Congratulations to Liu Xiaobo

I am a big fan of Liu Xiaobo and the Charter 08.  It’s mostly about political liberalization, but here are a few points that relate to economic policy:

8.   Rural-Urban Equality. The two-tier household registry system must be abolished. This system favors urban residents and harms rural residents. We should establish instead a system that gives every citizen the same constitutional rights and the same freedom to choose where to live.

14.  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.

15.  Financial and Tax Reform. We should establish a democratically regulated and accountable system of public finance that ensures the protection of taxpayer rights and that operates through legal procedures. We need a system by which public revenues that belong to a certain level of government””central, provincial, county or local””are controlled at that level. We need major tax reform that will abolish any unfair taxes, simplify the tax system, and spread the tax burden fairly. Government officials should not be able to raise taxes, or institute new ones, without public deliberation and the approval of a democratic assembly. We should reform the ownership system in order to encourage competition among a wider variety of market participants.

16.  Social Security.  We should establish a fair and adequate social security system that covers all citizens and ensures basic access to education, health care, retirement security, and employment.

Update:  A few comments.  This post is not an endorsement of the “Peace” Prize, which obviously has little to do with promoting world peace.  Rather, this award provides publicity for the Charter 08, which I see as classical liberalism at its best.  The charter basically reflects the pragmatic neoliberal ideology of publications such as The Economist magazine.  It’s good publicity, even if for the wrong reason.



14 Responses to “Congratulations to Liu Xiaobo”

  1. Gravatar of malavel malavel
    8. October 2010 at 06:07

    International lawyers: the parliament has broken the Nobel Peace Prize

  2. Gravatar of Contemplationist Contemplationist
    8. October 2010 at 06:32

    Social Security? heh

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. October 2010 at 07:34

    malavel and Contemplationist, See the update I just added.

    China will probably adopt the “private accounts” type of social security used in Singapore.

  4. Gravatar of S. S.
    8. October 2010 at 09:47

    Please stick to a more positivist and less ideological agenda. There isn’t much point in judging Chinese national affairs as seen from a westernized perspective.

  5. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    8. October 2010 at 09:49

    Thanks to Scott Sumner for at least shedding a little light on Chinese repression. Forgotten in China’s admirable economic growth and relative liberalization is the ongoing repression.
    BTW, in the New York Review of Books there was a recent article that publicly traded Chinese companies in fact have voting shares controlled by the Communist party. This fact was not revealed in Western underwriting materials and prospectuses.
    It is deeply puzzling to read right-wing websites, where Cuba is routinely bashed for its thug-state government, and deservedly so, but China is all light.
    Even China’s currency manipulation seems to get a pass.
    It is hard not to be cynical…..

  6. Gravatar of OGT OGT
    8. October 2010 at 11:10

    Still a better prize winner than last year’s. (And I had voted for him).

    I was also really interested in this year’s physics winner. It’s not my sense that it generally goes to work with such immediate potential commercial applications. Though, of course, whoever wins the latest Macro debate club exercise will be quick to take credit to their school for whatever increment of growth results from Graphene. Yea Social science!

  7. Gravatar of OGT OGT
    8. October 2010 at 11:10

    Link I meant to include:

  8. Gravatar of Bababooey Bababooey
    8. October 2010 at 12:57

    stick to a more positivist and less ideological agenda. There isn’t much point in judging Chinese national affairs as seen from a westernized perspective.

    Sure there is. Its what inquisitive minds do.

  9. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    8. October 2010 at 14:18

    S, I’m not sure what a “westernized perspective” is, and I can’t imagine why an economics blogger like me wouldn’t comment on economic reform proposals in China. Puzzling comment.

    Benjamin Cole, Thanks, although currency is one area where I don’t agree with either side. I don’t think we should pressure China to revalue, but I think they should allow a small appreciation.

    OGT, It’s good to know that as macroeconomics continues to spin its wheels, physics continues to progress.

    Bababooey, I agree.

