Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Government's Results

I've been reading Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip by Peter Hessler (review to follow). 

For a while the author spent some time in a small village, during this time he learned about its history.  One aspect of its history was the ownership of the land.  The land has been leased, rented, privately owned and owned by the government.  China, as you know is communist.  When China was newly communist it had the goal of improving the lives of its citizens, so it collectivized the ownership of land. 

But now only the wealthiest and politically connected can afford to own land.

"A half century after the revolution, rural land reform has accomplished exactly the opposite of its original intentions." (p. 188)

I recently read a quote (perhaps from Milton Friedman) to the effect of: if you want to know the effect of a government program assume the opposite of its stated goals.

This book isn't about politics or economics, and yet the author, unknowingly, discovered for himself what happens when the government does something.

We should all understand that no government program accomplishes what it sets out to do, it achieves the opposite.

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