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