Jerry Brown Envies China’s Ghost Towns

Perhaps there will be a boom in demand for post-apocalyptic filming sites.Credit: Remko Tanis | Foter.com | CC BY-NC-SACalif. Gov. Jerry Brown has headed over to China to marvel at its artificial growth like it’s a real thing and to hope that the state can somehow cash in on the huge economic bubble out there before it bursts (one research firm predicts it will happen later this year – and it will be absolutely devastating to China’s middle class in a way that will make America’s recession seem like a party by comparison).

The governor said some very Jerry Brown things during his visit, according to the Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown arrived in Beijing on Tuesday evening for his week-long trade mission to China, marveling at the pace of construction under China's one-party rule and suggesting – however wistfully – it is a lesson he could apply in California.

"Boy, you've done a lot of building," the Democratic governor said. "When I get back to California, the bulldozers are going to roll."

He praised the country’s high-speed rail, of course, though as the New Yorker exposed in October last year, China’s train was built on corruption and has been embroiled in scandals and safety problems that have resulted in tragedy and public outrage. They’re also expensive to ride, costing more than plane tickets on some routes.

Brown’s also had a very Brown-like response to political conflicts between China and the United States:

"I know there are a lot of politics that go on in Washington, but we're from California and we're not interested in politics," Brown said.

He said the state is only interested in business: "We're a green state, and we like greenbacks."

Sometimes you just have to laugh to keep from crying. The state certainly loves its greenbacks, particularly when it is able to extract them from its residents.

His complete obliviousness to the reality of China’s completely artificial economic growth should not be a surprise. (NOTE: In deference to Reason commenter Corning, I will point out I'm referring to its most recent growth and not the nation's entire late 20th century history of economic reform.) He still cannot bring himself to acknowledge the lack of demand for a high-speed train in the middle of the state’s agricultural basin. The Chinese government’s exponential leap in forcing unneeded infrastructure growth to artificially boost economic numbers is not something Brown is scared of, even though he should be.

In March, 60 Minutes exposed the giant, empty cities and shopping malls China is building every year. Watch below and imagine the consequences of Brown bringing this mentality to California, which is still recovering from the last housing bubble. If nothing else, it should explain why Brown is likely to come back empty-handed:

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  • Scott S.||

    I have no idea why sometimes Joe Biden is showing up in the embedded video instead. I'll try to figure it out.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Good luck. Once that guy gets in he's almost impossible to get rid of.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Gov. Jerry Brown arrived in Beijing on Tuesday evening for his week-long trade mission to China

    Are they calling it the "I'll Gladly Pay You Tuesday" tour?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I have no idea why sometimes Joe Biden is showing up in the embedded video instead.

    He's insidious.

  • CE||

    Infrastructure, man! China is now well positioned for the next boom, while California will have to wait to build all the buildings and roadz before their economy can take off again next time.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    It's OK; they invested their pension program in Bitcoin.

  • C. Anacreon||

    Actually, there is a new Bay Area "law" that will go into effect, likely this summer, called "Plan Bay Area." It will require every city and town in the region, even sleepy mature bedroom communities with no space left for development, to build hundreds to thousands of "stack-and-pack" apartment complexes in their little downtowns, most of them subsidized by the little town's taxpayers. Not only the cost of the actual apartments, but the local schools and infrastructures will be paid for by the locals, as most of these complexes will be built as property tax-exempt and won't even require environmental impact reviews!

    The reason proffered for these mandates is that they say the Bay Area is going to have incredible job and population growth in the next 25 years (the agency is going with numbers100% more than any reasonable estimates, way out of proportion to any historic data.) So it is just like Jerry Brown envisions: build, build, build!! It doesn't matter if it destroys the towns, destroys the economy, and no one ever shows up to live there, we are building just like China!

  • General Butt Naked||

    Maybe I'm thinking of a different plan, but weren't they gonna put up tons of section 8 type housing too?

    From what I remember, they wanted to make each little town a stop on public transportation line, and the towns needed to be more diverse, hence the cheap housing.

    Whatever it is, I'm sure that the people that live in those little towns probably think that it'd be a great idea (for another town).

    Rich california liberals getting screwed with their own politics makes me smile. Fuck 'em.

