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Jun 06, 2008


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I'll keep being skeptical about this report. Perhaps the definition of "poverty" in China is somewhere in the report. And when everyone is equally poor, there is by definition no poverty.

From the report:
"Significantly, half the reduction occurred in the first half of the 1980s, and the decline was not continual thereafter, with periods of some set-backs for China’s poor (such as the late 1980s and late 1990s."

"Some setbacks" - there's a euphemism for you.

"... the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution had left a legacy of severe, pervasive rural poverty by the late-1970s. Arguably, there were some important but relatively easy gains to be had by simply undoing failed policies, notably by de-collectivizing agriculture."

OK, so they went from being severely, pervasively poor, back to being simply dirt-poor. There's a Great Leap Forward for you.

There's much to criticize in China: widespread censorship; tyrannical rule by local governments; a "one-child" policy that's going to leave them with very few women in a decade or two - a condition that's best remedied by a large-scale war; religious persecution (in spite of a Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion); all the way down to ridiculous micro-management: requiring that the next Dalai Lama have a reincarnation permit from the government (not making that up).

If there's any thought of looking to China for example, dismiss it out of hand.

Still, if the people are advancing from grinding poverty to simple dirt-poor poverty, we should hail that as a small step up.

Michael W. Kruse

I too wondered about the definition of extreme poverty which I suspect is less than $1 a day but it could be $2 a day.

I agree that China is far from paradise and so far has picked only the low haning fruit. It remains to be seen whether the events they have set in motion well culminate in economic freedom and rule of law. I think the overall trajectory is good for now.


China is definitely a better place now than in its most virulently anti-capitalist period. They're demonstrating that even totalitarians can figure out that the profit motive can have a far-reaching and positive impact on an economy.

That said, they're still totalitarians because because economic freedom has yet to translate into political freedom for the Chinese people...but at least fewer of them are impoverished slaves of the state.

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