Streetwise Professor

September 11, 2011

Double That for WWCD

Filed under: Economics,Politics — The Professor @ 4:27 pm

Another rhetorical horse that Obama continues to flog–and did so during his most recent epistle to the great unwashed–is to compare the US unfavorably to China.  This may send a tingle up the leg of Sinophilic dipsticks (self-censorship alert!) like Thomas Friedman, but it is deeply unpersuasive.

For one thing, the similarities between on the one hand a desperately poor country experiencing a burst of growth largely driven by (a) integration into the world economy after decades in isolation, and (b) an unbalanced, export-driven, price-distorting strategy that is not sustainable over the long run, and on the other a mature, market-based economy are very limited.  China needs to build infrastructure because, uhm, it has no freaking infrastructure.  And it has probably built too much, too fast, and too shoddily.  I remain a China bear.  But even given that, their economic and social conditions are so wildly divergent from ours that what might work for them is of limited instructional value for us.  Indeed, given the differences, imitation is likely to be wholly counterproductive.

For another thing, China is deeply unappealing as a social and political and yes environmental model, and those who find it attractive (see dipstick reference above) betray their power fantasies and fascist tendencies.  I do not say that lightly.  The frisson that 1920s and 1930s-era progressives got from the original incarnation of fascism was quite real.  Progressives have never overcome their infatuation with the use of state power to achieve their policy dreams.  For a progressive president (who has avowed his progressivism, so that is his label, not mine) to make favorable comparisons to China should be deeply troubling, yet it has received virtually no comment.

And no, I do not see Obama or his ideological or political allies tempted to emulate the CCP.  But the failure to understand the intimate link between Chinese economic policy and practice and its repressive political system does betray a willingness to rely on coercive, dirigiste, and statist means to achieve policy goals.  That was true in the 1930s, and it would be that way again, if Obama et al had their way.  It was detrimental to US economic recovery 80 years ago, and would be so today.  Not to mention the corrosive effects on individual liberties and personal autonomy.

So, when Obama says “we’re not doing what China is doing” I say: Amen to that.  My rough rule of thumb is as follows.  In answer to the question WWCD?, the best reply is: “The exact opposite, if possible.”

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1 Comment »

  1. A slave labor force in conjunction with no enviormental regulations does provide certain advantages to China with current trade policies.

    You forgot to mention the Captain of the Cheer Squad for China-George Soros.

    Comment by pahoben — September 12, 2011 @ 8:50 am

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