As the 2014 Winter Olympics continue in Sochi, Russia, a former socialist utopia and still a strong supporter of such to this day, let’s turn our attention to another strange economic hybrid: China.
Now, China has embraced capitalism with far more fervor than Russia. That’s why China has actually been growing and can produce fully-functioning hotels.
However, China’s capitalism is still government-enforced. Which makes it socialism, just a more benign blend. To some degree, anyway. Though not from an I-don’t-want-to-die-from-lung-cancer kind of way.
Late last night, Reuters reported that “Severe pollution in Beijing has made the Chinese capital ‘barely suitable’ for living, according to an official Chinese report, as the world’s second-largest economy tries to reduce often hazardous levels of smog caused by decades of rapid growth.”
Note those last four words: “decades of rapid growth.” That GDP expansion is around 10% a year, which makes outside investors swoon with dollar signs in their eyes when the largest economy in the world (That’d be the U.S.) is doing darn decent if she grows at 4% a year.
But there’s a reason or two why China is growing so quickly, and neither is particularly cheery.
Number One: China suffered so long under socialism that it was, and still is to some degree, a wreck of a nation. There was pretty much nowhere to go but up.
Number Two: The socialism 2.0 that China has since adopted has the government pouring money into state-owned businesses and housing projects instead of freeing people to learn and build and grow on their own.
Which, incidentally, they’re perfectly capable of. Not only are humans in general resourceful enough to find their way when given a choice, but the Chinese particularly have a long history of great accomplishments and innovations. Their government isn’t giving them nearly enough credit, as governments seldom do.
Governments are much better at messing things up, as evidenced by the extreme pollution problems China is experiencing. Smog, acid rain, lung cancer, birth defects, extreme allergies… The list of health issues the Chinese have to deal with goes on thanks to that “rapid growth” being forced down their throats as factories spring up everywhere and hundreds of thousands of new drivers hit the roads every year.
If they were left alone to grow at a more reasonable pace under a true banner of capitalism, they would have the time to face each problem before it turned into a pandemic.