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China’s Plan to Build the World’s Biggest Supergrid (ieee.org)
177 points by shalmanese 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 158 comments



I must say, as an American reading this, I've got a bit of infrastructure envy. In the mid 20th century, the US was building out massive infrastructure. Now it seems we are no longer capable of such projects. It may be an oversimplification but I think the focus on running every organization like a corporation has led to an inability to handle projects that extend beyond the fiscal year effectively. Instead our largest infrastructure projects are collapsing before completion due to cascading delays, political turmoil and failed private contracts.


Sorry, one of the biggest inhibitors to large projects, let alone nationwide ones, isn't how we run every organization, it is because of politics and the court system.

politics which dictates who has to be involved in planning, building, and whatnot, and the courts as every special interest group wants their payout.

Just look at how the costs of the California's folly of a high speed rail turned out. It was just one state but had all issues rolled into one.

Big grandiose projects need special handling, not walking all over the environment type rules, but handling to expedite them and insure the best bidders along the way are involved and enough rules to keep the legal system mostly on the side lines. I don't think that is possible anymore. We simply have so much bureaucracy both in legislative and the courts that there are too many hands to reach into the pot


Maybe China can invest a lot more into the technology of today because it doesn’t have old, ailing infrastructure and debt to worry about. The US’s infrastructure was the envy of the world too when everything was new.

I’m curious how China’s pre-UHV power grid investments compare to the US’s. Did China build its conventional infrastructure at prices already reduced by the global market and therefore pay much less than the US did when it was trailblazing, like China is today? How is China going to manage it’s by-then outdated infrastructure 50 years from now?

Maybe more important for “long term thinking” isn’t how can we build the coolest thing today, but how can we do a decent job of keeping pace with innovation.


China did have ailing infrastructure. Entire cities with no bathrooms, no drainage systems, no solid roads, no road stripes, messy wires for electricity delivery.

The only difference is that the govt there can do whatever they want and they decided that infrastructure is the way to go.

American politicians don't have those visions of magnificient infrastructure any more. All they want to do is play divisive politics.


By ailing infrastructure I don’t merely mean poor infrastructure. I mean infrastructure that was originally a big investment and, one would hope, initially productive. I’m curious just how messy those wires were in 1960’s China. Sounds like they weren’t a huge investment and could be scrapped when it was time to actually build something.

Maybe American politicians don’t dream of magnificent infrastructure because we don’t have a clear dream today. Five decades ago there were so many highways clearly worth paving, so many drying machines needing power. Most of the infrastructure we’d probably agree we need today (trains, renewable energy, whatever) isn’t enabaling radically new possibilities like the first highways or energy grids did, even though it’s clearly worth building. There also isn’t as much universal appeal for building Big due to the progress of environment awareness, for example. Politicians sell dreams and maybe our dream for infrastructure is too murky to give them strong footing.


>> I’m curious just how messy those wires were in 1960’s China. Sounds like they weren’t a huge investment and could be scrapped when it was time to actually build something.

During electrification of America, American cities were tiny. This vast emptiness enabled massive planned wiring of cities to hubs and power plants from great distances. China was already massively populated. The fact that they have so much electrification within 20 years is just amazing.

>> Most of the infrastructure we’d probably agree we need today (trains, renewable energy, whatever) isn’t enabaling radically new possibilities like the first highways or energy grids did, even though it’s clearly worth building

I'm not sure how you get this. Trains are a proven great enabler. Beijing to Shanghai is 4.5 hours for 800 miles. LA to SF is 5.5 hours for 400 miles. 4.5 hours without having car ownership quite literally enables people and goods to move around more rapidly, causing opportunity to meet capital and talent. I cannot describe how important this is.

Renewable energy was a chance at creating another brand new manufacturing sector. The number of electric buses in Chinese cities are just mind boggling. It creates this massive industry of manufacturing and supplying parts, research, education in universities, smarter companies. America literally hemorrhaged this in favor of supporting rich buddies in oil.

I'm sorry. Maybe its time for enough Americans to travel abroad to see how rapidly these countries have developed from their almost medieval lives only 40 years ago.


The problem is that Americans don't travel. If they did they would see that America's infrastructure doesn't compare even with Europe's. In China they're reaching an entirely new level. Cars are going to 100% electric and there are trains everywhere. While this happens, I spend a good part of my day on congested roads which reduce my productive hours, full of cars stuck on last century's technology. And politicians in America still think it is funny to support the dying oil and auto industries.


> American politicians don't have those visions of magnificient infrastructure any more. All they want to do is play divisive politics.

Pinning it on politicians is somewhat fair, but the voters share responsibility on this one. They've made it pretty clear that if there is spare money in the budget it should be directed to checks US Federal Budget social security, healthcare and the military in that order.

I suspect China's programs in those areas are not as advanced as America's. That leaves more financial room for infrastructure.


+1, a better question to ask would be, how does Europe keep their infrastructure up to date? A better model, given the age of the US infrastructure.


I don't think Europe's infrastructure is exactly the envy of the world. Sure, they've got a decent train network. That's because it's much more densely populated than the US.

Infrastructure in Paris or Madrid isn't much different than in New York or Boston. And infrastructure in the middle of nowhere Romania isn't that much different than infrastructure in North Dakota.


I've never been to New York and Boston, so I cannot compare.

I've been multiple times to San Francisco and Seattle though, which I still consider to be first-tier US cities and their overall infrastructure* is certainly no match for Western EU's first-tier cities.

IMHO, one area where US infrastructure is markedly superior is the financial infrastructure (availability of capital, legal system) which is on the intangible side of things.

* Roads, Rail, Power Grid, Water Grid, Fiber networks, Public transport, Schools, Hospitals, Police, Fire Departments


SF and Seattle have populations under 1 million in the city proper. London and NY are something like 8 and 9 million respectively. So I suspect population size matters (and density too).


That is itself a major issue with many American cities. There doesn't seem to be a way to force amalgamation, leaving the core city to handle more of the cost, and increasing the difficulty and overhead of regional infrastructure like public transit.


It'd be interesting to include things like how expensive it is to open a factory consuming a couple megawatts, rather than whether power lines are visible or not.


https://lpi.worldbank.org/international/global?order=Infrast...

Europe's a big place, infrastructure development varies widely. Global top 10 according to the World Bank:

   Germany 4.37
   Japan 4.25
   Sweden 4.24
   Netherlands 4.21
   Austria 4.18
   Singapore 4.06
   U. States 4.05
   U. Kingdom 4.03
   Switzerland 4.02
   U.A.E. 4.02
China is #20, just behind Spain. I'd have to average EU, and European data to compare Europe as a whole with China and the US. (But which European nations should I include?)


