion GDP is China’s NOMINAL GDP, which reflects a very weak yuan. If the yuan were to appreciate against the dollar, growth in nominal GDP will be much faster than real growth – and in fact IT IS, growing at nearly 25% for the past five years.

Its REAL GDP, which accounts for differences in international prices, is far bigger at $10.1 trillion and not far from America’s $14.7 trillion. But even this may be an underestimate. Back in 2008, the IMF and World Bank both reduced their estimates of China’s real GDP by around 40%; these revisions are considered questionable. Using those old figures, China would already be at America’s size. This is supported by comparisons of Chinese consumption (e.g. Internet access; manufacturing wages; etc) to other middle-income countries, which in my approximations give it a real GDP per capita of perhaps $12,000 and implying a total real GDP of $15-16 trillion.

The case for Chinese manipulation of statistics is unproven. One of the primary arguments here used to be that economic growth didn’t track electricity consumption. But that’s not too convincing in light of China overtaking the US in electricity consumption in 2011.

China’s economic growth has tracked South Korea’s very closely but with a 20 year lag (or 15 years using the old, bigger GDP estimates). Its real GDP per capita in 2000 was equivalent to Korea’s in 1980; as of 2010, it was equivalent to Korea’s in1990. (The story for nominal GDP growth is remarkably similar: China’s number for 2010 is equivalent to Korea’s in1988). Now if China continues following Korea’s historical per capita trajectory, it should have a real GDP of $22-$30 trillion by 2020 and $40-$55 trillion by 2030 (former figure based off current GDP estimates; latter off the bigger estimates). This means the US should be overtaken by 2020 at the latest and left in the dust soon after. Assuming a steady rate of convergence to international prices, China’s nominal GDP too should become the world’s biggest by the 2020′s.

The groundwork is secure. Human capital is the foremost determinant of economic growth rates, and China’s today is far higher than South Korea’s two decades ago (recent international standardized tests show that performance even in China’s poorest provinces is close to the OECD average, while Shanghai won global gold prize).

Now…consider that China’s foremost obstacle to global superpowerdom is highly unlikely to grow quickly, is overburdened by fiscal deficits, and may yet default on its obligations – and that by then, China’s currency will likely befree floating. In that case, the yuan will be the most likely contender for the title of world’s reserve currency. Upon assuming it, its nominal GDP – and weight in the global economy – will become every bit as dominant as its real economy of steel mills and factories.

EDIT: This article has been translated into Russian at Inosmi.Ru (10 главных мифов китаефобии).

The Opium Trade Revisited: Drugging a Nation

Drugging a Nation: The Story of China and the Opium Curse by Samuel Merwin

DruggingImagine, for whatever reason, China is selling heroin in England openly on the streets. When the English protest this, Chinese shoot and kill them. When an English resistance builds up, the Chinese army comes in and declares war on England for their ‘interference with commerce’.

Ok, then China tells England “We claim the Isle of Wight as Chinese … also please pay for the damages you caused to us” and continue to sell heroin in England while collecting their due. The heroin money flowing from England goes through the Isle of Wight (where the Chinese have put their banks). Chinese now live there and heroin is forbidden.

Eventually the English people take their pride into their hands and put up a fight, they rebel against the Chinese authority. Imagine now a Chinese army winding through the countryside, raping and mutilating women along the way to London, UK. Imagine illiterate Chinese peasants with guns running through Buckingham Palace, stuffing their rucksacks with all the jewels and gold they can put their hands on, enough to fill train cars with. Imagine Buckingham Palace as a smoldering pile of ashes. Imagine now the Chinese write of this and say “what a marvelous adventure it was!” and they make movies about their brave soldiers gunning down savage British civilians.

Now 100 years later, how do you think England will be? And then somebody ponders “You know, the Isle of Wight is such a nice place compared to England, the Chinese sure did a lot of good there.”

Is this a nightmarish scenario? No, it’s history as it actually happened. 

That is what Britain did to China in the last 150 years.
There’s a wonderful new (actually old) eyewitness account of The Opium War that was waged on China by Britain and Americans.

It’s called Drugging A Nation: The Story of China and the Opium Curse by Samuel Merwin. It’s a free ebook and is available here from Project Gutenberg.

“Though not making use of it one’s self, to venture on the manufacture and sale of it (opium) and with it to seduce the simple folk of this land is to seek one’s own livelihood by the exposure of others to death. Such acts are bitterly abhorrent to the nature of man and are utterly opposed to the ways of heaven. We would now then concert with your ‘Hon. Sovereignty’ means to bring a perpetual end to this opium traffic so hurtful to mankind, we in this land forbidding the use of it and you in the nations under your dominion forbidding its”

Excerpt From: Merwin, Samuel. “Drugging a Nation / The Story of China and the Opium Curse.” iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Read it and weep.

Comparing Human Rights Behaviour

Human Rights Comparo Sheet [ US INVASIONS]

With this in mind let’s compare China and the US, to see who is the real human rights violator.

