Enough Already with Namby-Pamby Liberalism

by Don Boudreaux on July 9, 2011

in Civil Society, Man of System, Myths and Fallacies

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Writing admiringly that “The autocratic Chinese leadership gets things done fast,” Robert Herbold compares the U.S. to China and, in the process, reveals a disturbing infatuation with autocracy (“China vs. America: Which Is the Developing Country?” July 9).  Does Mr. Herbold truly believe that the U.S. government’s refusal to block “pornography and antigovernment points-of-view from our youth and citizens” is an offense, much less one comparable to Beijing’s routine imprisonment of political dissenters and its suppression of free speech?

And downright obscene is Mr. Herbold’s ignorance of history.  Praising Beijing’s latest five-year plan, Mr. Herbold giddily announces that “This is the 12th five-year plan and it was announced in March 2011.”  He then snarls: “Can you imagine the U.S. Congress and president emerging with a unified five-year plan that they actually achieve (like China typically does)?”

Thankfully, I cannot.

During the first half of the 60-year period governed by the five-year plans that Mr. Herbold so admires, not only did Mao’s policies trap hundreds of millions of Chinese people in dire poverty, the Chinese government slaughtered or starved to death between 49 and 77 million of its own citizens.  During the past 30 years, China’s economy has indeed grown, but not because of any five-year plans.  It has grown because of privatization and the freeing of markets – decentralization of decision-making authority of the very sort that Mr. Herbold evidently regards as ineffective, contemptible, and sissified.

Donald J. Boudreaux

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Kirby July 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm

China is only growing because before they had central planning. Notice this:
As soon as a country embraces communism, its GPD plummets, the economy crashes, and the people become suppressed
As soon as a country embraces capitalism, its GDP rises, the economy recovers, and the people become freer.


The Other Tim July 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I can’t believe anyone would actually be stupid enough to reference the system of five year plans in a positive light. Mao is properly considered the single greatest perpetrator of human suffering in history precisely because of how many dead he left in his wake through these plans. If we attribute all the dead of WWII plus the Holocaust to Hitler, Hitler still comes in second to Mao, with only 50 million deaths on his head, compared to Mao’s 60-100 million. It’s like referencing the holocaust in a positive light, only four or five times more inappropriate, given it killed four or five times as many people.

dicentra July 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm

“I can’t believe anyone would actually be stupid enough to reference the system of five year plans in a positive light.”

That’s because the ethic at Microsoft is to become not the BEST software company in the world but the ONLY software company. Centralized economies are easier for Microsoft et al. to manipulate such that they’re the only company that thrives.

We’re dealing with malignant narcissists, folks, and narcissists care only about pursuing their grandiose plans, regardless of how others are affected. The fact that Mao got away with exterminating his enemies is not a bug, it’s a feature.

That’s why the heads of the mega-businesses like Microsoft and GE donate to the Democrats: they don’t LIKE the free market, either, because the free market favors the newer, nimbler companies over the bloated behemoths, which often acquire the same inefficiencies as big gubmint.

Stop being astounded at this man’s “ignorance”: he knows damn good and well that you and I don’t prosper in a controlled economy. He also knows that sycophants such as himself tend to thrive.

The Other Tim July 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Let me clarify.

I can agree with much of what you say, although I generally think parasitic business interests are more subtle about their support for cronyism. That notwithstanding, I am surprised that someone would make an overt positive reference to the worst atrocity in history in terms of lives lost because generally saying “hey, wasn’t that thing that killed all those people really just swell” doesn’t inspire people to take you seriously.

If I shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that most readers haven’t been educated well enough to automatically hear “75 million dead” when they hear the words “five year plan.”

Jim July 9, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Never met a free market proponent of a Fortune 100 company.

If you notice Mr. Hergold’s main thrust, it is that he has someone to talk to in China that can get things done, so he doesn’t have to go out and compete.

Imagine the angst even today of so people at IBM that out-sourced their future to Microsoft because they thought PCs were a fad, and that the central planning mainframe model would prevail. It never amazes me how often people bet against decentralized innovation.

Ombibulous July 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm

You’re halfway right. Republicans don’t like the free market either. Herbold is a career politburo guy of the Republican flavor and a top crony apparatchik of Bush-Cheney campaigns 2000 & 2004 & Ashcroft 2000.
This is the guy Muirgeo type lefties watch during their two minutes hate sessions & think are the cookie cutters from which all capitalists are cut.
In the room next door George Will type righties are whipped into a multi-trillion dollar military spending fear frenzy of Iran showing up at their front door with the supersecret mass destruction technology they’ve been hiding under their burquas the whole time.
Herbold’s sort of a bizarro Hayek who makes millions as a consultant talking about fiefdom syndrome. He remade Microsoft in the image of Proctor & Gamble and it can now close it books in a few days, since all non-conforming business were hammered into place using the hammer & sickle technique to make them fit the proscribed mold.
Boudreaux fails to see the solution to the road to serfdom is to abandon personal aims and use central planning for more and more purposes, the socialist calculation problem is due to faulty Microsoft managers who are allowed to have their own plans instead of sticking to the one true plan of the Redmond corporate office.

These plans of course are kept in harmonious sync with the American government plan for collective prosperity and individual poverty in a new and improved Animal Farm. Long live Bush Cheney Ashcroft Obama Biden Clinton…
Beasts of England & America let’s all sing together now we can still beat those yellow devils.

Sam Grove July 10, 2011 at 12:51 am

Why would anyone attribute all the dead of WWII to Hitler when Stalin can easily be held to blame for a share of those deaths.
Of course, before Stalin, Lenin was a strong contender for worst perpetrator.

The Other Tim July 10, 2011 at 2:04 am

Those who died from 1937-1945 under Stalin but for reasons other than the war are not generally counted as part of the war dead. It’s rather hard to say that some of the actual war dead should not be attributed to the one who caused the war.

Polly July 10, 2011 at 10:23 am

Besides which, your attribution of all the WWII deaths to Hitler was stated as a hypothetical, really: “If we attribute all the dead….”

Sam Grove July 10, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I think a close examination of history would leave one in a difficult position in attempting to attribute the cause of the war to one person.

