Comparing Cultural Wars: the U.S. versus China

April 4, 2015

In 1965, China’s Mao Zedong launched a cultural war against the excesses of capitalism, and this was led by the people, the workers and their children, and the capitalists in China and anyone who was accused of supporting the lifestyle of the rich and famous was targeted leading to millions of suicides.

For the last few decades, millions of people in the United States have been victims of its own cultural war, but this one is the reverse of the one that was led by Mao in China. America’s cultural war is being led by a handful of billionaire oligarchs who are transforming American into a money making paradise for those who have the most wealth and power.

This morning I read a piece in the Huffington Post that reported Kansas welfare recipients will be unable to get more than $25 per day in benefits under a new law sent this week to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk by the state legislature. To make life worse for people who live in poverty, the state also issues that welfare in the form of a government-issued debit card and required that they take the money out of debit machines that charge 85 cents for each withdrawal after the first one in a month—a windfall for banks and whoever owns those ATM machines but less money to buy food. The number of Kansans receiving benefits has also declined from 38,000 in 2011 to 15,000 last year, state data show.

It is no secret that Republicans (GOP) have waged war on people who live in poverty for decades—and recently GOP representatives have blamed poverty on the poor. Many in the GOP hate Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, unemployment insurance, food stamps, abortion, marijuana, women, and even sexual orientation.

In addition, the GOP and the Democrats also have no problem handing out money to private sector corporations. For instance, the U.S. auto industry, banks, and Wall Street firms. In fact, there are elements in both parties who are handing our children to corporate Charters supported by hedge fund billionaires, the Walton family and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation so those few individuals grow wealthier off taxes that were originally intended to support the transparent, nonprofit, democratic public schools.

How much does the state and federal government give away to corporations? The answer is more than the country spends on food stamps for people living in poverty, who are far from being lazy, because Recent studies show that 49% of all food stamp participants are children (age 18 or younger), and about 50% of the adults have jobs that pay mostly poverty wages, and, in 2013, for instance, the average SNAP client received a monthly benefit of $133.07, and the average household received $274.98 monthly—compare that number with the money corporations are getting from their state and federal welfare programs.

The New York Times spent 10 months investigating business incentives awarded by hundreds of cities, counties and states. Since there is no nationwide accounting of these incentives, The Times put together a database and found that local governments give up $80.4 billion in incentives given away each year compared to about $75 billion in food stamps to people who live in poverty, so they have enough money to eat and not starve.

Don’t forget, when the GOP blames the poor for their poverty and cuts food stamps to families, as Arkansas is doing, the GOP is waging a war against almost 20 million children living in poverty who can’t work to feed themselves.

However, according to The Times, the number of corporate welfare programs is 1,874. Have you heard Republicans or Democrats call for cuts to corporate welfare?

You might want to click on this link from the New York Times that leads to an interactive map and discover how much corporations are earning off federal and state welfare programs that tax payers are financing.

The New York Times identified 48 companies that have received more than $100 million in state grants since 2007. Some 5,000 other companies have received more than $1 million in recent years.

In fact, Politifact.com reports that it’s mostly true that 9 of the 10 poorest states are ruled by the GOP. PolitiFact.com also reports that it is mostly true that 97 of the country’s 100 poorest counties are in GOP ruled states.

The Washington Post reports, “Republican states have pursued economic and fiscal strategies built around lower taxes, deeper spending cuts and less regulation. They have declined to set up state health-insurance exchanges to implement President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. They have clashed with labor unions. On social issues, they have moved to restrict abortion rights or to enact voter-identification laws, in the name of ballot integrity, that critics say hamper access to voting for the poor and minorities.”

The cultural revolution in China that took place between 1965–1976, and the one being waged in the United States today have one thing in common: the public schools and the teachers who taught in them were attacked in China back then (but not today—after Mao died in 1976, China, under new leadership, started rebuilding its public schools and supporting its teachers) as they are being attacked in the United States today, because a transparent, non-profit, public education system where teachers have the freedom to express without fear what they think about current issues to the children they teach, who then talk to their parents, is a threat to the few who want to control the destructive cultural changes taking place, and it doesn’t matter if the cultural war is being led, for instance, by America’s Bill Gates, the Walton family, the Koch brothers or Mao Zedong in China. To drastically alter a culture, the few in power who are behind the changes must silence their critics and create an environment of punishment and fear, and this means silencing the teachers.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

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Barry Ritholtz and his “China The Black Box”

April 1, 2015

In China The Black Box, Barry Ritholtz demonstrates a better understanding of China than most U.S. talking heads I’ve read—at least in this piece. If you are willing to sit for a long read, I suggest clicking on the link. He does a good job explaining how China’s economy works and why it might survive for some time without an economic collapse like we saw during the 2007-08 global financial meltdown that started in the United States.

In summary, Ritholtz mentions how several prominent hedge fund managers in the United States have said China is making mistakes economically. Ritholtz says there is no way these hedge fund managers know what’s going on in the Middle Kingdom since China is half capitalist and half socialist and doesn’t fit any Western economic norms.