US military forces have been responsible for thousands, possibly millions, of civilian deaths around the world in the past decade.

While there are no accurate figures for the civilian death toll in Iraq, household surveys have been conducted asking Iraqis to list the family members they have lost and the results then extrapolated to the total population to give a nationwide estimate. The prominent British medical journal, the Lancet, ran into a storm of controversy when it published an article by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore which extrapolated the results of a survey of a randomly chosen sample of 1,849 households to the total Iraqi population and estimated that there were 655,000 deaths between April 2003 and June 2006. Yet in 2007, the British polling firm Opinion Research Business surveyed 1,720 Iraqi adults and extrapolated a figure that was even higher – a “minimum of 733,158 to a maximum of 1,446,063″ – Iraqi civilaians killed.

The independent UK-based research group, the Iraq Body Count, which only counts civilan deaths where there is documentary evidence, such as cross-checked media reports, hospital, and morgue records – which is likely to be the minority seeing as so few bodies are recovered – has a minimum civilian death toll of 105,753.

Nor is there a single figure for the overall number of civilians killed by the 10-year war in Afghanistan, but according to the latest report from the United Nations, 12,793 have been killed in just the past six years.

And these figures do not include those that have been injured in the two wars, nor those killed or injured by the US military in Pakistan and Libya.

It should be noted that none of these countries attacked -or have ever attacked – the US.

The US military, supported by the US government, defines its goal as “full spectrum” – that is global land, sea and air and indeed space – military dominance. In support of this goal, the US military is deployed in more than 150 countries and according to an official Pentagon accounting of US military bases, the Base Structure Report, Fiscal 2010 Baseline the US has at least 662 overseas bases in 38 foreign countries, although the figure is more because the list excludes bases in several nations integral to active operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Chinese government has emphasized that the Chinese military’s role is strictly defensive: protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful economic development. China adheres to a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and during the same period it has had no military conflicts with other countries. It also has no military bases in other countries.

Turning to civil liberties. The US’ rate of imprisonment is the highest in the world: about 760 out of every 100,000 US citizens are in jail. China, with a population very nearly four times as big, has a rate of imprisonment that is one-seventh that of the US, about 118 out of every 100,000 of its citizens are in jail.

In the US there is unofficial media censorship by the central government – which seeks control over news content relating to its military operations – and by the powerful corporate interests which control the mass media in the US. This control was evident both in the run-up to the Iraq War, in which the media willingly accepted the government’s claims that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that the presence of such weapons justified a military invasion. It was also evident in the many false reports which included doctored pictures purporting to “show Chinese police brutality” during the Lhasa riots in 2008. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the Internet and smaller media outlets enable wider discussion.

In China the mass media is State owned, but again the Internet and smaller media outlets enable wider discussion.

Regarding religious freedom, the US provides the right to practice any religion and to attempt to convert others to your religion, and does not allow any crimes in the name of religion. China allows believers to practice their religion in recognized places of worship and does not allow any crimes in the name of religion, either.

While China needs to do more to convince the world that it has and will better protect human rights, the US-led West clearly needs to improve its own human rights record.

The author is a Canadian independent researcher.

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Democracy is an Abstract Concept

Democracy as an abstract concept, like motherhood, is supported by everyone.

But democracy, like motherhood, comes in many forms in reality.

Motherhood can be from happy marriages, from unwed mothers, from rape victims or from women with genetic defects or mental problems. Thus motherhood can occur in a variety of social contexts that affects its desirability. Timing is also a key factor affecting its desirability.

The same is true about democracy. Universal suffrage is necessary for democracy, but democracy is not always an inevitable outcome from universal suffrage. Universal suffrage failed to end residual institutional slavery in the US long after emancipation had been brought about by the Civil War.

Universal suffrage under dire economic conditions and social despair produced a fascist dictatorship in Weimar Germany.

US promotion of democracy around the world is blatantly selective. In February 2004, US Marines kidnapped and deposed democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti. To the chagrin of US imperialists who are more comfortable with rightwing dictatorships, universal suffrage is producing a rising number of populist governments around the world, most visibly in Latin America, which the US openly works to overthrow.

An influential leader of the US religious right, Pat Robertson, who can be viewed regularly on Hong Kong television through his Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and the 700 Club program, publicly and un-Christianly called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected leftist president of Venezuela.

Dissidents: China’s and Ours

Chinese Dissidents

Liu Xiabao, for example, was President of the ‘Independent Pen Centre’, an organisation registered and headquartered in New York, and financed by the NED (National Endowment for Democracy), which is a CIA front that runs Radio Free Europe et al, and is active in international meddling, creating uprisings and revolutions, and overthrowing unfriendly governments like democratic Venezuela. Liu drew a salary of, I believe, about $280,000–a princely sum even in the USA, and kingly in China.

The NED finances Rebiya Khadeer’s World Uighur Congress in the US–the one deeply implicated in the Xinjiang riots in China last year. And probably the one that financed the bloody riots in Tibet in 2008.