Even Wilson recognized that the Treaty of Versailles would cause trouble.

Richard Stands July 10, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Which one was the guy who got the trains to run on time? We need that. Government high-speed rail that runs on time.

Ray July 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm

He should co-write a book with Sinophile Friedman at the New York Times. Better yet, they should commit to living the rest of their days in China; in short order we will never have to hear from either again.

Tom of the Missouri July 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Thomas Friedman came to my mind too when I first saw this post by Don. Don wisely must not read Friedman or the NYT’s much, because it seems to me too that Friedman is the most well known advocate and promoter communist style command and control economics and 5 year plans these days.

I too would never advocate command and control government. over limited government but I have to admit that China’s present day 5 year plans ran by their current business promoting regime, as opposed to the plan of the Mao period, have a lot going for them over our present government’s plans. They also more closely resemble limited government that do our present govt. plans. I refer of course to the our current leader’s unspecified play it as you go plans to as he once put it “fundamentally transform America” . These latter plans while unwritten and not budgeted for seem to involve lost of business demonizing propaganda, constant calls for more taxation and unceasing increasing and changing business regulations. Come to think of it you might call the present govt. plans Mao light. After all his former White House communication (i.e., propaganda) directors did say (or let slip) that the person she admires most was Mao. (Google Anita Dunn Mao)

jjoxman July 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm


When I saw this op-ed I was hoping you would write a letter about it.

I noticed that the first point of comparison and complaint by Herbold was about the infrastructure. Specifically, LAX and the roads in So-Cal. Hey, wait – these are government-owned assets! But I bet LAX was beautiful and spacious when it was first built, just like the highways were. Give the Chinese assets fifty years and we’ll see where they are at then.

Methinks1776 July 9, 2011 at 5:49 pm

As I remember them, Socialist building projects were subject to instant aging.

In fifty years they will be lying in dangerous ruins. a few years should be sufficient to observe an astonishing amount of decay.

ArrowSmith July 9, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Already 10 year old “ghost cities” are decaying in China. Cities no one has ever lived in. A triumph of central planning we are supposed to admire and emulate.

Acertainflorentine July 9, 2011 at 5:59 pm

One of the most hideous architectural sites I have ever seen is the block apartment buildings surrounding the historic center of Bratislava Slovakia. Built by…you guessed it, the Soviet Union.

Jim July 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

They are everywhere across the vast Soviet bloc, in virtually every town and city. And most of them are decaying cesspools.

Methinks1776 July 10, 2011 at 2:56 pm

When we moved into our Moscow flat in 1972, it was a brand new construction. By the time we immigrated in 1976, it was already shabby. When I returned 19 years later, it was a rundown disaster.

It couldn’t compare even to nasty public housing in the Bronx or Chicago’s Southside (though, the neigbourhood is not dangerous)..

Greg Webb July 11, 2011 at 12:59 am

Methinks1776, so you actually lived in a central planning “paradise.”. Now, I know why George hates you. He can’t stand the fact that you know firsthand why his views are wrong.

Methinks1776 July 11, 2011 at 11:39 am

Greg, I don’t think Muirdiot understands his views. In the six years he’s been smearing his mental diarrhea on this blog, I haven’t noticed he has a clear understanding of what’s going on around him, much less have a clear view.

All he know is is he hates rich people.

brotio July 13, 2011 at 12:07 am

All he know is is he hates rich people.

All he knows is that he hates rich people who are not members of the Democratic Party, or The Church of Anthropogenic Global Climate Change (formerly known as The Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming). There, fixed it for ya :-D

I have never heard Yasafi complain about the obscene wealth that the Kennedy heirs own, or the obscene wealth that John Kerry married into, or the obscene wealth that His Holiness: The Divine Prophet Algore I has amassed as Ruler of the above-mentioned Church, or the obscene wealth amassed by a Community Organizer-turned-POTUS, or the obscene wealth that a certain Bay Area pediatrician has amassed from (mis)treating children of the poor.

Yasafi is very selective over whose wealth outrages him.

brotio July 13, 2011 at 12:15 am

Now, I know why George hates you.


Yasafi’s hatred of Methinks is more fierce because she’s not on the plantation. He hates all individualists, but women and minorities especially should not consider themselves individuals.

W.E. Heasley July 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm

“Let’s face it—we are getting beaten because the U.S. government can’t seem to make big improvements. Issues quickly get polarized, and then further polarized by the media, which needs extreme viewpoints to draw attention and increase audience size. The autocratic Chinese leadership gets things done fast (currently the autocrats seem to be highly effective).” – Mr. Herbold, a retired chief operating officer of Microsoft Corporation, is the managing director of The Herbold Group, LLC and author of “What’s Holding You Back? Ten Bold Steps That Define Gutsy Leaders”

And downright obscene is Mr. Herbold’s ignorance of history. – Don Boudreaux

History indeed! In the 1930’s many intellectuals, intelligentsia, and the chattering-media- class pointed to Benito Mussolini in very similar terms to “…getting things done fast”. That the U.S. should emulate, copy, and proceed on with policies molded after those of Mussolini.

Beyond history, current affairs show hundreds of “uprisings” each day in China in which the military must patrol and squelch.

Mr. Herbold is putting forth the classic debate string as identified by Thomas Sowell: put forth a notional proposition with no empirical underpinnings and avoid historical fact, argue though verbal virtuosity, present the notional proposition as “the way things ought to be”, and finally put forth the notional proposition as now, somehow, indeed being “fact“. However, the entire debate string ends as merely one painting the world in one’s own self image.

jeff July 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I’m betting Mr Herbold’s priase has as much to do with Microsoft kissing China’s ass as any actual love of their policies

Richard Stands July 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Excellent point.

ArrowSmith July 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Liberals love autocracy and use of force. Except that they will be exempt from the force as our enlightened “leaders”. The rest of us will feel the boot.

vikingvista July 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm

They don’t consider it force if it is something they agree with.

“I’d be willing to pay more taxes for…”
“I accept that I’m part of a democracy…”

EG July 9, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Wow. What silly dribble. This guy obviously has never spend more than 5 minutes outside of his partner’s office in Shanghai.

