China Update: The "Reasonably Enlightened Autocrats" At Work

It’s almost a decade ago now, but who can forget perhaps the greatest New York Times op-ed of all time, penned by columnist Thomas Friedman in September 2009, with the headline “Our One-Party Democracy.”? In case you are struggling to remember back that far, recall that in the 2008 elections the Democrats had swept to control of all levers of power in Washington — the Presidency and both houses of Congress. And yet still, they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere on issues that Friedman saw as critical, particularly healthcare and “climate change.” All they could do was fight among themselves in the Congress. Oh, wouldn’t it just be so much better if instead of this messy democracy thing, we could have some “reasonably enlightened autocrats” like they have in, say, China, who could address our pressing problems by just promptly imposing the solutions that are so painfully obvious to our genius progressive elites?

[W]hen [one-party autocracy] is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can . . . have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar.

Yes, China and its “reasonably enlightened autocrats” were truly poised back then to seize “climate leadership” from the United States, and relegate us once again to the scrap heap of history. Indeed the phrase “climate leadership” — referring to the enlightened policies of China — became a recurring motif for the Times in the intervening years.

Perhaps it is time to check in for a little update. . . .

Read More

Should The U.S. Use Coercive Means To Oust Socialist Dictatorships?

As noted in my post on Cambodia a couple of days ago, when Pol Pot seized power in that country in 1975, the U.S. took no military or other coercive action to stop him. And over the next several years, as he conducted his monstrous genocide — in which about a third of the entire population of the country was either directly murdered or intentionally starved to death — the U.S. continued to sit totally on the sidelines and just let things play out. This, even though somewhere in the U.S. government (CIA?), at least some people clearly knew, at least in a general way, what was going on. By the end of its brief dalliance with communism, Cambodia had not just lost a third of its population, but had seen its entire economy devastated, and almost all educated people slaughtered, such that the ability to start rebuilding was set back decades until an entire new generation could come along. As a result, Cambodia is only now starting the long climb up from desperate poverty into a modern economy.

It would be completely fair to ask: How could the U.S. be so completely heartless and inhumane? For some mere several billions of dollars of expenditures, and perhaps a few tens of thousands of military casualties, couldn’t we have obviated the slaughter of millions of people and rescued all of the Cambodians from multiple generations of needless extreme poverty?

These questions take on particular relevance in light of the events currently transpiring in Venezuela. There, the socialist dictatorship continues its brutal repression, with hundreds of new arrests of regime opponents just in the past several days, and millions starving and/or fleeing the country. Why, you might ask, is it not the moral obligation of the U.S. to step in immediately with whatever force is necessary to stop the suffering and restore democracy?

The answer lies in the incredible power of the socialist delusion. . . .

Read More

New York City Housing Authority: Can Anyone Do Socialism Better?

Readers of this blog know that you don’t have to travel to Venezuela or North Korea to watch socialism failing. Right here in New York City, we have the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), run in a classic socialist model consisting of public ownership, most costs covered by taxpayer subsidies, and absolutely no one who ever gets an extra nickel in their paycheck for keeping the place from falling apart. Result: costs go up and up and up, and the place is falling apart. For a few of my previous posts about NYCHA, see here, here and here.

In February 2017 I asked the eternal question, “Which Will Collapse First: North Korea Or The New York City Housing Authority?” Close to two years later, they’re still running neck and neck.

If you’re wondering if NYCHA is really falling apart, the daily newspapers will give you plenty of evidence. As just one example, here’s a report from ABC News on November 24, headline “NYCHA tenants living without heat fed up, want answers.” Excerpt:

The tenants in the Grant Houses in Harlem are suffering, and it is not even winter yet. They have frigid tap water and cold, dead radiators. "I have a right to expect heat, I have a right to expect hot water. If I have a complaint, I expect for it to be repaired," says resident Barbara Stevens. Tenants are outraged, and they're not alone. At one time or another last month, tens of thousands of apartments in the city's public housing system were without heat, hot water or both - and thousands more in the past few days alone. Comptroller Stringer is demanding answers. "This is a citywide disgrace!" he said. . . .

Read More

New York Moves Even Further To The Left

Perhaps you think that New York is already about as far left as it is possible to go. Well, then you haven’t reviewed the results of the recent Democratic primaries, held on Thursday September 13. In the headline race, incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo beat far-left challenger Cynthia Nixon comfortably, 66% to 34%. But down the ticket something significant happened: a group of far left Democrats, including “Democratic Socialists,” took out most of the moderate Democrats in the State Senate who have been keeping the state legislature from going completely off the rails for the past several years.

At the New York Times, you can feel the excitement. Their lead editorial Friday has the headline “Change Comes to Albany, if Not the Governor’s Mansion.” . . .

Read More

Things That Are Over -- Although Their Proponents Don't Admit It Yet

Many things in this world end up failing miserably.  In the business arena, the capitalist system puts a mercifully quick end to thousands of seemingly good ideas that just don't catch on.  Do you remember the Edsel?  Or, maybe, the DeLorean?  Or the restaurant down your block that barely lasted six months?  But that's just capitalism.  In other arenas, particularly the political, failed ventures can continue long after they have failed and after the failure has become obvious to everyone who looks.  With vociferous backers and, generally, the coercive power of the state behind them, they can carry on and on, even though, in every real sense, they are over.  

There are lots of things out there that are over, but pretend not to be.  Perhaps some examples of this phenomenon may spring to your mind.  Many spring to mine -- this will be a good subject for a continuing series here at MC.  Let's get started today with a few easy examples. . . .

Read More

A Deep Dive Into The Psychology Of Progressivism

Back in my youth, we had a few people around that we referred to as "guilty liberals."  Somehow they had come to believe that they were personally to blame for all of society's failings, and they then had the brilliant idea that the proper atonement for their sins was to impose more taxes on somebody else so that the money could be handed out by government bureaucrats as a penance.  Or something like that.  It never made any sense to me, but in my youthful foolishness I assumed that these were such dumb ideas that over time they would just fade away and be forgotten.

Boy was I wrong!  In the intervening 50 years or so the level of guilt, and the number of people experiencing it, have grown and multiplied and mushroomed and exploded, until we end up with the so-called "identity politics" that have taken over today's progressive movement and Democratic Party.  

For today's lesson, we will use as our text an August 14 post from a New York Times blog called "The Sweet Spot."    . . .

Read More