Israeli folk dances and Chinese culture

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABack in the early/mid 1970s, I, like every good American Jew, did Israeli folk dancing.  Our family was very serious about it, so much so that we’d usually attend the annual get-t0gethers in San Luis Obispo at which the top Israeli choreographers would introduce their new dances for the year.

At one of the annual events, a choreographer introduced a new dance called “Li Lach.”  I loved it because it was a bright, energetic dance that periodically broke out into a polka.  I am a big fan of polkas and waltzes and, back in the day, could do them pretty darn well.  Li Lach was also fun because the chorus was the word “why” repeated over and over again, which meant that the dancers would swing joyously around the dance floor, polkaing and hollering out “why, why, why!” at the top of their lungs.

Fast forward forty-odd years:  I’ve made a playlist on Spotify that has hundreds of my favorite songs (many of which I share here on “just because music” posts).  These songs span decades, genres, and countries.  After I added Bashana Haba’ah to my playlist, it occurred to me to search out Li Lach.  I couldn’t find it on Spotify, so I turned to YouTube.

Sure enough, there on YouTube was the song Li Lach.  Unfortunately, it’s not a straight out recording but is, instead, the background music part for a video showing amateur Israeli folk dancers in a big gym.  (If anyone can find a straight recording, I’d sure appreciate that.)  For some reason, too, the recording is speeded up, so it makes the whole thing sound like an Alvin and the Chipmunks version of the song.

Despite its failings, I found the video fascinating for two reasons.  First, the choreography hasn’t changed in forty years.  And second, it’s a Chinese group doing the dancing.  That made me laugh until, with perfect timing, I read in PJ Media that the Chinese are fascinated (in a good way) by Jews and Judaism . . . so maybe it’s not so funny after all:

Over the past couple of decades the Chinese have become more interested in the Jews.  Of late the Chinese regime has been bringing Jewish scholars and theologians to the People’s Republic to discuss Torah, Talmud, Mishnah and even some of the more mystical tracts.

Read Michael Ledeen’s whole post to see his intriguing theory about this new love affair.

There is no peace on earth when a weakling sits on the throne

Obama halo

Both my children can sing, which is something of a surprise considering that my own caterwauling sends dogs running from the room.  One of the little Bookworms performed at a choral concert just yesterday and, at the close of the concert, the choir sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”  This song is very familiar to me.  When Obama was first inaugurated in 2009, the other little Bookworm was in a chorus that went to D.C. to perform at the inauguration.  The choir chose to sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” for America’s new president, a man who had just been awarded the Nobel Peace Price for doing . . . nothing.

For those of you who are not familiar with this lugubrious kumbaya chant, Vince Gill warbles through it here:

Musically, it’s boring; lyrically, it’s vapid; and politically, it’s deeply misguided.  It implies that simply being peaceful is enough to bring about peace. Too many Americans managed to convince themselves that Obama, merely by existing, was a bringer of peace.

The contrary is true:  Obama is a reminder that, when it comes the leaders of superpower nations, there are only two types of peace bringers: Those who create a Roman-style peace through conquest (“they make a desert and call it peace”) and those who serve as the world’s policeman, warning the bad actors to back off.

While we should all be grateful that Obama is not the first type of peace-bringer, it’s a disaster that he’s not the second type either. Under his weak international leadership, the world is a much more dangerous place. Syria is returning itself to the Stone Ages, one dead body at a time; the Mullahs in Iran are emboldened when it comes to their regional and genocidal aspirations; Iraq and Afghanistan, where Americans spilled their blood to bringing about less barbaric societies, are reverting to their old ways; and competitors in the world powerhouse sweepstakes are testing Obama’s strength — and finding it wanting.

The most recent entrant in that last category is China, which is testing Obama’s mettle when it comes to the skies over the East China Sea:

American leaders,for over two hundred years have recognized that, as a commercial nation, freedom of navigation was and would be vital to both our economic success and our economic security.

[snip]

The US has had a number of crises with China over freedom of air and maritime navigation:  The Matsu and Quemoy crisis in the 1950s; Maritime freedom of navigation in the Taiwan Straits; sailing aircraft carriers into the straits in the 1980s and 1990s; and, most recently, the air collision and forced downing of a Navy P-3 on Hainan Island.