Infrastructure? The US has around 30 times the number of airports that China has. And he wants to compare…airports? I guess the level of usefulness of airports is not their capacities and destinations and the fleets of aircraft that operate from them…but the grandiosity of their entrances and airport bars. Downright silly.

Railways? the US has about 3 times the mileage of railways that China has, all privately build and owned. So much for government vision. Roads? Is this guy aware of what a horror Chinese highways are? Is this guy aware of the 6 hour commutes to travel outside of Beijing for 100miles? (or the occasional times when you can get stuck there for up to 24 hours) I had to drive once for 7 hours to a city outside of Shanghai, about 200 miles away, multi-million population. No airport. You’d be hard pressed to find a city of 10,000 in the US that isn’t served by some airline.

Is this guy aware that China has been experimenting with government 5-year plans since 1949? By my calculations, thats 62 years. And when has China started to develop economically?? Not a very difficult question, for an ex-Microsoft executive. I don’t know if these people are really THIS dumb, or if they pretend to be this dumb in order to push a political agenda (when you have an answer in mind already, you will find , or make up, examples to support them). Clearly he MUST be aware that even the Chinese are saying their high-speed rail is awfully wasteful. Clearly he MUST be smart enough to understand that China uses rail transport more, because they lack roads and airports and planes. Clearly, he MUST have actually traveled outside of Shanghai, to see the third-world decrepitude of the infrastructure on the rest of China. Clearly, he MUST be smart enough to understand that China started developing when free markets were allowed, as limited as they may be, to operate. Clearly, he MUST be smart enough to understand that the wealth that is squandered by the government, is generated by private enterprise?

Or am I giving him too much credit? I remember once I accidentally turned on one of the news networks on TV, and there was a Union moron speaking to the host, complaining that what was lacking in this country was a “national industrial plan!”, which he complained “we’ve never actually had”.How does one reach the conclusion that the country that has been the world’s leader 10 times over in technology and innovation and manufacturing and wealth creation, that remains so, and has never had a “national industrial plan”…therefore is “lacking” in one?

EG July 9, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Has the author ever wondered why China produces about 10 times the number of PhDs than the US, but they get paid starvation wages by US standards? Has he ever wondered why the smart Chinese students kill themselves to come study in the US, or HK, or Singapore but there’s no flow the other way around? How many Chinese PhD students in the US, has the author heard of that went back to China?

He insults the intelligence of the readers of WSJ, but throwing around such silly observations of his

ArrowSmith July 9, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I question the quality of a PhD from a Chinese university. If their universities are so hot, why aren’t foreigners flocking to them?

EG July 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm

They’re not. The ones that are smart, don’t go to Chinese universities for PhDs. And the ones that go outside of China for PhDs, don’t return to China. There’s no clear signal than that, regardless how many they churn out for their own public consumption.

carlsoane July 9, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I don’t know about the Chinese PhD programs, but I work with a number of computer science engineers with Master’s degrees from Chinese universities and they’re bright and well-prepared. I am no fan of Chinese 5 year plans, but I do not have any doubt that Chinese universities are producing talented engineers and scientists.

EG July 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm

No doubt there are. But what are they doing outside of China? ;)

carlsoane July 10, 2011 at 1:27 am

They’re working in China. I work for a multinational.

EG July 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm

My own experience has been different. I had to hold the hands of every Chinese engineer as they walked through a process. But anecdotes aside, what I was saying was not that Chinese universities cannot produce talented engineers and scientists, but that the best ones find a way out of China and don’t return. I’ve known many Chines students at all levels, and I’ve never met one who wasn’t trying their hardest to stay in the US.

This reflects more on the overall situation of China, than the intelligence of their students. The point being that if they has liberalized 60 years ago, and if the government got out of the way even more now, they could accomplish a lot more, rather than spend their energy trying to get out of China.

Mr. CEO of Microsoft here doesn’t understand this, and instead is impressed by the armies of PhDs their universities create. Numbers aren’t a substitute for quality.

GP Hanner July 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Anybody old enough to recall when a lot of “experts,” usually management gurus with Ph.D. behind their names, claimed Japan was going to rule the world? They later they claimed that oil producers like Saudi Arabia were going to take over.

I wonder how that guy became an executive at Microsoft. Then again, maybe that explains Microsoft’s problems.

Searcher July 9, 2011 at 5:51 pm

This stuff brings to mind the late Walter Duranty’s persistent praise of Stalin’s Workers’ Paradise during the 30′s. He and The New York Times won a Pulitzer for such swill. How, and why, did it appear in the WSJ?

ArrowSmith July 9, 2011 at 5:56 pm

It seems a lot of people have problems with American freedom. I think most people around the world are still content to be dictated to in every aspect of living. Freedom is hard, because with it comes responsibility and insecurity.

Jack Costello July 9, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Anyone interested in the truly terrifying consequences of China’s variety of state planning should check out ‘Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe,1958-62′ by Frank Dikotter. As he himself wrote in the London Times ‘the catastrophe… stands as a reminder of how profoundly misplaced is the idea of state planning as an antidote to chaos’.

James July 12, 2011 at 9:45 am

Also very good is Jasper Beckett’s “Hungry Ghosts”.A very well researched expose on Mao’s famine.

vidyohs July 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Like everyone else above, I am in awe of the ignorance of Mr. Robert Herbold. How does a man function as the CEO of a privately owned incredibly profitable firm and come away with that kind of blindness.

vikingvista July 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm

If only all such ignoramuses were confined to the voluntary society as he is. Sadly, most are naturally attracted to, and concentrate within, the legally coercive society.

River July 9, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Just finished a 4000 mile rail trip from Hong Kong to Bejing to Lhasa in Tibet. I made the trip specifically to see the changes in a similar trip in 1988. in 1988 we looked at the 3 Chinas of the time, Hong Kong, the PRC or mainland China and Tiawan. In 1949, all were roughly the same but by 1988 it was obvious free markets and freedom was providing much better living standards than the socialist experts on the mainland. Hong Kong was a thriving city with money and energy to burn, Tiapai was growing and bustling and people in Bejing wore blue suits, had 300 watts of electricity per day and rode bicycles. In May when I visited Hong Kong is a much better city, Shanghai is coming on and Bejing has impoved the least. I rode first class the entire 4000 mile journey and the trains were on time. But they would not even meet Amtraks comfort stand and compared to the private railways of the world suck. The head of the railroads had just been jailed for taking millions in bribes and kickbacks.

