Open Thread

I’m gone for a day or two as I head back to Asia.

I’m back. Please chat while I recover from the jet lag.

The Discussion: 117 Comments

Richard, may God – or the Great Duck in the Sky – bless and keep you on your journey back.

February 7, 2006 @ 3:58 pm | Comment

“Great Duck in the Sky”? Have we moved on from the Flying Spaghetti Monster to a Greak Duck now?

Either way, what Ivan said.

February 7, 2006 @ 4:34 pm | Comment

On the issue of “Suquence in doing things”

There’s a story that says a person wanted to live on the third floor. So he asked his workers to build him a building that only has the third floor. He did not understand that you could not live on the third floor without buildig the first 2 floors first.

In ancient Chinese, there’s a famous classic book called “Da Xue” (Big Study). In it, there’s a sentence: “Objects and Things have beginnings and ends.”

This is the most useful rule to know in everyone’s life. Why not let me give you some examples:

Russia’s Putin recently raised two issues:

1) Russia wants to be a full member of the G7.
2) Russia wants to join the WTO, but only under favorable conditions

China also did those 2 things, but in a different sequence. A fews years ago, the West has invited China to join the G7, but China did not accept. Only after China joined the WTO did China went to the G7 annual meeting, and it brought India, Brazil and Mexico to go along as well. The motivation behind this is of course very simple: China joined the WTO by playing the role of a developing country, so it cannot join this “rich club” G7 alone without some third-world friends. So China handled the sequence correctly. If Russisa joins the G7 first, then it’ll be hard for it to join the WTO with favorable conditions.

In economic reform, Russia and China also were met with similar problems in their early days, that is: low productivity of state-owned companies. Russia adopted the method of “shock therapy”, by cheaply selling off all state-owned companies, then start to creating private companies. China used a more traditional method, that method was to “work on a few pressure points, gain experience, then spread it to the whole chess board”. So China first created “Special Economic Zones” (SEZ’s) in Shenzhen, sucking capital and technology by creating “joint-ventures”, while keeping the old state-owned companies. This method seemed very slow, but was very stable. China’s method is like giving a patient some medicine and nutrition, and wait till he is stable to start any surgery. Russia method is to immediately give the patient an anesthesia, then cut open his belly to do surgery, and it hurts the patient more than it helps. Whose method was better? Well, In the 80’s, Russia’s GDP was much much higher than China’s. Today, Russia’s GDP is about 1/3 of China’s. Looks like China can be Russia’ teacher in economic reforms.

Same thing with political reform, I’ll omit this.

History proves that when a backward country wants to catch up to the rest of the world, it often needs a very strong and tough central gov’t with a lot of power to push the progress. Such as Li Guang Yao’s Singapore, Jiang Jing Guo’s Taiwan, Hongkong under early Britain rule, and the 40 year long rule of “Zi Ming” party in Japan. Decades ago, South Korea also adapted a very tough rule by the gov’t, and it pushed South Korea to what it is today. In other words, the “lack of human rights” in South Korea in the 70 and 80’s is the unavoidable price for its prosperity today. “Political opening up” comes after “economic development” is the First Law of Human Society.

For example, if you were sick for 1 month and missed all of your classes, how do you catch up to your classmates? Your classmates could go to museums and concerts on weekends because they are not behind in their studies. But you may have no choice but to study and read on weekends and late nights. So the “not going to concerts” is the price you pay to catch up to your classmates. After you catch up, of course, you may “open up” and “loosen” and go to concerts just like your classmates.

In fact, even you agree that China today is walking towards democracy. If you follow Mao to Deng to Jiang to Hu, each person’s authority is decreasing, and there’s increasing focus on “rule by concensus” rather than “rule by personal opinion”. So in 2022, when Hu transfers to another person like Wang. Wang would likely have even less power than Hu did, and he may be forced to consult with his colleagues more. And when Wang transfers power to Zhang in 2030, Zhang would be forced to make the political bureau to include more people, and would be forced to consult people outside of the political bureau, and when Zhang passes to someone else in 2040, etc. etc.

The important thing for China today is 1) the transfer of power is peaceful 2) the society and economic is stable 3) no wars or big political movements 4) decisions are made with deep research and discussion amongst officials. I think China today is following those 4 rules very well, and there’s no need to speed up “political reform” like many people say. Doing so would be “out of sequence” and very bad.

February 7, 2006 @ 8:08 pm | Comment

That’s a striking analysis! But don’t forget the little people.

February 7, 2006 @ 8:52 pm | Comment

Alright, I’ll nibble on Math’s bait just a bit. He said:

“In the 80s, Russia’s GDP was much higher than China’s.”

Well, it probably was – however, in the 1980s Russia was a Communist country which lied about its economic figures, just like China does today. It’s true that Russia’s economy was better than China’s in the 80s, but it’s impossible to measure precisely, because Communists like about their economic figures.

Further, he said, “today Russia’s GDP is around 1/3 of China’s.” That is also debatable (because China’s Communists lie about economic figures, without any transparency), but even if we accept this as true, Russia’s population is around1/10th of China’s. Therefore Russia’s GDP per capita is FAR higher than China’s.

Finally, Russia is not experience tens of thousands of violent protests every year, as Communist China is.

February 7, 2006 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

damn typo errors, I mean “lie”, not “like”

February 7, 2006 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

Math, your comments at best make only partial sense.

So we’ve come from a time where Mao had so much power that people didn’t pluck hairs from the meats they ate because “hairs” sounded like “mao” to a time where you have to have reasonable policies. We don’t deserve a cookie for that.

China’s growth is a great thing. And it is due in large part to today’s freedom of communication and transfer of technology (going into communist China), as it is much about the cheap labor and education in China.

Comparisons such has “look what we’ve done in the last 20 years” is fine, as long as you avoid the “look how we screwed up the country and destroyed its culture and economy in the 30 years before that.”

They are great for telling stories and championing the Chinese spirit under the illustrious Communist party, but it hardly makes a logical argument.

February 7, 2006 @ 10:24 pm | Comment

On the issue of “the sequence of doing things” – here’s my suggested version, to supplement Math’s:

What I did on my summer vacation.
On the first day of my summer vacation, I woke up. Then I went downtown, to look for a job. Then I hung out on the streetcorner.
On the second day of my summer vacation, I woke up. Then I went downtown, to look for a job. Then I hung out on the streetcorner. On the third day…. (etc etc)….”

(Actually Cheech and Chong wrote that.)

February 7, 2006 @ 11:51 pm | Comment

History proves that when a backward country wants to catch up to the rest of the world, it often needs a very strong and tough central gov’t with a lot of power to push the progress.

Naw. What history proves is that you need a nation open to trade and willing to upgrade their education, as well as to be open to new ideas and technologies. Taiwan had a strong central government in the 1950s but the island’s economy didn’t perform well.

The US caught up without a strong centralized government.

Given the actual independence of the provinces, how ‘strong’ and ‘centralized’ is the government of China really?


February 8, 2006 @ 1:22 am | Comment

Mike Turton,

Yep. And Switzerland ALSO did extremely well without a strong centralised government, over the last few hundred years.

And I especially like Switzerland as an exemplar of how having “unified National consciousness” or whatever nationalistic bullshit, is NOT necessary for a strong state or a strong economy. Switzerland is a glorious mess (like America), and all the more prosperous for that.

February 8, 2006 @ 2:02 am | Comment

Anyone have cartoons of Mao-hammad?

February 8, 2006 @ 2:25 pm | Comment

Here’s one!

February 8, 2006 @ 2:34 pm | Comment

Michael, Ivan – how about the argument that today’s nations are more susceptible to external influences however, so countries going through dynamic change helps to have a strong leadership?