All countries have their dissidents, and China has more because China has more people. But dissidents in China are treated more gently–house arrest is common–than in the USA, whose recent accomplishments include Bradley Manning and (the late) Anwar Al-Awlaki.

We are presented almost exclusively with Chinese dissidents’ opinions to distract us from the uncontrovertible fact that somewhere between 85% and 95% of Chinese citizens admire, support, and trust their government–depending upon whether we believe Pew, Edelman, or Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

The only opinions we hear about Tibet are those of the Tibetan elite–the slaveowners–who fled when asked to free their slaves, absconding with the nation’s entire treasury, we are likely take the viewpoints of those nobles as a representative sample of 5.8 million Tibetans inside Tibet. Not so.

The only survey of Tibetan’s opinions (as opposed to Westerners’ opinions) showed that 90% of those who had lived under both regimes said that their lives are better now than under the Dalai Lama, and only 29% of all Tibetans want independence from China.

Bring on the Engineers

Engineers, . Govt., too Important to Leave to Politicians: Bring on the Engineers?

I expect to see the State, which is in a position to calculate the marginal efficiency of capital-goods on long views and on the basis of the general social advantage, taking an ever greater responsibility for directly organizing investment.

– John Maynard Keynes

Abraham Lincoln has famously defined democracy as “government for the people, by the people, through the people”. Political scientists call government for the people output-legitimacy. It justifies technocratic governments as long as they improve collective welfare, because citizens will approve the results. Government by and through the people is called input-legitimacy, because through their vote in democratic elections the majority of citizens who are affected by their policies give governments the authority to implement collective choices in accordance with their will and preferences.

Full democracy requires both: input and output legitimacy. For over 150 years, social democrats have understood that a free and fair society is only possible if every citizen has a vote.

1. No money in politics (China)
2. No lies or special interests in media (Singapore)

Can We Afford Politicians Any Longer?

Other than as an expensive employment program for sociopaths, the political class is obsolete.

When princes’ realms expanded beyond their personal ability to administer (i.e., collect taxes) they became kings and, later emperors who hired professional bureaucrats to handle the administration.

As time went by the bureaucrats found that they did not need the kings and emperors and so did away with them as an unnecessary expense.

But someone was needed to interface between the real owners, the bureaucrats, and the common people. That someone would have to be capable of seeming to care about the people’s needs without, of course, upsetting the real owners of everything.

And so ‘politicians’ were born: professional dissimulators whose role it is to lubricate the grinding heels of the mummers

With apologies to Clemenceau, we in the West have passed the point where amateur government works. Indeed, it may never have worked, but its failures were disguised by our access to cheap energy and oppressed labor.

It has landed us in a lot of trouble.

China is becoming “the world’s most rent-free economy” and if the CCPC does not incarnate Thorsten Veblen’s complementary hopes for ‘the rise of the engineers’? There are several supports for my suspicion:

Sun Yat Sen wrote in 1922: “I intend to make all the national industries of China into a Great Trust owned by the Chinese people, and financed with international capital for mutual benefit.”

Though Sun was not a Party member, he was and is an acknowledged founder of modern China who strongly influenced and inspired Mao and the others. The CCP, as a post-revolutionary government, had a free hand in redesigning the economy from scratch. Sun’s visionary statements had been imprinted on their young minds.

Before Deng launched his opening up to Capitalism he and others conducted a thorough investigation of what they were getting into (and discussed their conclusions very publicly with the people: “When you open the windows, some flies get in”).

Being great consulters of archives, I suspect that the Chinese consulted the West’s heterodox texts, like Patten’s, and explored the roads we in the West had not taken. They also had extensive visits and discussions with thoughtful types like Lee Kuan Yew, an old Fabian Socialist.

This latter hypothesis was strengthened when I heard Chinese PM Wen questioned by Fareed Zakaria about Mill’s “invisible hand”. Mr. Wen countered by quoting, extempore, at length from ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’–a heterodox text in the West and much more pertinent than the oft-misapplied “hand”.

Veblen’s utopian-rationalist vision, ‘The Engineers and the Price System’, would have been equally appealing and seems to have been incarnated by the CCPC, since eight engineers comprise the Standing Committee and are known for their honesty, competence, and rationality.

The Chinese are notoriously averse to wasting money for any purpose and ‘rent’ is a waste that the Part founders knew intimately and explicitly rejected. China’s banks are therefore quasi-public utilities, as are all strategic industries. Its land leased to individuals.

Finally, a recent quote that reflects the tone of the Chinese Government’s approach: “A neutral government shaping national consensus.”. –The China Wave: the Rise of the Civilizational State. Zhang Weiwei.

Abraham Lincoln has famously defined democracy as “government for the people, by the people, through the people”. Political scientists call government for the people output-legitimacy. It justifies technocratic governments as long as they improve collective welfare, because citizens will approve the results. Government by and through the people is called input-legitimacy, because through their vote in democratic elections the majority of citizens who are affected by their policies give governments the authority to implement collective choices in accordance with their will and preferences.