The Charter 08 document

by on October 9, 2010 at 11:24 am in Current Affairs, Economics, Philosophy, Political Science | Permalink

It helped Liu Xiaobo win a Nobel Peace Prize.  Here is one good paragraph of many:

Protection of Private Property. We should establish and protect the right to private property and promote an economic system of free and fair markets. We should do away with government monopolies in commerce and industry and guarantee the freedom to start new enterprises. We should establish a Committee on State-Owned Property, reporting to the national legislature, that will monitor the transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner. We should institute a land reform that promotes private ownership of land, guarantees the right to buy and sell land, and allows the true value of private property to be adequately reflected in the market.

Hat tip goes to Matt Yglesias.

Mei Wang Long October 9, 2010 at 7:49 am

The Nobel Prize was created in order to promote fraternity between nations and peace in the world. Liu has actively disturbed harmony in China, so this choice by Norway's Nobel Commission hurts the feelings of Chinese people. It insults and blasphemes Nobel's intent for the Peace Prize.

Andy October 9, 2010 at 8:06 am

Alas not all just efforts are Pareto improvements, Mei.

DesiAvenger October 9, 2010 at 8:44 am

People–"mei wang long"? LOL at the name–obviously a troll trolling to make fun of the Communist Party! But, remember, folks, the peasants are backwards and recalcitrant! Democracy must wait 'til China's more developed!!

GVV October 9, 2010 at 9:46 am

The Nobel Peace Prize should have been given to the Judges who through the historic Allahabad High Court Judgement solved the burning Babri Masjid Issue in India.

Tomasz Wegrzanowski October 9, 2010 at 10:54 am

Tyler – this paragraph all sounds great to Americans and possibly Chinese who've never seen how such post-Communist privatization looks like in practice.

No matter how much talk there is about "fair, competitive, and orderly manner" nothing like that happened. It's always messy, it's always corrupt, and with insiders and outsiders good at manipulating the process capturing most of the value that doesn't get destroyed in process.

Not just in extreme cases like Russia, every post-Communist country went through this, no matter how much everyone was talking about fairness and order. You cannot throw that much property without institutional background prepared to handle it, and it's just not there yet.

Often privatization was worth in on net in spite of disruption and shady deals. As often it was done so badly it'd be better to keep it in state's hands longer. But amount of wishful thinking and blatant disregard for experience of many other countries that went through this embedded in paragraph you're praising is ridiculously high.

wugong October 9, 2010 at 11:20 am

Mei Wang Long and Mai Phat Dong are obvious fake trolls (the second name a particularly egregious attempt at fake Chinese). Ignore.

Fred October 9, 2010 at 6:23 pm

"…transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership…" So a billion people with almost zero money will get some fractional ownership which most will promptly sell at a deep discount to obtain liquid currency to pay for immediate needs, exactly as happened in Russia. Those who've managed to enrich themselves under the current system will become even wealthier, including a number of foreign corporations, especially the financial ones.

I wonder when the 'conservatives' in the USA are going to finally sell off the TVA, BPA and the national forests, since owning such in the public interest is such a bad idea.

TGGP October 9, 2010 at 9:01 pm

The Nobel "Peace" Prize diverged from Nobel's wishes long ago. Liu Xiaobo may be a great guy, but his activities have been pretty much irrelevant to peace between nations.

Andrew October 10, 2010 at 2:20 am

"Opinions like his are not at all uncommon among Chinese"

I think we in America are spoiled in our thinking about authority and nationality. One of my Chinese co-students (he came to the US btw, to "learn our ways") told me his two heroes were Albert Einstein and Mao Tse Dong. I almost fell over. I can barely communicate with my Chinese 'friends' so I have no idea if this is national pride or what.

The recent report of how often we threaten North Korea with nuclear death (I didn't realize it) also makes me wonder how much we residing in the USA understand the image our government projects to others. I wonder if we understood exactly how belligerent we are we'd understand the nationalism of other nations.

Mei Hwang Hong Lo

Adrian Ratnapala October 10, 2010 at 10:43 am

Tomasz Wegrzanowski: Are you not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good? You say that any process of privatizing state industries is always corrupted, even if not always as badly as in Russia. Yet in most (not all*) countries, state industries are themselves corrupt. Surely the best way to reduce corruption is to sell them off in as orderly manner as you can, even if it is imperfect.

(* I admit that established western democracies are reasonably good at running non-corrupt government companies, but they are also good at running non-corrupt privatizations.)

simmmo October 10, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Unfortunately those things that Liu Xiaobo says are easier said than done. Particularly this statement: "true value of private property to be adequately reflected in the market". As we have just found out, trusting the market to get the value of property correct is very naive.

Just a side note, whilst I was getting into some macro economic models with my Chinese study budy, we started talking about the Liu. He stated that whilst he agrees with a lot of things Liu states, the govt is justified in their strict control of the economy and thought – at this point in time at least. It's just disingenuous to claim that a free interchange of ideas is always and everywhere optimal. Some ideas propagated and adopted may be the wrong ones. Yes the govt gets things wrong too, but an authoritarian govt in charge of a huge population is best placed to correct wrongs and coordinate and implement something else. Deng proved this. A benevolent dictator is optimal in China's current situation. And who can argue? They have taken the good things from free market ideology, without being totally enamoured with markets (the market is nothing but a human construction. Why should we assume they are perfect? in fact we now know that they are inherently unstable).

Tomasz Wegrzanowski October 13, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Adrian Ratnapala: Level of corruption you see in state enterprises even in bad countries is nothing compared to what happens during distress privatization he's proposing.

What you want is transforming government-run corporation to 100% government-owned corporation run as normal business. Government can gradually sell some of it shares later. This way usually works quite well. It gets government out of management, without transferring ownership to whoever is best connected – a double-win.

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