Powerful Government Forces suppressing the Economic Principles of Friedrich Hayek in China and America

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 16th, 2013

Week in Review

Large governments like to control their economies.  And their people.  Because those in power always want one thing.  More power. 

The United States became the world’s number one economic power before the federal government grew into the thing it is today.  Way too big.  Reaching way too far into the private sector economy.  Before Keynesian economics became all the rage to empower the growth of governments there was classical economics.  With simple principles.  Thrift.  People thought long-term and saved their money instead of buying everything they wanted today.  Banks collected their savings and transformed them into investment capital.  The more people saved (i.e., the thriftier they were) the more capital there was available to loan to entrepreneurs.  Thus lowering interest rates.  There was also sound money.  Backed by gold.  In various forms of the gold standard.  That held the value of money over time.  And the federal government taxed little.  Regulated little.  And spent little.  These classical economic principles stimulated strong economic growth.  (Principles similar to the Austrian school of economics championed by Friedrich Hayek.)  And it is these principles that we have moved away from as we turned to Keynesian economics.  And a form of state-capitalism that we have today.

During the Nineties China turned to classical economic principles.  As they slowly allowed people some economic liberty.  But just a taste of it.  For the ruling Chinese communists did not want what happened during the collapse of the Soviet Union to happen in China.  The Chinese Communist Party would not collapse like it did in the former Soviet Union.  While there were free thinkers that embraced the principles of Friedrich Hayek the state kept them on a short leash.  A leash that appears to be even shorter these days (see A Lonely Passion: China’s Followers of Friedrich A. Hayek by DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW published 10/30/2013 on The New York Times).

Hayek believed that economic planning by the state leads to a loss of individual liberty, and that a private economy run by people whose rights are protected and enlarged by good laws delivers the best life.

‘‘There is some distance between Hayek and the current realities’’ in China, Gao Quanxi, a prominent Chinese Hayekian and law professor at Beihang University in Beijing, said in an interview this week.

Mr. Gao was probably choosing his words carefully. The gap is enormous, as he explained last Friday in a talk at the Unirule Institute of Economics, a think tank in Beijing…

In his talk, titled ‘‘Reconsidering Hayek’s Theoretical Legacy,’’ Mr. Gao did not mince words: China is less free now than 10 years ago, at the end of the Jiang Zemin era. There is no ‘‘free market of ideas’’ in universities. Publishing on topics the authorities disapprove of has become more difficult. The state is on the march…

Capitalism, several participants said, functions in China according to the unwritten rules created by the power holders, not by good laws, as Hayek urged.

‘‘Communism has failed. Socialism has failed. What we have here is statism. And Hayek really opposed that. So how should we understand Hayek in the context of today’s China?’’ asked Mr. Gao…

Many economists, scholars and politicians believe that China is facing deep challenges to its economic model, that it needs to shift from a fixed investment-fueled economy, where the hand of the state is heavy, to one with more private enterprise and market forces.

President Obama and the Chinese communists share something in common.  They both are trying to move their economies in the same direction.  Only the Chinese communists don’t publicly bash capitalism as much as President Obama and his fellow Democrats do.

When China was enjoying double digit GDP growth the liberals in the United States wanted to do what the Chinese were doing.  To manage the economy more.  As they thought they were even more brilliant than communist state planners in China.  And could even outperform the Chinese economy.  If they could only control it.  Decide what we make.  Like solar panels.  And electric cars.  Of course, most of China’s economic growth produced exports.  And they sold well because of China’s low wages.  Which is pretty much all they had going for them.  Their middle class did not grow.  And with the worldwide decline in economic activity thanks to Keynesian economic policies by state planners everywhere who think they are smarter than the market their export market cooled.  As it cooled so did their GDP growth.

China is suffering a little economic malaise now because they don’t have a thriving middle class of entrepreneurs starting small businesses.  All they have are large state-run factories.  That produce exports.  Because they don’t have a thriving middle class to buy these products.  Which is what happens when you don’t have individual liberty.  Friedrich Hayek understood this.  Pity the Chinese communists don’t.  Or President Obama and his fellow Democrats.  Then again, perhaps they do.  But they know the price of individual liberty is less government power.  And that’s just something anathema to communists.  President Obama.  And Democrats.