I have lived in the UK, US and Sweden, and travel a lot to the Netherlands. There is an awful lot of difference in the 0.2 in those numbers. Just saying this, as it can be deceptive. Sweden’s and Netherland’s infrastructure are certainly more developed than what we see in the UK and the US.


I think that China, the US, and the EU, even though they are often compared to each other are each of them such a vast and differentiated geographical entity that often times general statements fail to hit their mark.

Like if I average the EU28 total I get 3.48 which is just below China and well below the US because there is the infrastructure of Bulgaria and Lithuania (on offence guys!) at the low end and Germany and Sweden at the high end. I am sure the infrastructure of Western China is a night-and-day difference to the coastal South and East. I imagine the US is a lot more uniform.


I was about to say something like this. I can't speak to the accuracy of these numbers, but they feel off. Every time I go to Germany, I am deeply disappointed by the quality of the roads. I know the roads aren't the only thing measured here, but it just feels off.


So the whole/average of the US infrastructure is superior to that of HongKong? Sorry, I don't buy that. Unless they are counting personal cars?

Here are a few things Hong Kong is superior: Cashless payments, extensive metro/train network, efficient/big airport, high speed internet.

New York is not even as good/efficient as Hong Kong. Now the case can be made that you make more money working in New York than in HK but the comparison is about infrastructure.

The NY subway is one of the shittiest I have tried (and it seems like it breaks often).


Actually infrastructure in Romania’s western Carpatian mountains (the “middle of nowhere”) is an excellent case study. In the mid-century, under communism, an impressive network of dams was built at huge cost. Some of them underground to withstand bombardment. Sadly I didn’t take a picture of a map of the hydro network I saw there recently but here it is low res on Street View [1]. The infrastructure today is in terrible disrepair and I believe much has been shut down as dependence on foreign electricity has grown [2].

Surely a lot of the troubles are Romania’s own fault managing the transition post communism, but I think the interesting part is how does the global market for energy, in this case, decentivize a country to maintain its own infrastructure?

[1]https://goo.gl/maps/t7H6UFuJiMS2

[2]https://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=ro&v=83


Europe had the “advantage” of being carpet bombed in the mid-20th century. Planning out the infrastructure you would like to have in the absence of competing concerns and American support to do it is relatively straightforward.


I think it is easier for developing countries in general.

Japan continued its huge infrastructure build postwar but even by the 1970s (Narita airport) it was more difficult.

The next iteration of their high speed rail (SC Maglev) has been in development since the 1970s, with a test track built in 1990. It is under construction now and isn’t planned to be fully operational until 2037.

Compare that with the bullet train, which began development in 1939, construction in the 1950s, and was done in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.


My friend I completely concur.

A trackway eats up a massive amount of land and cuts through many different county lines and property boundaries. Even the guy who planned out Market Street in San Francisco had to flee across the Golden Gate on a Ferry once large property owners got wind of his enormous boulevard cutting diagonally across the city.

No matter what you build, or when you build it, people are going to object. I think what changes is the denser your body of law, the easier it is for people to drag projects into the court room, even many different times, for many seemingly legitimate objections. Maybe you don’t stop a project legally, but you halt progress long enough that the costs go up substantially, in a labour market which is already quite expensive and unions fairly common.

If you could easily steamroll any objections, seize the property you want to use without going to court, didn’t have to face environmental concerns, didn’t have to hire unionized labor, and essentially didn’t have to answer to anybody, I imagine the CAHSR would have been built 5 years ago, ahead of time, under budget, and already planning extensions to Redding, Las Vegas and up the Golden Gate Bridge through the Sonoma Valley and up the North Coast with long term (10 year) plans to run a line from San Diego to New Orleans. Alas, we have the Rule of Law, and the Law is very thick.


E.g. Switzerland and Sweden weren’t, I still find the infrastructure there way better than in the West Coast at least.


By spending money on upgrading it, astonishingly. The problem with US infrastructure is very simple. Money. There’s no magic secret that everyone else has.


Except that it costs astronomically more to build advanced infrastructure in the US. Same problem with health care too. Too many people taking a cut? Structural profiteering?


I think that's partially economies of scale and experience; the US does not, as a rule, build modern infrastructure, so there's naturally going to be a learning curve when it tries.

The cost per km of the proposed California high-speed line is somewhat greater than similar lines in European countries, say, but you'd expect this, because no-one's ever built one in the US before (except for small sections of the Acela one).


US government entities borrow at lower rates than anyone else. Public debt isn't a real problem, it's a bugaboo that people raise because they don't like public services.

I guess they must not like the competition or something.


> Public debt isn't a real problem

The truth of that varies wildly depending on what you think 'a real problem' is. Debt is great fun for everyone until the paying-it-back part really sets in. When governments consume resources for their own ends someone has to go without.

You probably already know the standard arguments, but to rehash government services tend not to 'compete' they tend to 'crush'. Competition is bound by the fact that all the players have to create more value than they consume, putting a floor under what companies will attempt. Governments have no such constraint, and can easily create ventures that provide more than private concerns by devoting more resources to it than a rational person would, destroying value along the way.

That is great in the micro- and woeful in the macro- because now some other more important thing is not being done.


How is providing a service at lower price destroys value? Only if you narrowly define value as shareholder dividends.


I think the problem with comparing public to private service provision is that many public services are things nobody would ever rationally pay for privately, in the form the public sector is able to provide it.

Take libraries for example, if all the public libraries were closed, nobody would open up a new privately funded and operated for-profit library service, except perhaps for very narrow specific geographic and topical markets. It could never make money in the form the public sector is able to provide it. The same goes for many other such services.

The closest we get to private sector participation for such things is the public sector contracting out public services to private providers. The problem with that is there often isn't really a functioning efficient market for such services since there's only one buyer and very often only a few practical providers, so it can be very hit and miss if such arrangements turn out to be efficient.

Clearly it sometimes is possible for the public sector to provide services competitively with private alternatives. Nobody in Europe is clamouring to copy the dumpster fire that is the US health insurance system. Conversely SpaceX is proving that something that was always assumed to be only within the capability of a state is actually quite tractable to private initiative and commercialisation. I think in these things it pays to be flexible and watch out for inflection points.


One reason is the decentralized nature of the country. No one can centrally decide a nationwide infrastructure project. It needs approval from all the involved states, counties, cities and property owners.

This was to some extent true in the mid 20th century too, but much of those projects were built on empty land, and since then we've also built many layers of regulations and hired armies of regulators, all focused of finding ways and reasons to say NO to change.


China is also quite decentralized. The provinces have an enormous amount of power to resist central government demands to do things they don't want to do. Look at how much trouble they are having trying to crack down on highly polluting power and industrial plants. If Beijing wants something, and the provinces don't, it's probably not going to happen.