February 8, 2006 @ 4:50 pm | Comment

What’s a strong leader? Someone whom history loves, but no one wants to live under. How do people get a rep for being a strong leader? Silencing critics, shooting dissidents. Leadership isn’t about strength, but about creating visions of the future a getting others to follow it. Most “strong leaders” are people interested in preserving their power, not creating better lives for the citizens whose public good is in their keeping.


February 8, 2006 @ 9:04 pm | Comment

M Turton,

I’m not sure how widely your remarks can be applied. For example, I’d call Franklin Roosevelt a strong leader, but I’d much rather live under him than under Commander Codpiece Bunnypants.

February 8, 2006 @ 9:10 pm | Comment

For all his warts, Clinton was a strong leader. So was JFK, so was Ronald Reagan. (All three understood the power of rhetoric and the art of communication, essential ingredients of leadership.) Tony Blair is a strong leader, even if he idiotically hitched his star to the Big Chimp. So I’m not convinced of Michael’s argument. I guess it depends on how we define leadership.

February 8, 2006 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

“Tony Blair…idiotically hitched his star to the Big Chimp.”

HA! “Eenie, meenie, mynie, moe,
Catch a monkey by the toe,
If he hollers, let him go!”

February 8, 2006 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

Well, we all know Chinese have a slightly different take on judging the worthiness of leadership. All the time I hear students express admiration for Napolean and even Hitler because they were “strong leaders”.

This always strikes me as ironic. Many Chinese object to the USA / Bush / 1930’s Japanese gov’t for invading other countries, then say they admire Napolean and Hitler!

February 8, 2006 @ 10:34 pm | Comment

Ah, another example of the infamous Chinese doublethink. Thanks Slim.

February 9, 2006 @ 2:32 am | Comment

Dish, are you managing to keep warm out there in the winterland hinterlands?

Did you remember to clean your “kongtiao’s” air filter? ๐Ÿ™‚

February 9, 2006 @ 4:31 am | Comment

Actually I did my living room one yesterday. I should do the one in the bedroom, but it’s right over the computer, which leads to complications.

February 9, 2006 @ 10:52 am | Comment

I know that we all accept that China has government agents who ‘plant’ information on message boards, and who try to direct chat room conversations, but apparently the US does this too.

This is certainly NOT A GOOD TREND.

Online reference site Wikipedia blames US Congress staff for partisan changes to a number of political biographies.

Computers traced to Capitol Hill removed unpalatable facts from articles on senators, while other entries were “vandalised”, the site said.

An inquiry was launched after staff for Democratic representative Marty Meehan admitted polishing his biography.

Wikipedia is produced by readers who add entries and edit any page, and has become a widely-used reference tool.

‘Liberal’ to ‘activist’

Using the public history of edits on Wikipedia, researchers collected the internet protocol numbers of computers linked to the US Senate and tracked the changes made to online pages.

The site lists half a dozen prominent biographies that had been changed by Senate computers, including those of Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.

Senator Coleman’s office has confirmed that staff there had made a number of changes to his online record.

Where he was described as a “liberal” back in college, this was changed to “activist”.

Among other changes, staff also deleted a reference to Mr Coleman voting with President Bush 98% of the time in 2003, despite running as a moderate the year before.

Wikipedia said staffers of Senator Tom Harkin had removed a paragraph relating to Mr Harkin’s having falsely claimed to have flown combat missions over North Vietnam, and his subsequent recantation.

A handful of miscellaneous vandalism edits had been made to some senators’ articles, it said.

One example was the entry for Republican Senator Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma, who it was falsely alleged had been voted “most annoying senator”.

Bush editing block

Senator Coleman’s chief of staff, Erich Mische, said editing was done to correct inaccuracies and delete information that was not reflective of the politician.

The article on President Bush has been altered so many times – not just from within Congress – that Wikipedia’s volunteer monitors have had to block further “editing”

“They’ve got an edit provision on there for the sake of editing when things are not accurate,” Mr Mische told the Associated Press.

“I presume that if they did not want people to edit, they wouldn’t allow you to edit.”

Wikipedia says the controversy raises questions about whether it is ethical for those with a vested interest in the subject to edit entries about it.

It said the Congressional computer network has been blocked from editing for brief periods on a number of occasions in the last six months due to the inappropriate contributions.

The article on President Bush has been altered so many times – not just from within Congress – that Wikipedia’s volunteer monitors have had to block further “editing”.

But it also says its investigation showed the vast majority of edits from Senate IPs were “beneficial and helpful”.

Massachusetts newspapers disclosed last month that staffers for Representative Marty Meehan had polished the boss’s Wikipedia biography.

Deleted were references to a long-abandoned promise to serve only four terms, and to his campaign war chest.

Accuracy study

Wikipedia was founded in 2001 and has since grown to more than 1.8 million articles in 200 languages. Some 800,000 entries are in English.

It is based on wikis, open-source software which lets anyone fiddle with a webpage. Anyone reading a subject entry can disagree, edit, add, delete, or replace the entry.

A December 2005 study by the British journal Nature found it was about as accurate on science as the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

But it has been criticised for the correctness of entries, most recently over the biography of prominent US journalist John Seigenthaler – which incorrectly linked him to the Kennedy assassinations.

February 9, 2006 @ 12:31 pm | Comment

Just heard about the Aussie musician murdered in Fuzhou . Has anyone got more details on this? Is Fuzhou a safe place to be for foreigners?

February 9, 2006 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

Sorry ACB, but comparing Wikipedia edits to Chinese chatroom censors and declaring that “the US does it too” is a very lame argument.

The misguided actions of a congressman’s staff simply aren’t anywhere in the same league as a gov’t enacting and implementing an official national policy.

February 9, 2006 @ 4:37 pm | Comment

Very weak argument indeed. These were individual politicians trying to make themselves look good, not a government-choreographed conspiracy. If the government was blocking negative stories from crossing the Internet or shutting down Web sites like mine, then I’d be more willing to make a comparison.

February 9, 2006 @ 4:58 pm | Comment

Michael, I just read that tragic Fuzhou news story – very ugly.

I don’t know anything about crime in Fuzhou, but Westerners being murdered anywhere in China is so rare, I was very curious about the circumstances.

Then I read the article and discovered the situation involved young men and attention from girls at a bar. That explains it.

From what I’ve seen, when western guys and locals mix it up, it’s almost always over attention or perceived slights involving women in bars. Young Chinese guys can be very touchy over this – as young guys are everywhere.

A very tragic story. Hope the killers get what they deserve (and this being China, I have little doubt as to their fate).

February 9, 2006 @ 5:11 pm | Comment

I’ve heard of similar incidents in pubs and clubs Taiwan, but never going this far. Poor kid.

February 9, 2006 @ 6:09 pm | Comment

“Sorry ACB, but comparing Wikipedia edits to Chinese chatroom censors and declaring that “the US does it too” is a very lame argument.”

Agreed. Especially as this is Wikipedia that we’re talking about, a source that should be taken with a grain of salt in all cases.

February 9, 2006 @ 6:47 pm | Comment

Fu Zhou can be a rough place, I lived there for six months in 2000.

February 9, 2006 @ 8:46 pm | Comment

I agree totally with Slim: in general China is an incredibly safe place to be a foreigner, but when a group of (possibly drunk) young Chinese men perceive a threat to their ‘honour’ or ‘face’ you need to treat the situation very carefully. The sad thing is, the young foreigners probably didn’t even notice that the girls hanging around them was having this side-effect.
I’ve seen plenty of street fights in China which involved shouting, slapping, punching and kicking, but I’ve never seen one which involved a knife. Possibly I just don’t hang out in the right areas.

