According to a news report on Yahoo! this morning, the Chinese government has announced that it will cost $147 billion of the people's money to rebuild after the earthquake. The State will allocate $10 billion for the effort (in contrast to the $40 billion for the Olympics), and the resulting structures — to say nothing of the one million jobs to be "created" — will probably be even shoddier than before.
Ironically, the Chinese government, in common with every government on the face of the earth, has it within its power to create a genuine "people's republic," based on the four pillars of an economically just society:
1. Limited economic role for the State,
2. Free and open markets,
3. Restoration of the rights of private property, and (what socialism and capitalism both leave out)
4. Widespread direct ownership of the means of production.
This goal can be achieved at little or no cost to the Chinese taxpayer or relief organizations around the world by implementing the plan CESJ developed for use after the Katrina disaster. Proper use of a commercial banking system and the central bank would provide financing for the rebuilding effort through such vehicles as Community Investment Corporations, Natural Resource Banks, Homeowners' Equity Corporations, and ESOPs — and direct ownership would be vested in actual, flesh-and-blood people instead of the collective. If China really wants to lead the world, now is the time to do so in a way that benefits the people instead of exploiting them to gain some transient and meaningless publicity.
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