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The American Left loves the Chinese Economic System despite its Inefficiencies, Income Gap and Crimes Against Humanity

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 6th, 2013

Week in Review

The American Left looks at China with awe and reverence.  They see that huge export economy and they know how they did that.  Massive government control over the economy.  And Keynesian economics on such a grand scale that it would  even impress Paul Krugman.  Nobel-winning Keynesian economist who’s constant refrain is that the government just never spends enough.  Something no one can say about the Chinese Communists.  And that’s why the American Left loves China.  For when it comes to the economy they wield dictatorial power.  If the American Left had those powers they could accomplish so much.  Beginning with the arrest of the Republican opposition and deportation to reeducation camps.  Then they could make our economy hum.  Just like in China.  Where brilliant government bureaucrats educated in the finest Ivy League universities called all the shots.  For only those who despise free market capitalism would know how to truly optimize economic output (see Game Over for China’s Photovoltaic Manufacturers by Gao Zitan & Frank Fang posted 1/6/2013 on TheEpochTimes).

It was in October of 2011 when the U.S. and European PV companies decided that enough is enough. Over the last years they had to compete against Chinese companies selling their products below cost. As a result many European and U.S. companies had to close down. The remaining ones chose to appeal to regulators to stop the unfair practices.

Note once again who is complaining about companies selling things too cheaply.  It is not the consumer.  For the consumer never complains that they aren’t being charged enough.  It is always another business requesting antitrust protection against a company they cannot compete against.

The Chinese regime viewed solar photovoltaic production as a promising industry with rapid scalability and production, and high profits. It could add to GDP growth and employment. This is why the regime greatly promoted the growth in the domestic PV market through business-oriented regulations and incentives. Banks, local governments and other financial agencies were ordered to heavily subsidize the solar industry with cheap loans.

Starting in 2009, the regime sponsored some large-scale national PV projects. The Solar PV building program comprised 111 projects and the Golden Sun program included 275 projects. Provincial or municipal funded programs provided the framework for many other PV related projects.

This is exactly what the Left wants to do.  What the Obama administration did.  They want smart government bureaucrats to tweak market forces to make things better.  At least this is what these government people think.  Because they are so smart.  Even though they have no business experience.  So the American Left wants to do exactly what China did.  What the Americans did but on a much grander scale.  Because their communist government had the power to do it on a grander scale.  Something the American Left laments that the American government doesn’t have that kind of power.  Yet the Americans want to penalize the Chinese for unfair practices.  Despite constantly championing the Chinese way.

In 2008, there were less than 100 PV enterprises. But by the end of 2011 there were more than 500 PV companies, a five-fold increase, according to Guangzhou-based business newspaper 21st Century Business Herald…

On the surface, Chinese companies were doing well. Revenue of the PV industry was more than 300 billion yuan ($48 billion) and Chinese companies occupied five spots in the top 10 of global solar cell manufacturers, according to the report. However, the fast expansion of PV production capacity did not match domestic demand.

According to statistics of EU ProSun, in 2011, China reached a total PV production capacity of 45 GW but domestic consumption was only 2 GW. The production capacity spurred by massive subsidies and state incentives was over 20 times higher than actual demand for solar powered electricity. The only way out was exporting the surplus production…

As a result of lower subsidies in Europe and tariffs in the United States, the overproduction stimulated by state subsidies can no longer be exported. One indication is a rapid growth in inventories. Sixty-six listed Chinese PV companies of the Shanghai A-Share Stock Market showed a 20 percent increase in inventories compared with the same period of the previous year…

President of EU ProSun Milan Nitzschke said, “Chinese subsidies shield manufacturers from insolvency, and are pumped into solar companies even if they are unprofitable. Most Chinese solar companies would have gone bankrupt a long time ago if not for endless government subsidies.”

This is what happens when you have ‘smart’ government people take over the free market economy.  You build a lot of stuff no one will buy.  Just like the Soviets built a lot of tractor parts that sat on store shelves unsold while people stood in line to buy soap and toilet paper.  This is why the command economies of communism failed.  And while the command economy of the Chinese Communists will fail, too.  What Friedrich Hayek of the Austrian school of economics called malinvestments.  Which directs resources from making things people want to making things people don’t want.  Creating shortages of the things people want (like soap and toilet paper in the Soviet Union).  And overflows inventories with things people don’t want (like solar panels in China).  All because a government bureaucrat decided to make more tractor parts and solar panels instead of soap and toilet paper.

