Yesterday's blog about China was more fun than I expected. Just to be clear, I prefer the American system of government. But as regular readers know, I like to defend the opposite views from whatever I hold. It's a good test.

Many of you pointed out the problem of corruption in China. One source says it might amount to $86 billion per year, or 10 percent of government spending.


Therefore the Democratic/Republic form of government is better than Chinese communism, right?

I would argue that corruption is independent of the form of government. Corruption is just as much a crime in China as it is in the U.S. The difference is the effectiveness of enforcement. If you look at America early in this century, corruption was rampant, probably on the level of China today, yet our system of government was the same as now.

Consider that our system of government took more than 200 years to beat corruption down to its current level. China's political system is relatively new and their country is relatively huge. The only relevant question is whether corruption in China is trending better or worse. And I don't know the answer to that. Do you?

You can't measure trends in corruption by dollar amount. If corruption stays at a constant rate, the dollar amount would be growing. So someone Google me up a good statistic on Chinese corruption trends.

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Apr 20, 2009
"Consider that our system of government took more than 200 years to beat corruption down to its current level."

I'm not with those readers who think taking on big ideas for fun, which is what this blog does, equates to being manipulative with the truth, and I like all this stuff. Sometimes a reader here says that some line or another is a red herring, and I always think: "No, Scott Adams might like to provoke discussion but he isn't mocking his readers!" So in this instance I will consider the argument from claims to a 200-year plan a mere intellectual oversight.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 17, 2009

We, the undersigned, are on to your evil experiment.

You have deliberately withheld a new blog topic for 168 hours. It being well known that anything close to 168 hours without medication will prompt the inmates of an asylum to engage in frenzied, self destructive, and sometimes downright silly behaviour.

If you skim read the last few pages, you will notice that several of the chronics have begun to smear themselves with their own faeces. Webgrunt is bizarrely casting thumbs-up votes for Phantom ii. Webster's elitist skin has grown thin, almost translucent. Others are rocking to and fro in catatonic silence. Chaos will soon erupt.

Many of us have read One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Mr. Adams. Your commandeering of the role of Nurse Ratched is transparent to us.

GIVE US SOME FRESH DRUGS, Mr. Adams. If you don't ... well, you will lose control of the asylum.


PS: If you would prefer to carry on with the experiment, may I play the Jack Nicholson character? I know he doesn't survive the epilogue, but it is such a noble, elitist demise.

+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 17, 2009

CNN: April 17, 2008

Industry analysts were caught off guard this morning by the surprise survival of Phantom ll, a notorious Scott Adams Blog poster who was expected to be voted off the island by a mob of angry, thin skinned bloggers led by the personally passionate but elitist Webster.

Harold Hirsute, Research Director at the National Institute for the Study of Bilious Blogs, described Phantom's survival as, "Surprising, I suppose, but not really, I guess.".

"Mob dynamics are notoriously difficult to manage. That why they call them mobs.", said Hirsute, adding, "You can lead a mob to the thumb voting machine, but you can't make the mob vote".

Phantom ll slipped safely into Page 2 blog obscurity this morning -- narrowly missing Webster's call for a well hung jury of his peers to cast 12 votes for Phantom's removal from the island.

Neither Webster, Phantom II nor Scott Adams were available for comment prior to press time.
Apr 17, 2009
> You start listing all the people who mysteriously die when they cross the Establishment, and China doesn't look so repressive. Do a search on Beverly Eckert.

True, but then....

Guantanamo bay (state sponsored torture, and dubious imprisonment without an appropriate legal framework) and extraordinary Rendition (state sponsored kidnapping) along with the torturous legal wrangling (weasel-law?) don't make the US look too good either,

Even the current cop-out (no CIA trials for their torturers) goes against the legal framework set up after WW2 (that agents and prison guards cannot claim "just following orders" as an excuse),

I'd bet a few SS prison camp guards would love US-style protection ;)
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 17, 2009
"Anyone who posted a positive comment on here better lock their doors, you could be next..." [Joester]

I think we will be OK, Joe. Exhaustive Google research has solved the "Beverly Eckert" mystery. The Establishment didn't kill her. Beverly died in plane crash and is now managing a Tim Horton's in Canada.

+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 17, 2009
Please do not worry about the lack of posts in the last few days, Mr. Adams is fine and is enjoying a government funded vacation on a lovely island resort not far off the coast of Florida. He will continue his blogs in a more patriotic manner once his indoctrinatio..err...vacation is complete.
Apr 17, 2009
Uh-oh. Scott makes a blog about how good the government in China is and another one on Corruption, and the next thing you know, his entries stop. Anyone who posted a positive comment on here better lock their doors, you could be next...
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 17, 2009
You start listing all the people who mysteriously die when they cross the Establishment, and China doesn't look so repressive. Do a search on Beverly Eckert.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 16, 2009
I like Chinese food and know how to use chopsticks. So I got that going for me...which is nice...