Both are true. The provinces can get away with murder as long as they don’t attract the attention of the central committee. But as long as Beijing is focused on something, they’ll get it. The attention is however always fleeting, preventing them from solving long term problems like that.


>>If Beijing wants something, and the provinces don't, it's probably not going to happen.

What if the Party wants something what will happen? Not sure 100% about China, but in such systems you either go with the flow or...best case scenario you'll get audited, Chinese style.


I bet to an outsider the US government probably looks pretty coherent too, one could say "What if the US Government wants something to happen?" and you'd understand what they meant.

But the US Senate has political parties, and heck, even our political parties have various factions.

And I'm sure the Party has its own factions as well, and they play the political game that humans play in order to arrive at some semblance of a story we can tell.

(Granted it also seems to me that the CCP is more unified, but I don't know if it's actually true or if it's because all of their arguments happen behind closed doors.)


The Party is decentralized as well - the distinction between state and party institutions is fuzzy in the Chinese system.


Eminent domain is still eminent domain. If anything, it seems to be less restricted than it used to be.


I think that's mostly applicable within one city. And perhaps against not very lawyered up counterparts.

For mega-infrastructure projects like there powergrids or the California highspeed railroad, eminent domain might be like bringing a knife to a tank fight.


What's the benefit in modernizing the US's grid faster than it is being done already? Nobody wants to pay more for electricity, and while the Chinese government is motivated by the economic stimulus effect the US doesn't share that goal. If they started tearing down and replacing power lines that today are good enough you would have to pay for it.


Modern HVDC transmission systems have lower losses. A re-design/upgrade/modernization would permit load managament to be optimised for the current population and industry needs, not the last centuries state. Its highly likely new paths, new poles, new pits, new transformers, new synchronous re-generators would be deployed. The transmission grid reflects the technologies used: if less coal and oil and gas is being used, its very likely there would be more points of storage and re-generation deployed, to leverage the surplus power inherent in a lot of solar and wind (which may not be currently captured)

Its not cheap. But, thats what re-capitalization of a public utility function is all about: the thing which makes no sense to any individual profit-seeker but which delivers a non-profit moment for the entire community: safer, (less polluting) more efficient (less loss in transmission, less loss of ephemeral power) and more resilient power.

"it costs more" is a false argument. All improvements "cost more" the question is "are they worth it" and I personally believe (very strongly) btw they are. I absolutely concede there is a case to be put "no, they aren't worth it" but I would prefer that case and the pro-case is made by operations-research, economists, power engineers than the Koch brothers.

It is very unlikely under current economic climate, that any of the TVA, or the west coast power, or a myriad of state investments made in the 30s 40s and 50s would be done: Not because they are bad, but because they generate low profit outcomes, and we have forgotten why corporate entities were invented in the first place. If you don't agree, consider the giant cluster-fuck of US bridges in urgent need of repair and the logjam behind "who pays" with the current federal government favouring handing the assets to private sector investors to maintain and then charge to use, compared to a more normal (I mean worldwide) model of using tax and other central spend planning to pay for utility infrastructure.

Which do you think makes more sense?


Yeah...the 500-kV projects that TVA built in the 50s are very useful today. They waaay overbuilt it then (they only needed 115 or 138 kV iirc) and that would never happen today.


The benefit of modernizing the grid is reduction of carbon emissions. The ideal geographic locations for wind and solar are not necessarily close to the consumers. If you lack the transmission capacity the plants have to throttle down and waste potential energy production which has to be compensated by plants closer to the consumers.


In that case you wouldn't want to modernize the grid just for the sake of it, you would want to reduce carbon emissions. The places where you would build out new infrastructure would be different if the plan was to connect solar panels in Nevada versus if you just went around to the oldest wooden poles and replaced them with newer ones.


When I lived in Maryland we had multiple-day blackouts several times after hurricanes because power lines were down. There was also a huge blackout along the whole east coast which also took days. In California transformers are starting wildfires. I think there is a lot to improve.


What China seems to be doing is replacing the complex tangle of distributed local generation and distribution with big, high-profile, headline-grabbing single point of failure power lines. That doesn't sound like a good way of avoiding blackouts due to weather taking out power lines - if anything, that's an argument against copying China.


The mentiones how they are building in redundancies and not running serveral of the links at full capacity to prevent just such a situation.


Building a line to run @ only 25% capacity isn't exactly super smart. We have these conversations all the time in grid operations and planning when we hear about these big projects. In power transmission you always have to carry power reserves for your single greatest contingency (actually more). Let's say your largest contingency today is the loss of a 900 MW nuke plant. So you have to always have an extra 900 MW laying around. Now go build a 4 GW line. What happens if it trips? Big changes around the regions on each side. Chances are you now have to carry considerable more reserves unless you operate it at a much lower percent of capacity. It's the same with large amounts of wind. If you suddenly see your wind forecast fall off a cliff and need to make up multiple GW of lost generation, you're in a really risky spot. You have to carry extra reserves and try to best anticipate the event and that also costs money. In a future with lots of big batteries, this isn't as problematic, but we're very far from having that much storage on the grid.


Which is why they need a network of the grids like the local ones in existence today. If you have 10 lines feeding into a mega city from different directions the reserve for a single failure can be lowered to 10%. You can also build pumped water hydro stations, which I don't see how batteries could ever match in capacity or efficiency. Batteries are good for smoothing out spikes but how can they deal with a failure that could take some time to resolve?


I would gladly pay double for the price of electricity (or more precisely double for the transmission component of the bill), maybe even triple if you give me a hard sale. The past few falls I've been breathing in air that's more polluted than Chinese air. The reason is because PG&E doesn't have enough money to invest in infrastructure because the rates are kept low by state regulators who only see "cheap power" as their mandate.


>that's more polluted than Chinese air.

What city is this? The US doesn't have a single city in the top 500. China makes up about half of the list.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-polluted_cities_b...


SF during the recent wildfires caused by faulty PG&E infrastructure (local power utility) had the worst air quality index in the world, far beyond any Chinese (or Indian/Pakistani for that matter) city.


If PG&E didn't start the fire something else would have.


The past few falls though?


Maybe parent was in LA during the forest fires last summer? It can get up there even if only for a few weeks.


They said the past few falls though.


Bay Area power is hardly cheap. In the highest tier I'm paying $0.50/kWh base rate is about $0.20/kWh. The US average is $0.12/kWh. So I don't think the problem is PG&E offering electricity that is too cheap.