And if that wasn’t bad enough there are other costs for the Chinese way (see Never Mind the Fiscal Cliff, China is Headed For a ‘Real’ Cliff by Michelle Yu posted 1/6/2013 on TheEpochTimes).

China is dangerously close to a catastrophic political, economic, and social meltdown, according to a Chinese business scholar, who cites China’s growing income gap as one of its serious crisis indicators…

Rural versus urban inequality has long been recognized as a key factor in China’s income gap. Not only does the rural income level fall far below the urban level, but the income inequality is also more obvious within rural regions…

Another notable factor is high unemployment rate. The SUFE study suggests that China’s national unemployment rate was 8 percent in July 2011, suggesting an unemployed population of 27.7 million, which is almost twice as high as what authorities have admitted to. The unemployment rate doubles for 51-55-year-olds, reaching 16.4 percent, and is attributed to mergers and standardized bankruptcy of state-owned enterprises in the early 2000’s. (An explanation of mergers and standardized bankruptcy are available here  and here.)

Surprisingly, the unemployment rate for 21-25-year-olds who hold college or above degrees is also 16.4 percent—the same as for the 51-55-year age group. By contrast, the rate for 21-25-year-old poorly educated migrant laborers from rural areas is only 3.4 percent. A shortage of cheap labor has affected some of China’s key export industries such as apparel and electronics, especially on the east coast.

But the root cause of the income inequality and a battery of other economic problems in China can be found in the communist regime’s overexploitation of social wealth, according to Winifred Tung, an attorney and commentator from Taiwan.

The exploitation has been realized largely through preferential policies in favor of state-owned enterprises and suppression of the private sector, Tung told NTD Television, citing recent data, which says that the GDP of large-scale state-owned enterprises (SOEs) accounts for 60 percent of China’s overall GDP. However, among the different culprits of tax evasion in China, SOEs came in first place with 26-28 percent.

So this is why they can make so many solar panels (and other export goods) so cheaply.  By exploiting poor rural laborers in their big city factories.  Resulting in something the American Left say wouldn’t exist if they had control over the economy like the Chinese do.  An income gap.  Income inequality.  Something that is apparently worse in the country where the government has the power to make life fair.  But it’s more than just an income gap.

The Chinese factory workers aren’t like UAW workers.  They have low pay, no benefits and often live in dormitories in the factory compound.  And these have it good (see The Difficulty of Smuggling a Slip of Paper From a Chinese Labor Camp by Guo Jufeng posted 1/6/2013 on TheEpochTimes).

Like the person whose plea made headlines around the world, I was also in Liaoning Province, China. Twelve years ago, I was imprisoned in Huludao City Forced Labor Camp, Liaoning, for 2.5 years for practicing the meditation discipline of Falun Gong. My companion Cao Yuqiang, who was eventually tortured to death, and I were watched 24 hours a day by two criminals, so that we could not exchange information regarding the persecution of Falun Gong.

One day, I came up with the bold idea to find a way to communicate information about the persecution to the outside world.

The first obstacle we faced was that we didn’t have pen or paper. So, as more and more information was passed on to me, it became quite a challenge to memorize everything! To improve my memory, I repeated the information to myself every day, since I couldn’t communicate regularly with Cao Yuqiang.

One day, out of the blue, Cao told me he had found a refill for a ball-point pen. I suspected he must have gone through a great deal of trouble to procure it, but I did not have the opportunity to ask him for any details at that time.

Now I had a pen, but there was still the question of what to write on. I finally realized that the only possibility was toilet paper, and to avoid being caught, I would have to write the message after midnight.

I had to keep strengthening my mind to overcome fear and anxiety as any negative thoughts could lead me to give up. Questions and doubts plagued my mind: “Would this work? How could we get the information out? Would I be able to withstand the torture if it was discovered? Had other prisoners found out about my plan? Were they waiting to catch me in the act?” I was certain that if my plan were discovered, I would be tortured mercilessly with electric batons.

This is part of that Chinese economic system the American Left so admires.  An economy that is based on cheap labor.  In some cases even slave labor.  And it’s no secret.  Which is odd for the American Left who are champions of the labor movement.  Who bankrupted countless businesses (GM, Chrysler, Hostess, etc.) by demanding ever higher pay and benefits packages.  Yet here they are.  Admiring an economic system that just exploits labor in the worst ways.  Even using torture.  And it bothers some.  Maybe not the American Left.  But the Chinese themsleves (see A Young Chinese Man’s New Year Wish for His Father by Gao Zitan posted 1/1/2013 on TheEpochTimes).