On the Wikipedia story – I saw it a few days ago, and then, as now, one section delighted me:

It said the Congressional computer network has been blocked from editing for brief periods on a number of occasions in the last six months due to the inappropriate contributions.
I think it’s the fact that a group of volunteer moderators for wikipedia see it as not only their right but their duty to keep the actions of congressional workers in check.
Power to the people.

February 10, 2006 @ 3:15 am | Comment

According to “Reporters Without Borders”, Xinhua is “the worldโ€™s biggest propaganda agency” which it further describes as “Hand-picked journalists, who are regularly indoctrinated, produce reports for the Chinese media that give the official point of view and others – classified โ€œinternal referenceโ€ for the countryโ€™s leaders.

After being criticised for its lack of transparency, particularly during the Sars epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.” You can read its report on how it distorts facts, and shows “hatred for its enemies (particularly the United States and Japan) and its support, through the treatment of international news, for the worldโ€™s worst regimes” at in English and Chinese.
Of course, the site is blocked by the communists so you’ll need to use a proxy in the PRC. ‘Nuff said.

February 10, 2006 @ 3:18 am | Comment

I saw a very humorous joke very popular on Baidu bbs:

Iranians say \”we have a lot of terrorists\”. Iraqi start to laugh.

Iraqi say \”our man are strong\”. Swedish start to laugh.

Swedish say \”we had a great leader\”. Germans start to laugh.

Germans say \”our soccer team is good\”. Brazillians start to laugh.

Brazillians say \”our women are beautiful!\” Italians start to laugh.

Italians say \”our men are very polite\”. British start to laugh.

British say \”our food is delicious\”. French start to laugh.

French say \”our history is long\”. Chinese start to laugh.

Chinese say \”we are very rich!\”. Americans start to laugh.

Americans say \”we make a lot of pornography\”. Japanese start to laugh.

Japanese say \”we are human beings!\”. Everyone in the world starts to laugh. 

February 11, 2006 @ 2:52 pm | Comment

Maybe I’m not bigoted enough – I dont’ see the humor.

February 11, 2006 @ 4:15 pm | Comment

Oh God. Richard, haven’t you banned HX yet?

I know it’s useful to allow a few vicious, foaming at the mouth remarks from psychotic Chinese nationalists – but HX really stinks up the place, like a skunk, whenever he pops around. I mean he’s far more offensive than China Hand. China Hand is more like a raccoon who throws trash all around, but it can be cleaned up. HX is more like a skunk who leaves a horrible stench all over the place.

February 11, 2006 @ 6:10 pm | Comment

China is obviously showing the world the superiority of its economic and political system.

All you haters can do is sit on your butts and hope something goes awry with China’s rise.

But we prove you wrong year after year.

I realized there is no point trying to reason with bigots like some (but not all) of you on this blog.

If you want China to be your enemy….. you have surely picked the wrong enemy!

February 11, 2006 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

Pardon me, Zhongguo? What are you referring to?

February 11, 2006 @ 6:54 pm | Comment

Ivan, as I’ve said before, Red Star’s comments serve a purpose here. If he wants to have the dubious honor of being proof positive of the inanities of CCP propaganda, that’s certainly his privilege.

February 11, 2006 @ 6:56 pm | Comment

I look at the comments here and there. It’s just a general impression.

People make negative comments about China because they feel it is in their best interests to make China out to be the enemy.

The rhetoric of ‘justice’ or ‘democracy’ is just a thin veneer.

February 11, 2006 @ 7:00 pm | Comment

Zhongguo, I’m not letting you off the hook. You can’t make sweeping statements, like referring to us with the blanket term “haters” and then say, “Well, it’s just an impression I get.” That’s bullshit. Put up or shut up. You really feel we want to make China out to be “the enemy”? Do you realize many of the commenters live there, by choice? And that more of us are inclined to see Bush as “the enemy” than China? And the CCP – not “China” – is indeed an enemy when it comes to abusing its own citizens. More and more Chinese are now saying out loud that they see the CCP as their greatest enemy. On that I fully agree. Oh, and here’s a link and a quote to back up what I say:

Of course I hate msn, but not strongly, because I know that the real roots of evil lie with the behavior of the Chinese Communist Party and domestic BSPโ€™s [blog service providers], which are no different, if even worse. But they are simply blocking the whole blog, in order to save the hassle of having to censor each post, thus driving me away. Who is the most vile?

Chinese blogger Wang Ning.

Now, where are your links? Where are your quotes?

February 11, 2006 @ 7:31 pm | Comment

“China is obviously showing the world the superiority of its economic and political system.”
Yes, Hongxing’s “joke” above really displayed the type of forward-looking thinking required of a future world-leader.
Not to sound rude, but once I started reading that joke, I knew right away it was a Chinese joke, because where else in the world do people still repeat tired cliches like the french are romantic and the germans are “well-disciplined.” I saw the japan thing coming way beforehand…

February 11, 2006 @ 8:01 pm | Comment

Hm, ACTUALLY, once again that’s a good point about HX, Richard.

When I step back and think more, it occurs to me that there should be some public antidotes to all of the fake happy-clappy faces CCTV and other Communist propaganda organs show to the world.

What the Communists fear most, is for the world to see just how ugly they are. So in that light, yes, you’re right – it’s better to let HX keep showing the world how disgusting the Chinese Communists are.

February 11, 2006 @ 8:03 pm | Comment

What I found just about as obscene in HX’s ‘joke’ about the japanese actually being human (does anyone know if they have to pay girls to spend their lives in lifts to press the button for its people?) was the implication that Germans consider wistfully that Hitler was a great leader. This is another example of where he unwittingly demonstrates the joke that is the Chinese education system.

February 12, 2006 @ 1:46 am | Comment

After he told the joke, only Hong Xing laughed.

February 12, 2006 @ 1:54 am | Comment

Well, to shift our attention away from that creeep, to the OPPOSITE end of the Human spectrum: Happy 197th birthday to Abe Lincoln.

I just think he’s worth remembering. Isn’t it so refreshing just to think about him?

Abe, we need you here, now.

February 12, 2006 @ 2:37 am | Comment

Too bad, with his characteristic reticence in thoughtfulness, he would never get elected today.
I like Honest Abe.

February 12, 2006 @ 2:47 am | Comment

He’s certainly my hero. My favourite line about him was in the People’s Almanac; I read it half my life ago so can’t quote from memory, but it went something like:
‘Lincoln was a great man. He wasn’t motivated by power but rather was saddened and troubled by it.’
Damn. Wish I could remember the rest…

February 12, 2006 @ 2:49 am | Comment

David Brooks on the muslim fundamentalists (NYT 9.2.o6):

In my world, people search for truth in their own diverse ways. In your
world, the faithful and the infidel battle for survival, and words and
ideas and cartoons are nothing more than weapons in that war.

Me on HX, China_Hand and their friends:

In my world, people search for truth in their own diverse ways. In your
world, China and the West battle for survival, and words and
ideas and cartoons are nothing more than weapons in that war.

February 12, 2006 @ 4:58 am | Comment

A little more from David Brooks:

We in the West were born into a world that reflects the legacy of Socrates and the agora. In our world, images, statistics and arguments swarm around from all directions. There are movies and blogs, books and sermons. Thereโ€™s the profound and the vulgar, the high and the low.

In our world we spend our time sifting and measuring, throwing away the dumb and offensive, e-mailing the smart and the incisive. We aim, in Michael Oakeshottโ€™s words, to live amid the conversation โ€” โ€˜โ€™an endless unrehearsed intellectual adventure in which, in imagination, we enter a variety of modes of understanding the world and ourselves and are not disconcerted by the differences or dismayed by the inconclusiveness of it all.’โ€™

February 12, 2006 @ 5:07 am | Comment

Hey, Zhongguo, I want to live in China again! I just want to be able to Google what I want and read what I want, and live in a place whose people have the same freedoms, who have a government that better represents them.

