Andy Stern, who led the SEIU to its current status as a statist political powerhouse, has a lengthy op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, touting the wonders of China’s economic model. His basic point: China’s recent economic surge shows that government should control the economy. To support this premise, he points, not to China’s current economic status, but to its wondrous five year plan:
I was part of a U.S.-China dialogue—a trip organized by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the Center for American Progress—with high-ranking Chinese government officials, both past and present. For me, the tension resulting from the chorus of American criticism paled in significance compared to reading the emerging outline of China’s 12th five-year plan. The aims: a 7% annual economic growth rate; a $640 billion investment in renewable energy; construction of six million homes; and expanding next-generation IT, clean-energy vehicles, biotechnology, high-end manufacturing and environmental protection—all while promoting social equity and rural development.
Gosh! Propaganda really sounds good when it’s read out loud to an adoring, credulous audience.
I’d like to introduce Mr. Stern to another article about the Chinese economy, this one by Gordon Chang, a veteran China watcher who’s actually paying attention to the details. Mr. Chang’s take, which is premised upon actual facts, not wishful thinking is a little different. With a wealth of detail, he points out that, as with all socialist experiments, China is running out of economic gas:
On Wednesday, HSBC roiled markets around the world by releasing its Flash China Purchasing Managers’ Index for November. The widely followed indicator dropped from 51.0 to 48.1, crossing the crucial line of 50 that divides expansion from contraction. Most worrisome, it appears that the factory sector is shrinking due to weakness in domestic, as opposed to export, orders.
The drop in the HSBC Index, which normally moves only tenths of a point at a time, is just another sign that the world’s second-largest economy is contracting from one month to the next. The troubling news follows October numbers, which also pointed toward a rapid falloff. There was, for instance, a sharp decline in inflation, collapsing real estate prices, and a big decrease in bellwether car sales. The wheels are coming off the Chinese economy, with indicators dropping faster than virtually all analysts—including me—predicted.
Chinese technocrats have already started to react, applying monetary measures. The People’s Bank of China, the central bank, this month cut its required reserve ratio for 20 co-operative banks to 16.0%, a reduction of a half point. Officials maintained that this move did not represent a change in their tightening policy, but, as Tom Holland of the South China Morning Post points out, the denial “stretches credulity.” PBOC watchers, therefore, see the limited relaxation as a hint that the institution will soon cut reserve requirements, now at historic highs, for all banks.
You can — and should — read the whole thing here, and then go back and compare it’s tight focus on real world economic facts and figures with Stern’s airy-fairy press release on behalf of Communism.
Let me toss one more thing into the mix here, which is James’ Taranto’s masterful take-down of Eugene Robinson’s love letter to China’s heavy-handed economic management:
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson is in Red China, where his shoe-leather reporting has turned up evidence that . . . Republicans are stupid. Seriously, that’s the subject of the first of what he promises will be several columns filed from Beijing. Let’s examine his closing argument, which responds to a quote from Rick Perry:
But this ignores the big picture. Yes, China is governed–in an authoritarian, repressive, at times shockingly brutal manner–by a regime that calls itself communist. But communism self-immolated two decades ago. Walk down any commercial street in Beijing and you see storefronts, venders and hawkers selling anything under the sun. Communism is no longer a system in China. It’s just a brand name that officials haven’t figured out how to ditch.
I’m aware, of course, of the shameful human rights violations that the Chinese government commits every day–and of the government’s selfish, corrupt insistence on maintaining a monopoly of power. These atrocities can never be forgotten.
But I’m betting that the burgeoning middle class will find a way to cast off these shackles. The correct response would be to cheer them on.So, to recap: China’s Communist Party has already abandoned communist economics for something that looks very much like American commercialism. Politically, however, it remains a brutal and corrupt one-party state. But that can’t last. Robinson both thinks and hopes that the Chinese people will rise up and change the regime.
OK, now here’s the Perry quote: “I happen to think that the Communist Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history.”
Perry said the same thing Robinson did, only much more pithily and memorably. How does that make Robinson the smart one?
And just in case anyone has forgotten that the Chinese economy also runs on slave labor (a peculiar thing for a former SEIU head to laud) and criminal corruption, the links I just gave you ought to refresh your recollection.
My bottom line: Feudal, slave and communist economies all function the same way, which is to have a powerful central controls system over labor. It enriches a few, and impoverishes the many, both physically and spiritually. Even if it looks good on paper, it’s bad for the soul.
(Chinese factory photo by High Contrast.)