As 2013 begins with an atmosphere of joy welcoming in the new year, a young man from Hubei, China, is worried about his father who is a member of the Communist Party.

The term “San Tui” in Chinese refers to the three distinct renouncements. It means to quit the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its two affiliated organizations: the Communist Youth League, and the Young Pioneers, which people are made to join in their youth.

In recent years, “the three renouncements ensure safety” has become a well-known saying in China, and many consider it a rational choice for mainland Chinese to guarantee themselves immunity from all the crimes perpetrated by the Communist Party when the day of reckoning comes. So family members of those who refuse to consider the wisdom of this option are very worried for their loved ones…

“The three renouncements ensure safety” has been widely recognized by the Chinese public since 2004, when The Epoch Times published the truth about the CCP in “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party” in 2004, and began registering those wishing to make the three withdrawals.

As of Dec. 30, 2012, more than 130 million people had registered with The Epoch Times to quit the CCP and its affiliated organizations.

The American Left may be enthralled with the Chinese communist way just as they were enthralled with the Soviet communist way but those living under those oppressive regimes weren’t.  And aren’t.  China is not the China it was under Mao.  But the hard-line communists are.  But even some of these committed their crimes against humanity for a higher purpose.  To prevent the anarchy that followed in parts of the former Soviet Union when the Soviet Union collapsed.  So some may commit their crimes for good.  While a lot no doubt just enjoy the privilege that comes with being in the party leadership.  And the very comfortable lifestyle.  Much like liberals in this country.  But not the average Chinese.  At least 130 million of them.



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The Chinese Communists may approve Keynesian Stimulus Spending but they Censor Art

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

Those on the Left who want the federal government to take over ever more of the economy, such as Obamacare, look at communist China and sigh.  “Why can’t we have those kinds of government powers here?” they say.  They want to spend a few billions on Keynesian stimulus spending and they just do it.  Without the bickering of a two-party system, a bicameral legislature or a separation of powers.  For the Chinese, they say, are blessed without having a Constitution weakening the powers of the executive branch of government.  And with their absolute power they can do great things (see Beijing Bans Warhol’s Mao Portraits from China Exhibition by Frederik Balfour posted 12/17/2012 on Bloomberg).

Andy Warhol’s famous images of Chairman Mao won’t be part of the biggest ever traveling exhibition of his works when they go to China next year, an organizer said.

The show includes more than 300 paintings, photographs and films, featuring Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup cans, Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe as well as 10 Mao paintings which Chinese authorities have decided to exclude…

A person familiar with the show, who asked not to be named because of the political sensitivity of the issue, confirmed the Mao works had been rejected by the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to faxed questions seeking comment today…

According to the Christie’s auction website, Warhol chose Mao as “the ultimate star”, using an image of him taken from the portrait photograph reproduced in the Chairman’s so-called Little Red Book.

“He wasn’t being disrespectful,” Shiner said [director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh].

The Chinese communists censored art that was not disrespectful.  Imagine how such a policy of art censorship would upset the Left in this country.  Because a lot of the art the Left likes is very disrespectful to someone.  Such as Piss Christ.  By Andres Serrano.  A photograph of a plastic crucifix in a glass of his own urine.  Which won the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art’s “Awards in the Visual Arts” competition.  Thanks to a couple of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Funded by taxpayers.

China also censors pornography.  Well, not censor so much as has an outright ban on it.  Even on the kind over the Internet.  Something else the Left would have a problem with.  Even though they admire China’s absolute power over the economy and would love to have some of that over here.  They would not like that absolute power infringing on their liberties.  Much like business owners don’t like an out of control government infringing on their liberties in running their businesses.

If we give the government absolute power over the economy you have to give them absolute power over everything else.  Including the cultural stuff.  For absolute power is absolute.  Which means they can reject art, ban pornography, censor movies and music, limit the size of the soda we drink, ban smoking, outlaw the internal combustion engine, etc.  Whatever they want to do.  Because that’s what absolute power means.  It’s not just a means to attack capitalism.