In addition to what Ritholtz says, I don’t know why anyone who is sane and intelligent would listen to the opinions of hedge fund managers about China. For instance, investopedia.com reports that “Hedge funds have always had a significant failure rate.”

Ritholtz continues: China is a unique civilization state, which gives it a tremendous advantage at this stage of its economic development, because China’s citizens have a singular desire to work hard and improve their material lot. It helps that the Chinese prefer to pay cash for things instead of using credit cards as many do in the United States.

Chinese civilization has periods of order followed by periods of disorder and since China recently emerged from two centuries of disorder, China’s Communist Party has a long way to go before it is their turn to leave the leadership stage.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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The Mother of Chinese Operas

March 31, 2015

Kun Opera is the most refined and literary form of Chinese opera with a six hundred year history.  This opera is known as the mother of a hundred Chinese operas.

Kun Opera ushered in the second Golden Era of Chinese drama and almost vanished when it was suppressed during Mao’s Cultural Revolution.


a scene from The Peony Pavilion, a classical Kun Opera

When Kun Opera was dying in China during Mao’s rule, it was still being performed in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong.  Prior to the Cultural Revolution, there were over 500 classical Kun Operas. Today there are about 100 that have survived.

Kun Opera is known for the tenderness of the actor’s voices, delicate hand gestures, dramatic facial expressions, beautifully abstract movements, gorgeous costumes and stage design.


The Peach Blossom Fan is considered to be a landmark in this form of Chinese opera.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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Gourmet dining at McDonald’s in Shanghai

March 25, 2015

Maybe China’s government doesn’t care for McDonald’s because of the increase in obesity among the Chinese, but many Chinese think of McDonald’s and Pizza Hut as gourmet restaurants or at least they act like they do.

For instance, a few years ago, my sister-in-law hired a young Shanghai ballerina to model for a photo shoot. Afterwards, the ballerina called her husband on a cell phone and told him to meet her at the two story McDonald’s in the middle of Shanghai to celebrate the extra cash she’d earned.

McDonald’s is even planning to increase the number of outlets in China, and to get ready, they have opened a leadership school that only accepts 1% of the applicants for training.

We also saw long waiting lines outside a fancy Pizza Hut on Shanghai’s Nanjing Road, a crowded pedestrian mall.

More Posts about Shanghai:
Shanghai
Shanghai Huxinting Teahouse
Shanghai Huangpu River Tour
Shanghai’s History & Culture
Chinese Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Grand Canal more than 2,500 years later and still in use

March 24, 2015

Encyclopedia Britannica says, “This ancient waterway was first constructed as early as the 4th century BC, was rebuilt in 607 AD, and has been used ever since.”

The Great Wall of China and the Grand Canal are examples of Confucianism and the Chinese work ethic. To understand the significance, it helps to compare it to the Suez and Panama Canals.

In the 19th century, the French built a canal 100 miles across the Isthmus of Suez. When it opened, the Suez Canal was only 25 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom and 200 to 300 feet wide at the surface. About 20,000 ships use the canal each year. – History.com

The Panama Canal was started in 1881 by the French but ended a failure. The Americans finished the canal between 1904 – 1914, and it was 51 miles long. Today, it handles over 12,000 ships a year. – The Panama Canal

When I was in grade school, we learned about the Panama Canal in glowing terms. I’m sure the French and British brag about the Suez Canal in their textbooks too.

Until my first trip to China in 1999, I had never heard of the Grand Canal, which is the oldest and longest man-made canal in the world at more than a thousand miles from Beijing to Hangzhou south of Shanghai.

The construction started about five hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ and was completed centuries later. The canal is still in use today. To finish it, the Pound lock was invented in the 10th century during the Song Dynasty. There are 24 locks and about 60 bridges. – Wikipedia

The canal is one example that China’s authoritarian, Confucian, collective culture is more than capable of innovation. For instance, there is the Pound lock pioneered by Qiao Weiyo,  a government official and engineer in 984 AD, which replaced earlier double slipways that had caused trouble and are mentioned by the Chinese polymath Shen Kuo (1031–1095 AD) in his book Dream Pool Essays (published in 1088 AD), and fully described in the Chinese historical text Song Shi (compiled in 1345 AD).

In the 18th century the West built the Suez and Panama Canals—that combined were 151 miles long. China started building the Grand Canal centuries before Christ, and when finished, it was more than a thousand miles long.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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China’s Last Great Famine: Part 6 of 6

March 22, 2015

It’s no secret that millions of rural people starved to death in China during the famine of 1959 – 1960, but it was a “great” tragedy caused by a complex series of circumstances and blunders—it was not a deliberate mass murder ordered by Mao or the CCP.

In addition, the actual number of deaths was significantly lower than what has been claimed in the West.

The CCP’s lofty goal was to prove to the world that the Party ruled China successfully by boosting crop yields and industrial output.