I mean, if you have the income to cover for double the electricity rate, than you would likely be required to pay more in taxes or other costs to ensure that your less fortunate neighbor can afford it and to ensure that the factory that employees 300 employees can remain competitive by giving them electricity grant. I also hope that you can get the whole neighborhood to buy into the idea for the sake of improving the air quality. As you can see, there is a lot of other variables that have to be accounted for, although I agree that we should strive for better air quality.


My monthly electricity bill is $25-$30 a month. Heck, my cellphone bill is more than this. I’m not sure what the price of clean air is, but paying a multiple of this amount doesn’t seem like something that would break the bank.


It is an inability to set clear goals. Every time we have a proposal, everyone else jumps in with additional requirements and the project dies.


Wait a second. Are we talking about software projects or infrastructure?


Yes


Touche


Maybe a bit of maintenance drag too.. it's always more exciting and easy when you do it the first time..


> Now it seems we are no longer capable of such projects

Not quite, we changed our priorities considerably. The US shifted its government expenditures to welfare, entitlements and standing-military spending. The US has dramatically expanded its social safety net over the last four or five decades. You can see that by checking the federal budget by decade and how its allocation has changed. Properly few voters want to go back to 1955, they'd rather we continue paying for free healthcare for the bottom 1/4, at a cost of ~$650 billion per year. If you give those people a choice between national high-speed rail and their health coverage, they'll choose health coverage every time. The mistake in the case of the US, is in not having built eg high-speed rail when it could have done it, before welfare and entitlement spending demands got so massive.

In short, the US system, the social contract, has fundamentally, permanently changed. There's no scenario where it will or ever can do infrastructure like it did 60 or 80 years ago, because the government allocations can never be like they were. It's comparing two entirely different systems of spending demand & allocation, along with entirely different social expectations.

China is currently undergoing exactly the same transformation as it seeks to build out a social safety net. As that proceeds, they'll no longer be fiscally capable of the infrastructure spending they've been undertaking the prior ~20 years. Social welfare spending demands will rise perpetually, particularly given the rate at which their society is aging. Right now the average pension in China is about $200 per year, and their pension system is already financially tipping over. That won't stand, China will be forced to allocate dramatically greater spending to social welfare over time. China is about to start running twin deficits, on their fiscal budget (already bad) and their trade. I don't see a scenario going forward where they can both meet the social demands of an aging population that wants a far greater social safety net and the free-wheeling infrastructure spending behavior of their past. They'll be forced to choose, as every other developed nation has.


Are you saying that the USA has not currently the knowledge, raw materials and manpower for keeping its social safety net and building infrastructure at the same time?

Because from where I'm standing it seems that it's the political will what is missing.


You can immediately pick up the direction of the argument from the order in which the alleged reasons were listed (hint: welfare before military spending).

And, as expected, the inefficiency of the US welfare system was not even brought up.


I think you are saying why US can't do it. Healthcare prices maybe one of the reasons not because people want to remain healthy.


All types of social welfare spending have increased over the last 50 years, not just healthcare. A larger proportion of the population is dependent on the government now than 50 years ago.


Of course one thing not brought about social welfare is that isn't a choice of to pay or not but to pay now vs pay later no matter what you do - in addition to humanitarian and reputation impacts.

It is harder to calculate given hard numbers only exist if things go wrong.

Not paying for vaccination or hygenic programs leads to outbreaks which are expensive to contain and not containing leads to even more. Even literally leaving people to die in the street still generates expenses


That is not what the evidence shows.

The evidence shows that social welfare spending can increase future costs. For example it increases the percentage of women who have children out of wedlock. The increase in social welfare spending is the primary reason why the percentage of children born to single parents rose from about 4% in 1948 to 40% today. That in turn increases nearly every type of socioeconomic problem.


Maybe people just don't put as much importance on weddings as they did when children out of wedlock had substantially reduced rights? I don't think the link to increased welfare spending is as clear as you make it. I for example only married for the tax benefits.


The evidence suggests that increases in the availability of social assistance cause an increase in the percentage of children born out of wedlock, so it's not merely an observation of a correlation.

There are undoubtedly other factors as well, but the expansion of social spending is one of the major ones.


Do you have a source for that evidence? To me it seems hard to prove causation.


Here are a couple:

https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.jstor.org/stable/352802?seq=1...)

>Public assistance also had large, statistically significant effects on all of the dependent variables. All else equal, higher levels of public assistance were associated with lower prevalence of marriage for black men and black women, lower prevalence of husband-wife families, lower percentage of marital births for black women, and lower percentage of black children living in husband-wife families. These results differed from those reported in some previous aggregate-level studies (e.g., Ellwood & Bane, 1985; Ellwood & Summers, 1986), but they were quite robust and were substantively as well as statistically significant. For example, the difference between $150 and $250 in average support per recipient child (a difference of 0.51 in the natural log version, which is only slightly larger than the sample standard deviation for the variable) translates into a 4.4-point difference in the expected percentage of marital births for black women aged 20-24, a difference of nearly 2.4 points in the expected percentage of black children residing in husband-wife families, and a 3.5 point difference in the expected percentage of married for women with children 0-5.

https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1061045....

>These estimated impacts were then combined to measure "final" effects on the total illegitimacy rate - out-of-wedlock births per 1,000 women in the population. The outcome of this experiment was a hypothetical decrease in total illegitimacy rates - as of the end of the estimation period in 1992 - of about 15 percent for whites and slightly under 7 percent for blacks. The differential effects are almost entirely accounted for by the disparities in the determinants of marital status noted above. > >Narrowly defined, our goal in this study has been to test the linkage between welfare benefits and illegitimate births. The econometric evidence presented here has strongly supported this connection. More broadly, however, this study implicates the welfare system in the growth of illegitimacy


The U.S. is not a republic like China it is a federation of states. Many states in the U.S. do enough trade on their own to fund nation-sized infrastructure projects. And they do organize those things to the extent their legislatures think it makes sense.


China doesn't have to worry about an army of lawyers coming from people losing property for the right of ways needed for high voltage lines. Remember that China forced a lot of people to move for the three gorges hydro electric dam. That one dam has something like 20 GW of output...putting things into perspective, the entire Middle of the US from Arkansas to Canada uses about that much instantaneous electricity on a mild spring day. We have capital for big projects, but the legal and environmental challenges are big here (not without good reason).


Good points, although I would argue that in some cases, we don't have the capital for big projects when we account for all the legal, environmental and other factors that the people care(d) about.


As far as I know, China's grid and power plants are not run by the government either.


They certainly own them, from the article:

>...the State Grid Corp. of China, a state-owned company that runs most of China’s transmission and distribution grids..