As China becomes more confident, more nationalistic, more powerful militarily, and more economically aggressive (and arguably more desperate), these crises are likely to become more numerous and more escalatory.

The current crisis is unique for several reasons.  First, the East China Sea is not the Gulf of Sidra or the Taiwan Straits: It is a major air and maritime thoroughfare vital to Japanese, and particularly South Korean, economic security.  The precedent of allowing China to assert sovereignty of such a vital section of international airspace would be ominous.

Second, allowing China to do this would embolden further Chinese claims such as asserting exclusive economic and maritime jurisdiction over the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands.  For the Chinese, the objective is ultimately exclusive air, maritime, and economic rights out to the Second Island Chain, a vast enlargement of China’s sovereign control.

Third, the feckless response of the US to foreign crises under Obama does nothing but embolden our adversaries.  The fact that we all but apologized for sending B-52s into the claimed Air Defense Identification Zone (“it was a pre-planned exercise” not a provocation or assertion of air freedom of navigation) is further proof of the raw cowardice of this administration.

(Read the rest of this excellent analysis here.)

Peace on earth doesn’t just happen because we “let” it. It happens when you have a leader strong enough to rebuff the world’s bad actors. When it comes to Obama, the world’s bad actors have weighed him and found him wanting. Violence will inevitably follow.

Cultures as they want to be, and cultures as they actually are

Bear with me here hear, because I’m doing the blogging equivalent of thinking aloud.  I was at the post office today in my friendly little Marin town.  Unlike the rest of Marin the postal workers are not friendly.  They’re not actively rude, but they are surly.  Also, as always, the line was slow and long.  The office is set up to have four windows open, but only one was operational.

I actually understand the open windows reflect staffing problems.  Nevertheless, it’s profoundly irritating to see the implicit promise of those empty clerk windows.  Incidentally, in my entire life, and we’re talking post office visits going back to the 1960s, I’ve never seen all windows operational.  Some loony architect must have designed post offices with a sense of goofy optimism that, by throwing in extra windows, people would actually get served more quickly.  What my “n” of one says (“n” being my lifetime of experiences in Bay Area, Austin, and Dallas post offices) is that the delays and under-staffing are not the result of the chronic deficit afflicting the post office.  Email hasn’t brought the service to such a sorry point.  It’s been this way for at least 40 years, through boom times and bust.

But back to my thinking aloud.  Where was I?  Oh, right.  Long line, one clerk.  The one clerk is a Chinese man who speaks what used to be called in the bad old days of racism “pidgin” English.  It’s totally workable, but it’s sufficiently minimalist and accented that you need to be fairly alert to catch what he’s saying.  Other than the communication problems — which are rather significant, really, when one considers that his job is to communicate with customers — it’s clear that this guy knows his job.  He rings things up, stamps them, tells users which forms to use, etc., all with aplomb, confidence and, of course, surliness.

Today, though, there was a problem.  A very elderly man, quite deaf, and barely standing (owing to the fact that, as he told the clerk, he’d just been released from the hospital after getting a hip replacement) needed an envelope and a stamp.  He did what people used to do in the old days, when the post office was full service, rather than barely service:  he asked the clerk for an envelope.  While pointing to a wall behind the shrunken, shaky old man, the clerk snapped back, “You get der.  Envelope der.”

The man quavered again, “What?  What are you saying?  I need an envelope.”  The clerk again snapped at him.  “I no give envelope.  You get der.  Envelope der.”

Those of us in line waited with bated breath.  What I assumed was that, after two, maybe three, rounds, the clerk would say, “Never mind.  I get for you.”  But he didn’t.

Just as I was ready to break out of my analysis paralysis (do I butt in?  will it offend the old man? am I reading the situation correctly?), the gal in line behind me said loudly, “I know how it feels to have a hip replacement.  I’ll get it.”  She walked to the wall with the envelopes and, turning to the clerk, asked “Which one?”

At which point the clerk, obviously relieved not to have to deal with the man, snapped at her “Dat one.  No!  Dat one.”

Once the man had his envelope, things went a little better but I did what I usually do, which was to start thinking.

