Tag Archives: Cuba

Does anyone in China want to go back to the ’80s?

The following is an abstract of an article in PNAS appearing in the 13 May’14 issue (full reference below). The authors are Yu Xie and Ziang Zhou from Peking University and the University of Michigan (respectively). Much is made of income inequality in the USA and what a terrible thing it is. Fortunately for those of the left who find this distressing, there are still a few places left with true equality of income. Cuba comes to mind. Res Ipsa Loquitur.

“Using multiple data sources, we establish that China’s income inequality since 2005 has reached very high levels, with the Gini coefficient in the range of 0.53–0.55. Analyzing comparable survey data collected in 2010 in China and the United States, we examine social determinants that help explain China’s high income inequality. Our results indicate that a substantial part of China’s high income inequality is due to regional disparities and the rural-urban gap. The contributions of these two structural forces are particularly strong in China, but they play a negligible role in generating the overall income inequality in the United States, where individual-level and family-level income determinants, such as family structure and race/ethnicity, play a much larger role.

Since its beginning in 1978, China’s economic reform has led not only to rapid economic growth but also to a large increase in economic inequality. Although scholars continue to debate about precise estimates (1), the consensus is that income inequality in China has now reached a level much higher than that in the United States (2). As we will discuss below, the Gini coefficient for family income in China has now reached a level above 0.5, compared with 0.45 in the United States in 2010. This finding is significant because China had a very low level of income inequality as recently as in the late 1980s (3). Ordinary persons in China know about this increase, as they have personally experienced it in their own lives (4). Although ordinary Chinese people seem to tolerate the high inequality (4⇓–6), they also recognize it as a social problem needing to be addressed. In fact, out of a number of social issues given, respondents in a 2012 national survey rated economic inequality (more precisely, the “rich-poor gap”) the most severe, above corruption and unemployment (7).”

[ Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. vol. 111 pp. 6928 – 6933 ’14 (Issue of 13 May ’14) ]

A solution to America’s obesity problem

Who knew it would be that simple?   Not only that, but the same country has figured out a way to give anyone who wants one, an absolutely free college education.  Interested?  Read on.

These thoughts occurred after listening college classmate, lecture to a bunch of us alums about a trip he took to a foreign country a few months ago, along with 15 or so of our classmates and their wives.  He’d been in the foreign service and had even served as an ambassador to a nearby state.

All is not sweetness and light however.   Housing is scarce, and newlyweds have two choices about where to live — with the groom’s parents or the bride’s.

Vintage car fans love the country, and one of his slides showed a Chevy from my youth in the 50s.

Ecologists love the fact that the country has a very low carbon footprint.  Even though 20% of the population is involved in agriculture, mechanization hasn’t taken over, and draft animals abound.  The fields shown looked quite lush.  They get plenty of rain.

One of the slides was of a food distribution center.  Mayor Bloomberg would be pleased.  No junk food.  Well, actually very little food and the shelves looked rather barren.  This is where people go to get their free food.  A slide was shown of one of the ration books currently in use.

Well the food is rationed.  How else are you going to stop people from eating like pigs?  The talk was fascinating and went on for an hour with numerous slides.  Perhaps 100 or so denizens of the country appeared in them.  None were fat.  Hosanna ! !

My classmate rattled off the current rations, but it went by to fast for me to reproduce.  Hopefully he’ll fill me in.

What with the free college and all, there has to be someone paying for it.  There is — the graduates.  They all get 20 dollars a month salary, and the taxi driver of the vintage Chevy was a chemical engineer.  85% of the populace works for the government.  My classmate found this arrangement heartening, as it made just about everyone an entrepreneur (to survive).

People worried about discrimination against the elderly will appreciate the fact that pay (say 20 a month vs. 15 vs. 10) is strictly on the basis of seniority.  No silly merit pay for them.  This has the expected effect on output.

Those upset about the disparities in income and wealth here will find true equality nirvana over there.

Medical care is universally available and free.  Quality is difficult to ascertain.

This paradise is only 90 miles from Florida.  It’s called Cuba.


We do have one comparable institution in this country where

l. all are equal

2. food is free

3. housing is free

4. medical care is universally available and free

5. no Republican has ever stolen an election

It’s called prison.