On the cover of the Economist this week there is an interesting article regarding the widening gap between social classes (more precisely between industrialized and peasant China). The article goes on to argue about what will happen to these peasants that are being left behind and the current trends and possible outcomes in the future. But truly, this is not a new thing. This article has been written many times, not specifically about China, about every country really. All countries are facing this dilemma. Even here in the United States we see how the gap is widening.
So, what to do??? I think is has to do with responsibility. Stop the get-quick-rich mentality. In this day is all about instant gratification. I get mad because I go to the gym and in one hour I can’t get rid of all the fat. Come on!!! Sometimes is worth waiting for something. Sometimes thinking about the future, or a few months down the road is worth the investment.
In this case, you have to think about the future in years. Because what we do today WILL have an effect 20 years from now. Has anyone wondered about how colleges in this country are getting astronomically expensive? Has anyone stop to think what effect will this have on the lower and middle classes??? Well, I can tell you that more kids will not go to college because simply they cannot afford it. It’s hard to get college loans for 70-80k and then get paid 30k a year after you graduate. So what effects will this have??? A widening gap.
As I am reading the China article on the Economist, on the side bar there is an advertisement by Peterson Global Associates that states the following “the world is open for business. It’s up to you to manage it.” Hmmmm…interesting. I think beyond instant gratification, developing economies, high ROI, and above normal GDPs, all societies should stop for a second and think about their grandchildren. See what their world will be like. Use the tools that we have handy today to make a better tomorrow. Invest in the young population, whether they are peasants or sons of magistrates they are all worth investing in. Think that if you invest in this human capital, your country will benefit from it. Who cares if it is China or the US or Russia, at the end borders are beginning to fade. The more we educate the world, the fewer problems between East vs. West we will have. In today’s day it doesn’t matter where you come from because ultimately we are all humans. We just need to work together. And ultimately, this will render a higher ROI than ever imagined.
I know…sometimes I am an idealist…if you are interested in the article…read below…
The party congress in China
Oct 11th 2007
From The Economist print edition
The country’s rulers care too much for their own welfare, and too little about the rural peasants
BASKING in its 2008 Olympic glow, no longer shy at counting itself among the world’s greats and blessed with a still booming economy, China looks the coming power. And so it is, up to a point. Yet as the Communist Party’s bigwigs assemble behind closed doors in Beijing for their five-yearly congress, it is China’s frailties, not its strengths, that preoccupy them.
Not for the first time, Hu Jintao, the party’s boss and China’s president, rightly picks out two big problems: the widening gap between China’s mostly urban rich and its mostly rural poor, and the party’s lack of “internal democracy”—comrade-speak for accountability and the courage to question and debate. In other words, neither China’s Communist Party nor its village dwellers are keeping up as the rest of China changes fast. None of the 1.3 billion ordinary Chinese gets a vote in the party’s secretive conclaves. But among more than 700m left-behind peasants, frustrations are building.
As in any fast-developing economy, for all its successes China’s breakneck growth masks a multitude of problems, from rampant corruption and devastating pollution to a frail banking system and the lack of independent courts to uphold the rule of law. Meanwhile, three decades of “get rich quick” advice from party central have left the country divided between a richer coast and still impoverished interior, between upwardly mobile city dwellers and stagnating rural communities. These days, the income disparity between China’s richest few and poorest many (peasants, migrant workers, pensioners) would make many a modern capitalist blush.
From communism to carpet-baggers
Mr Hu has tried to accommodate some demands for change. Most recently, a law was passed that for the first time enshrines private property rights—a huge ideological leap for a party with its origins a long march back in Mao’s communes. But like much else in China, these new rights will benefit mostly city-dwellers; a growing urban middle class will now be able to buy and sell their homes or businesses. In the countryside, where peasants are able only to lease their land, not own it (and not even use it as collateral for loans), the new law will do nothing to rectify the landgrabs orchestrated by venal local officials, who turf people off the land so as to do lucrative deals with carpet-bagging developers.
In this and other ways, the reforms that Deng Xiaoping first launched in China’s countryside 30 years ago have now left its peasants in the ditch. But village dwellers have not only seen their city compatriots get richer quicker; increasingly, their own concerns have also been neglected.
Since 1989, when disgruntled workers joined student democracy protesters and it all ended in bloodshed on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, a ruling party fearful of any further challenge to its power has paid better heed to the grievances of China’s urban masses. Urbanites have won greater freedom to spend their rising incomes as they wish, while much ballyhooed experiments in greater village democracy have gone nowhere. With access to the internet and mobile phones, China’s middle classes can organise themselves to oppose, say, the siting of an unwanted chemicals factory and thus draw government attention. Despite many thousands of village protests each year against corrupt officials, poor medical services and bad schools, China’s peasants—more dispersed, less organised and therefore more easily ignored or suppressed—can usually do little but seethe.
Mr Hu bemoans China’s widening inequalities, but has so far done little to bridge them. In fact there is much that could improve the peasants’ lot. Growth at any cost has led to a tax system that unduly favours the wealthy regions that generate their income through industry. Central government could adjust that. It could help further by shouldering a much bigger share of the costs of basic health care and education in the rural areas. Of the five tiers of government, a couple could be stripped away and not be missed. Indeed, thinning the ranks of idle cadres with their fingers in the coffers would ease the financial burden on China’s hard-pressed villagers.
Shooting for trouble
Are such reforms too extensive and costly for a still developing country such as China? No longer. Four years ago, China put its first man in space (only the third country to do so, after Russia and America), at what true cost the government will not say. Now it is aiming for the moon, at a cost of many more billions: its first (unmanned) moon-shot is expected to take place soon. Like the Olympics, China’s space programme is an expensive publicity stunt, designed to encourage nationalist fervour in a population—and a party—long since bored with the maxims of Marx, Lenin and Mao.
Another way in which Mr Hu and his comrades could help the peasants would be to divert some of the double-digit annual increases in defence spending to help the estimated 40% of China’s villages that have no access to running water. The trouble is that China’s military build-up has become the measure of the party’s commitment to another nationalist cause that it has stoked in an effort to bolster its tattered credentials: the eventual recovery, by persuasive hook or military crook, of the island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own.
So far the combination of this appeal to nationalism and the pursuit of economic growth at almost any price has helped the party maintain its grip. But just as China’s periodic shrill threats to Taiwan threaten the stability of the wider region, so the plight and growing anger of China’s peasantry are a harbinger of potential trouble ahead at home.
It is trouble that China’s Communist Party is increasingly ill-prepared to deal with. For all Mr Hu’s rhetoric about greater internal democracy, the party is too fearful for its own survival to open itself up to a genuine clash of ideas. Although a few brave voices have called for that, there has been no open debate in the run-up to the congress about how to address any of China’s pressing rural problems. To add to their burdens, China’s peasants are saddled with a ruling party that is too worried about its own survival to spend more than a little lip-service on theirs.