I’ve grown up surrounded by Asians.  Not Americanized Asians, but people from mainland China or Hong Kong or Taiwan.  One of the things one always hears about Chinese culture, going back at least as far as the romantic and often misleading Pearl S. Buck, is that the Chinese have a reverence for aged people.  Watching the postal employee, I saw no signs of reverence, just irritation.  At first I was inclined to attribute this to being a postal employee, but it occurred to me, looking back on my life in San Francisco, that Chinese people are often extremely rude to old people limited by physical frailty, or hearing and visual impairment.  It seems that they’re not necessarily respectful of all old people, just of their old people.

I discussed this notion with my sister, and she said that, up in her neck of the woods in Oregon, the Chinese have an appalling reputation for elder abuse.  I’ve heard similar things in the Bay Area.

So, a few random thoughts:

1.  Was I witnessing the chasm between a society’s ideal and its practice?

2.  Was I witnessing the destruction of a societal ideal thanks to more than 50 years of Communist rule?

3.  Am I refining too much on a single postal worker, in an industry that, in my experience, is notoriously surly.

Incidentally, none of the other clerks I’ve dealt with at this same post office speaks English as his or her primary language.  All of these front line clerks are extremely difficult to understand.

And then of course, the big question:  What about our culture?  Do we still have behavioral ideals?  Is there a huge chasm between ideal and practice and, if there is, is the chasm attributable to 40 years of Leftism in the public square or to the usual gap between aspirations and actual deeds?

Your opinions would be very welcome.

BTW, I hope it’s not to late to say that I’m all good when it comes to Asians.  In high school, I only had Asian friends, so much so that they and I used to joke that I’m honorary Asian.  I hate the colors that they paint their houses (sorry, mustard puke or black just don’t work for me) but, as a culture, I admire their industry, their family values and, of course, their food.  On individual level, some people are more or less nice, or more or less honest, or more or less interesting than others.  I take ‘em as they come.

The wages of socialism — mass murder

Ukrainian peasants starve to death in the streets, 1933

Last year, my friend Bruce Kesler, who blogs at a wonderful conservative group blog called Maggie’s Farm, directed me to a book called Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. What makes this book different from other books about that era is that it doesn’t just examine the murderous years of WWII.  Instead, it also examines the carnage Hitler and Stalin wrought during the 1930s, in the lead-up to WWII.  It is an absolutely devastating book, describing the unimaginable scale of death that two socialist leaders — Stalin and Hitler — visited on the region between their two countries.

Although Hitler industrialized the killing machine, it was Stalin who created the model when he decided to destroy the Ukrainian kulaks (independent small farmers) who were standing in the way of his vision of a collectivized agrarian nation.  To achieve his goal, he brutally starved these farmers to death — 20 to 30 million of them.  Reading author Timothy Snyder’s description of their suffering is horrible — but it’s something that we need to read in order that we never forget how fundamentally evil socialism is.  The ones who really should read this book, of course, are American socialists, but sadly, they’re unlikely to do so.

If you can get a socialist to read Bloodlands, but he has still failed to learn his lesson about what happens when government — which lacks a conscience — decides that its job isn’t to enable individual freedom but is, instead, to control all people without regard to individualism, have him read Yang Jisheng’s book, Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962. Hard as it is to believe, Stalin and Hitler were just the warm-ups for Mao, the Chinese leader who, inspired by Stalin, may well hold the record for being the biggest mass murderer in human history.

Arthur Waldron, writing at The New Criterion reviews Jisheng’s book and his review shows that this is a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand why Leftists are fools when they’re frightened of corporations and, instead, want desperately to place control over every aspect of their lives in government hands.  It is impossible for a corporation to wreak the kind of havoc that socialist governments have visited upon their people.  The estimates for Mao’s killing fields during his “man-created disaster” range from 36 to 70 million.  (The higher number includes the babies that never got born to a starving population.)  As happened with Stalin’s socialist-created famine, people in dire straits did unspeakable things to survive, including cannibalism.  As Snyder said in his book (and I paraphrase), “an orphan was a child whose parents died before they ate him.”

When word of the Chinese famine got out, Mao blamed unspecified natural causes, and a credulous, Left-leaning, Walter Duranty-esque media dutifully passed this on.  It was a lie, of course.  There was nothing unusual about Chinese weather patterns from 1958-1962.  Moreover, even as the people died in the millions, food filled warehouses and party officials dined in style.