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Hong Kong Protests their New Unelected Beijing-Approved Leader

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 1st, 2012

Week in Review

The British returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997.  After more than a glorious century of British colonial rule.  And even though the people in Hong Kong were a colony of a distant power it turns out they were on the winning side of that deal.  For Hong Kong prospered while China got Chairman Mao.  Today the people of Hong Kong are proud of their British colonial past.  And much prefer it to the present Chinese communist rule (see Hong Kong holds big protest as new leader sworn in by the Associated Press posted 7/1/2012 on the Los Angeles Times).

The outpouring of discontent underscored rising tensions between the Communist mainland and the vibrant city of 7 million that was returned to China in 1997 after more than a century of British colonial rule. While much of the discontent revolves around growing economic inequality and stunted democratic development, Hong Kongers are also upset over what they see as arrogant Chinese behavior – wealthy mainlanders taking over retail outlets during flashy Hong Kong shopping trips, for example, or even the choice of language during Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony, Beijing-accented Mandarin instead of the Cantonese dialect spoken locally…

Leung was chosen as chief executive in March, winning 689 votes from a 1,200-seat committee of business elites who mostly voted according to Beijing’s wishes. Hong Kong’s 3.4 million registered voters, who can vote for neighborhood councilors and half of all lawmakers, had no say.

In mid-afternoon, tens of thousands of protesters began marching toward the newly built government headquarters complex on Hong Kong Island in sweltering heat, beating drums and waving British colonial flags in a gesture of nostalgia for an era during which democratic rights were limited but the rule of law was firmly in place…

In his speech, Hu said Hong Kong residents now have more democratic rights and freedoms than ever before – a reminder that China has largely kept the promise it made when it regained the territory from Britain to keep Hong Kong’s relatively open political system in place for 50 years.

But that did little to assuage the feelings of the protesters, who see China’sCommunist Party rule as strongly at odds with the values that many inherited from a British-influenced education, and the continuing spread of democracy to Asian neighbors like South Korea and Chinese-speaking Taiwan.

Yes, it was the British Empire that made Hong Kong the jewel it is.  Not the Chinese communists.  It was the British institutions of democracy, rule of law, free market capitalism and free trade that made Hong Kong the destination for the wealthy Chinese mainlanders when they really want to enjoy life.  And even though the Chinese suffered under British colonial rule today the best part of China would appear to be Hong Kong.  And in Hong Kong people wave British colonial flags in protest of Chinese rule.  Imagine that.

China has a long history.  Most of it remarkable.  But it reached a nadir under Chairman Mao and his People’s Republic of China.  And the spread of the deadliest contagion known to mankind.  Communism.  For as an ideology nothing killed more people.  And while China was suffering the great famines of the Great Leap Forward there was Hong Kong across the water.  Prosperous as ever.  An embarrassment to the communist rulers.  China is a lot better today.  As they let capitalism flourish.  Albeit under the heavy hand of the state.  But it’s one of the BRICS economies.  And may soon be the number one economy in the world.  But it’s still not quite Hong Kong.



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The Chinese reject the Obamacare Model, Prefer Private Health Care over State-Provided Health Care

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 14th, 2012

Week in Review

When Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations it set the Western World on the path to dominance.  It’s why the British and the Americans led the world into the Industrial Revolution.  It defeated the Axis Powers in World War II as no one could match America’s Arsenal of Democracy.  And it’s the weapon that Ronald Reagan used to win the Cold War.  For the Soviet Union could not even feed her own people without food aid from her arch nemesis.  The United States.  It’s no contest.  Capitalism wins.  And even while the Americans drift further away from it one of her communist nemesis embraces it more ever day.  China.  And of all places China is now embracing to fix their ailing national health care system (see The good midwife of Sichuan posted 4/7/2012 on The Economist).

The Angel hospital in Sichuan’s capital is part of a wave of privately owned hospitals, catering to patients fleeing crowded state clinics.

The patients here are well-off locals, paying from 20,000 yuan ($3,200) for a Caesarean delivery and the latest drugs…

The roots of private health care in Communist China go back to clinics that treated venereal disease. In other respects, the taint of private care has gone, and foreign investment is encouraged. Over 30 joint ventures have been approved; many more are in the pipeline. The country’s new five-year plan endorses private-sector investors as part of the solution to the country’s shortage of affordable health care. Health spending has soared in recent years and is set to top 700 billion yuan by 2015.

