China continues to be governed by a nominally communist self-perpetuating autocracy. Unalienable rights? In China you get whatever the government gives you, and you'll like it.
Nevertheless, in the matter of day-to-day economic life, it is freer here than in the United States of Obama.
At a fabulous Szechuan restaurant in Shanghai last night my host, a prominent venture capitalist, captured the mood: "In China, anything is possible." Tonight at dinner in Beijing I heard the tale of a billionaire who started with a few thousand dollars and built a successful energy conglomerate in less than ten years. During the run-up to the successful IPO--remember when we allowed those in the United States?-- he awarded his driver of many years shares that wound up worth $20 million. The new blue collar millionaire still drives the limo but now also moonlights as a venture capitalist, investing with friends trying their hand at rural real estate development.
Taxes are low, regulations are loose or at least negotiable. Individuals are accumulating and deploying capital to realize crazy dreams no bureaucrat would countenance. Most absurdly, by the light of recent US political history, there is a consensus that industrial development is valuable to society, even when it produces millionaires and billionaires by the gross.
Did I mention that these people are Communists?
The last time I felt such a frisson of Keynesian animal spirits it was Morning in America. Alas, Mr. Reagan is no longer standing athwart history. Instead, the Marxists he defeated have lately passed the torch of socialist inevitability to Mr. Obama; they themselves are busy getting out the way of the creative impulses of 1.3 billion people, who paradoxically find themselves less repressed and directed than at any time in living memory.