February 12, 2006 @ 2:34 pm | Comment

shulan, interesting posts. However, I wouldn’t directly compare China to “the faithful” on your paraphrase of David Brooks.

In China, only the commies and the brainwashed go under “the faithful.” Whereas the bloggers and journalists wanting more transparancy and rights, and the Chinese that love China and freedom (in the mainland and overseas) actually fall under “the infidels.” Just wanted to make this point because the china_hands and HX’s would point to your post and say “SEE you all just hate China,” while the exact opposite is true for the vast majority of us.

February 12, 2006 @ 3:08 pm | Comment

I don’t know how many of you remember, but I once wrote an article on the benefits of low-efficiency. After two days and two nights of thinking, this composition is a further exploration of low-efficiency.

Modernity is based on the massive consumption of non-reusable energy like gas and coal. Before the massive consumption of these types of energy, the human society operates through the sunlight. Plus the level of science and technology was low at the time, so during that period, the goal of all human labors is to increase efficiency.

But now that we are massively using non-reusable energy, the situation is changed. Theoretically speaking, efficiency can be infinitely increased. The human society today has enough productive force to make everyone live a good life: enough food, enough clothing, housing, etc. In fact, a country needs only a small fraction of its people to be working, they can produce enough for all the citizens to live nicely.

Then, why can’t we have only a small fraction of the people work and the rest just stay home or on be on vacation all the time?

We can’t do that because the modern society does not like that. It does not like most people doing nothing and bumming around. It wants everyone to be doing something, to be going to work, labouring, producing, etc. Now the question becomes, if everyone is busy working and producing, they’ll produce more than enough, and wouldn’t those things go to waste?

My answer is to intentionally lower efficiency of work, or even lower the efficiency of our lives.

How do we lower efficiency? Let me give you an example. Say there’s a company that produces knives. And the company has this button that once it’s pressed, a massive number of knives is produced in a short period, enough for every family in the country. This automated process requires only 100 workers, but the company already hired 1000 workers, so what can it do? Well, it can lower efficiency so all 1000 workers have something to do. One way to do that is to encourage workers to slack off, like playing cards during work. This method is actually a good one, because if there’s already enough knives being produced, what’s the harm of playing cards during work? But of course some company executives do not like that method.

So another method is to create a lot of complex, meaningless bureaucracies within the company. Say the company has 100 departments and 900 department clerks. So now, the real necessary workers are still 100, but suddenly we have 900 extra employees. That, to me, is also a good method. But alas, modern society also hates that. It hates it only because it hates bureacracies. But that hatred is a total “moral design”. From an engineering point of view, if there are enough products, then we should rest and relax and waste time, just like you want to turn off your computer and cool your CPU if you are not using it.

But the modern society seems to want the “computer” to be constantly doing something, and as soon as the computer is idle, it would try very hard to think up something for the computer to do, just so that the computer is not idle. To continue that example, another way for the workers of that company to be all busy working is to make the knives more fancy and complex. For example, the handle of the knives can be cut into very fancy shapes, and let’s make 1000 different shapes for the knives. This way, the workload on making a knife is increased 10-fold, and as a result all 1000 workers will be needed to work. But is there any real reason to make the handle fancier? It does not make the knife sharper, nor does it make it more durable. The only reason is so that we can decrease the efficiency of making each knife. This way, the company can look like it’s busy all the time instead of idling, and thus prosperous.

Now, you may ask: but why does the company, or the society as a whole, want to do such things: instead producing one knife in 2 minutes, it puts fancy patterns and colors on the handle so it take 10 minutes to make a knife. What good does it do? The answer is that humans have this nature of “creating bullshit”. That is, whenever we have too much time on our hands, we don’t want to idle or go to sleep, instead, we want to occupy ourselves with “stuff to do”. I’ll call this tendency “creating culture”. To put it more crudely, it’s creating bullshit. Putting cameras on cellphones, making a watch sell for $10,000 by gilding it with gold, etc. etc. these are all examples of creating culture, or creating bullshit.

One problem with the old Command Economy is that it did not try to create bullshit, and instead it is too efficient. The result is that we can only get one type of products for every product, and they feel very boring. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having one type of products, but the human tendency of wanting culture, or wanting bullshit, make the Command Economy undesirable. The Capitalist Economy totally understands the importance of creating bullshit, and thus would try to make up bullshit and lower efficiency. For example, having 1000 types of nail clippers or condoms, and by doing that, suddenly everyone is employed and no one is idling…

February 12, 2006 @ 6:22 pm | Comment

Math, you must be great fun at parties.

February 12, 2006 @ 6:55 pm | Comment

Math’s most recent exercise in mental masturbation. Math, if you wrote more concisely, maybe more people would actually read the “bullshit” you’ve inputted above.

Earlier today, I was just thinking “What if math and China_hand actually were just communist agents that come to such posts and throw people off?” One evidence is that they rarely write anything that is the result of a thoughtful response to someone else’s arguments. Just random things that change the topic, and the occasional comments saying “see you all hate china!” and “see you said the CCP didn’t care about the people, and Hu visiting villages proves you wrong!” But when posed with questions, it always falls on deaf ears. China_hand responses rarely, so I can only assume when he does not, he either agrees with a point of view (like this one), or can’t think of a better one to refute.

On command economies:
There’s a factor called “Total Factor Productivity” that economists use to describe the efficiency of an economy. In general, command economies perform worse. This is likely because people that do the commanding in command economies lack key information or are corrupt, a la CCP. And let’s say everyone was nice and that wasn’t a problem – economies are complex systems (not unlike weather systems), and frankly, science and computing technology hasn’t had the power and understanding to command it effectively without some serious human suffering or waste.

February 12, 2006 @ 9:02 pm | Comment

Where do guys like math get the time to come up with and then write such long meaningless posts? Doesn’t this guy need to earn a living?

The Hong Xing joke above was really bad. Having said that I do have an addition to it:

“Chinese say our history is long, the Africans laugh and the Arabs get a good chuckle and the Native Americans wonder why the Chinese are mired in the past.

February 12, 2006 @ 9:11 pm | Comment

HX missed out his neighbours:

Koreans say: \ “we are better than foreigners\” Chinese start to laugh

February 12, 2006 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

Hongxing says “I have a joke” No one laughs

February 12, 2006 @ 11:52 pm | Comment

Math said: “History proves that when a backward country wants to catch up to the rest of the world, it often needs a very strong and tough central gov’t with a lot of power to push the progress.”

No, you need a government with strong institutions such as the rule of law, basic social services, liberal education and transparency which empower the people to determine which direction progress lies.

February 13, 2006 @ 12:06 am | Comment

China says, “Japan must face the truth of its own history,” the rest of the world starts to laugh.

February 13, 2006 @ 1:44 am | Comment

I’m laughing, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

February 13, 2006 @ 2:22 am | Comment

I din’t directly compare China to “the faithful”. I compared HX and his friends to them. In their worldview exists this antagonism between China and the monolitique, evil West, not in mine. In their worldview everything that somebody in the West does, write or think is part of a big conspiracy against them. In this way they have similarities with the Islamists in the Arab world.

February 13, 2006 @ 4:37 am | Comment

Today Wikipedia, tomorrow the New York Post.

Tirany comes in small steps.

February 13, 2006 @ 4:52 am | Comment

Chinese couples get matching plastic surgery

February 13, 2006 @ 12:06 pm | Comment

One comment above gave me a genuine moment of amusement.

