A few China versus U.S. questions I have been thinking about for some time

In this post there will be a few questions I’m going to answer, but leave others for you—if you want to leave a comment.

First, the dictionary definition for Communism: a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.

What about the definition of socialism—after all, capitalists hate both communism and socialism? Socialism means a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

How many of the 1.3+ billion people in China belong to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? There are 86.7 million members in the CCP and most if not all of the millionaires and billionaires in China are invited to join the CCP after they get rich and are screened, and many of the members who are not millionaires or billionaires have secure jobs, responsibility, power and earn money legally or illegally, but taking money illegally might be dangerous. The CCP aggressively prosecutes white collar crooks if they catch them and sends some to prison and executes a few—white collar crime is not a safe  profession in China. In fact, CBS reported that “82,533 Communist Party members had been investigated. Some lost their jobs; others kicked out of the Communist Party … And no one, no matter how high-ranking, appears safe.”

With 6.7% of the population belonging to the CCP that means 93.3% are not Communists—they just live in a country where actual ownership of everything belongs to the collective and/or the state. You don’t buy property in China. In urban China, you lease it and you can sell the lease to someone else, but in most of rural China the land is owned jointly by the people and the state. There is no rent, no mortgage and no property tax. You also can’t sell the house you live or the land you farm. Rural Chinese might not earn much money, but they also don’t get evicted by the bank for missing mortgage payments.

There are essentially two kinds of land ownership in China, state ownership and collective ownership. Rural land, or housing land and the household contract farmland, is collectively owned. Farmers are part of the collective community and have property rights to their land, but with restrictions. – China.org.cn

In addition, in the last 30 years, China is responsible for 90% of global poverty reduction. Since the start of the far-reaching economic reforms in the late 1970s, growth has fueled a remarkable increase in per capita income and a decline in the poverty rate from 85% in 1981 to 6.1% below the poverty line in 2014.

At no stage over the past 30 years has the CCP relinquished control of the “commanding heights” or “levers” of the Chinese economy: agricultural pricing, heavy industry, power and energy, transport, communications, foreign trade, and finance (state banks). – Marxism-Leninism Today

China now boasts 350 million middle-class citizens (more than the entire U.S. population). In addition, China has 2 million millionaires and ranks second only to the U.S. in terms of billionaires. Some 100 million Chinese traveled outside their country this year, and spent an astounding $7,500 per person, per trip, the highest in the world. – The Middle Class: China’s Game-Changing Demographics

For the United States, keep in mind that capitalism does not equal democracy. Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. But a democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives—but these days it sure doesn’t feel like it is working that way.

It is possible for a democracy and socialism to exist in the same country.Those countries are called social democracies. In fact, three of the happiest countries in the world are social democracies: Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. The 10 most socialist countries in the world are: China, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand and Belgium.

There are more than 316.1 million Americans, and how many are successful capitalists? CNN reports that there are 9.63 million millionaires (3% of the population), and 492 billionaires (0.00015% of the population).

Is it possible that in the U.S. the 3.00015% or the 0.00015% want to rule over the remaining 96.99% like the 6.7% does in China for the 93.3%—something to think about? Are some of these U.S. millionaires and billionaires envious of the CCP’s power?

The U.S. has a poverty rate of almost 15%, and poverty has been increasing in recent years. There is also a 2nd poverty rate in the US, and it’s called Extreme Poverty. In fact, in 1900, before the Progressive era launched by President Teddy Roosevelt to make life better for most Americans, 40% of Americans lived in poverty and less than 7% graduated from high school.

Using a World Bank definition, “extreme poverty” is surviving on less than $2 per day, per person, each month. The National Poverty Center finds that 1.65 million American households (not people but families) live in “extreme poverty,” and these households include 3.55 million children.

America has protection for freedom of speech, but China doesn’t. However, the U.S.—even with freedom of speech—has the largest prison population on the planet (2.2+ million), more than China (1.7+ million) that has the second largest prison population, but more than four times the population of the United States.

To compare it another way—the United States has 707 prisoners per 100,000 versus China with 124 per 100,000 behind bars—think about it.

What about cracking down on white collar crime in the United States like China is doing? The New York Times reports, “In Financial Crises, No Prosecutions of Top Figures.” And The New York Times asks, “It is a question asked repeatedly across America: why, in the aftermath of a financial mess that generated hundreds of billions in losses, have no high-profile participants in the disaster been prosecuted?”

For all the problems the U.S. has, I don’t plan to move to China, because the air is cleaner where I live in the United States—but if the Koch brothers and Standard Oil have their way that could change. I also prefer shopping at Costco, Trader Joes, Whole Foods and farmers’ markets for organic fruits and vegetables—although a few U.S. corporations are lobbying to ruin that too.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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