Are Empires Built on a Mountain of Lies?

July 5, 2017

The sun never set on the British Empire until endless wars brought that empire to its knees. I’m sure that at one time, a British citizen could easily say with arrogance, “If Russia (or China, or Germany, or Italy, or France or Spain) doesn’t behave, we will spank them.” And Britain did spank these countries and others for centuries until the empire was bankrupt and burdened with debt—sound familiar?

I read a piece in The Huffington Post and was reminded how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Then I remembered what an old friend said in an e-mail.  This friend is a conservative, born-again Christian. He claims to be guided by scripture. He believes that George W. Bush (GWB) was the greatest if not one of the greatest American presidents. He also believes in the nation building that GWB attempted in Iraq.

That former friend makes part of his living as a handyman. He lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment and drives a very-used car that he keeps running by visiting junk yards for parts and doing the work himself. He also votes Republican and often bashes evil liberals while listening to radio-talk shows like Dennis Prager and reading authors like Ann Coulter.

This former friend also voted for Donald Trump knowing the man was a crook and a liar.

This former friend wrote once that Communism was evil. My reply was that individuals like Mao or Stalin were corrupted by their power and did evil things, but not all communists were or are evil. In fact, if Communism was evil why has the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) been responsible for reducing 90-percent of global poverty? In 1949, about 95-percent of people in China lived in extreme poverty. Today, according to the CIA Factbook, 3.3 percent of people in China live below the poverty line.

How can the CCP be so evil if it also doing good things for China’s people?

I always thought that ‘power corrupts’ was only abused by people in powerful positions like corporate CEOs or elected officials.  I was wrong. A nation’s power may also corrupt the thinking of its people. That brings me to Donald Trump and a piece in the June 2017 National Geographic Magazine on Why We Lie. Trump is mentioned because of his lie about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. And later in the piece, it is mentioned by Dan Ariely, a psychologist at Duke University and one of the world’s foremost experts on lying said that “we want to see ourselves as honest, because we have, to some degree, internalized honesty as a value taught to us by society. Which is why, unless one is a sociopath (Trump is not a sociopath. He is a malignant narcissist and psychopath. There is a difference between a sociopath and a psychopath), most of us place limits on how much we are willing to lie.

Donald Trump does not place limits on how many lies he says. He is a world class serial liar. In fact, Politifact.com has a file on Trump’s lies, and according to Politifact, 84-percent of what comes out of Trump’s mouth or through his rabid tweets are lies.

What does that say about the United States?

I wonder how many empires are built on lies. Winston Churchill once said, “There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.”

One of those lies is that the United States is not an empire.  The National Interest says (and I agree), “The United States is an empire – indeed, one of the most powerful empires in all history-but refuses to acknowledge the obvious (Is this refusal a lie?). This is part of the problem, for at present, America is a colossus with an attention deficit disorder, practicing cut-price colonization.”

And if you doubt that, explain this: “We know that roughly 750 military bases and installations staffed by American military personnel exist in approximately 130 countries around the world.”

How many military bases does China have in other countries?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Modern China’s Founding Fathers

May 3, 2017

Under Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976), China suffered after he became its leader in 1949, but that isn’t the whole story. During Mao’s Great Leap Forward; what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine (1958 – 62), and the Cultural Revolution, millions died from starvation and purges. What we don’t hear is that China is known as the land of famines. Imperial records show that China has had droughts and famines in one or more of its provinces annually for more than two-thousand years, but there is no mention of the fact that there has not been any famines since the last one in 1962.

In addition, when Mao came to power in 1949, the average lifespan in China was 35. When Mao died, the average lifespan was in the 50s and today it’s in the 70s.

On June 30, 1984, Deng Xiaoping said, “Given that China is still backward, what road can we take to develop the productive forces and raise the people’s standard of living? … Capitalism can only enrich less than 10 percent of the Chinese population; it can never enrich the remaining more than 90 percent. But if we adhere to socialism and apply the principle of distribution to each according to his work, there will not be excessive disparities in wealth. Consequently, no polarization will occur as our productive forces become developed over the next 20 to 30 years.”

Deng Xiaoping was right. Bruce Einhom writing for Business Week, Countries in the Biggest Gaps Between Rich and Poor, October 16, 2009, listed the top countries with the biggest gaps. America was number #3 on the list. China wasn’t on the list.

What does capitalism, Chinese style, look like? Under Deng Xiaoping’s economic policies, China became the world’s factory floor.