“If you want China to be your enemy….. you have surely picked the wrong enemy!”

Ummmm … yeah, I tend to agree with this one. After all, who wants to watch a “no contest” sports match? I’m always in favour of close competitions myself.

Besides, I think there’s a lesson the Chinese need to remember … the most dangerous enemy to the Chinese state is never the foreigner. The greatest dangers always come from within … speaking of which, anyone know anything about the Eastern Lightening movement? (Dong Shan). I’ve been hearing some pretty disturbing things about them … but there’s not that much information about them to be found. I hear they’re active in Shandong and Anhui, amongst other places … news, anyone?

February 13, 2006 @ 1:10 pm | Comment

China will not look for an enemy like the USA. China wants to develop peacefully and respect other countries! But China is not a coward! If the US wants to stop China\’s development, then China will respond very hard! Today\’s China is a different China than before 1949! It is a strong China! It is unified China! Like the Tang and Han! You do not understand China too much! China will never attack another country first in the world! This is China\’s promise to the world!

The USA is only strong since world war 2. But you will become not strong very soon. This is the cycle of the history. No one can stay strong forever! Even your roman empire was collapsed! USA will collapse as well! Stupid shit.

February 13, 2006 @ 2:41 pm | Comment

People here don’t need to be citizens of World’s strongest country in order to raise good points, tell good jokes and make valid criticisms.
Han and Tang China invaded the ancient Kogoryo kingdom a few times. You can’t possibly deny that.

February 13, 2006 @ 3:09 pm | Comment

People here don\’t need to be citizens of World\’s strongest country in order to raise good points, tell good jokes and make valid criticisms.
Han and Tang China invaded the ancient Kogoryo kingdom a few times. You can\’t possibly deny that.

It was not an invasion! Please do not try to confuse concepts! Japan and Korea sent many officials to China to learn about Chinese langauge and calligraphy and poems and scripts! They worshipped China! China treated them very well, like its own sons! And protected them under its arms! But did Japan thank China? No! It invaded China and killed 3 million people in Nanjing! There are still sites of chemical test factories on humans in Harbin left by the Japanese army!!!

February 13, 2006 @ 3:14 pm | Comment

HX rants sounds familiar.

Germany is not a coward! If the democracies wants to stop Germany then Germany will respond very hard! Today’s Germany is a different Germany than 1918! It is a strong Germany! It is unified Germany! Like Frederick the Great and Bismarck!! You do not understand Germany too much! Germany will never attack Russia! This is Germany’s promise to the world!

I don’t know about Hong Xing (Red Star) – what’s the Chinese for swastika?

February 13, 2006 @ 3:43 pm | Comment

Not to change the subject, but…

I think I know who’ll be lighting the Olympic torch in Beijing in two years’ time.

(Hint: she fell tonight. Hard. But she and her partner skated her way to a silver medal anyway.)

February 13, 2006 @ 3:43 pm | Comment

HX rants sounds familiar.

Germany is not a coward! If the democracies wants to stop Germany then Germany will respond very hard! Today\’s Germany is a different Germany than 1918! It is a strong Germany! It is unified Germany! Like Frederick the Great and Bismarck!! You do not understand Germany too much! Germany will never attack Russia! This is Germany\’s promise to the world!

Many \”scholars\” try to compare China to Hitler\’s Germany! What motivations do they have to do such a thing? Chinese leaders have a totally different thinking than Hitler! China\’s rise will not depend on attacking other nations! It\’ll depend on cooperating with other nations! This is the difference! This is China\’s path to development, and it will be totally non-military! This is the concept of peaceful development of China! It is also called soft landing! There are many many researchers and strategists in China working on these concepts! You do not have to worry!

February 13, 2006 @ 3:59 pm | Comment

In their worldview exists this antagonism between China and the monolitique, evil West, not in mine. In their worldview everything that somebody in the West does, write or think is part of a big conspiracy against them. In this way they have similarities with the Islamists in the Arab world.

It’s peasant thinking — in the world of the peasant there are no accidents. If an avalanche strikes the village, it was insufficiently pious, not bad luck. Similarly, if something happens in society, it can’t be because of social evolution and social forces, but because of deliberate decisions by someone.


February 13, 2006 @ 4:24 pm | Comment

about the eastern lightning, scary people

china seems to be an excellent breeding area for this kind of mad apocalyptic cults

February 13, 2006 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

China\’s rise will not depend on attacking other nations! It\’ll depend on lots and lots of exclamation points!

February 13, 2006 @ 6:37 pm | Comment

I completely agree with Kevin if we want to keep China down we must restrict China’s access to exclamation points.

Maybe, together with George Soros we can corner the exclamation point market

February 13, 2006 @ 6:55 pm | Comment

It is correct! Just like Chairman Mao said! Every day our life becoming better under the correct leadership of the Communist Party and Marxist-Leninist-Maozedong-JiangZemin-HuJintao thought!

We are very happy when China peacefully liberate Tibet! In XinJiang, we are a happy life with our freedom of religion and correct leadership of the Communist Party!

I have hemmorhoids! And herpes!
It is correct! I got the pox from a prostitute! All prostitutes enjoy the happy life under the Correct leadership of the Communist party!

February 13, 2006 @ 6:59 pm | Comment

Looking at this blog is like looking at a deadly traffic accident — ugly, but you can’t help staring.

You people say that you criticize the CCP for the sake of the “Chinese people.”

Funny thing is that the “Chinese people” (that you speak of) is an imaginary population in your head enamoured with western political and social values.

At the same time, you denigrate and dismiss the *real* China people — who support their country and their government.

Just because, from your biased and hypocritical perspective, you think we are “brainwashed,” you think you have a right to be hostile to us? How dare you challenge the legitimacy and rationality of our own judgment! You try to treat us like we’re children or animals…. and that you are the rightful masters!

I say to you that YOU are the “brainwashed” ones. And moreover, your bleeding-heart concern for “democracy in China” is just an excuse to impose what you think is your superior western culture.

And finally, yes, China is putting its money where its mouth is. We will reach technological parity with USA by 2020 at the latest. Your villification of our country will only speed the decline of western civilization.

February 13, 2006 @ 7:05 pm | Comment

If more proof were needed that Hong Xing is an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he then declares that “The USA is only strong since world war 2”, ignoring the fact that the previous century had seen its domination of the entire Western Hemisphere, its outright control of the Philippines, its financial influence over China (its flag made up the flag of Shanghai) and its power and influence ditrectly after the FIRST World War.
It was only a nation after 1776, which occurred after it had defeated the most powerful country on earth.
HX: Are you determined to advance the low opinion laowei have of Chinese ability to argue in an intelligent and informed manner?

February 13, 2006 @ 7:10 pm | Comment

Yuck… neocons…. all of them

Obviously you people think western civilization is superior. Maybe you think the white man is the master race too.

Either way, this question will not be decided here. It will be decided on the battlefield.

February 13, 2006 @ 7:15 pm | Comment

Kowtow to Chairman Mao! Correct your thoughts! Strike hard at all snake-heads! It can be very beautiful and very convenient! Fight against the Russian revisionists and other lackeys of American imperialism!
Kill all the birds! Flowers are pests!
Red light means go!

February 13, 2006 @ 7:18 pm | Comment

I think everyone here wishes China economic success. No one has villified the Chinese people. Objectively speaking, technological parity with the US in 14 years sounds a bit absurd, but you’re entitled to your opinion.

Most of us here are not in favor of instant democracy for China; it would work about the same as it’s working in iraq. It’ll have to be a slow process, starting with increased freedom of expression and enforced rule of law – two areas where, unfortunately, Hu hasn’t made much headway.