The authorities also think the private sector can serve as a model for public hospitals dogged by poor administration, demands for patients to pay cash up front, and bribes by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe their drugs. Liu Shuyan, the Angel’s chief doctor, talks of “patient pathways” and “mother-centred care”: the kind of jargon that accompanied the drive for health reform in Britain a decade ago…

The population over 65 will rise by 8m a year for the next five years, so nursing homes will become an increasingly tempting business. For all the constraints, China looks set for a larger dose of healthful capitalism.

Well, well, well, what’s all this, then?  For those on the American left China can do no wrong when it comes to state-capitalism.  With the emphasis on the ‘state’ and not the ‘capitalism’.  Their only beef is that they’ve veered too far from their communist past.  Back in the good old days when they put capitalism in its place.  Making it a crime against the state.  And, instead, having the state provide tender and compassionate care only a government can give.  And the occasional famine (thank you Chairman Mao).  But here they are, that communist bastion, embracing capitalism to fix what ails her.  Again.

So, state-provided health care has overcrowding, long waits and soaring costs.  Huh.  Who’d a guess?  Except, of course, every critic of Obamacare.  And yet we’re heading down that path.  And, interestingly, the Chinese communists are passing us by going the other way.  You know if the Chinese communist embrace private health care that something has to be wrong with the state-provided variety.  In fact, they’re trying to reform their health care system.  As are the British.  The Canadians, too.  I think there’s a message here.  And if I were to hazard a guess of what that message is from our state-provided health care friends I think it would go something like this.  “Don’t do it.”  And, “Obamacare is a mistake.”



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LESSONS LEARNED #71: “For socialism to be successful no one can be allowed to escape it.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 23rd, 2011

Socialism Oppresses and Kills tens of millions of People

It’s easy to point at Cuba as an example of socialism’s failure.  You don’t even have to go to the island.  You don’t have to study their institutions.  All you have to do is to look at the risks people will take to escape Cuba.  And they take some crazy risks to escape.  They will board some barely-seaworthy water crafts and paddle out into the ocean.  Away from Cuba.  And towards Florida.  Away from socialism.  And towards capitalism.  Away from a wretched life of despair and deprivation.  And towards a life of plenty and opportunity.  As they paddle their way to America, how many people do you think they pass who are paddling their way to Cuba?  How about zero?  Because when it comes to refugees, the direction is always towards America.  It’s never the other way.

And it’s easy to point to Mao in China.  His Great Leap Forward killed a lot of his own people.  And by ‘a lot’ I mean in the tens of millions.  Depending on the numbers you use.  It could have been anywhere between 15 and 50 million people.  The Chinese communists were not the record keepers the Nazis were.  Though the actual number may be in doubt the magnitude isn’t.  In the spirit of brotherly love that is the hallmark of socialism, millions were beaten, tortured and killed to ‘encourage’ acceptance of the forced collectivization of farming.  And the funny thing is (not ha ha funny but funny as in sad and ironic) that after beating, torturing and killing so many people to collectivize farming, the agriculture output plummeted.  Partly because of bad planning.  And partly due to nature.  But local party officials reported record harvests to avoid beatings, torture and killings by party superiors.  So China exported much of these record harvests.  Leaving nothing for the peasants to eat.  Resulting in famine.  Again, the record keeping is sparse.  As they often are when your policies end up killing your own people.  But deaths were in the tens of millions.  The Great Leap Forward was a big push to modernize China.  To industrialize it.  For there was little infrastructure in China.  Most of it was rural.  Dotted with peasant farms.  Stretching across vast lands.  With little ways to move around.  Where you probably died less than a day’s walk from where you were born.  Which made it difficult to escape the Great Leap Forward.  Or Mao’s ruthless communist rule.