Prior to 1979, the year China opened its doors to world trade, it was rare to find anything made in China.

In the last thirty years, something happened that Mao thought he had destroyed. China grew a consumer middle class and that growth hasn’t finished. During a trip to China in 2008, we saw the Chinese middle class everywhere we went. Instead of the majority of tourists being foreigners, they were Chinese traveling to discover their own country.

A middle-class family in China usually owns an apartment, a car, eats out regularly, and takes vacations. National Geographic Magazine in May 2008 said, “They owe their well-being to the government’s (Deng Xiaoping’s) economic policies …”

Current estimates show China’s GDP growth will continue to grow. Since 2000, China’s GDP has grown at an annual average of 9.66 percent. Compare that to the U.S. with a GDP that never breaks 4 percent and was 2.43 percent in 2015. – Google Public Data

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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How much did it cost for the U.S. to support a brutal dictator?

April 25, 2017

Just about everyone in the United States who reads and/or listens to the news has probably heard of Mao’s brutality and the alleged brutality of the Chinese Communist Party, but what about Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT, an ally of the United States during and after World War II.

But since 1949, China is responsible for 90-percent of the reduction in global poverty. At the same time the United States was supporting a brutal authoritarian dictatorship in Taiwan that didn’t become a democracy until 1996.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History reports, “Taiwan was the home of one of the Cold War ‘friendly dictatorships’: illiberal governments with which Washington partnered because they were anti-communist. Taiwan’s political system allowed only the KMT to rule and maintained a permanent state of martial law, with severe constraints on civil and political liberties and harsh punishment of dissidents. Until the 1990s the KMT government, like the CCP, had a Leninist party structure originally designed by Soviet advisors.”

The Taipei Times published a piece on the front page of the paper on Tuesday, February 27, 2007, and said, Former dictator Chiang Kai-shek was a murderer, and President Chen Shui-bian said Taiwan’s former authoritarian regime and its leaders were responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of civilians slain in 1947.

On a site that lists the death tolls for the major wars and atrocities of the twentieth century, Chiang Kai-shek was given credit for 10,214,000 democides from 1921 to 1948.

Democide is a term revived and redefined by the political scientist R. J. Rummel as “the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder.”

Scaruffi.com credits Chiang Kai-shek with the deaths of 30-thousand people during a popular uprising against his regime in Taiwan in 1947.

The next day, several thousand protesters marched in Taipei on February 28, 1947 against the brutality that took place the day before, but they were met with bullets, and martial law was declared.

I discovered a book on the topic, Representing Atrocity in Taiwan, The 2.28 Incident and the White Terror by Sylvia Li-Chun, who is the Notre Dame Assistant Professor of Chinese at the University of Notre Dame.

The Asia Times also reported, “They slaughtered civilians at random to terrorize the Taiwanese into submission, and carried out a targeted campaign to wipe out the Taiwanese elite—local leaders and intellectuals who represented the biggest threat to KMT rule. To this date, the numbers killed are uncertain, but historians estimate 30,000.”

The reason for all this was the confrontation between capitalism and communism worldwide. The thinking was “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” even if that friend is a monster, a tyrant who is equal to or worse than the targeted enemy.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The differences between Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, and a Social Safety Net

April 4, 2017

Socialism and communism are ideological doctrines that have similarities as well as differences. One point that is frequently raised to distinguish socialism from communism is that socialism generally refers to an economic system, and communism refers to both an economic system and a political system.

The fall of communism in the Soviet Union did not mean socialism failed. It meant the autocratic, one-party state that defined communism failed.

After all, Russia still has a social safety net that funds health care and pension programs.  With at least five years of coverage, men age 60 and women age 55 are covered for old-age pensions. Russia also offers a disability pension and a survivor pension.

Having socialist safety net programs does not mean a country is socialist or communist. For example, the United States is not a socialist country just because it has Medicare, and Social Security. The difference is that the United States has a multi-party political system and still has private ownership of property and a capitalist business system.

China changed in the early 1980s when its Communist Party adopted elements of capitalism and joined the World Trade Organization. It’s true that part of China’s economy is still state-run, but there are not as many social programs as there once were under the previous communist system.

That leads to this question: If China allows capitalism to coexist with socialism, is it still a Communist country? Just to make a point, in 2014 Bloomberg reported that about 75-percent of China’s industrial output came from private businesses and not state-owned enterprises.