I flew over North West China about a year ago ... at one point there were windmills as far as the eye could see, 100s at a time ... many were clustered around what looked like open cast coal mines and coal powered thermal plants (likely some of the source for Beijing's pollution problems) - they're being really smart using the same grid infrastructure for the wind energy that they've built for coal


That will help with the maglevs, tens of millions of electric vehicles, and tens of thousands of miles of bullet trains.

We don’t have any of that in the United States...


China has a lot of clean energy capacity in the west, but needs it in the east to get away from coal, where a those transportation needs are as well.


As I read the (excellent) article, I noticed that there's quite a bit of dissention regarding the overall design of what they're building out.

"power engineers are struggling to master the resulting hybrid AC-DC transmission system.... What has blocked full implementation is an intense debate over the future of UHV ... State Grid’s monopolization ... the centralization of grid planning and operation that UHV requires.... unifying China’s grid would make it far more vulnerable to cascading blackouts..."

Probably we, on a smaller scale, should have been doing something like this at least 10 years ago. OTOH, China is pushing the envelope ... and when we finally decide to get off the dime, we'll know better what works. So far (I think), we don't have any cities like Shanghai that run 'short of power for several weeks each summer'.


The title doen'st highlight enough about UHV. It's probably one of the most underestimated game changer technology that US and Canada also should have.


Can you expound on why?


There were many coal burning power plants generate tons of dust and smog around increasingly electricity hungry developed areas in east and west coast of China. Those plants are gone because the powers are transfered from far away. Without UHV 's efficient long distance power transfer capability that could not happen.


Yes, that's debatable. The party and its supporters could be wrong. But that's another topic on different premise.

The real issue here is many people make verdict based on strong belief based on what they know from media which could be totally fabricated illusion and insist their version of reality is only correct one cause problem.


following is a reply in a wrong place


Is it normal for grids to be segregated? I assumed the whole of North America was one grid, Even Europe & Asia I assumed it was all connected. Now after reading this I'm not sure.


Interestingly, we have 3 in North America: East, West and Texas.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Interconnection


The article you linked to says: “The two major and three minor NERC Interconnections, and the nine NERC Regional Reliability Councils.” and it also says, “The Texas Interconnection is one of the three minor grids in the continental U.S. power transmission grid. The other two minor interconnections are the Quebec Interconnection and the Alaska Interconnection.”


And quebec


Wow. New York City only uses 11 megawatt/hours/day.

"It’s like we’re all still pedaling our bicycles, while the Formula 1 race car goes flying by.” - Gregory Reed


New public management and low taxation of the wealthy has been the bane of western society for almost 50 years.


Please don't take HN threads on generic ideological tangents. They're all the same, therefore uninteresting, therefore off topic here.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19296446.


Government spending as a percentage of GDP has grown rapidly over the last 50 years. Most of that growth has been in social welfare spending.

Meanwhile, the effective tax rate that the rich pay has decreased only slightly since 50 years, despite a very large decrease in the top income bracket tax rate, due to fewer loopholes and deductions available in the tax code. Their relative contribution to total tax revenue has increased on account of growth in their share of national income.


Depends greatly on how you count. Is the Veterans Administration under Defense, Heathcare, or social welfare? At what point does a highly targeted tax break count as spending? How about loans? Do you count debt interest as it’s own thing or part of what caused the debt in the first place etc etc.

The US tax code and spending is designed to allow politicians to tell very specific narratives, making this stuff very difficult to measure objectively.


For reference.

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-bud...

60% of US government spending is on Medicare and Health and Social Security.

About 2.3 Trillion.

Interest on debt 230 Billion.


Counterargument: That is a blunt lie.

https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/259476-ex-...

https://fpif.org/americas-global-military-bases-actually-und...

I'd imagine maintaining ownership of 95% of all military bases on the planet costs a little more than the 15 bucks per month my mom got in food stamps.


Just Federal interest on debt in 2018 was $523,017,301,446.12 or 523 Billion. https://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.ht...

To get 230 Billion you must first ignore state and local debt a rather significant number, then ignore over half of Federal Interest. So, I am not sure where you’re getting that number from.

Which gets back to my point, the way you do the calculation makes a huge difference in what the numbers look like. Only consider interest over the inflation rate and boom it suddenly looks vastly smaller.


No, the incease in social welfare spending has been overwhelming. The statistics on that are clear. It's a much more leftist/government-dependent society than it was in the 1950s.

Just consider all of the social programs that exist today and didn't exist in the 1950s. The federal Department of Education didn't even exist then. Neither did the EPA or the OSHA.


If you’re going to call the EPA a social program then you might as well include the FBI as it also helps the public. Arguably all government spending can fall under social welfare using the broadest definition.

Which is what I am getting at. You need to clearly define what you mean. Vast numbers of multi millionaires receive social security and or Medicare benifits for example. So if you include them you’re not talking about aid for the poor.

The FAA for example improves the general welfare of the US, but it’s solving a problem we simply did not have 100 years ago. It’s hard to say such an increase in spending is a bad thing.


No, I made the reference to the EPA to make the broader point that society has moved to a much more leftist/government-dominated mode since 1950. The rise of social welfare spending is one major part of that.


The big ones since the 50s are Medicare, Medicaid and COLA-adjusted Social Security.


Social Security has been cut over the last 50 years. We have an older population, but full benifits start much later.

So, if your talking cash flows it looks one way, if your talking about what laws are on the books it’s a different story.

The Social Security trust fund further complicates the issue.


SSDI was very stringent in 1950. Today it costs over $140 billion a year and covers vastly more people. Numerous free service and cash transfer programs have been created since 1950, which has caused total spending on social welfare programs to increase dramatically:

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2013/01/16/us/politics/16fiv...


Again that’s an oversimplification. States have moved people to SSDI while removing them from their own social programs. You really need to look at total government expenditure per person adjusted for gdp per person to see how things have changed over time.

Tradional welfare programs really have been cut. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare#/media/File%3AWelfar....

Social Security and Medicare play different roles today vs 50 years ago, but they are just one slice of a larger picture. That includes an aging population and other demographics issues, but also ever shifting bureaucracy and social norms. We created welfare under the belief that single mothers should raise their kids, now norms have changed.

Remember, the first Social Security recipients never paid into the program. It was created with the belief we should support the elderly, now people need to ‘pay into’ the system. Further SS was created in 1935, meaning once again the USA used to have a more progressive outlook.


State social welfare spending has massively increased since 1950, both in real per capita terms, and as a percentage of GDP, so your narrative of states scaling back social programs is false.

And states do not have the power to "move people to SSDI". Eligibility is determined by the federal government, and the federal government has expanded eligibility over the last 70 years.

All broad-based measures of social welfarism show it has massively increased since 1950. I really don't understand how you can look at the spending statistics and claim social programs in general have been cut.