As for the progress, in 4000 miles of looking out the at the country side, I saw less than 10 tractors farming the fields, I saw hundreds of draft animals and even more people using shovels and hoes. In Tibets largest city, many people are heating their houses and cooking their meals on dried YAK dung and the average salary is $600 to $700 dollars per year. The big concern in the papers is the exit of the entrepreneurial class out of the country because of a tightening of government controls. Class envy as a result of the wealth created was an issue with the guides who helped us, they were of course chosen for their ideological purity and ability to spout the party line. I don’t think we have much to fear economically from the Chinese.

Shanghai had made the most improvement because it is a special economic zone and has a memory of free markets from the days when it was a global financial center prior to 1939. I agree if this dim wit had traveled outside of Shanghai and used his eyes to see the labor and sweat of the common man, instead of listening to the Party Bureaucrats in Shanghai, he might have seen a different view.

I did think China is a green bureaucrats dream, 400 sq. ft. apartments, rationed electricity, high rises near the bus stop, riding scooters to get food and most of all, unequal results are discouraged in the state press so supposedly all are happy and want fewer consumer goods.

Finally the oppressive hand of government is felt everywhere, if you inadvertently take a picture of a soldier or policeman you get your camera confiscated, don’t mention Taiwan or any protests, Google is censored so you can’t even find it, no Facebook the list is endless. But I think some of our commentors would like to see us in the same mold, makes it much easier to force their beliefs on us.

EG July 9, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I’m sure the author knows what we both have seen there all too well. However, when one is ideologically inclined to reach a certain conclusion, and ox will look like a tractor, regardless of the fact that it has no wheels.

Dan J July 9, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Peeing into troughs that lead outside and into small canals that run alongside the street. By night fall any open space such as a park or field will soon be inhabited by as many people who can fit, and their little space of property is a blanket or other piece of material to sleep on for the night. The very same area is used as the restroom by others during the day.
Just in behind the shopfront, would be another dirt floored room where chicken and fish are prepared for marketplace. The cleaning of the animals is done on the floor along with the remains of the other animals cleaned.
Yet, Thomas Friedman would continuously write of the marvels to be had by centrally organized society…… Much like the buffoons in the thirties who exclaimed about the amazing structure of Russia, in which FDR looked to emulate in regards to some of his policies.

muirgeo July 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm

OK … another up is down, left is right and ten is five post.

“It has grown because of privatization and the freeing of markets – decentralization of decision-making authority…”

What? Herbold’s article very clearly shows that the Chinese society and economy is specifically centrally planned. They have a five year plan….do you not see the word PLAN in there?. That’s NOT decentralization.

They have capitalism with good planning… we have capitalism with bad planning and we our getting a butt-kicking. Our bad planning is mostly a result of the silly idea of libertarians NOT TO PLAN… and allow disorder to emerge. There is a lesson in there somewhere… but no doubt it has no chance of penetrating the reality averse lead walled blinders of ideologues.

Again… does reality matter to you guys? Do you really believe you can say that China has decentralized government and that because you say so it makes it true? Seriously… the real word does NOT work that way. I see the responses above and I have to believe this place borders on cult… there’s a near absence of free thinking….

Please post all you ad homs here:


ArrowSmith July 9, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Hey muirbot – are you willing to accept the severe environmental degradation of China to have “5 year plans”? Are you THAT in love with statism?

Gil July 9, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Oh noes! Why would you put the “environment” in front of Chinese peoples’ growth you horrid Greenie?

MWG July 9, 2011 at 8:00 pm

You understanding of China is as bad as your understanding of basic economics.

muirgeo July 10, 2011 at 2:47 am


MWG July 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm

“They have capitalism with good planning… ”

I have to laugh a little at this. Almost daily you lament the fact we trade with the ‘Chinese communists’ who are merely employing ‘slaves’ to produce cheap crap. NOW, they’re capitalists with ‘good planning’.

You’re an idiot.

EG July 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Your reading comprehension skills seem to be as good as your medical skills.

Ghengis Khak July 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Part of Don’s post — “During the first half of the 60-year period governed by the five-year plans that Mr. Herbold so admires, not only did Mao’s policies trap hundreds of millions of Chinese people in dire poverty, the Chinese government slaughtered or starved to death between 49 and 77 million of its own citizens.”

Even supposing that China is giving us a “butt-kicking” as you say. Which, as an aside, is pretty awesome considering how often you go on about the slave wages their workers get paid over there and hence the need for protectionism. How you can claim to hold both of these viewpoints baffles me. But I digress.

So suppose the Chinese have these 5 year plans and that for the past 20 years they’ve been going well. What happens when their next leader isn’t as smart or well-intentioned? Do you understand that when someone has the power to force everyone to follow their 5 year plan, and they fuck up, that you can and often do get results similar in nature (if not in magnitude) to the Mao regime?

I guess your willingness to look past something like 70 million dead Chinese just to see your vision of a centrally-managed state explains how you can look past the analogous, but obviously less severe, problems of rent-seeking and police state crackdown that come from too much authority being imbued to government here in the United States.

muirgeo July 9, 2011 at 10:00 pm

“So suppose the Chinese have these 5 year plans and that for the past 20 years they’ve been going well. What happens when their next leader isn’t as smart or well-intentioned?”

That’s why I do not support communist China and why I advocate people lead democracy. No inconsistencies on my part. Oh and indeed I am for well regulated and well planned capitalism.

The key point here is that we DO know how to plan capitalism… we DO NOT know the best way to get the good planners in place… or in other words the best way to organize society and politics and government. That is the hard part that you guys want to ignore.

The libertarian idea of an unplanned society is stupid and debunked. Economics is not that hard and Hayek Use of Knowledge essay is really not that impressive.

