Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thomas Friedman's Potemkin Economy

The original Potemkin Village is said to have been created by Russian Marshall Potyomkin, to make his victory in the newly conquered Crimea more impressive to Empress Catherine the Great.  See?  Lots of big, thriving villages!  Of course, it was all a fake, created at great expense to fool gullible visitors who didn't know the true situation on the ground.

The New York Times' Thomas Friedman is terribly impressed with China, to the point that he frequently writes about how we should be more "can do" (translation: ruthlessly authoritarian) like they are.  Why, then we could get those stratospheric growth rates.

He's been duped by Potemkin Villages.  Al Fin explains:
China's rapid ascendancy in the global economic and technological hierarchy was achieved via huge outside investment, cheap labour manufacturing and export, an ambitious, highly intelligent and educated workforce, highly talented industrial spies, counterfeiters, etc. Some of those strengths are still operating at high levels. But the core of China's rise -- massive export wealth -- is hampered by a global economic downturn, and a sustained recession led by Luddite and left-reactionary policies implemented by the current US administration.

China is attempting to compensate for the significant decline of its export market by ambitious construction projects inside China. This megacities project is only one of many huge spending and stimulus programs operating -- virtually all of them teeming with corruption, mis-allocation of resources, and shoddiness.
Mega-cities of false facades and empty skyscrapers, all of which get tallied under the "productive infrastructure" column and uncritically swallowed by dim-witted western bien pensants.  When you add in the impending demographic collapse that will be the result of China's totalitarian "One Child" policy, I like India's long term chances a whole lot better.  The messiness in India is there for all to see; China's is carefully hidden from Useful Idiots like Friedman.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Would it be a violation of Godwin's Law to mention that Terezin was a Potemkin construction too?