>>Tradional welfare programs really have been cut. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare#/media/File%3AWelfar....

Despite some instances of welfare reform and scale backs, the bigger picture, of total per capita welfare spending, and welfare spending as a percentage of GDP, shows welfare has been massively expanded:

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2013/01/16/us/politics/16fiv...


Pensions require old people, SS inflation adjusted formula has not increased the population got older. You can pretend the Social Security trust fund was not created, but that’s ignoring giant cash flows.

Heathcare has increased dramatically, then again 80 years ago their was simply fewer things to spend heathcare dollars on. You can’t buy cancer drugs that don’t exist. On top of that the US system is designed to enrich heathcare providers, not nessisarily provide good heathcare. The VA runs a heathcare system becase using the public one costs to much.

That stacked bar chart is further designed to hide the recent reduction in one category ‘welfare’ as other categories increased. Which means it does not support your point.


SS is not the entirety of social welfare spending. It's not even the entirety of SS-related spending. There is, as I've just mentioned, SSDI.

Total social welfare spending at all levels of government has increased massively, at a rate that greatly exceeds what can be explained by population aging.

>>Heathcare has increased dramatically, then again 80 years ago their was simply fewer things to spend heathcare dollars on.

That doesn't change the fact that government is forcibly redistributing a greater portion of economic output toward healthcare spending.

>>That stacked bar chart is further designed to hide the recent reduction in one category ‘welfare’ as other categories increased.

Real welfare spending per capita has continued to increase. That graph is spending as a percentage of GDP, and GDP is increasing, so a steady ratio means increasing spending. Moreover, welfare spending is vastly greater now, as a percentage of GDP, than it was in 1950 or even 1970.

It seems like you're ignoring every piece of evidence suggesting a shift toward social democracy with expanding social welfare spending, to maintain a narrative of social welfare programs being cut.


You are making two arguments one social welfare spending is increasing, and two that represents a shift towards social democracy. I agree that total spending is increasing, but I disagree that nessisarily supports your second point. Which I why each program needs to be considered individually not just stacked together.

Deogramics is clearly not the only change, but as it relates to both SS and Medicare as age related programs it is a factor that needs to be considered. SSDI is another story and I agree it’s a huge issue. Again, Medicare dates back to 1965 past your 50 year benchmark. Private insurance faces similar issues with healthcare costs are rising faster than GDP which does not support your second argument. Arguably this is even why it was created in the first pace as costs had been growing even back in the 60’s.

Now looking past the pension portion of SS and Medicare the rest of ‘social welfarek spending gets complicated. We pay farmers above market rates for food and then give that food to the poor. How much of that is a social program and how much of that is a farm subsidy? You can bet it was designed to allow for both interpretations. Further, similar issues show up in a huge range of ‘social’ programs.

Now back to your point, you can support an argument that we have shifted to social democracy. At the same time, when looking at spending that actually aids just the poor you see cuts over the recent past. Picking a timeframe also shapes this issue as picking 25 vs 50 vs 100 years makes a real difference.

Going all the way back to my original point, looking at any single number in the recent past is not enough. You need to define closely how it’s created and what it actually means. Though if you had said 100 years not 50 I would have simply agreed because few government programs existed prior to 1919.


>>You are making two arguments one social welfare spending is increasing, and two that represents a shift towards social democracy. I agree that total spending is increasing, but I disagree that nessisarily supports your second point.

If the increase hadn't massively exceeded what could be explained by aging, I might agree that we need to look more closely at the specifics to see how much of what is categorized under social welfare spending is truly that, and how much of the increase in social welfare spending was simply a consequence of an aging population, but it has, so the only conclusion one can reasonably draw in my opinion is that there has been a shift toward social democracy, in the sense of society providing aid to low income individuals at the taxpayer's expense.

>>Again, Medicare dates back to 1965 past your 50 year benchmark.

Medicare spending has ballooned since the program was created in 1965. The Medicare of today is vastly more generous than the Medicare of 1965. I agree that a lot of that is inefficiencies to benefit special interests, but that goes with the territory when you entrust government officials to spend hundreds of billions of dollars that's not theirs.

Additions to Medicare, like Medicare D, have majorly expanded the value of essential goods/services that low income individuals can enjoy at the taxpayer's expense.

>>We pay farmers above market rates for food and then give that food to the poor.

The cost of paying farmers above market rates, aka farm subsidies, is accounted for separately from food stamp costs. In other words the cost of the former is not being disguised as an expense of the latter.

The benefits received by low income individuals from foodstamps really do cost what the statistics show.

You can of course find individual cases of welfare programs being cut, but with the magnitude of social welfare growth, not just per capita, but as a percentage of GDP, it would be incredible if that was mostly a statistical illusion and misaccounting that didn't reflect a major shift to social democracy, and commensurate increase in assistance received by low income individuals at the taxpayer's expense.


What is social welfare? Is that an official term?


It's a technical term. It means any kind of cash transfer or social service provided at the taxpayer's expense primarily to assist low income individuals.


So it doesn't count if it's assistance for the wealthy? Seems like an odd distinction.


China certainly has very challenging and unique problems when it comes to infrastructures. The sheer size of the population, land mass, the scale of it is staggering.

If only they could open their eyes to democracy and freedom of human rights....then and only then will China be equipped to challenge the American/European hegemony, ushering in a new age of pan-east asian propserity.

In other words, same words, different empire.


Democracy usually follows economic development, not vice versa. Look at South Korea and Taiwan, they grew tremendously under authoritarian regimes and became democratic later after their GDP per capita hit a threshold (Singapore is somewhere in between, still pretty authoritarian).


I wonder if it is a proxy for sufficient education essentially (even a high school educated populace who can read the paper and instruction manuals can generate more wealth via factory work than subsidence farmers) vs simple hierarchy of needs where their main concerns are survival as opposed to any ideals like liberty or equality.

Quality education isn't a pancaea for demagoguery but it certainly helps. I believe that educated middle and lower end of upper class have been involved with revolutions frequently for better or worse outcomes.


They definitely correlate. In a democracy, you need a high level of education among all your voters since everyone can have an input on policy. And I'm sure more educated people start demanding for more representation.

Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore had some interesting things to say about it all: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/03/le...


Not going to happen with Xi "President for Life" Jinping.


Not going to happen... during our lifetimes? Ever? If you went to vegas and put money on it, what would you place the odds at if you put down serious money?

I only ask because your comment sounds like a very certain prediction, but few things are that certain beyond physics.


Korea had a dictator too.


They grew tremendously because they turned their citizens into commodities at the hands of a few families who were able to bribe their way to the top.

Samsung, Hyundai, all of these guys built their company on the backs of children, women, and men which they exploited the shit out of.