The above statement adds more value to this conversation than anything phantom ii has to say...yawn.
Apr 16, 2009
God these comments have been painful. On of the keys to this discussion is to define "corruption." Know that definitions are arbitrary, I'll offer mine. Corruption is the allocation of resources on the basis of something other than merit. It could because of bribes, or that you personally know the person; It doesn't matter. So a bridge that would cost a million would now cost 2, or a space in a school goes to a less deserving student.

Now what is the basis of deciding merit? We can basically agree going with the biggest "bribe" is not a merit based decision. But what if you have a set-aside program for women and minority groups? Tougher question. I would argue that it is still a merit based system, but that the merit is defined before the specific projects are selected. Thus, "merit" isn't lowest cost, but also ability to promote minority owned firms. Maybe a bad policy, but not a "corrupt' practice as the criteria are defined by someone other than the where the decision is made.

What about "pork" items? If it's a clear quid pro quo with a lobby, then yes I would call it corrupt. But what about something that citizens in the district want (a huge museum or defense project) but isn't in the best interest of the country as a whole? Honestly, not sure if that is bad policy or corruption. My inclination is bad policy since representing constituents is one of the ways an individual member of congress is judged.
Apr 16, 2009
Corruption is a product of two things:

1) The ease with which bribes/money/valued items are available
2) The ease with which idiots can be promoted to higher levels of authority.

Once Dogbert enslaves human-kind and the DNRC rules the world, the number of idiots in high places will shrink down to zero and therefore corruption will be eliminated.

Apr 16, 2009
What Stomper said.
Apr 16, 2009
Why? It would release HUGE amounts of assets and cash into the economy on a constant basis, without devaluing the currency, give everybody an even playing field, and promote innovation.

It's the ideal mix of 'you earn it you keep it' and 'trickle-down'.
Apr 16, 2009
100% inheritance tax? What an a-hole.
Apr 16, 2009
Western democracies seem to enjoy pervading the notion that they are meritocratic, whereas China is ruled over by an oppressive 'one-party' system.

I personally view China as a 'no-party' system, which does hold significant advantages over our system of lobbying, partisan voting, and back room vote-dealing.

I think the ideal government would have 100% inheritance tax, flat rate income tax, healthcare on the French model, and heavy investment in education. This would be a TRUE meritocracy, where the majority of social problems (which largely stem from inherited inequality) would be wiped out within a generation. I'm all for the incentive to innovate, however I think a truly level playing field is required. I'd love to hear Scott's thoughts on this issue.

On the issue of press freedom, many countries would see Western media as controlled by large vested corporate interests, so on balance are we really any better off?

It has to be said, corrupt or otherwise, China are certainly doing something right these days...
Apr 16, 2009
i dont have an opinion i just wanted to type
Apr 16, 2009
Scott, corruption is not independent of the form of government.

When the allocation of economic resources depends primarily on administrative decisions there are more incentives for both demanding and offering illicit private payments. Corruption was such a pervasive and enduring fact of life in these societies that it became an aspect of culture that in most cases survived communism.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 15, 2009
Be careful, Webgrunt. It's that sort of voting strategy that tipped George W into office. ;-)

-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 15, 2009
.... and thank you for volunteering to be seen as a possible "candidate" for our small but effective experiment in democracy, Charles. I would have expected Phantom to volunteer, but then again I have wondered more than once over the past few months if you and Phantom are not one in the same person -- using different pseudonyms.

As someone who seems to care about the subject, you should know that "freedom of speech" is the most common last line of defence employed by people who are unable to distinguish between inflammatory bile and intelligent discussion. Tortured and convoluted attempts to explain an ill informed view of the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning is another classic symptom of the breed.

These blog pages are filled to the brim with diverse points of view. This is good. This is not the issue I addressed. The issue is the manner in which a few (very few) choose to express their views. If the balance of the regular contributors wish to put up with inflamatory bile ..... well, they have a voice on the issue as provided by the "vote" icon. Good luck.


Apr 15, 2009
Transparency International (transparency.org) - the most important global non-profit/issue group you likely haven't heard of (though dilbert blog readers probably disproportionately have).

just one of a bazillion examples but how may of you have been following the stories about Obama appointing RIAA lawyers to DOJ while FOIA requests on ACTA are being denied on "national security" grounds? yeah, we're WAY less corrupt than the Chinese...
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