While no one in China may own land (yet), private citizens and even foreigners may lease land in urban areas while land in most rural areas is still owned by village collectives in conjunction with the central government and cannot be bought or sold because no one holds the title to most rural land. There is also no property tax, rent, or mortgages that come with interest payments for rural areas. This means being poor in rural China isn’t the same as being poor in the United States, because families can’t lose their homes to a bank.

Imagine what it must be like to not worry about making the rent, mortgage, and property tax payments. There are almost 600-million rural Chinese, and they even get to vote in democratic elections for their village leaders.

Discover The Return of Confucius

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Red Star Over China

February 28, 2017

During one of our trips to Shanghai, China, we saw a film called Mao Zedong and Edgar Snow.

Edgar Snow (1905 – 1972) was an American journalist known for his books and articles on Communism in China and the Chinese Communist revolution. He is believed to be the first Western journalist to interview Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, and is best known for Red Star Over China (1937) an account of the Chinese Communist movement from its foundation until the late 1930s.

The film was in Mandarin and wasn’t subtitled, so I had to watch carefully to understand what was going on. When I returned home to the United States, I searched Amazon for a DVD copy of the film but couldn’t find one.

However, I discovered that Edgar Snow’s wife threatened to sue China if the movie was released, but that didn’t stop the Chinese.

There’s no doubt that Mao had to have charisma to lead so many in battle for so many years to win a civil war that stretched from 1927 to 1950.

However, Mao changed after he became China’s modern emperor, and the power must have corrupted him. The evidence is the results of the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the purges that killed so many.

There were also successes like the Chinese Communist Party’s war against poverty, the increase in life expectancy that almost doubled during Mao’s rule. and the health programs that were implemented such as the bare-foot doctors. The reason so many Chinese still think of Mao as the George Washington of China was because life after 1949 was better than life before the CCP won the Civil War.

Students of China may want to see this film, but the only place one may buy a DVD of this movie is probably China.

When Edgar Snow came down with pancreatic cancer, Zhou Enlai dispatched a team of Chinese doctors to Switzerland to treat him.

Discover Anna May Wong, the woman that died a thousand times.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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What Type of Government does China have?

February 15, 2017

By definition, as you will learn from this post, 21st century China is not a socialist and/or Communist country, even though it is still labeled as one. It is also not a capitalist country.

Socialism is a system where there is no private property and the means of production are owned and controlled by the state. But in 2014 Bloomberg reported that private companies are driving China’s growth. Only 25-percent of China’s industrial output came from state-owned enterprises in 2014.

Communism is a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. When Mao died in 1976, China moved away from this political theory by ending Mao’s Cultural Revolution and arresting the Gang of Four, who planned to lead China and continue the Cultural Revolution’s class war forever.

Then there is capitalism that is an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

Since about 25-percent of China’s industry is still state-owned, China clearly isn’t a capitalist system like the United States is.  The evidence for this was on display soon after the 2007–08 global financial crises created by U.S. Banks and Wall Street greed that caused millions of Chinese to lose their jobs in private sector manufacturing.

That’s when China’s government stepped in.

The Global Economic Crises and Unemployment in China reports, “The state provided subsidies and basic entitlements to urban workers and their families in an effort to maintain social and political stability within the subsystem … the government has poured billions of dollars into public works designated for road and rail transportation improvements. These projects have created many jobs for migrant labor.”

What else do we know about today’s China?

China has one political party with 85-million voting members; it’s one of the largest political parties in the world. — Britannica.com

More than 600-million rural Chinese vote in village elections. New Politics reports, “Elections of Village Committees and Village Leaders in China’s approximately 950,000 villages began in 1989 as part of a wider village self-government movement.”

China has its own Constitution from 1982 that includes Amendments.  For instance, the president of China is limited to two 5-year terms and can be impeached.

There is also a mandatory retirement age that comes with a pension.

However, every year, China’s president is listed as one of the world’s dictators by elements of the U.S. media, but under China’s Constitution, the presidency is a largely ceremonial office with limited powers. This doesn’t fit the definition of a dictator who holds absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control and who is not responsible to the people or their elected representatives.

How are China’s representatives elected?  About.com reports, “China’s representative elections begin with a direct vote of the people in local and village elections operated by local election committees. In cities, the local elections are broken down by residential area or work units. Citizens 18 and older vote for their village and local people’s congresses, and those congresses, in turn, elect the representatives to provincial people’s congresses.