I would say just about everyone here wants to see China succeed. That means the 1.2 billion people of China, not the priviliged few who seize their people’s land, refuse them respresentation in government and imprison them at whim when they sniff “disharmony.” As I’ve said many times, there are many noble people in the CCP who want the best for their country. But as a one-party system, it has to fight for its survival, and it always has to place its own interests above those it purportedly represents. Like the Chinese blogger I cited earlier in this thread, many in China also recognize that the CCP is the problem, certainly not the solution. But of course, you don’t address his charges, nor do you address the misery of the millions of Chinese people demonstrating against the repressive arm of your beloved CCP.

February 13, 2006 @ 7:22 pm | Comment

We will acheive technological parity with the US by 2020! It is correct! It is inevitable, under the correct leadership of the Communist Party and Maozedong thought! Arrest all who disagree!

We will surpass Britain in steel production before 1965!

February 13, 2006 @ 7:23 pm | Comment

China’s civilisation is 5,000 years old!
If we have filthy toilets, it’s Japan’s fault!

February 13, 2006 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

We will surpass Britain in steel production before 1965!

Oh, Ivan, that was really nasty. Maybe they’ll achieve technological parity by forcing all the peasants to melt down their TV sets and use the molten material to manufacture semiconductors in their back yards. Just like old times.

February 13, 2006 @ 7:28 pm | Comment

If the best and brightest of western civilization is people like “Ivan” and “Keir”, China’s rise to superpower status is clearly unstoppable.

February 13, 2006 @ 7:39 pm | Comment

At least Ivan and Keir have a sense of humor. It’s something you might consider acquiring sometime. We’re waiting for you to back up your “parity by 2020” claim. All eyes are upon you.

February 13, 2006 @ 7:54 pm | Comment

No, China’s rise to superpower status is not unstoppable; people like you and Hong Xing and all others or that ilk are holding China back with both hands.

February 13, 2006 @ 7:55 pm | Comment

As I’ve said many times, there are many noble people in the CCP who want the best for their country. But as a one-party system, it has to fight for its survival, and it always has to place its own interests above those it purportedly represents.

You are right that the CCP places its own survival above the interests of the nation. However, the survival of the CCP at this point is not in danger. And the CCP has a lot more ambition than most other regimes, and it’s clearly not satisfied with just survival. It wants China, which is under its management, to do well. And it understands that in order for China to do well, the Chinese people must have high qualities of life, the Chinese economy must grow, science and technology must improve, international relations must be managed, etc etc, you know all those things about governing a country.

You make it sound like as long as CCP is surviving, it does not care if China is in ruins. But clearly what’s happened in the last 20 years shows other wise, it shows that the CCP wants to manage China to a great nation just like the Democrats and Republicans wants to manage the United States into a great nation. The CCP is not run by a bunch of lunatics. It’s not even a personal dictatorship like Kim Jung Il or Fidel Castro. It is a “leadership by consensus” and its decisions and policies are made through serious research and logic.

February 13, 2006 @ 7:59 pm | Comment

The Maoist China that Ivan and Keir likes to invoke is the “old PRC.” The “new PRC” is capitalist, efficient, high-tech and (quite frankly) seeks to implement rule of law and human rights. By way of illustration, here’s an article illustrating China’s pioneering science and technology.

China develops anti-ship missile

TED PARSONS JDW Correspondent
Virginia, US

* China’s missile development programme has been confirmed by both US government and Asian military sources

* The anti-ship ballistic missile may be operational by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army by 2009

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is in the advanced stages of developing a revolutionary anti-ship ballistic missile to supplement its well known Ying-Ji family of anti-ship cruise missiles.

The development programme has been confirmed by both US government and Asian military sources, with the latter estimating that the PLA may be able to deploy the space targeting systems needed to make its anti-ship ballistic missile operational by 2009. Commenting in a 2004 unclassified Worldwide Maritime Challenges report, the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) noted: “Chinese writings state China intends to develop the capability to attack ships, including carrier strike groups, in the waters around Taiwan using conventional theatre ballistic missiles (TBMs) as part of a combined arms campaign.”

PLA efforts to provide terminal guidance capabilities to both its 600 km-range DF-15 (CSS-6) short-range ballistic missile and DF-21 (CSS-5) medium-range ballistic missile with a range of 2,150 km, or 2,500 km for the DF-21A (CSS-5 Mod 2), have been known since the mid-1990s. The existence of a terminally guided DF-21C has long been reported. Asian military sources said that the PLA will be using a version of the DF-21 for its ballistic anti-ship missions.

However, the PLA would need to make substantial advances in missile guidance and countermeasures in order to achieve the very high precision required to attack a moving target. To do so, the ONI noted: “The current TBM force would be modified by changing some to the current missiles’ re-entry vehicles (RVs) to manoeuvring re-entry vehicles (MaRVs) with radar or infra-red seekers to provide the accuracy needed to attack ships at sea.”

In an illustration for its 2004 report, the ONI postulates that the PLA’s anti-ship MaRV will use both active and passive radar, in addition to a manoeuvring capability, to achieve successful terminal guidance to its target. To do this, the PLA would have to accomplish significant miniaturisation and stress hardening for RV-sized radar packages. In addition, the PLA would have to significantly improve its surveillance system in order to adequately target its anti-ship ballistic missiles. The ONI said: “China may be planning ultimately to use over-the-horizon (OTH) radar, satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to monitor the target’s position.”

Asian sources note that the PLA will not have its new system of surveillance satellites in place until 2009 to make its anti-ship ballistic missiles fully operational.

Both Chinese and Russian sources noted that China is now co-producing versions of the NPO Machinostroyenia Kornet-series of electro-optical and radar surveillance satellites. Chinese sources said the first constellation would consist of two electro-optical and one radar satellite, to be expanded to four electro-optical and four radar satellites.

China also has OTH radars in place and is known to be developing both medium- and long-endurance UAVs that could supplement satellites and radars at ranges consistent with the DF-15 or the DF-21.

The US is not expected to deploy any effective sea-based defence by 2009 that could counter a DF-21 class anti-ship missile.

Additional challenges could follow should China elect to sell this technology to select client states. For example, should Pakistan purchase this MaRV technology for its Shaheen-2 ballistic missile, it would be able to effectively counter India’s naval power with a relatively small investment. Also, should China be able to even further reduce the size of the MaRV, it might be able to employ smaller missiles, like the DF-11 or the smaller B-611, to potentially provide an inexpensive weapon to deter much larger navies.

February 13, 2006 @ 8:01 pm | Comment

And nonsense invites scorn and contempt. Nobody has any “right” to be taken seriously.

If you speak utter nonsense, you should expect sensible people to make fun of you.

February 13, 2006 @ 8:04 pm | Comment

No one doubts the Chinese can make some very spiffy weapons. So can North Korea and Pakistan. Why do you believe they can achieve “technological parity with the US by 2020”? Anyone traveling through China today would be astounded at such an assertion. It is an admirable goal, but there’s no evidence to back it up. Funny, how you, CH and Hong Xing make sweeping statements, offer nonsequitors to back up what you say (like your irrelevant missile article), and then usually run away when you’re called on it.

February 13, 2006 @ 8:06 pm | Comment

The point is that old stereotypes about China are simply not true anymore. C’mon backyard furnaces.

The article says that China is expected to field the world’s FIRST anti-ship ballistic missile. No other nation has this technology — not even the USA!

The old shibboleths about the backward Chinese are left the dust. China has finally come into its own on the world stage. You folks have to accept that instead to hanging around here making fun of 1950’s China.

