21 Jan
2011
Posted in: Blog
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Time Magazine, Chicom Rag

Often you hear claims that Conservative complaints of a Liberal media bias are overblown.  Matt Lauer and Diane Sawyer, Brian Williams and Anderson Cooper – they’re not conservatives, sure, but you cannot claim they are overtly liberal in their broadcasting.  That’s what they say.

Every now and the, however, the mainstream press puts out an article so flagrantly – day I say? – anti-American that any conservative over-hype seems justified.  So Time did yesterday.

In an article entitled Why China Does Capitalism Better than the U.S., Tony Karon of the once-esteemed magazine drips contempt at the idea of liberal (that’s small “l” liberal) democracy and trumpets the growing influence of China and its ruling Communist Party.  Opens the article:

One of the great ironies revealed by the global recession that began in 2008 is that Communist Party–ruled China may be doing a better job managing capitalism’s crisis than the democratically elected U.S. government. Beijing’s stimulus spending was larger, infinitely more effective at overcoming the slowdown and directed at laying the infrastructural tracks for further economic expansion.

One may note that nowhere does it dawn on the author to even consider that half the country was against all government stimulus spending.  The point here is to suggest that the Communist Party was bold, decisive, and constructive, whereas our messy democracy squandered the (too small) stimulus spending.  “As Western democracies shuffle wheezily forward, China’s economy roars along at a steady clip, having lifted some half a billion people out of poverty over the past three decades and rapidly created the world’s largest middle class to provide an engine for long-term domestic consumer demand.”

In the age of Obamacare, bailouts, and takeovers maybe article of this tenor should not come as a surprise.  Politics as practiced is ultimately a reflection of the culture, and in ours there exists significant sympathy for perpetual government intervention (AIG), industrial privilege to tax dollars (GM, Chrysler, banks), and top-down planning (Obamacare).  Time, a national periodical, seemingly adores the Chicoms, who do not bother to dress their authoritarianism in the lofty rhetoric of democratic idealism;  they just get stuff done.

What, specifically, is it that we’re supposed to envy about China?   Time quotes Francis Fukuyama, described as an “erstwhile neoconservative,” explaining that China’s system can “make large, complex decisions quickly, and … make them relatively well, at least in economic policy.”  Further, Fukuyama praises China’s ability to “adap[t] quickly, mak[e] difficult decisions and implemen[t] them effectively,”  Following the theme of the lead paragraph, it is reinforced that the American system has

[B]ecome polarised and ideologically rigid. At present it shows little appetite for dealing with the long-term fiscal challenges the U.S. faces. Democracy in America may have an inherent legitimacy that the Chinese system lacks, but it will not be much of a model to anyone if the government is divided against itself and cannot govern.

Opines the author, “Efficient and rational decision making it’s not. Nor does it appear capable of tackling long-term problems.”* In case you were wondering what the Chinese people were getting in exchange for basic human rights, helpfully embedded in the text is a link to a Time article on “China’s High-Speed Rail.”

That about sums up the disgraceful slant of Time and the apparent loss of conviction by a famous “erstwhile neoconservative” in free democratic societies.  But is there any truth to it?  America is suffering from a complex combination of economic factors and misguided policy that continue to hamper growth.  Paramount among these factors is the burst of the housing bubble, inflated by an easy money policy of nation’s central bank, whose own decision making process – closed-off, insulated from Congress, secretive – resembles in many ways the Chicom’s.

Add to this a policy prescription of more regulation, dramatically increased Federal government spending, stricter “green” regulations on manufacturing, and unease about future tax rates and it should be no wonder why America has yet to recover.  What’s never considered by the Time author is the alternate possibility, shunned by all Democrats and many Republicans, of letting the economy recover through unhampered market exchanges; the alternate possibility of lifting regulations and eliminating bureaucracies, cutting spending, and announcing that the most painful taxes will be eased or eliminated altogether.

There’s much more to dislike in this Time article from the perspective of a conservative (and generally thoughtful person) including muddled history (cf. Karon’s strained commentary on Marxism which seems to hit the wrong note), myopic focus (purported economic growth at the expense of civil liberties), and selective use of statistics (we know America is suffering from the worst poverty in 80 years, but how many truly destitute people live in China?).  An untold number of trees could have been spared the fate of drivel delivery had Karon condensed his article to “America Sucks, Go China!”

In many ways, today’s intellectual climate is reminiscent of the 1930’s: a flagging America, wading through the aftermath of a credit boom and bust, looking east and seeing the apparent rise of authoritarian regimes in Germany and Italy, and striving to emulate them.  Our envy today is in the tradition of that which delivered to us the Fair Deal and New Deal – sequential, dramatic government overreaches that created perpetual unemployment and loss of faith in American capitalism.  Modern China is not Nazi Germany, to be sure, but the commonality they do share is ruthless, tyrannical government action directed at citizens who dare oppose party decree.

Surely this is not our fate.  History delivers a clear judgment on what legal institution ensures prosperity and growth, protects our freedom, and creates a stable and cohesive society.  That institution is private property.

*”Efficient” and “rational” are two words that have been associated with Socialism/Communism for almost two centuries, despite these systems being anything but.  For example, to maximize the efficiency and rationality of France, Saint Simon advocated thinking of all of France as one factory, with different divisions under one authoritarian management; Lenin famously wrote that Russia should “organize the whole economy on the lines of the postal service.”  While in France this was never accomplished, to the extent centralization of all decision making was possible, humanity witnessed the horrific effects of such thinking in Communist countries, including Russia and China, throughout the 20th century.  Famine, rationing, and general poverty disprove the aptness of the two aforementioned adjectives, to say nothing of the dehumanizing social phenomena including secret police, gulags and prisons, antipathy towards authority, and distrust of neighbor.

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2 Comments

  • Well, maybe Time is on to something… maybe we should strive toward the image and likeness of the communist Chinese…. First I propose the annexation of Canada for its resources (think Tibet). Secondly, I propose usage of natural resources as inefficiently as possible (Bejing Olympics anyone?). Finally, I would argue that we should arbitrarily detain any government dissenters (e.g. those pesky tea party people), afterall, they only stand in the way of swiftly moving forward with any given agenda.

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