And it’s easy to point to the former Soviet Union.  Where it all started.  CommunismJoseph Stalin gave Mao Tse-tung a run for his money in the greatest mass murderer of all time contest.  Again, the record keeping was a little sparse.  But the Soviets took socialism to a grand scale.  The government controlled the economy.  And your life.  If you grew up in the Soviet Union, you learned how much better it was there than in the decadent West.  Especially the USA.  Of course, when some Soviets were lucky enough to travel outside the country, they learned that their Soviet teachers were liars.  The West was awesome.  Never before did they see such a wonderful world of plenty.  And some Soviets defected to that better life.  Which was a crime.  And a huge embarrassment for the Soviet Union.  Even Joseph Stalin’s daughter (Svetlana Alliluyeva) defected.  Others included Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Alexander Godunov, Sergei Fedorov, Martina Navratilova, Ivan Lendl and Nadia Comăneci, to name a few (both from the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc).  Some got preferential treatment to keep them from defecting like Katarina Witt.  Or they held family members as ‘hostages’ when some traveled out of the country.  It was a real problem for the KGB.  Who had agents living undercover in the West.  And a lot of them didn’t want to come home.  Of course, there was no such problem with people defecting from the West into the Soviet Union.  There were a few.  Like Lee Harvey Oswald.  But he wasn’t playing with a full deck.  And he did return to the United States.  Because even he found it was better in America.  And he hated America.

It’s easy to point at the big socialist failures.  But just about every story of socialism is a story of failure.  And as different as some of the stories are, they all have much in common.  In particular, the exploitation of the people to serve the state.

In Socialism, Slavery is Freedom

In George Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four, we see a frightening look at totalitarian socialism.  Big Brother is the leader of an oppressive regime.  Where the government plays with language to control the people.  War is peace.  Ignorance is strength.  And freedom is slavery.  War unites a people against a common enemy.  Who then beg for the government to protect them from this enemy.  And they will suffer through any hardship required to defeat this enemy.  Which makes continued war a handy way to control the people.  And to keep the peace among an unhappy and suffering citizenry that might otherwise rise up and complain.  Or riot.  Or attempt to overthrow the government.

Ignorance is strength.  If you don’t know how rotten your existence is you have no reason to be unhappy.  If you don’t know about that better life on the other side of your border, you have no reason to cross that border.  You’ll stay where you are.  And be a good citizen.  You’ll toe the party line.  Work hard.  Sing party songs.  And be happy.  More importantly, you’ll be subdued.  Easier to control.  And easier to lie to.  There’s a reason revolutionaries rounded up intellectuals and people with glasses (people with glasses can read and may be intellectuals) for ‘reeducation’ during revolutions.  Thinkers are trouble makers.  So it behooves them to keep the people ignorant.  So they don’t get distracted from their patriotic duties.  So they can continue to sacrifice to build a stronger nation.

Slavery is Freedom.  Because slaves never have to make a decision.  Or provide for themselves.  What a joyous and simple life.  Someone provides everything you need.  Your job.  Your clothes.  Your food.  Your home.  Your health care.  And your funeral.  And all you have to do is give yourself to the state.  Give up all your freedoms.  Give up all hope.  All your dreams.  And all of your comforts.  You have no bills to pay.  Because you don’t have anything.  You get up, work, eat and sleep.  Simple.  Easy.  And carefree.  True freedom.  Lucky slaves.

Adolf Hitler was a Socialist

Of course, if you talk to some slaves you’ll probably hear a different story.  Real slaves.  Like 19th century American slaves.  Those working the plantations.  They didn’t all buy that ‘slavery is freedom’ line.  If any did.  Because a lot of them did try to escape.  Just like those who tried to escape from Soviet socialism.  Interestingly, there are similarities between the two.  Because if you take socialism to its logical end you do arrive at slavery.  Friedrich August von Hayek wrote a book about this.  The Road to Serfdom.  Even said that if socialism grew unchecked in a state some guy named Adolf Hitler may come along and create an oppressive state dictatorship.  He didn’t quite say it like that.  But a guy named Adolf Hitler did come along and created an oppressive state dictatorship called National Socialism.  Or Nazism.  Anyway, suffice it to say that Hayek was right.  As proven by people everywhere who have tried to escape their socialist utopias.

Despite popular belief, everyone was not equal in these socialist utopias.  The inner party people lived well.  And their apparatchik.  But little changed for the masses.  In fact, life often got worse for them.  They were hungry, living in crowded quarters, with poor sanitation, some without running water, living in fear of state punishment for breaking a rule or not making quota, days of endless labor, no say in your future, no liberty and little hope for a better tomorrow.  Very similar to a 19th century American slave.

The American plantation is a microcosm of socialism.  The few at the top did very well (the glorious leaders).  Those close to them that ran the plantation (the party apparatchik) did not do as well but did much better than most.  And then there were the slaves at the bottom.  Who were all equal.  Equally miserable.  And without any hope.  Living in fear of abuse for breaking a rule or not making quota.  And working days of endless labor.  This is socialism taken to its logical end.  Which is why people risked death to escape places like the Soviet Union.  East GermanyCzechoslovakiaRomania.  Cuba.  To escape servitude.  Because the state could do anything they wanted to you.  And often did.  Just like a plantation overseer.