February 13, 2006 @ 8:09 pm | Comment

China Hand, the CCP has proven more than once that it sees its survival as goal No. 1. Thus the media blackouts, the fanning of anti-Japanese hysteria, the controlled Internet, the mind control and travel control and everything control. Obviously they don’t want to see China in ruins, as that would make them look bad (though it never seemed to bother Chairman Mao). And obviously they would like to see China prosper, and obviously they have done some good – some. But they still kill people. They still imprison people. They still try to keep their people stupid (turn on CCTV if you need proof). No, they aren’t run by a lunatic, but they are run by a cabal that makes no secret of its disdain for freedom of expression and the ruile of law. But this is a futile argument, isn’t it? You know all this, and we’ve rehashed it too many times to count….

February 13, 2006 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

The old shibboleths about the backward Chinese are left the dust. China has finally come into its own on the world stage. You folks have to accept that instead to hanging around here making fun of 1950’s China.

I’ve only been to China in the 21st century. I love China and want to move there again. China is many things. But unfortunately much of the country – perhaps most of it – is still terribly backwards, and if you deny that, then you are only playing games. That is not an indictment or criticism, it’s simply true, and the CCP will acknowledge as much. It is making big strides in developing itself, and its growth in this regard has been miraculous. But it has a huge way to go and is nowhere near parity with any truly developed nation, let alone the US.

February 13, 2006 @ 8:22 pm | Comment

The plan is to first develop a small percentage of the country into a highly advanced, high tech society. Even a ‘small percentage of the country’ can have the same population as Japan or the USA. Therefore, this part of the country will reach parity with the USA around 2020. But it will take decades after that for the rest of the country to catch up in average living standards.

February 13, 2006 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

That’s the plan, is it? Like Plan 9 From Outer Space; all the other plans before it failed miserably.
My I ask, Zhongguo, in what way you are so superior in intellect and reason to Ivan and I as to show how we are the vanguard for the decline of the Western Empire? Much of what you write echoes those in my junior classes.

February 13, 2006 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

The US has 1/4 the pop of China, that is not a small percentage by any standards I would be impressed if China could get a population the size of Belgium to an equivilent living standards.

February 13, 2006 @ 8:40 pm | Comment

Yeah, all of the regulars here know I’m a dumb shit with no education at all.

You know, what ALL dictatorships fear the most, is humour. There’s a practical reason why. A dictatorship (like the Communist Party) cannot claim legitimacy unless it is seen to be perfect. Humour points out follies and imperfections, and that’s why all fascists (like zhongguo and our other fascist trolls) despise it so much.

“Why aren’t you taking us seriously?”
Because YOU are the real clowns, zhongguo.

February 13, 2006 @ 8:43 pm | Comment

Also, an exaggerated desire for “seriousness” is the mark of a true sophomore.

The word comes from a combination of the Greek words for “wise” and “fool”, meaning, someone who tries so hard to be taken seriously, that he ends up making an ass of himself.

You win that prize, zhongguo.

February 13, 2006 @ 8:52 pm | Comment

I Believe It Is Totally Appropriate to Rob Money from Rich People

In a society, of its gap between rich and poor is too big, we agree that there should be ways to alleviate that. This post wants to claim that the way to alleviate that is to rob the rich and give it to the poor. Of course most countries’ constitutions protect private properties. But we can also revise our constitutions to declare that it’s legal to rob rich people and give it to the poor. Under that constitution, if you are rich and your properties are not robbed, then you are in an illegal status.

This post will, from the academic perspective of liberal economics, talk about what private property can be robbed. In other words, private property is robbable.

First, let me define what private property is. Priviate property is simply physical things that are owned by an individual, such as houses, cars, cash, bonds.

Now,, let me define two classes of rich people. The first class are rich people with no ability to create more wealth, or that his wealth is disproportional to his ability to create weath. One example is a illiterate homeless person who has won the lottery. Another example is George Bush. The second type of rich people are those who have great abilities to create wealth, so that even though they have a lot of money, they do indeed create a lot of wealth as well. One example is Bill Gates. This post wants to claim that both of these two classes are robbable.

Let’s first talk about the first class of rich people, those without abilities to create wealth. I think whether you are a leftist or a rightist, you agree that this class of people is clearly robbable. Even the most capitalist people here agree that only the smart and capable make money and they deserve the money because they earned it. So, what about those incompetent who did not earn their money through their own abilties? Well, we can just leave them enough money for them to live comfortable lives, then rob the rest of it. That will not even affect their lives.

Furthermore, all people, regardless of wealth, will die someday, there’s no one that can live forever. Therefore, their wealth will eventually be robbed, or at least eventually be robbed by the God of Death. The “real” money that one earns in his life is the amount that he has spent. THe amount that he has not spent will be given to others (children,friends,lovers,etc) when he die. And if you inherit too much money, your lives will often be miserable. So why not just leave a little to your children, and give the rest to those who need it?

America realize that it’s too dangerous to let a dumb person have too much wealth. Therefore the inheritance tax in America is as high as 90%. For example, for a billionare, he can leave a maximum of 100 million to his children. OF course that 100 million is more than enough for his children to survive.

Now let’s talk about the second class, those wealthy people with real abilities to create wealth. Can we rob their wealth? I certainly believe we can, and that also won’t affect their lives.

First, if those kinds of rich people spent every penny they earned in their lifetimes, then they don’t have to worry about being robbed. But he has bought all the houses he needs, all the cars he needs, all the stocks he needs, all the food he needs, all the vacations he needs, all the women he needs, but still has 20 billion left in his account. Then I’m sorry, but we’ll take that 20 billion since you are not using it. And without those 20 billion, you’ll still live richly.

For example, in movies, we see businessmen getting blackmailed into paying millions of millions of dollars to thugs. But after they made their payment, their lives are still as rich as before! It made no difference in their lives. So why are they complaining? Of course it’s bad to give money to thugs, so why not give it to not so bad people?

Also, in ancient times, people store wealth in physical mediums. When a family has extra rice left, it’ll store it in his rice-vault. If he has too much rice stored, he’ll give some to the poor, because otherwise it’ll be spoiled by mice in the vault anyway.

But in modern times, wealth is stored in the memory registers of computers. In fact, such non-physical storage is equivalent of saying that the society owes you services in various forms. But a person cannot accept all the services all the time. Well, if that’s the case, why not let others rob some? If your savings account grows every year, and your usage rate is slower than the growth rate, then clearly these money are not being utilized efficiently, so why not give them to more efficient uses?

Therefore I propose a “savings tax”: anything savings account in the bank larger than 100,000 will encur a tax rate that goes up as your savings go up. If your savins account reach 100 million, then the tax rate reaches 90%, 10% of 100 million will be more than enough for you to live well.

Of course, if you use your savings to invest, and the money becomes the stocks of yoru company, then you will not be taxed. This way, it forces rich people to contribute their money to society in useful ways, and perhaps stimulate the economy, instead of giving it to their children and grandchildren.

February 13, 2006 @ 9:18 pm | Comment

Wow. So if you rob the rich then you become rich therefore it is ok for someone to rob you?

you are an interesting person in a ab pysch sort of way.

February 13, 2006 @ 9:29 pm | Comment

…speak of the Devil and he appears.

February 13, 2006 @ 9:30 pm | Comment

Math, Jerome was looking for you to coment on his post about Taiwan, below. Why be selfish? Spread your wisdom on multiple threads.

February 13, 2006 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

Zhongguo said “How dare you challenge the legitimacy and rationality of our own judgment! You try to treat us like we’re children or animals…. and that you are the rightful masters!”

Hongxing said “Japan and Korea sent many officials to China to learn about Chinese langauge and calligraphy and poems and scripts! They worshipped China! China treated them very well, like its own sons!”

Now who treated who like children again? You might treat a son nicely, but that’s still rather condescending, don’t you think?

