A growing lack of freedom in Asia’s foremost country is the surest signal we need that China’s lust for greatness is more rhetorical and performative than real. In other words, the only way to be beaten by China is to mimic its authoritarian ways. Please keep this in mind with what indefensibly happened stateside in 2020.
History will say that drunk with power American politicians acted like Chinese politicians only to get a Chinese result. The Chinese leadership acted Chinese on the way to another horrifying result. And for the pundits who proclaimed the Chinese response in 2020 effective for it being freedom-crushing, just know that the internet is forever.
The Hang Seng correction is a reminder to politicians and pundits the world over that markets are much more powerful than politicians, and they’ll speak their mind in ways that shame those so foolish and so arrogant as to believe that prosperity can be planned. It’s a warning to Xi Jingping, but also a warning to conservatives who should know better, but who presently think that the answer to state planning is more state planning.
Left alone, recessions are the cure. The problem was that the political class tried to medicate what was healthy. Bernanke fell hard for the medication part. Fast forward to 2008, a falling dollar under the impressively inept President George W. Bush had instigated what Ludwig von Mises referred to in Human Action as a “flight to the real.” Yes, presidents get the dollar they want, Bush wanted a weak one, and a falling dollar drove massive consumption of housing over investment in new ideas.
Politicians, policymakers, and experts who would never miss a paycheck or a meal suddenly decided that workers not like them were no longer essential. In making this choice for others, they robbed human beings of years of investment of self in certain industries while also bluntly telling these others that their livelihood could be taken from them near overnight.
The story about the mass production of air conditioners is that what were once status symbols are now common. Crucial here is that people got very rich making air conditioners common. It’s how the world works. Or at least how to grow rich in the world. The best way to become very well-to-do very quickly is to produce in abundance, and at low prices, what used to be scarce and nosebleed expensive.
It’s useful to think about in terms of what happened in March of 2020. It was then that politicians aggressively took away freedom. The very humans who drive all progress had become a lethal menace to one another, according to politicians and experts. Suddenly eating in a restaurant, trying on clothes in a clothing store, flying on a plane, or merely touching one’s face had life or death qualities.
No doubt some remember “drop the bag at the doorstep,” “no knocking on the door,” “don’t ring the doorbell” lest the working-class germs of the delivery persons remain. It all raises a question about what people did to maintain their figures amid all the binge-watching, eating, and advertising of their doings on social media.