Wednesday, June 27, 2007

China or US - Which is a freer Nation?

At Church last Sunday, a member spoke about his recent trip to China to distribute wheelchairs and mentioned his intimidation at going into a "Communist" country. His implication was that he didn't feel very free while in China.

My wife and I have had many discussions about the relative freedoms that we experience in our respective countries. She has more experience in the US than I have in China, but I have a pretty good flavor of what it's like in China.

Now, there are some basic differences in our laws due to our "Bill of Rights" which the Chinese do not have, but many of our so called "rights" have been eroded and I believe we have moved much closer to a totalitarian country while China has moved to increase individual freedoms.

Here's a quote that summarizes my observations:

"But today's China is, in some respects, less socialistic than much of Western Europe, with a moth-eaten social safety net and a wild free-market economy. Students in almost any urban Chinese school can look out their classroom windows and see just about everything but socialism being constructed: high-rise office buildings, shopping malls, movie theaters, luxury apartment buildings, fast-food restaurants, hotels, factories — the whole capitalist panorama."

There are many aspects of Chinese life that seem more libertarian than our society:
  • There is no guaranteed social security - no work - no retirement benefits
  • Health care is cheap and fast. No weeks or months waiting to see a doctor. I dread the move to European health care here
  • Although you cannot own land yet, you have much less interference from the government. My wife is still angry with a local Zoning Board denying our petition to build a house on our property and the eminent domain ruling from the Supreme Court take away a lot of our property rights
  • Starting a business in China seems much less troublesome than putting up with Environmental impact statements and other regulations here
  • I never have seen a traffic law enforced in China and they don't ban talking on your cell phone
  • The Chinese are not banning me from eating trans-fats nor regulating where I can smoke (I don't smoke but dislike the regulations)
  • Our tax code so mystified my accountant-trained wife as to be unimaginable. This code is truly one of the most suppressive regulations in the world

Now China does regulate speech more than us (my wife had not ever heard of Tiananmen Square). But our society is moving to take away our free speech as well. McCain-Feingold was an attempt to stop criticism of Congress, the debate over the Fairness Doctrine is an attempt to silence talk radio and the worst is the creeping culture of political correctness. I have a subordinate that was fired for posting an article from the newspaper that simple reported election results on gay marriage amendments. If it's not PC, you better not discuss it at work.

When I first met my wife I was quite critical of the Chinese government, but now I am convinced that we are in a glass house of our own as far as liberty goes.

7 comments:

New vans girl said...

Great article. I guess both systems of law and order have their merits and disadvantages. Its easy to criticize something that's native to your own ways.

Paul said...

Yes, it was easy being critical of China before I had some understanding of the culture and laws. Not to say that there isn't a lot to be critical of, but that I see a lot more that I like and admire after spending time there.

Anonymous said...

This is a sad commentary on America.

Anonymous said...

There is no guaranteed social security - no work - no retirement benefits. (So if you disabled or sick you can just die on the road)
Health care is cheap and fast. No weeks or months waiting to see a doctor. (The health care system in China is one of the worst in the world and it may be cheap compared with the dollar but it's far from cheap for it's citizens. Chinese hospitals have no hygiene standards and diseases that were irradicated in western countries are rampant here. If you can not pay you are left to die. I suggest before you blog you should check your facts or better still next time in China walk into an actual over crowded filthy dickensian hospital)
Although you cannot own land yet, you have much less interference from the government. (My God, you are deluded absolutely deluded, I can not belive you just wrote that,""""less interference fron the Government"""") My wife is still angry with a local Zoning Board denying our petition to build a house on our property and the eminent domain ruling from the Supreme Court take away a lot of our property rights
Starting a business in China seems much less troublesome than putting up with Environmental impact statements and other regulations here (the paper work in China is unbelievable and let us not forget the bribes that have to be paid to government officials)
I never have seen a traffic law enforced in China and they don't ban talking on your cell phone (they do enforce traffic violations and talking on your cell phone is illegal)
Our tax code so mystified my accountant-trained wife as to be unimaginable. This code is truly one of the most suppressive regulations in the world. (you are smoking crack if you think China's laws are not suppresive, mystifing and above all else corrupt)

Paul said...

Boy - you're quite the source of knowledge about China. I suspect you are some sort of anti-Chinese bigot.

Yes, I've been treated in a Chinese hospital. It is definitely dirtier than an American hospital. However, it is fast and efficient.

Is China corrupt? I have no doubt about that. Now, what is that Governers name in Illinois that is selling senate seats????

Anonymous said...

I'm far from a Chinese bigot. I'm married to a Chinese citizen, have a degree in Asian studies and can speak and read Mandarin (though my writing needs improvement.
I love China and my wife (have lived here 6 years) but I also have no illusions on it's culture.
You seem to have a lot of illusions.

Chinese hospitals are neither fast nor efficient. Regardless of what you write.

Paul said...

I don't have any illusions about China. It needs a lot of improvement, as do we.

But neither do I have any illusions about US health care system, seems like you do.