“The provincial congresses in China’s 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities directly ruled by the Central Government, special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, and armed forces then elect the roughly 3,000 delegates to the National People’s Congress (NPC).

“The National People’s Congress is empowered to elect China’s president, premier, vice president, and Chair of the Central Military Commission as well as the president of the Supreme People’s Court and the procurator-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.”

Let’s look at how the United States elects its president.  Political Parties that are private sector organizations allow party members to vote in state primaries. These primaries are not public elections because most of them only allow registered party members to vote.

Donald Trump, for instance, only won a little more than 14-million votes from registered Republicans to end up representing the Republican Party as its presidential candidate in 2016, and this is in a country that has more than 200-million registered voters. Hillary Clinton had more than 16.8 million votes from the Democratic primaries.

The winners (Trump and Clinton) moved on to campaign in the national election that is held and monitored by the public sector in each state.  In the 2016 election, Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote 303 to 235, but he lost the popular vote 62,979,879 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 65,844,954.

Does this seem strange?  Is there any other republic in the world where the winner loses the popular vote?

Last, a republic is a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.

After reading this post, what type of government do you think China has?

  1. a dictatorship
  2. a socialist state
  3. a communist state
  4. a capitalist state
  5. a republic
  6. A hybrid capitalist-socialist republic
  7. None of the above

UPDATE
(March 2018)

China Removes Presidential Term Limits

“China’s legislature has voted to remove presidential term limits from its Constitution. That change allows China’s current president, Xi Jinping, to potentially rule indefinitely.”

When the CCP recently revised China’s Constitution and did away with term limits for its current president, the future is uncertain for the type of China’s government. The 19th century’s British Lord Acton was right when he said, ” Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Now that Xi Jinping can be president of China for the rest of his life, will he become another Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump and/or Putin? Only time will reveal that answer.

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The Challenge of Health Care in China

January 31, 2017

In 1950, China’s population was almost 552 million, and the average lifespan was 35 as it had been for centuries. By the Time Mao died in 1976, even with the Great Famine (1958-1961) in a country known as the Land of Famines, the population increased to more than 930 million, and the average lifespan had climbed to almost 55. Today, there are almost 1-billion, 400-million Chinese, and the average lifespan has reached beyond 76 years, more than twice what it was in 1950 when Mao and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) became the leader of China?

How did all that happen?

After the CCP won the Civil war in 1949, health care improved in China. By the time Mao died in 1976, average life expectancy had increased by twenty years, so the program must have worked, right?

The CCP was the first government in China’s history to set goals and plans to help the people who lived in extreme poverty improve the quality of their lifestyles, and soon after Mao Zedong’s healthcare speech in 1965, the concept of the barefoot doctor (with basic paramedical training) was developed.

By 1968, the barefoot doctors program was a national policy, and it was offered free to the working class. The barefoot doctor program ended in 1981 with the end the agricultural cooperatives. However, two-thirds of rural village doctors currently practicing in China were first trained as barefoot doctors.

This program was the foundation of rural-health care in China, but back then anyone could become a barefoot doctor.

Mao told the people that if you wanted to be a doctor, you didn’t need to go to medical school. All you had to do was have the motivation to provide medical care to needy people and the government would support you and provide limited training.

The second class of medical care went to teachers, clerks and secretaries, who were considered ‘friends’ of the working class, the proletariat. The only difference was that these ‘friends’ had to pay to get medical treatment, and it was possible to face financial ruin from one hospital stay.

A third group of people was considered enemies of the proletariat: former shop-owners, landlords and denounced intellectuals like liberal arts professors. These people were denied health care.

Mao died in 1976, and between 1981 and 2003, the health care system in China was privatized. People had to pay before treatment or receive no medical care. This changed again in 2003, when the CCP launched a new cooperative medical system operated and funded by the government with a copay of 10 Renminbi per year for each enrolled citizen.

In 2008, the SARS epidemic resulted in the beginning of more health-care reforms.

Health Affairs.org reports, “China is at a crossroads in transforming its health care system. Like the United States, China is faced with the double-edged sword of having both a large uninsured population and rapid health care cost inflation. … China’s solution for its rural areas is the New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS), a government-run voluntary insurance program. … In an attempt to redirect urban patients’ reliance on hospital services toward primary care, the government announced in 2005 the establishment of community health centers (CHCs) to provide prevention, primary care, home care, and rehabilitative services.”

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