Now, young Koreans are asking, was it worth it? With one of the highest youth unemployment and suicide rates in East Asia, existential questions are being raised about the authoritarian past.

I would've agreed with your statement 10 years ago, but now I'm not so certain, and I firmly believe that everybody is just repeating the government propaganda.

How the fuck is it that everybody just seem to know that authoritarian was responsible for economic revival? It's not even for debate. Yet we have countries like North Korea, still unable to dig themselves out of the economic recession. Argentina, South America, all had similar authoritarians and dictators, the only difference being that they possessed natural commodities that the Western countries could bribe and extract it out of that target country.

It's not exactly a secret as to the extent of subversive & covert actions of American corporations in exploiting South America for their rich natural resources. ex) United Fruit

When you don't have anything your land can provide to the empire, they accept human collateral, in the form of labor (slave?) or mercenaries. ex) South Korea's participation in the Vietnam War was traded for billions of dollars in US aid, that were spent on building the country's infrastructure.

Why is it that we have to be the richest? Why is it such a fucking competition, and why do we not stop and think, what the fuck is the reward at the end of the race created by Yet Another Empire?


You seem angry, you're right, we don't really get a say in the matter.

I also can't say if authoritarianism leads to economic revival, only that revival happened in spite of authoritarianism. In the same way that the Philippines has not done much economically in spite of democracy.

I can't say if it's worth it in the end, maybe the fisherman in Thailand is happier. But I'm grateful for the life I live. I've traveled around Asia, I've seen the developed and the non-developed, and I would prefer economic power over the latter.


yeah sometimes I just get jaded by how materialistic and superficial North American culture is.

as a visible minority, I honestly cannot have the same things that a white person would have without capital. This is just a fact of reality, no matter if I was born here or my kids are mixed, we will never be regarded as true equals. I hate what I have become. Just another immigrant that made it with a bit of money. But I needed to make this money just to have a shot at being treated equally by the mainstream.

It'd be nice to be accepted for who I am, not what I have. I long to be in a culture and society that isn't so materially obsessed...like Berlin.

it's nauseating....I think I need to leave North America for good....the North American Dream ultimately was revealed to me, just a futile exercise in consumption and mostly a dick measuring contest about who has what.

I can't believe I ditched thousands of years of culture and history for this fucking uncultured garbage they call the American Dream.


I traveled around for a few months and even though I'm back in the States I've become happier just knowing there's somewhere in the world where I'd blend in, and other parts where I now get the equivalent of what one would call privilege here. The world's a big and diverse place, don't wait till it's too late to see it.


The average Chinese today would not agree with you. Tell them about American democracy: they see Trump and a mess of irrational, petty infighting. Tell them about European democracy: they see Brexit and a perpetual stall in economic development. Now look to China’s leadership: while they may lack the freedoms of Western societies, the trade off has been such an incredible increase in quality of life that people born in 1990 to abject poverty can be living in solidly middle-class conditions nowadays (I know many such folks personally!).

The Chinese people as a whole are only going to agitate for democratic reform when (or if) their system of government stops serving them. Maybe a poor leader will emerge and shock the country into realizing they’ve centralized too much power; maybe the level of corruption will begin to significantly impede growth; maybe a rise in fortunes will make people yearn for freedoms they don’t have.


> maybe a rise in fortunes will make people yearn for freedoms they don’t have.

Actually this is a big thing already now as rich chinese people invest in western properties that the Chinese government can't seize.

If you are rich in an authoritarian country, all of your wealth can vanish quickly if you fall out of favour of the people who rule. This doesn't even have to be your own contribution, they can just say they take it. If you are rich in a western democracy, nothing much can happen to you.


They may see it that way but I'd argue it's a pretty myopic view. The US and the EU do most things better despite their political issues. Only focusing on their flaws is like rejecting free cash because some of the notes are dirty.


"It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice"

Democracy has a critical feature: it has a built-in method of nonviolent political succession which has been the norm in other regimes which don't plan for change (resulting in revolution, coup d'etats, etc). There will inevitably come a time where this is a useful feature again, and hopefully they manage to graft it in before it's too late.


Yes, the "first derivative" of their quality of life is impressive. The quality of life itself is not, when compared to many places in America / Europe (pollution being perhaps the biggest problem, even if you don't care about human rights / political rights).

So "the average Chinese" that you mentioned would be missing the forest for the trees, if they do think that way.


Pollution problem is being solved at incredible pace. Probably in 5 more years the environment will be better than US. Consider for example, how much new trees being planted across the country and in big cities.


> Maybe a poor leader... maybe the level of corruption... maybe a rise in fortunes will make people yearn for freedoms

Or all of the above.

The History of China is long and history loves change, and China will most likely see each of these narratives in future.


Your implication that those Chinese who support current one party "regime" because they haven’t opened their eyes to democracy and freedom of human rights seems match current western media's unintended and also unanimous fabrication which is an unfalsifiable belief that doesn’t need any evidence but any body can still strongly insist it’s correct

This view is the dominant majority view of western countries that their citizens democratically elected their leaders with the same view who fight against “evils”, change regimes, based on a high moral ground with huge resources that otherwise can be invested in their own infrastructure. It caused huge humanitarian crises in Libya , Iraq, Syria , Yemen etc. that hundreds of thousands of lives lost.

In stead of give you some clue that the Chinese supporter of the one party regime do understand democracy, I can give you a clue that even the one party regime understand democracy and experimented with gradual baby steps began from village election.

https://journals.openedition.org/etudesrurales/8487

There is little information about the result. West media have strong motivation to hide the experiment to match their narratives, the party also doesn’t want others know the embarrassed outcome. But many educated Chinese know: It’s a massive failure. Most winners are those good at gain powers and even bullies. Normal villagers hate election very much. China is not civilized enough yet (No worries for political correctness. I’m an ethnic Chinese) . So consider your belief about democracy and human rights again.

BTW, the topic of democracy and human rights is probably the major reason that fans Chinese nationalism and anti-Western sentiment that while westerners themselves heavily brainwashed (that alone is fine if not humiliate Chinese) by their independent free speech journalist believe it’s Chinese who are subhuman brainwashed by one Party propaganda. Just like the animals in “Animal Farm”


How can you possibly trust published information on the experiment? We can see from India's experience that democracy isn't going to work "as well" as in developed countries but we can't say anything about China's experience.


Yes, that's debatable. The party and its supporters could be wrong. But that's another topic on different premise.

The real issue here is many people make verdict based on strong belief based on what they know from media which could be totally fabricated illusion and insist their version of reality is only correct one cause problem.