Jisheng knows firsthand about the famine:  alerted that something was wrong in his native rural area, he left the city with a rice ration, but arrived too late to save his father who, though alive, had become too starved to do anything but die.  When this happened, Jisheng accepted the party line and didn’t question the thousands of deaths in his area of rural China.  It was only during the mid-1960s Cultural Revolution, which saw many millions more die, that Jisheng began to realize that the problem wasn’t nature or farmers or people who needed re-education — it was Mao’s socialist policies, all of which officials throughout China unquestioningly accepted, either because they were true believers, because they were mindless party drones, or because they were afraid.

Although Jisheng’s book isn’t the first to tell about the famine, Waldron thinks it’s the best:

Tombstone, however, is without a doubt the definitive account—for now and probably for a long time. The Chinese original is two volumes and banned in that country. In Hong Kong it has sold out eight printings. The English version has been most skillfully shortened, edited, and rearranged by a team of Western and Chinese scholars, with an eye to making what is very much a massive compilation of statistics and reportage into a volume more accessible to the English-speaking reader.

This is a book whose importance must be compared with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago (1973) in that it documents beyond the possibility of refutation ghastly horrors that were first rumored, then denied, then written about a bit, but only with Solzhenitsyn and Yang were so thoroughly documented and analyzed as to place them beyond question.

You should read Waldron’s review and then, if you have the heart and stomach for it, read Jisheng’s book.

When socialism fails, as it invariably does, the American Left equally invariably claims that the failure isn’t because the plan was fundamentally flawed.  To socialists, the problem is always implementation and the culprit is always the Republicans who made it impossible for the Democrats fully to implement their plans.  Books such as Bloodlands and Tombstone remind us precisely what happens when the Left has unfettered access to a helpless population.  Every person in America should be thanking God for Republican foot-dragging, and should hope that they drag their feet ever harder and faster.

Mitt was correct about China

One of the points Mitt raised in talking about trade with China is the fact that China cheats, not just be manipulating currency (which Mitt also mentioned) but also by failing to stop counterfeiting.  (I’d be willing to bet that the government encourages counterfeiting, but I don’t have any proof and am too lazy to seek it out right now).  As part of my new computer, I needed to download a driver.  On the driver download page, I found this statement from the manufacturer:

Warning Notice:

Please be warned that counterfeit (fake) PL-2303HX (Chip Rev A) USB to Serial Controller ICs using Prolific’s trademark logo, brandname, and device drivers, were being sold in the China market. Counterfeit IC products show exactly the same outside chip markings but generally are of poor quality and causes Windows driver compatibility issues (Yellow Mark Error Code 10 in Device Manager). We issue this warning to all our customers and consumers to avoid confusion and false purchase.

Please be warned that selling counterfeit products are illegal and punishable by civil and criminal courts according to the trademark, copyright, and intellectual properties laws and regulations. Prolific will take proper and severe actions to cease and confiscate these counterfeit products. Prolific also prohibits the distribution of any PL-2303 drivers (including download links) without written permission from Prolific.

Prolific advices end-users to only purchase vendor branded cable products with company name contact information for service and support. Prolific does not sell cables with Prolific brand and packaging. In case you suspect a counterfeit chip inside, you may also contact Prolific to provide the vendor information.

The above notice makes it quite clear that the counterfeiting doesn’t only steal from legitimate businesses, it also puts American businesses at risk. A fake Gucci won’t cause any problems to the end buyer beyond social humiliation. A fake computer part, though, can cause a disastrous and costly computer failure.

China’s economy is rosy only if you don’t mind that it’s shrinking, corrupt and sometimes deadly

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.

Andy Stern

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:

You Say Tomato, I Say ‘the Usually Large Rounded Typically Red or Yellow Pulpy Berry of an Herb (Genus Lycopersicon) of the Nightshade Family’

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.)