Gil July 9, 2011 at 11:20 pm

If you’re not Libertarian then you’re a filthy Commie, duh!

Harrison Nguyen July 10, 2011 at 1:18 am

“The key point here is that we DO know how to plan capitalism”
Oh really?! Can you tell me how many bars of soap we will produce in the next 5 years? At what price? And do we really need soap at all?

muirgeo July 10, 2011 at 2:59 am

As many as the market demands… no one is running the markets only making the rules consistent and fair. However it is likely such a society WILL need more bars of soap than an inefficient libertarian market that is wasteful and not as productive… leaving people dirtier with more need for soap but insufficient wages to demand more of what they need even when no scarcity exist.

brotio July 13, 2011 at 12:23 am

no one is running the markets only making the rules consistent and fair.

Which is why Yasafi supports corporate welfare for Chrysler, GE, GM, and ADM; but not for AIG, or Citibank.

Ghengis Khak July 10, 2011 at 3:03 am

You say we know how to plan capitalism. What does this actually mean? I will assume you mean planning a framework within which individual property rights are respected to some degree in order to maximize for some set of economic and civic outcomes.

To the extent that we agree on what types of planning entail what outcomes, every person has a different utility function. For example, you likely care more about income (in)equality than I do, while I care more about the freedom to engage in risky behavior like the ability to buy tacos from someone not licensed by the state.

How can you know what everyone else’s utility function is, much less how to organize a society in order to maximize some aggregate of them?

Moreover, as I mentioned earlier, we likely don’t agree on which outcomes are the results of which policies. For example, there is widespread disagreement in what the outcome of something as simple as raising taxes 5% on folks who earn more than $250k/year.

Due to all this it seems unlikely that anyone has all the answers and knows how to plan capitalism.

muirgeo July 10, 2011 at 9:49 am

I really don’ thave to explain how or if it can be done. The real world…via China… is showing planning can work. I’d argue FDR showed the same when we prospered for 50 years with no bank failures or major crashes because of his policies and planning.

Ghengis Khak July 10, 2011 at 3:16 am

“That’s why I do not support communist China and why I advocate people lead democracy.”

To implement the level of control over the economy and society that a 5-year plan requires means a lot of power being centralized, much more so than now.

Do you have some reason to suspect that whoever gets that power (say, George W. Bush and the congress of 2002) would submit to democracy again when their 5 years is up?

muirgeo July 10, 2011 at 9:51 am

I don’t know what changes. The same rules go. If some one is not elected they either step down from office or are removed. Do you think George Bush could have just ignored the constitution and the election results without consequence? Heck when they do it right like FDR they just keep getting re-elected.

Ghengis Khak July 10, 2011 at 11:24 am

Muirgeo — I guess I got the impression that you were proposing some radical expansions to the scope of federal government authority over commerce and civil liberties in order to be able to institute and carry out these 5 year plans. I apologize if that impression was incorrect.

Are you simply proposing that everyone vote Democrat (though it seems fairly obvious to me that the two parties’ differences are largely superficial) in order to get the policies you want, or some sort of (minor?) structural changes to our system of governance? For the latter, I am imagining you want to re-align all election cycles so that all national-level electable offices serve for the same 5 year period. Is this along the lines of what you mean?

Sam Grove July 10, 2011 at 1:11 pm

There’s no libertarian idea of an “unplanned” society. We just don’t want it planned by a few.

muirgeo July 10, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Neither do I… but that’s what is happening when we allowed political power to be shifted from the people to the corporations, the wealthy elite and others in the political class that you support…knowingly or not.

So, in other words,, you need “stronger” ( meaning more people lead) democracy to prevent the political class and their libertarians from taking control of the system.

Sam Grove July 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm

democracy to prevent the political class and their libertarians from taking control of the system.

I think you put stupid in one of those replicators to make more stupid.

Making the government stronger means reducing the power of people, as their power and authority must be delegated to the political class.

muirgeo July 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Sam , I don’t fear a strong government anymore than a strong car… as long as WE have our hands on the throttle…. We have much to do and the Smart Car government you recommend will not tow the load.

Subhi Andrews July 11, 2011 at 1:25 am

It’s not the car that you need to fear, it is the driver. You are not the one with a hand on the throttle.

Nevada Doctor July 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm

I visit Chinatown in Vegas and say with admiration the Chinese are the most self-centered non-altruist people I’ve seen. They will smile & nod and appear to agree with you, Obama, or Boudreaux while you talk to them, and then go back to doing whatever the hell they want.
If your blog is worth a nickel, you can be sure bootleg copies of it would be sold in every shop without a penny of royalties to you or the taxman just as anarcho-libertarians intend.
They’ve had 25,000 years of lessons at the school of hard knocks and are wise enough not to give a nickel to Jesus himself if he came to their gate for a handout. (Which he wouldn’t because he followed the non-aggression principle)

vikingvista July 9, 2011 at 7:17 pm

What has happened to Americans? Why are they so infatuated with tyranny?

Observer_Guy1 July 9, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Yes, why do so many Americans loathe freedom, liberty, and choice?

If Chinese central planners do in fact direct much of the Chinese economy, we all know the end result. It’s just a matter of time.

ArrowSmith July 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Also we never hear from the average Chang about how these 5-year plans are impacting him. Beyond that China has a huge crisis of 50 million surplus men who can’t find wives. Talk about a social catastrophe.

Observer_Guy1 July 9, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I thought the Chi-Coms issued men their wives? This is an area the central planners could actually do some good.

John Galt July 9, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Sure, an overweight chinese girl is called a chunk and knows that Mao is her true baby-daddy. She will make sure you follow all party programs to the letter and bear you one cuckold surveillance drone with a bottomless stomach who reports your every move to the party and refuses to leave when he reaches adulthood.

Gil July 9, 2011 at 11:26 pm

“Beyond that China has a huge crisis of 50 million surplus men who can’t find wives.”

Poor diddems! Why would 50 million women be obliged to rush to China so 50 millions get quit jacking off? Probably most of them couldn’t get laid even there was no one-child policy.