[flagged]


Ok. They have a dictator for life and can have long term goals, "good" and "bad." They have a single party system with basically no rights, human or environmental. They can do what they want, whenever they want, however they want. If you don't like it, you go to prison without a fair trial and are forced to conform through reeducation, hard labor and torture. There is no opposition to contend with. If there is, you just kill them or toss them in prison. Does that help you a bit? Now, maybe you can explain how that is a better or more desirable way?

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/13/666287509/ex-detainee-describ...

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/04/xi-jinping-fro...

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/china...


Agree with most of this. Right now they’re lucky to have had a string of decently good leaders - but that could easily change.

I will point out though that the current Chinese leadership does care a fair bit about the environment. It’s not evenly applied, but in many cases they’ve been working very hard to reduce pollution and environmental damage and pursue sustainable developments (hydroelectricity, electric vehicles, widespread electric scooters and bicycles, public transit initiatives, etc.)


> they’re lucky to have had a string of decently good leaders

Unless of course they're one of the hundreds of thousands (perhaps more than a million) of Uighurs in Xinjiang province who are being held in "internment camps".


Is there are a way to get the good parts without the bad parts?


Long term not really - succession has always been a problem. Hereditary monarchs try to groom and train heirs from birth but it is no guarantee and there are messier bits of inner politics like back ups and murder to claim the throne. Chosen successors were tried with emperors but that has many of the same problems including the "A people hire A people, B people hire C people thing". It isn't an intrinsic merit thing "because I am great those I hire are great" but that those who are competent and secure want the best to work with and try to get them. Their judgement is not perfect and has subjectives but they try to.

Meanwhile those who aren't secure or competent and know it hire worse people to secure their position and well work their way down the alphabet.

Democracy is ironically a very stable system because it works on blocks and ideals instead of people - not to mention peaceful transition of power.


Yes, competitive democratic political system with minimalist federal government that is used only to solve issues that need a monopoly to be solved, everything else can and should be done by free unregulated market. But if you want people to have some sort of safety net, it's a separate issue. And government can be used for that, as a middleman to help organize financing of those safety net. But government is never tho most efficient player on the market, so it should not be a part of the solution.

And US and most western countries don't have all of this at the same time. Some countries have competitive democracies(US not one of them) some have kind of minimal/efficient governments. Some not that regulated markets. But no one has all at the same time.


The last 150 years or so of history kind of says no, but people keep trying because the last person "didn't implement it quite right" and "they," somehow, "know how to do it better." Maybe people need to see another 150M+ deaths to prove a failed philosophy/ideology is somehow what we need. It's the underlying philosophy that is the failure, no matter how you dress it up or try to implement it. The individual is sovereign.


I meant more along the lines of "what if we give eminent domain just a bit more bite?"


Why? You created an account just to post this?


I believe GP is mostly talking about the standard American propaganda that without Capitalism no great things can be accomplished.


Is still true. If china hadn't moved to a quasi capitalist society they would still be making rice and no one outside of a few chinese political dissidents would know anything about shenzhen


I'm not sure China can be described as "quasi-capitalist". There's very close cooperation between industry and government in a way that's antithetical to capitalism. Sure, at the lower levels it functions as a market economy, but the corporations themselves are heavily influenced if not controlled by the state.


I think that you are conflating 'capitalism' with 'market economy'.

Moving away from a 'centrally planned' economy doesn't imply 'capitalism', you can have a 'market economy'.

The original definition of a 'free market' was different to how 'the capitalists' use the words today. Originally a 'free market' was free from rent seekers, usury and monopolies. You put your work in and you got your pay and your profits. This was the definition of a free and fair economy.

Nowadays the interpretation of 'free market' in the West implies freedom for the rent-seeking class to exploit people with freedom for them to move their capital to tax havens.

Centrally planned economies had a problem with corrupt officials. The corrupt officials would take the role of the rent-seeking parasites we know in Western capitalist societies.

Modern China has a leadership that does not tolerate corrupt officials. If you are a corrupt official then you can expect the gallows in China, it is as harsh as that.

There is also Confucius and a deeper cultural work ethic that makes the Communist experiment with Mao a mere blip in the bigger canvas of Chinese history.

The rise of China is not because they have gone 'quasi-capitalist' it is because they have moved to a 'market economy' instead of a fully centrally planned economy. They have not allowed or desired their empire to be run by the whims of finance capital. Chinese people have collectively worked a lot harder than people in America.

It is easy for those left behind in America to trot out tired nonsense, e.g. about how the Chinese steal all of 'our' IP or Chinese political dissidents, without acknowledging that the Chinese people and leadership have worked really hard to transform the country out of poverty to be extremely educated and leading the world. This complacency only serves to leave America behind. Given your lack of punctuation and grammar I wonder if you might be stuck behind too.


China is pretty corrupt. It's still a pretty big problem there.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2018/03/15/corrup...


> Modern China has a leadership that does not tolerate corrupt officials. If you are a corrupt official then you can expect the gallows in China, it is as harsh as that.

Demonstrably false. In china you are corrupt when Xi says you are corrupt and are not corrupt when Xi deems it so. No different than Stalinist Russia.

>Chinese people have collectively worked a lot harder than people in America.

This reads like a propaganda piece written by someone with a pop culture understanding of the US.

>Moving away from a 'centrally planned' economy doesn't imply 'capitalism', you can have a 'market economy'.

>The original definition of a 'free market' was different to how 'the capitalists' use the words today. Originally a 'free market' was free from rent seekers, usury and monopolies. You put your work in and you got your pay and your profits. This was the definition of a free and fair economy.

This sounds like something I would hear late at night sophomore year of college from someone who thinks he's the next Adam Smith but for socialism. You've put together a lot of words but in the end you're really just rebranding capitalism.


A lot of people seem to confuse "capitalism" with "market economy". Once capitalists have established their position they hate market competition.


The market decides how much to produce, capitalism scales up the best producers.

Producers want monopolies but somehow we need to keep a flow of promising new producers launching so that doesn't happen, because it screws up the market (the monopolist produces less and takes more for it).


Or we could regulate the market to not allow monopolies (and break up large businesses). We have laws for this, they're just not enforced.


The race is kind of pointless if we're just going to shoot the winners.


Too true and concisely put.

The actual word 'competition' did not mean winner takes it all in the Ancient Greek flavour of the word, it has also been newspeaked by Capitalism. Originally there was some honour to competition. See also where the word 'agony' comes from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agon


The fact is, as David Graeber observed, every country has a mix of capitalist and socialist aspects. Taking a loose definition of “socialism” as helping each other. (To each what he requires, from each what he can provide) Without such impulses society would quickly fall apart.

China can be characterized as a state capitalist society with quite a high degree of control and abuses, but some degree responsibility to its citizens too.




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