What happened to little Yue Yue was entirely predictable

Over the past week, China has been convulsed by a video that shows a little girl — 2 years old — clad in pink trousers, struck by two vans and then ignored by over a dozen passers-by, who cavalierly stepped around her broken, bleeding body:

Little Yue Yue has since died, but China, in an embarrassed way, is trying to come to terms with what her death means.   The MSM  helpfully hints that the problem is China’s burgeoning capitalism:

China’s economic boom and the growing disparity between the rich and poor have made changing social values a contentious topic, with some lamenting what they see as materialism replacing morals.

The same article gets a little closer to the mark, in the last paragraph, when it suggests that China’s willingness to impose severe punishment on people makes them disinclined to get involved:

Many people in China are hesitant to help people who appear to be in distress for fear that they will be blamed. High-profile lawsuits have ended with good Samaritans ordered to pay hefty fines to individuals they sought to help.

I’d like to suggest another possible societal paradigm:  China’s one child policy.  This policy says that urban, married couples may have only one child.  Approximately 40% of China’s population is subject to this policy.  The government takes it very seriously, going so far as to force abortions of full term babies on unwilling women:

During the past week, dozens of women in southwest China have been forced to have abortions even as late as nine months into the pregnancy, according to evidence uncovered by NPR.

China’s strict family planning laws permit urban married couples to have only one child each, but in some of the recent cases — in Guangxi Province — women say they were forced to abort what would have been their first child because they were unmarried. The forced abortions are all the more shocking because family planning laws have generally been relaxed in China, with many families having two children.

Liang Yage and his wife Wei Linrong had one child and believed that — like many other couples — they could pay a fine and keep their second baby. Wei was 7 months pregnant when 10 family planning officials visited her at home on April 16.

Liang describes how they told her that she would have to have an abortion, “You don’t have any more room for maneuver,” he says they told her. “If you don’t go [to the hospital], we’ll carry you.” The couple was then driven to Youjiang district maternity hospital in Baise city.

“I was scared,” Wei told NPR. “The hospital was full of women who’d been brought in forcibly. There wasn’t a single spare bed. The family planning people said forced abortions and forced sterilizations were both being carried out. We saw women being pulled in one by one.”

The couple was given a consent agreement to sign. When Liang refused, family planning officials signed it for him. He and his wife are devout Christians — he is a pastor — and they don’t agree with abortion.

The officials gave Wei three injections in the lower abdomen. Contractions started the next afternoon, and continued for almost 16 hours. Her child was stillborn.

The above story is from a few years ago, but it could have happened last year too:

A pregnant woman in China was detained, beaten and forced to have an abortion just a month before her due date because the baby would have violated the country’s one-child limit, her husband said today.

Luo Yanquan, a construction worker, said his wife was taken kicking and screaming from their home by more than a dozen people on 10 October and detained in a clinic for three days by family planning officials, then taken to a hospital and injected with a drug that killed her baby.

Usually it doesn’t come to actual government coercion. Why not? Because the Chinese people themselves, knowing that they’re limited to one baby, and rejoicing in a culture that values only boys, take matters into their own hands, routinely aborting female babies, a disgusting practice that has earned it’s own name of “gendercide“:

By the year 2020, there will be 30 million more men than women of marriageable age in this giant empire, so large and so different (its current population is 1,336,410,000) that it often feels more like a separate planet than just another country. Nothing like this has ever happened to any civilisation before.

Yuan Quan slipped into a busy down-market establishment in a grim and basic part of town, with a flourishing market for stolen bicycles just outside, and the police looking the other way.

She asked the abortionist if he ever aborted boys. He gaped. ‘Are you mad?’ he almost shouted, ‘Nobody aborts boys unless they are deformed. Girls are what we abort.’

This cheap and squalid storefront business offers abortions from around £10. Scans, which reveal a baby’s sex, cost a fiver. True, this is a rough neighbourhood, but similar businesses flourish in more respectable districts as well.

They usually start from £20, while supposedly painless procedures can go up to about £200.

The authorities, who have no moral objection to abortion itself, have been known to force women to have abortions in their ninth month of pregnancy to keep to the one-child policy.

They cannot really complain about the huge numbers of legal, commercial abortionists. Nor can they do much to ban the cheap portable scanning machines which detect the sex of the baby and condemn so many unborn girls to death.

Once you know more about China’s attitude to girls, it is surprising that so many survive.