ArrowSmith July 9, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Not most Americans, only a very vocal minority. They are loudmouths. Remember in 1972 Nixon was supposed to lose, but that pesky silent majority wouldn’t have anything of that lefty McGovern.

vikingvista July 9, 2011 at 11:11 pm

But they are everywhere, and in high places. Throughout industry, throughout academia. It’s no surprise that a malicious cretin like muirde lusts after the violent subjugation of his peaceful neighbors, but so many of these despot-worshipers appear as otherwise decent productive citizens.

It’s like a virus that cripples people’s minds, enabling the fast track to tyranny. It just seems so decidedly un-American.

ArrowSmith July 10, 2011 at 1:54 am

muir would have been one of the Khmer Rouge operatives killing his neighbors with impunity.

muirgeo July 9, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Yeah why do you guys want to live in a corporate fascist state that will ultimately lead to serfdom when all the property and means of production are monopolized. What do you see in serfdom…. it doesn’t look fun to me.


Ken July 10, 2011 at 12:11 am


“Yeah why do you guys want to live in a corporate fascist state”

Ha! The irony is precious. You’re the one agreeing with a top corporate executive, who is crowing that the US should become less democratic and more fascist. Do you even think before you type something?


Richard Stands July 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Fascism’s sweet song: Give us your liberties and we’ll make you safe. Give us your liberties and we’ll take care of you.

The way Ayn Rand described quota systems seems to apply to this trend in general:

It is obvious why the quota doctrine appeals to modern intellectuals: it eliminates the responsibility of thought, judgment, and choice. Just follow your group leaders, it advises, they are physiologically predestined to protect you and take care of you. To most of them, this promises the comfort of lethargy, and to a few—a road to power.

John Sullivan July 9, 2011 at 7:40 pm

The reason why China is the leading manufacturer of labor intensive products in the world is precisely because they’re a ‘developing’ coutry. Once they are developed, per se, we will have no further use for them, and either will the rest of the nations who outsource there, which include the Asian developed nations of Japan, Korea, and even Taiwan.

Furthermore, China doesn’t have the ability to provide economic data as we do. Much of the data they put out is made up. The Journal has reported that many times.

The Journal throws a bone to the left every now and then. I think they do it for laughs and to enjoy all the letters that pour in over cocktails after hours.

Observer_Guy1 July 9, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I think you’re right about the WSJ. They let some loony leftist write a column and suddenly everyone else at the WSJ makes perfect sense!

jjoxman July 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm

They used to have, maybe still do, have a resident lefty names Frank. He always seemed so out of place. Maybe he got the boot and they bring in guest lefties now. Trying to appear ‘balanced’ nowadays means throwing a bone or five to the know-nothings I guess.

John Sullivan July 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm

They got rid of him. Now it’s Alan Blinder.

Mesa Econoguy July 10, 2011 at 12:10 am

Yes, Thomas Frank was their token lefty kook. He left last winter, I believe.

Don’t think anyone really noticed.

John Sullivan July 9, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I noticed in the WSJ piece that there was no mention of the Chinese bicycles and scooters that compete with automobiles for highway lanes over there. I happen to buy millions of pounds of aluminum from a large mill there and one day the plant manager was riding to work on a scooter and got run over and killed.

The guy who killed him had to pay 15 grand.

Yes, they cut to the chase and get things done fast.

ArrowSmith July 9, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Don’t forget all the suicides at Foxconn where they make iCrap.

Sebastian Oberhoff July 9, 2011 at 9:05 pm

If you judged a country based on their politicians ability to agree on common objectives North Korea would qualify as heaven on earth.

ArrowSmith July 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Liberals are infatuated with dictatorships because they just “get things done”. They are frustrated by the checks & Balances of our republic. For some reason they thought they completely controlled everything after the Nov 2008 election, not realizing that they didn’t have the Supreme Court or a filibuster-proof Senate. Many liberals have written that they want to do away with the Senate and electoral college.

Polly July 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Actually they did have a filibuster-proof Senate after ’08. How do you think we got ObamaCare? And when Scott Brown, a Republican who promised to vote against ObamaCare, was elected to fill Dead-Teddy’s seat, that meant the only way they could pass ObamaCare was to accept it as the House left it when they passed it. Otherwise they could have had a reconciliation session that would have removed all the bad parts. THAT’S the only reason it’s not absolutely perfect. And THAT explains why so many unions and businesses had to get waivers, even after supporting it all through its passage.

Subhi Andrews July 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm


China had five year plans back in 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and they had only widespread poverty, death & misery to show for it. Besides, Mao’s great leap forward has killed millions of people as Don mentioned in the article. What changed since Deng Xiao Ping is the lesser role central planning played/playing in Chinese society.

Do you ever wonder why people(Herbold) with so much money, largely, want such centralized power structures?

I grew up in India. India had five year plans, and they still do. It has become a ritual in India. But in the old days, Nehru’s 5 year plans were a big thing. Uncaring & Selfish socialist put several people to early death in the worst way possible – hunger, curable diseases, & a mix of blatant cronyism and corruption – it was also called “License Raj” – translation everysmall thing needed approval of some official – which meant he either did favors for his relatives or did favors for those who bribed him/her. It still goes on, but at least its importance is diminishing.

If you want to know the list of economists who influenced policy in India prior to the reforms of early 90s – you can see it here.


muirgeo July 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm

The point is right now they are proving that central planning can work while we are proving what a disaster laissez faire neoliberal policies can be.

John Sullivan July 9, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Sorry pal,

Their current wealth is due to the unplanned aspects of their economy. You had your chance with Mao when he planned everything. Millions died of starvation. Unfortunately, you lived.

No offense but you waste space here. The problem with individuals like you is that they all think that if we lived in a police state, it would be your opinions that would be chosen to be law, and that it would be you, or people like you, who would be chosen to lead. But you aren’t a leader

David Shaw July 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm

“The problem with individuals like you is that they all think that if we lived in a police state, it would be your opinions that would be chosen to be law, and that it would be you, or people like you, who would be chosen to lead. But you aren’t a leader.”

Like. Like. A million times…like.