Slaves of the Social Democracies Riot

Of course, the critics will say that this isn’t true socialism.  That these are just mad dictators who corrupted socialism in their quest for absolute power.  And I’ll say, well, of course.  You’re right.  But they all used socialism in their rise to power.  Not a one of them said anything about cutting taxes or reducing stifling government regulations in their climb to power.  Quite the contrary.  They used every facet of socialism (egalitarianism, redistribution of wealth, taxing the rich, nationalization of private companies, etc.) in their climb to power.  In fact, one could say that without these tenets of socialism to unwittingly rally the people behind them they could never have risen to power.  Which is why socialism is not just a Road to Serfdom.  It’s a blueprint as well.

Some will roll their eyes at this.  And say Europe is full if social democracies that treat their people pretty damn well.  Let’s call it socialism-light.  These socialist countries have large and generous social welfare programs for their people.  Generous unemployment benefits.  Generous vacations.  Generous health care benefits.  Generous pensions when they retire.  Some at the ripe old age of 50.  A large and generously paid public sector.  Clearly these people aren’t oppressed.  And I’ll agree.  The people receiving these benefits are not oppressed.  But it places an incredible tax burden on those who work.  Who must make continuous sacrifices as their taxes continuously rise.  Let’s call these people slaves-light.  Because they are not allowed to enjoy the full fruits of their labor.  So, yes, the people in these social democracies in general are free.  And happy.  When they’re not rioting, that is.  Like in Greece.  Again.  Where the nation is broke.  And had to borrow money to pay its bills.  Which they have.  But one of the conditions for getting these loans was to cut back on those generous benefits.  Which hasn’t gone over well with the people receiving those benefits.  So they rioted.

Of course they rioted because they had become slaves of the welfare state.  Politicians promised them everything they wanted for their vote.  And delivered.  Until they could deliver no more.  Having become so dependent on the state the thought of taking care of themselves frightened them so that they ran into the streets and started burning things in protest.  The state had no problem keeping these people from escaping their country.  Unable to take care of themselves they were afraid to leave.  But the people with the jobs, and those who created the jobs, that’s a different story.  They could leave.  And a lot did.  So the state made it as difficult as possible for their money to follow them.

You may be able to Escape the Socialist Welfare State, but your Money may Not

New York City is the financial capital of the world.  For now, at least.  It costs a lot to live in the city.  Cost of living is high.  And the taxes are higher.  Way higher.  Which was never a problem for rich people.  Or rich companies.  Rush Limbaugh did his radio program out of New York City for awhile.  But he left because of the excessive taxation.  Went to Florida.  Where there is no income tax.  But every time he traveled to New York City he was required to pay income tax on his earnings for those days in the city.  The New York tax authorities put him through incredible hurdles to prove when he was out of the city.  Showing in multiple ways that he was, in fact, living in Florida.   With receipts.  Phone bills.  Etc.  They put the onus on him.  Said he owed the tax unless he could prove otherwise.

Then came the subprime mortgage crisis that gave us the worst recession since the Great DepressionWall Street income fell.  As did New York City and New York state tax receipts.  People moved out of the city.  Out of the state.  Worked out of their homes.  Some did no work in the state but still kept a vacation home on Long Island.  Desperate for money and unable to keep these people from escaping the state, the taxing authority went after their income.  Said if they spent any time in the state they owed income taxes for the entire year.  Even if you only vacationed for two weeks on Long Island.  While paying the taxes in the state you actually live and work in.  This was worse than taxation without representation.  It was double taxation.  In addition to taxation without representation.

New York City is generous with their social benefits.  Call it socialism-light.  It’s not all out socialism.  But it still suffers from the same fatal flaw.  It doesn’t work well if the people can escape this socialist utopia.  Especially the ones paying the taxes.  As is happening in the social democracies in Europe.  And anywhere where there is high taxation without a secured border.  To prevent the taxpayers (i.e., best and brightest) from escaping.  Like the Soviets did to keep their best and brightest from escaping.  As did the East Germans.  The Czechoslovakians.  The Romanians.  And the Cubans.



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