Another reason the CCP set such unrealistic goals for the five-year plan that contributed to the tragedy that was Great Leap Forward was because of Taiwan, which was recognized by the world as the official government of China and still held its seat in the United Nations.

It wouldn’t be until 1971 that the U.N. recognized the People’s Republic of China instead, and the United States wouldn’t switch diplomatic relations with China from Taipei to Beijing until 1979, finally recognizing the Communist Party as the legitimate ruler of China.

Recommended reading on this topic for those who seek the unblemished truth: From the Monthly Review, Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward? by Joseph Ball, and from Griffith University, Australia, Poverty, by David C. Schak, Associate Professor

In addition, more than one book has examined this topic from a scholarly perspective—instead of inflammatory unsubstantiated and inflated claims—but Mao’s Western critics have mostly ignored this work.

In China: Land of Famine (published in 1926 by the American Geographical Society) by Walter H. Mallory, casts doubt on the inflammatory claims, which have been popularized in the West about the post-1949 Mao era. Mallory offers another perspective for understanding what really might have happened during Mao’s Great Leap Forward.

Then from Stanford University Press, in the Economic Cold War by Shu Guang Zhang (August 2002), “the author argues that while the immediate effects (of the complete American embargo of China) may be meager or nil, the indirect and long-term effects may be considerable; in the case he reexamines, the disastrous Great Leap Forward and Anti-Rightist campaign (The Cultural Revolution) were in part prompted by the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.”

My wife then mentioned some memoirs published in Chinese and written by soldiers from Division A-341 of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that guarded Mao when he lived in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

These memoirs of a revealed that when Party members told Mao that rural Chinese in a few provinces were starving due to droughts and low crop yields, Mao didn’t believe what he was told.

To discover the truth, Mao sent people he trusted—troops from PLA Division A-341 who came from rural China—to their villages to investigate the claims of a famine.

When Mao’s trusted bodyguards returned from their home villages to Beijing in late 1960/early 1961 and reported the claims were true, Mao acted swiftly, cancelled the five year plan for the Great Leap Forward two years early and sent the peasants back to their villages from the collectives, and directed the Party to seek help from other countries to feed China’s starving people.

In fact, Roderick MacForquhar wrote in The Origins of the Cultural Revolution that in May 1961, China entered into long-term arrangements with Canada and Australia to insure grain supplies until production in China recovered in addition to imports of American grain laundered through France to avoid the complete American embargo.

Even Henry Kissinger, in his book, On China, wrote,  “The Great Leap Forward’s production goals were exorbitant, and the prospect of dissent or failure so terrifying that local cadres took to falsifying their output figures and reporting inflated totals to Beijing.”

In conclusion, do you remember how many droughts and famines China has suffered from for more than 2,000 years? The answer is in Part 2 of this series: There were no fewer than 1,828 major famines in China or one nearly every year in one or more province. What I find really interesting is that the U.S. government and the traditional private sector U.S. media hasn’t reported this information, and the impressive fact that since 1961, there have been no famines in China for the first time in China’s history. In addition, in the last thirty years, China is responsible for 95% of all poverty reduction in the world.

Return to Part 5 or start with Part 1

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_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Last Great Famine: Part 5 of 6

March 21, 2015

The droughts, floods and other severe weather arrived soon after the five-year plan to modernize and grow strong enough to resist another war was implemented and set the stage for a tragedy caused by nature and supported by America’s “economic warfare” in the form of a “complete embargo” of China.

Due to quotas set by Mao’s agricultural policies, no one wanted to be seen as a failure and/or unpatriotic and this generated boastful claims about output that were followed by more boastful claims of incredible crop yields.

Nobody—least of all the central government in Beijing—knew the real output figures. There was a sense of general euphoria in Beijing that China was succeeding.

While rural farmers and local party bosses lied about crop yields, Beijing started exporting rice and wheat to other countries as a source of revenue, because Beijing thought there was a bumper crop. The result was that urban areas suffered with reduced rations but with still enough food to survive.

Food shortages were bad throughout the country. However, the provinces, which had adopted Mao’s reforms with the most energy, zeal and with the most fake bragging, such as Anhui, Gansu and Henan, suffered the most.

In fact, Sichuan, one of China’s most populous provinces, known in China as “Heaven’s Granary” because of its fertility, is thought to have suffered the greatest absolute numbers of deaths from starvation due to the energy that provincial leader Li Jinquan undertook Mao’s reforms.

Once the central government in Beijing discovered the truth, the Chinese Communist Party acted quickly to correct the errors in national agricultural decision-making, to conserve food, and to save as many lives as possible implementing drastic measures to feed those in need and to restore agricultural productivity.

Grain exports were stopped, and imports from Canada, France and Australia (in spite of America’s complete embargo) helped to reduce the impact of the food shortages. Library Index.com

The final question is: Would Mao’s Great Leap Forward have been more successful if there had been no drought, no floods and no “complete (U.S.) embargo”, and the provincial party bosses had not lied about crop yields to Beijing?

Continued in Part 6 on March 22, 2015 or return to  Part 4

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_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


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