Craig July 9, 2011 at 11:21 pm

“he point is right now they are proving that central planning can work while we are proving what a disaster laissez faire neoliberal policies can be”

I’ll give you credit for one thing, you stick to your talking points. You have perhaps the worst case of confirmation bias of all time. The historical record clearly shows that centralized planning does not work and free markets do. Your harping on the current conditions as prove is the height of intellectual dishonesty. But it is in keeping with the elitist tradition. 50-60 years ago people like hailed the Soviet Model. How did that work out?

muirgeo July 10, 2011 at 9:55 am

“The historical record clearly shows that centralized planning does not work and free markets do.”

Yeah sure except for the very article we are discussing which provides good evidence of China’s success under planning and our SUCKcess under a government in gridlock with very poor planning…. yes but all that other history is what you must be talking about….

Greg Webb July 10, 2011 at 11:08 am

No, George, it does not work now. It, just like every centrally planned economy, appears to work, statists proclaim it as a shining example of how central planinng works, then the truth come out and we discover what libertarians already knew — central planning did not work, millions live in abject and unnecessary poverty while the self- proclaimed elites live in opulent luxury, and millions of individuals were killed to for the “greater good” of “the people.”. China has an export driven economy fueled by easy credit provided by the government. It will fail as mal-investment builds to an inevitable, unsustainable level. You should not be like Walter Duranty who idiotically parroted communist talking points while the communists starved millions of Russians and Ukrainians to death in their “bountiful paradise.”

muirgeo July 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Again wrong Greg. You keep thinking we are talking about communism. It always defaults to that with you guys. Communism is irrelevant except as an effigy for you guys to tag anyone like me who suggest something a little more than libertarianism as a form of government policy.

The simple fact is ALL the most successful economies and societies have been centrally planned social democracies. NOT communist states and NOT Libertarian states. The better planned ones like Denmark, Canada, Germany are not minimalist… even such could be said for Singapore, Switzerland and others. Likewise the historical trends of our government and economy show that slides in the direction of laissez faire as with Coolidge and Reagan and in England Thatcher lea to inefficient boom and bust economies that favor the few, the political class over the many. These slides ultimately trend towards LESS liberty and freedom rather than more.

Greg Webb July 10, 2011 at 9:56 pm

George, you said, “You keep thinking we are talking about communism.” But, in your previous post, you said, “Yeah sure except for the very article we are discussing which provides good evidence of China’s success under planning….” Now George, you were, in that previous post talking about China, and China is still a single party state run by the Communist Party of China (CPC). So, you bring up China, a communist state; I responded; and you said “Again wrong, Greg.” Obviously, however, I was right…again I might add.

You said, “The simple fact is ALL the most successful economies and societies have been centrally planned social democracies.” Just because you want it to be so, George, does not make it so. The simple fact is that no one or no small group of people, no matter how well educated or intelligent, can plan everything that needs to be planned in a complex economy where literally millions of transactions occur everyday. As Hayek so wisely said, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

You said, “The better planned ones like Denmark, Canada, Germany are not minimalist… even such could be said for Singapore, Switzerland and others.” Okay, I will humor you. You changed the subject from an easy case Communist China to the mixed economies of Germany, Denmark, Canada, Switzerland, and Singapore. I checked a variety of reliable sources like the CIA World Fact Book, but the terms used vary so much as to not have much meaning. For example, Germany says it has a social market economy, which does not indicate how much central planning, if any, is going on. The same for Denmark – industrialized market economy; Canada – social democratic economy; Singapore – free market economy; and Switzerland – free enterprise. But, I don’t think you mean centrally planned economies. I think you mean countries that offer more social welfare programs than the United States. And, those countries can offer more of those programs because they have contracted out their military defense expenditures to the United States.

But, the easiest way to see if centrally planned economies work is to use examples like North Korea, the most centrally planned economy in the world, which is an economic disaster. The only ones who benefit from central planning in North Korea are the political elite, while everyone else is a serf or starving to death. Other examples are Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, the former Soviet Union, and many eastern European countries during 1950s to 1990s.

You said, “Likewise the historical trends of our government and economy show that slides in the direction of laissez faire as with Coolidge and Reagan and in England Thatcher lea to inefficient boom and bust economies that favor the few, the political class over the many. These slides ultimately trend towards LESS liberty and freedom rather than more.” You really don’t know economics or history. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1914, the normal economic cycle has been lengthened through the Fed’s easy credit monetary policies. This results in huge mal-investment in certain economic sectors and that along with government incentives (“Everyone should own a home” policies of the Clinton and Bush Administrations) lead to the huge oversupply of residential properties and our current economic downturn. Mr. Obama’s “war on business” has exacerbated and extended the economic downturn. You really should read “Reckless Endangerment” by Gretchen Morgenson, a New York Times Reporter, and Joshua Rosner. You should also read “The Forgotten Man” by Amity Schlaes and “Depression, War, and Cold War” by Robert Higgs.

You seem to believe that business likes competition. It does not. There is a reason that investment banks like Goldman Sachs have such cozy relationships with both parties. The goal is to increase regulation designed to limit competition and keep profits up without having to work that hard. Why are you willing to believe the obvious propaganda that Goldman (i.e., crony capitalists) and crooked politicians like Obama, Frank, and Dodd are increasing regulation for the good of America. BTW, it is the combination of the crooked politicians, the crony capitalists, and the rent seeking unions that create the triumvirate known as the political class. And, they hate freedom for the individual…just like you do.

George, give up your hate for individuals, your obsession with being part of the in-crowd political elite (they will never let you in the club no matter what they say or you do), and join freedom seeking individuals like libertarians.

Emil July 10, 2011 at 8:23 am

“The point is right now they are proving that central planning can work while we are proving what a disaster laissez faire neoliberal policies can be.”

Two points:

1) as many others have already pointed out, the growth of China comes mainly from less planning and not from more planning

2) even if we were to accept your statement as true, we also need to put in context: of course central planning can work (for a while at least) but over time the results from central planning are ALWAYS far, far worse than those from neoloberalism. Central planning sooner or later always results in suppression, mass murder, poverty and famine.

