Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taiwan vs. That Other China

Less Socialism Equals More Freedom and More Prosperity

A Mao Fan-boy
If you read and believe folks like Thomas L. Friedman, you would think that everybody in China now makes $40,000 per year and that their embrace of "Capitalism" done right brought them there.  Well, Friedman and his cronies are right, but not in the way that they think.  You must give them a little leeway.  They live in a world where Mao is a hero, "The Great Leap Forward" is viewed as a stroke of brilliance gone awry, "The Cultural Revolution" is a great awakening, and Chiang Kai-shek was the fly in the ointment who prevented a 'superior' International Socialist Utopia from emerging in Asia.

For many Chinese and other normal folk, the real government of China is in Taipei, Taiwan. Some hope that any day now the Maoist writers in the West will realize that true freedoms and commerce exist in Taiwan and the wise thing to do is spread that wiseness to the mainland.  Some of us are not holding our breath.  After all, the per capita GDP of Taiwan was $37,209 in 2010, with 1% inflation and less than 1.2% of the population below the poverty line.

A Maoist
Now, the China that Friedman and his lemmings think that they are talking about has some not so shining stats: GDP (PPP) $8,289, 4.1% unemployment and almost 3% below the poverty line.  The last two statistics are questionable.

The People's 'Republic' of China just began allowing private property in 2007 and the state still owns all land.  Proponents of the PRC's recent growth cite the adoption of "capitalism" in the same way that they throw other words around: without meaning or substance.  Sure, China has invited in corporations from the rest of the world and supplied slaves to work in the new factories as China becomes the biggest crony capitalist regime since Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy.

Granted, Red China set some incredible records in the 20th century.  During Mao's "Great Leap Forward" Red China produced more unusable steel than all of the other nations of the world combined.  In the process, they destroyed forests (in the manner that American tree farms are falsely accused of) and starved tens of millions of people to death.

A Nationalist
In the mean time, that other China, Taiwan, endured a state of Martial Law, necessary to repel the Red Chinese military incursions that lasted well into the 1960s.  When the state of emergency eased, so did Martial Law, which was replaced by a democracy in the 1980s, that endures to this day.  Something key throughout the evolution of the Republic of China (Taiwan) was something known as the Taiwan Miracle.  This "miracle" was commerce, ownership of private property and a gold standard currency.  Taiwan 'suffered' the same "fate" as Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong.

A phrase I have heard a few times in the past from Socialists is "You are not more free, you just have more stuff."  In a tragic way, this backwards comment describes the current Red China perfectly.  It is a dictatorial regime without the simplest of freedoms, but the slaves have a bountiful choice in consumer goods.  George F. Will expressed some needed concern about this state of affairs on the Charlie Rose Show in 2008.  That a prosperous, market allocating, semi capitalistic economy and an unchanged oppressive regime is quite dangerous.

For some reason, to the likes of Friedman and others, Taiwan is invisible to them at best and the 'reason' for Red China's problems at worst.  It is as if Taiwan is the Israel of the Pacific for all of the failed Socialists to blame their problems.

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