When China talks about Limits and Constraints over Property Rights we need not fear the Economic Dominance of China

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 11th, 2011

Week in Review

You know what’s funny?  People oblivious of history giving advice.  You know what’s not funny?  People lying to empower the state so they can oppress the people.  You decide which this is (see Op-Ed: The impoverished ‘Asian century’ by Chandran Nair posted 12/8/2011 on China Daily).

Western leaders concerned about climate change must understand that economic instruments like emissions trading are not a panacea. For Asia, resource management must be at the center of policymaking, which may include Draconian regulations, and even bans. Otherwise, resource shortages will push up commodity prices and create crises in food, water, fisheries, forests, land use, and housing, thereby leading to greater social injustice.

The West must help Asia to challenge the idea that consumption-led growth is the only solution, or even a solution at all. And Asia must adopt three core principles to avert environmental and social crises. First, economic activity must be secondary to maintaining resources. Second, Asian governments must take action to re-price resources and focus on increasing their productivity. Third, Asian states must recast their central role as being to defend our collective welfare by protecting natural capital and the environment.

All of this implies that Asian governments will need to play a far greater role than officials in Europe or America in managing both the macro-economy and personal consumption choices, which will require very sensitive political choices regarding individual rights, as well as policies that powerful business interests – many of them Western – will resist.

Asian governments will sometimes need to set strict limits on resource use – and have the tools to ensure that society respects these limits. They should begin, for example, by stressing that car ownership is not a human right. The debate about rights must emphasize constraints, not the utopian definitions of Western politicians.

There have been other countries that have talked like this.  In fact, they ruled like this.  The former Soviet Union.  The People’s Republic of China (China before capitalism).  North Korea.  The former communist Eastern Bloc.  All of these countries have enforced Draconian regulations and bans to re-price resources and increase productivity.  And you know what it got them?  Oppressive police states.  Chronic shortages of staple goods.  And famine.  Oh, and anyone trying to escape these socialist utopias were summarily shot.  For those who got away their families suffered.

China still has poverty and famine in the country.  It is only where they allowed capitalism that things are going well.  The eastern cities.  But all is not well there.  There’s unrest.  For these people have tasted a little freedom.  A little too much for the government.  So now they there’s talk about restricting this freedom for the good of the people.  I doubt many are buying this.

With this kind of talk the United States and Europe need not fear the economic dominance of China.  It sounds like the capitalist gravy train may be coming to an end.  For when they champion limits and constraints over property rights that’s usually when workers stop working hard.  Because when you sacrifice your wants and desires for the common good (i.e., the state), that’s when you start doing just enough to escape being punished.  And no country grew or stayed great doing that.

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