And China’s is not the first anti-ship ballistic missile: Russia has agreed to sell China the Club-S AShBM along with those Kilo-class submarines. The US has the technology too – it just isn’t interested in building it. There’s a good argument suggesting that anti-ship cruise missiles are more accurate and effective, and the US seems more interested in hypersonic cruise missiles than ballistic missiles. Better choice? Who knows.

Finally, another reason China is developing this and other countries aren’t is because no one else is planning for a naval battle off their own shore. Not that I’m blaming China for that – as Hongxing pointed out, China would never attack another country.

And Zhongguo, this is definitely not a neo-con forum. In fact, if anyone is talking about civilizational conflict, it’s you. No one else here was interested in ballistic missiles, for instance. Not even Hongxing – he’s all “non-military” about China’s future. That’s saying alot, when you seem to be more bonkers than HongXing. HongXing, we hardly knew ye! You just got bumped up the list, man, we should hang out more.

And I for one welcome China reaching technological parity with the US; it’ll spur innovation and bring improvements to the Chinese people in medicine, communication, education, etc. etc. etc. I don’t see how it connects to the decline of Western civilization – oh, you think it’s zero-sum. How cynical and neoconish. I think it’s a good thing for all humanity, but then again I’m not a nationalist warmonger.

February 13, 2006 @ 9:49 pm | Comment


I have covered for Math in that thread. ๐Ÿ™‚

February 13, 2006 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

Oh, and I’m with Vaara. Zhang Dan is a prime candidate to carry the Olympic torch, and she’d be a great one. That fall was nasty, and the way she picked herself up and carried on was heroic. Noble and dignified – why can’t you be more like that, Zhongguo?

February 13, 2006 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

Hm, all this talk about missiles.

Zhongguo, were you ever, um, embarassed when you went to the showers after gym class?

February 13, 2006 @ 10:44 pm | Comment

Zhang Dan is a prime candidate to carry the Olympic torch, and she’d be a great one. That fall was nasty, and the way she picked herself up and carried on was heroic. Noble and dignified

But many people here would say that Zhang Dan is just another slave from the Communist sports machine, and she is probably on steroids, and that there’s nothing to praise about any achievement by anyone from this evil communist China. In fact, I bet that’s the kind of tune the Epoch Times will sing in the next couple of days regarding Zhang Dan, and people like Lee Tunghui would probably join in….

February 13, 2006 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

Comrade Zhongguo’s comments:

“The “new PRC” is capitalist, efficient, high-tech and (quite frankly) seeks to implement rule of law and human rights. ”

Then he proceeds to talk about ballistic missles to prove his point. How such a weapon has anything to do with the rule of law and human rights is beyond me.

You essentially say “China is not A,B,C and D. To prove this you use modern weapons to demonstrate China is not D. So it follows from your logic that it is also not A, B, C”

You guys are eager to prove that the CCP has made some positive strides (by several measures) in recent decades. This is certainly true. You guys also like to point out maybe democracy isn’t the best form of government. And this may also be true in time. But please, let’s debate in a logical manner and don’t make yourself look so stupid and insecure by these rants not based in reality, okay?

I know this explaination is lost on you or anyone with your logical reasoning skills. But I have to try.

February 13, 2006 @ 11:18 pm | Comment

I am the best and brightest of Western civilization. Yes, it’s me, Da Shan. I have mastered tones, and can even speak “xiangsheng.” If all of the people of China buy the “Haojixing” electronic English study tools that I am promoting, China’s rise will surely be unstoppable. Today: buy more haojixing. Tomorrow: all the people of the world will speak with EXCLAMATION POINTS!

February 13, 2006 @ 11:42 pm | Comment

Keir, Ivan: No need to be so upset. Looks like I hit a nerve there. Go ahead and stick your heads back in the sand and recite your mantras about 1950’s China.

All the high-tech multinationals are relocating their R&D plants to China. Ethnic Asians dominate applied science in the US. And all you can do is talk about backyard furnaces. Isn’t ignorance comforting?

China is growing at 10% per year. The US is reduced to borrowing up to its neck to fund its consumer lifestyle. The future does not look rosy for western civilization. And you insecure imperialists will soon be stripped of your illusory superiority.


I appreciate what you say about this not being a “zero-sum” game. But obviously there are people on this board who simply want to see China backward and poor so they can feel better about themselves.

The Klub-S is a cruise missile, not a ballistic missile. By ballistic missile, of course, I mean that the missile exits the atmosphere and reenters at Mach 10+. The source you cited (Asia Times) does not specialize in military affairs. See the following site for info on the Klub:

China is the only nation with anti-ship ballistic missile technology. Yes, that means China is more advanced than the US in this field. Maybe the US cares more about hypersonic vehicles, but China is expected to field the AShBM by 2009, and where’s the “Global Strike”?


Maybe I should have refrained from bringing up the anti-ship ballistic missiles. I’m just pointing out that Chinese technology is now a formidable force to reckon with. Not only in the military sphere, but also in business and economy.

So knee-jerk China haters beware.

February 14, 2006 @ 12:02 am | Comment

“All the high-tech multinationals are relocating their R&D plants to China.”
What happened to all the Chinese companies becoming multinationals thru their own R&D? I think that would be true innovation. All the fast food restaurants are coming here too, does that make China the fast food capital of the world? Nope.
“Yes, that means China is more advanced than the US in this field.”
I think it was China that invented paper too, right? But what use has it been put to for the past 50something years? Publishing a lot of hot air.
A single invention does not equal “advanced.” You need to look at the whole picture.

February 14, 2006 @ 12:24 am | Comment

I suppose if China manufactured a buggy whip with MP3 capabilities then China would just be whipping USA’s butt in the technology arena.

BTW, you are correct in saying that there are a lot of ethnic Asians engaged in the tech sector in the US however most of them are US citizens… i.e. Westerners.

You have the economic acumen of my Spaniel.

February 14, 2006 @ 12:26 am | Comment

The ultimate irony is that people of ethnic Chinese descent have been so successful, just as long as they aren’t stuck in the PRC.

February 14, 2006 @ 12:28 am | Comment

Knee-jerk fenqing nationalists beware….

February 14, 2006 @ 12:33 am | Comment

Zhongguo: Keir, Ivan: No need to be so upset. Looks like I hit a nerve there. Go ahead and stick your heads back in the sand and recite your mantras about 1950’s China.

That’s one of the slickest techniques: everyone proves you’re a total idiot, gives documented evidence, then you say the fact that you got them annoyed proves you “touched a nerve,” implying that you actually said something meaningful. No; all you did was spout the usual party nonsense (“we’ll achieve technological parity with the US by 2020!”) and verify your own ignorance. Repeat: No one here wants China to fail. (Keir and Ivan live in China, for god’s sake.) No one here has a 1950s mentality. Our impressions were formed by actually living there now or in recent years. I can’t speak for everyone; some of us may have ’50s mentalities, but if so, I’m unaware of it. i was much, much, much more sympathetic to the CCP back in the 80s and 90s. That wall changed when I actually went there to live.

February 14, 2006 @ 12:56 am | Comment

Zhongguo, what you don’t seem to get is that some of us, well…we’re just cranky! Have you read the posts about US politics here? We bitch about everything! Because basically we’re a bunch of idealists who think the world could be a much better place, if more people acted sensibly.

February 14, 2006 @ 1:22 am | Comment

The old shibboleths about the backward Chinese are left the dust.

Why Zhongguo, you speak English like a native! ๐Ÿ˜‰

February 14, 2006 @ 1:59 am | Comment

Well said, Lisa. And with that, I close this thread.

February 14, 2006 @ 2:01 am | Comment

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