Thursday, December 1, 2011

Duping the witless dupes

Rick Moran has written an excellent piece over at American Thinker. In it, he destroys Andy Stern's ridiculous op-ed in the WSJ. Stern sings the praises of the Chinese economy, arguing that we--the United States--need to rethink our entire system and ultimately adopt a more top-down approach to the economy, to engage in centralized economic planning.

As Moran points out, Stern ignores the realities of China, opting instead for an idealized version that one might find in a travel brochure:
I don't know whether Stern realizes what an ass he is making of himself by believing that you can actually "plan" 7% growth over 5 years. And there is so much that Stern isn't including in this hymn to central planning that it is simply outrageous to take what he's saying here without a huge grain of salt. 
China is building 6 million homes because they don't have enough housing for its workers. That's because previous 5 year plans failed to account for such. They are investing in "renewable energy" largely because they have the most polluted cities on the planet. Recall the Olympics where the IOC almost refused to allow the marathon to be run because of the choking smog that covered Beijing. Nasty air and water due to government carelessness and neglect is a fact of life in China. For them, developing an alternative to coal is a matter of life and death. 
The Chinese can manufacture all they want because they can pay their workers anything they wish. No mention by the former labor leader about the low wages being paid Chinese workers and why it's against the law to agitate for more.
And it gets worse from there, as Stern is seemingly unaware of the looming problems for the Chinese economy, most especially with regards to their own housing bubble.

Stern's piece is eerily reminiscent of reports promulgated by leftist members of the academia after trips to the Soviet Union in the 1950's. Duped by falsified data and fabricated examples of productive factories filled with content workers, these erstwhile thinkers regaled their friends with tales of Soviet greatness and  the success of central planning. And it was all a lie.

The Soviet economy was destroying itself from within. Phenomenal growth was ordained by the Party and factory managers did whatever they had to do to make it happen, including--for instance--meeting quotas on tractor production, even though the tractors would usually breakdown within six months, then sit rusting in fields since there was no one to repair them. The farmers had it even worse, as they were forced to meet quotas, regardless of the harvest and with non or barely functioning equipment.

But on paper, everything looked great. And to the casual observer--being led around by the nose--there was no reason to doubt Soviet claims.

Of course, the last is untrue. There was every reason to doubt what the Soviets said. Because theirs was a totalitarian government, wherein facts were malleable things, subject to the needs of the moment.

And now, it would seem there are actually people willing to fall into this same trap again.

Stern is currently a Senior Fellow at Columbia University's Richman Center. Their goals:
The Richman Center is dedicated to promoting evidence-based public policy and enabling empirical, theoretical, and institutional research targeting central issues at the intersection of law and markets, both domestic and international.
Perhaps their Senior Fellows need a lesson in what constitutes "evidence."

Cheers, all.

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