  10. Gravatar of Rebecca Burlingame Rebecca Burlingame
    8. October 2010 at 16:36

    About #14: I couldn’t read that without thinking of our own economic gridlock from outdated land laws. Can anyone direct me to some good studies regarding percentages of land tied up in these sorts of problems? People such as Hernando de Soto emulate legal property systems in the developed world, but they could use a lot of cleaning up and streamlining, right now, at least here in the U.S.

  11. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    8. October 2010 at 17:40

    Sore personal point here:
    “14. Protection of Private Property.”

    Th property that has been in my family for 43 years is in danger from foreclosure right now. Maureen is a cosigner on the mortage which means her approval is necessary for any modification. As I’ve pointed out recently she is hostile towards me. As a result I can not easily achive a modification of my mortgage after she suddenly left me short of income in December.

    I have discovered (much to my chagrin) that mortgage companies view people in my plight very (un)favorably. I have a property worth $320 grand and I owe $50 grand. No matter what I try and prove they reject a loan modification. Why? Because ironically I’m not underwater.

    The best course of action out for me is loan reinsatement. That is to say if I pay the back amount plus the foreclosure legsl fees I will save my home. It so turns out I have saved enough money in the last several months to achieve that. Doesn’t it strike you (and anyone else) as curious that I don’t qualify for a remod but I can still afford to
    financially reinstate my loan?

    So much for the right to property ownership after 43 years of residence. The U.S. is going to hell in a handbasket.

  12. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    9. October 2010 at 05:54

    Rebecca. I don’t know–maybe someone else does.

    Mark, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” I don’t have a mortgage, so the whole mortgage crisis didn’t really hit home for me. But I feel your pain.

    BTW, I did have a mortgage in the past–so I was just joking about not borrowing.

  13. Gravatar of Rebecca Burlingame Rebecca Burlingame
    9. October 2010 at 06:10

    I am so glad you posted about your problem. Passive ownership is going to ruin things in this country and no one is even allowed to talk publicy about it. My husband’s ex-wife left him in ’01, he divorced her a year later and we were married in ’03. Not realizing that people could walk away from their property in this state and come back years later, I was dumb enough to let go of the house I’d bought to move in with my husband. Turns out the ex is patiently waiting for him to die and no amount of money could make her settle in court. So while she got to start out with a new life, we are suppposed to live out the old life she walked away from. Which means I am supposed to slink away when he dies, with no way to even take care of his affairs. Neighbors had to tell me what would actually happen, I could scarcely get it out of the lawyer’s mouths who were embarrassed to admit how bad the laws really are. Our belongings do not even really belong to us as long as we are here. Last year I wrote to local senators and representatives who said to write the governor. I sent the governor a polite letter, explaining how this hurts the local economy in so many ways as we do not even dare take on needed maintenance and work on this house, which he built. When there was no reply, I called and the governor’s secretary was angry I sent the letter, she had refused to give it to him, and it did me no good to insist this is a problem for everyone, not just me.

    In the book Gridlock Economy by Michael Heller, he explained how the former Soviet Union tried to start a market economy by layering ownership among groups of owners in the stores. The only ones doing any business were the kiosks in the streets. Many of the stores remained closed.

    So, in some ways we are like Russia when it comes to passive ownership. And in some ways we are like China when it comes to issues vital to every American that we are not publicy allowed to talk about.

  14. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    9. October 2010 at 14:01

    I only took out the mortgage after my mother died in order to keep the property in our family. If I had the capital I would have avoided mortgaging it. I felt that I had no choice. I don’t believe in debt, I own all three of my cars outright for example.

    You wrote:
    “Passive ownership is going to ruin things in this country and no one is even allowed to talk publicy about it.”

    Your story is a cautionary tale to us all. I own my property “passionately” and I wish everybody would recognize the terrible consequences to our communities that may result from widespread passive ownership. We are gradually turning from a nation of shopkeepers to a nation of bank owned automatons.

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