Bailout promises, Mao’s famine and bad incentives
I’ve stolen that title from Classically Liberal. It’s not really the point I’m shooting for, but it’s close enough and the article is a riot. A lot of people have been claiming Obama’s socialist. I have for that matter. However, people supporting Obama have dismissed those claims as rhetoric. However, Obama’s White House PR person recently spoke of her admiration for Chairman Mao. Members of the Democratic Socialists of America are all over Obama’s Cabinet. So, there’s definitely a strong socialist streak in The White House and Congress right now. A lot of people are saying “so what?”. They’re claiming blurting out the S-bomb is just a scare tactic and those mentioning the S-bomb are radical right wing terrorist wannabes. Well, there’s a little more to it than that.
There are two types of people when discussing socialism. There are those who know what it is and its place in history, and those that don’t. That’s it. Some think they do, but, they still don’t. Now, regardless of taking sides, which anyone who knows me knows which side I’m on, the fact is still very simple that socialism is what it is and making the accusation that Obama is socialist is black and white. Socialism is what socialism is. Calling it something else or denying it doesn’t change what socialism is.
So, let’s run with the assumption that Anita Dunn gets her wish and Obama suddenly eschews the values of Chairman Mao. We’d have to look at history to understand why some people would fear socialism. Not the Communism part which freaks everyone out, but the socialism part. Socialism is defined by Dictionary.com as:
- a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
- procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.
- (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.
Now, if you’ve got your own personal definition of socialism, stop here and go away. You’ll understand why if you do proceed. The shining example, as brought to our attention by the White House expert on Chinese Communist socialism, per Anita Dunn, is to stare adversity in the face and do it anyway.
That is very stupid. Dangerously stupid. Anita Dunn cites the fact Mao came from basically nowhere and took over China eventually. That’s all fine and good, but that has nothing to do with the political system she’s eschewing. Once Mao did take over, he initiated a chain of events that a lot of people have cited, but few have actually explained why. The problem with socialism is it is a top-down management style. All decision making is made by the government. Now, Obama and his bunch are saying this is good because all businesses are greedy and the government is not. However, the government doesn’t always get it right either. I cite Mao’s China from 1948-1952 as only one of the many examples of why socialism fails.
Mao was a moron, plain and simple. He believed that various Marxist principles could be used to produce bumper crops. Since the Maoists said that solidarity of the people made the people stronger, then the same applied to grains. Thus growing grains tightly packed together would make them stronger, not destroy crops. This was just one area where the Maoists tried to apply “scientific Marxism” to the physical laws of agriculture—applications that failed over and over.
So these experiments were dismal failures. But such failures are not enough to lead to a famine. Other factors come into play. One such factor was the fear of the dictator. Mao’s ideas failed but no one wanted to tell him. Tyrants could easily confuse the message with the messenger. So the incentive was to lie.
Local bureaucrats, instead of admitting that crops had been reduced, decided to write reports claiming that crops had increased. Those reports went to the superiors. The superiors, not aware of how much of the report was bluster, combined these exaggerated reports together. And they, thinking the reports were accurate, saw no harm in making them look even better by increasing the crop yields. And so it went. As the “data” accumulated it appeared that scientific Marxism was a success in agriculture. The top echelon of Mao’s China got reports that made them very happy.
Desperate for hard currency the Chinese officials decided to take advantage of their bumper crops and sell them outside China. So they confiscated a large section of what crops did exist for export. This meant that food was scarcer at the local level as the farms were depleted of their stock to fill the quotas for export. A year goes by and the next set of reports have to be prepared. Again no one wanted to be the first to prick the Maoist bubble. Nor did anyone want to report they had failed, not when everyone else was apparently so successful, as the reports clearly indicated. So once again they took the figures from the year before and added a bit to them. And the process repeated itself.
At the top levels of the government Communist officials received more data, carefully collected from across the country, indicating an even larger crop than the year before. So the quotas for export were increased.
More food was confiscated. But a problem arose. You can’t confiscate food that doesn’t exist. Authorities scoured the countryside and couldn’t find the crops that supposedly existed. The conclusion they drew was a simple one: the farmers were greedy, counter-revolutionaries who had obviously hidden the bumper crops. They were attempting to sabotage the revolution. So the officials, convinced the farmers had hidden food somewhere confiscated all the food they could find—which was actually all the food there was. The farmers had no hidden stocks, the data was wrong. The cumulative effect of lots of small distortions produced a massive error which resulted in the deaths of millions.
No one has a clue how many people starved to death in China from 1948-1952. Estimates generally range around 30 million, give or take 20 million or so. The reason they don’t know is because in socialist China of 1948-1952, crops counts were important, deaths not.
All thought it all, Chinese propaganda were telling people their government is good, the farmers starving to death were doing so because they were hiding their crops. No one questioned Mao’s claim that the greedy were starving to death by the millions. Even to this day, Anita Dunn apparently doesn’t.
OK, so you’ve got two situations here already. You’ve got me, who knows what socialism is, and knows the ramifications of socialism. Then, you’ve got Anita Dunn, who idolizes Mao for something he didn’t say or do.
Dunn claims he rose up against the Chinese government. Fact is he was groomed by the Chinese government and military to be leader. He did lead some revolts, but during the early part he kept his day-job as, get this one folks, a union organizer. He left that position to join an already occurring revolt. He rose to power not on intellect, as Obama’s peeps would have you believe, but on sheer brutality. The stories of Mao’s military torture tactics are stuff you don’t even see in gore movies.
Now, we’ve experienced this kind of top-down bureaucratic pandering that’s caused us all kinds of issues. Let’s go back eleven years. In 1996, President Bill Clinton attacked Iraq without any seeming provocation. He was under investigation. However, his justification was that Iraq was interfering with the United Nations inspections teams so that he could build weapons of mass destruction. This came from a report George Tenet presented to Congress. Clinton would do it again in 1998. Of course, he had “credible evidence” that Hussein was once again trying to amass WMD’s. Using the “evidence” Tenet presented to Congress, George W Bush invaded Iraq in 2003. Almost immediately Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats claimed they had been lied to. Not by Clinton, or by Tenet, but by Bush. A few years later the conclusion was that there never were any WMD’s in Iraq. This is just another example of socialist pandering resulting in horrific results. Now, in this case, the “evidence” Tenet had was justification to go to war with another country. OR, Tenet’s evidence was fabricated to impress his boss. OR, Pelosi lied when she said Bush lied. Bottom line, the “evidence” was collected by the President, used by the President, then used against his opposition by constantly changing. And no one asks a question. The very bottom line is this manipulation of facts by Tenet/Clinton cost a lot of US soldiers’ lives. It’s no different than Mao starving greedy farmers to death. Neither should have happened, and only happened because of information distorted to please the top dog. In China, there was no media to question Mao’s blatantly stupid moves. In the US, there is. However, if that media chooses not to ask any questions, it’s no different than Mao’s China.