So was it capitalism that deadened those drivers and passers-by to the death of one little girl, or was it a culture that traditionally devalues girls and that has, for thirty years, had enforced a government policy that, inevitably, means that girls are killed in utero?  If girls are so valueless in utero, why should their value increase ex utero?  The message that Chinese citizens have absorbed is simple:  Don’t get involved as a general matter because the government is likely to come after you — and considering the risk, you should especially avoid getting involved with a manifestly disposable citizen, i.e., one little girl in bright pink trousers.

 

The Business of China and U.S.

Given this blog’s recent flogging of the China versus U.S. (“us”) question, here is  a primary example of how China may surpass the U.S. by becoming more business friendly as it decentralizes while the U.S. risks having to learn the lessons of socialist history all over again as our over-regulated economy grinds down to a slow crawl.

In this linked article at the American Spectator, an entrepreneur compares and contrasts the difficulties of and disincentives for creating new businesses in our country, under our increasingly socialist, statist form of governance.

http://spectator.org/archives/2011/05/10/killing-manufacturing

Money quote: “Now, this is China so the government and the state share 30% of your business, but considering the ease of entry, increased in-country sales and helpful attitude, this is a small price to pay, especially considering America’s 35% plus corporate tax rates.”

Here, the author makes an excellent point: when the State demands 35% of a company’s earnings (I believe that Mafia shake-down artists usually demand a smaller percentage in protection money, but I may be wrong), the State de facto owns a 35% equity interest in the company…with only one major difference: it shares 0% of the risk borne by shareholders.

Is America on the road to becoming a socialist paradise like, say, Europe’s former Soviet Block during the 1960s? Naaah…don’t think so! Our future will not be one of mythical straight-line Progessive projections.

I predict instead that, given American individual initiative and creativity, our trajectory will be more like that of an Argentina – once a leading economic jewel, now a pathetic, tired, broke 3rd-world backwater. In such economic environs, two groups will prosper: the government-sanctioned nomenklatura and those clever and adept enough to profit from the inevitable underground economy.

Sad story!

They really, really respect us, now

Chinese-born pianist Lang Lang plays an old, Korean-war vintage anti-American song, “Battle on Shangganling Mountain”, at Obama’s state dinner for Chinese President Hu-Jintao. The Chinese, of course, just loved it.

I can just feel the respect our competitors in the world have for us, now that international relations have been “reset”.

This will not end well.

China not quite the sophisticated, humane country Tom Friedman thinks it is

Lately, you can’t read a Tom Friedman article without gagging.  Oh, sorry.  I didn’t mean to say that.  Let me try again.

I mean that you can’t read a Tom Friedman article without having him praise China to the skies as the example America should follow.  (I gather that the Saudis have fallen somewhat in his estimation.  I don’t know if it was the misogyny, the homophobia or the antisemitism that did it, or maybe he took umbrage when the Saudis turned on Al Qaeda.)  In any event, I thought Friedman would find this story interesting:

Wang Cuyun was attempting to prevent a demolition team from knocking down her house when she was allegedly beaten by a worker with a wooden stick and then pushed into a ditch that had been dug around the property.

A bulldozer then covered Mrs Wang with earth, burying her alive. By the time her relatives dug her up, she was dead. The incident occurred last Wednesday in Maodian village in Huangpi district.

Mrs Wang’s case is the latest in a series of cases in China that have drawn widespread public condemnation of the behaviour of rapacious property developers and the government’s failure to intervene. Last year, Tang Fuzhen, a woman in Sichuan province, climbed on to the roof of her three-storey house and set herself on fire to protest against being evicted.

With house prices rocketing across the country, developers often team up with local governments to force homeowners out of their property, according to a recent report by Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), an NGO based in Hong Kong.

It is not possible to refuse an eviction in China, since the government technically owns all the land.

Chinese law also does not require developers to agree a compensation fee before they demolish a property.

“The current framework offers little protection to homeowners,” said a spokesman for CHRD.

Read the rest here.

Admittedly, the story’s not about direct government action (rather, it is about government inaction), but it does indicate a certain cavalier attitude towards life that we might not wish to emulate here.  I’m sure Friedman will find some convoluted, cliche-ridden, soporific and illogical way to explain why this act of cruelty, one that seems to be part of a pattern, reflects well, rather than badly, on our primary debt holder.