Jim July 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Don, I was more surprised by Mr. Herbold’s implication of American politics than his irrational view of the Chinese one. Because from where I stand, the last 40 years of American statehood has had a clear and very concerted plan; a centralized planning committee bent on instituting a clear and new future of the country through ownership or total regulation of industry and all development. And so far, they seem to be getting that done.

I have no earthly idea why Mr. Herbold does not either view central planning as the plan, or that it is taking place. He may be frustrated by its bureaucracy, but that is only because outright confiscation has proved so far to be beyond their grasp. In China, the business folks ARE the government. That will soon be true in USA as well if firms like Microsoft keep asking for it.

Jim July 9, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Excuse my french, but what in h*ll does Mr. Herbold think we are fighting for over here? Is he really that naive?

Microsoft has a long and untainted tradition of hierarchy more adept at stealing technology than innovating it, and producing spaghetti code that programmers love to hate, but surely he can not be so naive as to believe the implications of his silly article. God help us all.

John Sullivan July 9, 2011 at 10:40 pm

What are you doing here?

China had a completely planned economy and hundreds of millions died of starvation. Their current wealth is due to the degree it has been freed, not planned.

Either get a life, or at least, an education.

John Sullivan July 9, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Central planning, anywhere, is not done for the purpose of improving an economy. It is done for the purpose of retaining power and wealth by the ruling elites.

River July 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm

My early post was far too long and I apologize. Based on my recent trip and trip in 1988, Muirgeo, those areas with a market approach, freedom and less central planning are doing much better than those areas of heavy central government. They are not kicking our butts
when they are heating with Yak dung and plowing with oxen.

Chucklehead July 10, 2011 at 2:48 am

Robert Herbold is just channeling Rexford Tugwell.

Greg Webb July 10, 2011 at 3:04 am

Excellent letter, Don. Thanks for exposing another statist and his nonsensical statements.

Frank33328 July 10, 2011 at 8:00 am

While it has internal contradictions, this is a generally good article. Don’t crown China the economic gurus just yet…

Jim July 10, 2011 at 8:39 am

As a lesser example, I remember when all the management gurus and the press fell all over themselves about Home Depot and GE management, who quickly centralized the bureaucracy and took all talent out of the local stores, which killed them.

Lowe’s is now kicking their ass, but at least the GE guys are rich. I always laugh when I compete with GE management. I kick their ass every time.

Tim July 10, 2011 at 11:00 am


This letter missed the mark. Your only real point of criticism is that of the 5-year plans and, sadly, phrasing it as you do, you give anyone on that side the biggest out in their ability to say that, “Sure, the early 5-year plans may have been bad but clearly the later ones are working better.”

Probably could have better spent your time on something else. Sorry. :-(

Roger McKinney July 10, 2011 at 11:10 am

Unfortunately for China, the communist party has made the same conclusion. I was afraid that would happen. Now the state will kill China’s remarkable increase in wealth.

As for the editorial, I have noticed for a long time the impatience that the left has with democracy. They loved democracy when Republicans were as socialist as Democrats. But when opposition arose, democracy lost its luster.

We can look forward to more love of dictators from the left and more trashing of democracy as time passes. The left can succeed only with one-party rule.

Jim July 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Well said.

Even then, bankruptcy is the inevitable outcome.

rjb2056 July 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm

It is incredible that Mr. Herbold was once an executive of Microsoft. Even people who have benefited from the enormous opportunities inherent in our democratic/capitalist system don’t understand how or why they benefited.

richard July 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Basically, the Chinese Communist party slaughtered some 10% of the Chinese population. That would be 30m Americans.

I remember a story of a boy who stole some rice because he was hungry. The local party chief ordered his father to bury him alive on the spot.

gold bracelets July 11, 2011 at 12:25 am

During the past 30 years, China’s economy has indeed grown, but not because of any five-year plans.

Amazed July 11, 2011 at 10:33 am

As a small business owner, \bBefore I began my tenure on our small town’s city council, I railed against the molasses pace of bureaucracy. During my tenure, I came to revere said pace. Careful deliberation, research and “kicking around” of ideas led to a better long-term product for everyone. Fast moving autocracies should be an anathema to Americans.

NotSure July 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm

muirgeo, your answer to the question about soap shows how clueless you truly are. That long waffling answer really does not answer anything, other than a confession that some government department will somehow figure it out.

Do you deny the incredibly simple fact that China after Mao liberlised its economy to a much greater degree than when it was under Mao ? Is it possible for you to answer this very simple question, or are you going to come with the usual “its complicated” waffling answer.

Ryan Vann July 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Muirgeo is truly the ultimate foil of CH.

John Sullivan July 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm

“Tool” is a better adjective, or a distraction.

Economic theory is straight logic, however, it’s a chain link process that can’t be explained in a few short paragraphs. Not everyone is educated to the process, so they can challange it without having to actually disprove anything.

A simple example is the monetary theory of money, which is simple mathematics. The theory is apriori logic. It was not proven through any sort of arguable historical or subjective economic history. Further, It can’t be disproved empirically either. Just as there is no empirical refutation of mathematical principles, there is no empirical refutation of the conclusions drawn by economic theory.

What Muirgeo is doing is akin to a clown telling his math teacher that the theories in the geometry textbook are erroneous. Yet he could get away with arguing against the conclusions of monetary theory here by referencing some empirical data that is incomplete, or faulty. If someone here tries to debate him on that data, then you have agreed to let the theories of money be determined by case studies instead of mathematical logic. Unfortunately, all case studies are influenced by other factors that cause a deviation in reality from the pure theory.

Here is an example of his logic regarding China:

Yesterday I worked 12 hours instead of 6 and made 10 sales instead of my usual 4. I also ate strawberries and worked out for the first time all year. Therefore, our government should force everyone to eat strawberries and workout.

Greg Webb July 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Incidentally, an American delegation recently visited China to renew demands for inspections by auditing firms after a wave of accounting scandals struck Chinese companies listed on the American stock exchanges. These scandals are flagrant and indicate that China’s domestic economy is rife with false accounting. Never trust what a authoritarian country says about itself. They always lie.

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