  • C. Anacreon||

    Yup, same plan you are thinking about. Hearing the squeals of the liberals is stunning when they suddenly realize that this will affect their little enclaves, which are supposed to be only for "the enlightened" with their grey ponytails, peasant dresses and smirks safely tucked away in their $2 million wooded hillside homes. "B-b-but wait! We're all for affordable housing! But our town is semi-rural and we can't ....)

  • General Butt Naked||

    I hope they build some real nasty public housing, preferably in giant, cramped apartment buildings just high enough to ruin everybody's view.

    Let the rich left experience the inevitable consequences of their politics, instead of it just raining down on up poor proles.

    Maybe in ten years the words "progressive enclave" will be inexorably linked to drugs, guns, and violence.

    I'm a bit bitter.

  • Killazontherun||

    Pretty much what the Scots in several larger cities did in the fifties and sixties. You have miles and miles of beautiful old buildings sorrounded by squat looking utilitarian eyesores caused by zoning laws designed to create chicken coupes for human subjects. I would hate to see that happen to the Bay Area.

  • Invisible Finger||

    They would have been better off with chicken sedans.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "He said the state is only interested in business: "We're a green state, and we like greenbacks."

    Translates to: "We fuckin' hate science, and we fuckin' love taxes!"

  • WomSom||

    Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with it.

    www.SurfinPrivacy.tk

  • Sevo||

    "China’s train was built on corruption and has been embroiled in scandals and safety problems that have resulted in tragedy and public outrage. They’re also expensive to ride, costing more than plane tickets on some routes."

    Yeah, well, tough! Those union votes cost money!

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    And there aren't even any unions or environmental regulations in China.

  • Sevo||

    Moonbeam's trying to ease the enviro regs for the choo-choo also. He knows full well that the enviros can tie it up forever with one challenge after another. Hell, he was instrumental in passing most of the stuff that allows that crap.

  • Paul.||

    Thoses regulations were intended to curb profit-making. The trains that are high speed and run on time are no profit-makers.

  • Paul.||

    And there aren't even any unions or environmental regulations in China.

    And yet liberals continuously talk about China as being a leader in Green Practices, green technology and economic growth.

    So are liberals on the cusp of admitting that sans a regulatory framework, the country would be better, greener and economically grow-ier?

  • General Butt Naked||

    Wonder what happened to Neu?

    Can't we trade tony and shrike for him?

  • phandaal||

    It's like they're actively trying to fuck with Krugman.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "His complete obliviousness to the reality of China’s completely artificial economic growth should not be a surprise. "

    He's not alone in that regard.

    Paging Thomas Friedman...

  • ||

    China’s completely artificial economic growth

    100s of millions of people pulled out of bone grinding poverty over the last 30 years.

    Yeah sure "artificial"...riiiigggghhhhht.

    ...

    I have to wonder why generally upstanding libertarians jump onto this left wing myth that china's economic liberation is a bad thing.

  • Sevo||

    "I have to wonder why generally upstanding libertarians jump onto this left wing myth that china's economic liberation is a bad thing."

    The intro to "Band of Brother" has Ambrose claiming the prosperity of the '20s was "false prosperity".
    Bullshit. It was ephemeral as all good times are, but it certainly wasn't "false".

  • Calidissident||

    It was false in the sense that it was partially-inflated by the Federal Reserve's inflationary monetary policy, which culminated in the stock market crash

  • Sevo||

    "it was partially-inflated by the Federal Reserve's inflationary monetary policy,"

    Distorted cause? Check. But those who had that prosperity had it. And largely were not to blame for the distortion.
    Not "false".

  • Calidissident||

    I think we're arguing over definition. It was false in the sense that it (to some extent) was doomed to be undone. By nature it was ephemeral, which prosperity does not have to be

  • Sevo||

    Calidissident| 4.9.13 @ 10:19PM |#
    "I think we're arguing over definition. It was false in the sense that it (to some extent) was doomed to be undone. By nature it was ephemeral, which prosperity does not have to be."

    Well the long-term trend is positive, but the business cycle means that the trend will be interrupted.
    Often enough, since we have no choice, both the rise and subsequent fall will be a result of gov't market distortion; the business cycle co-opted by gov't intrusion.
    But when it's good times, it still is good times; no reason to let the gov't intrusion prevent you from profiting.

  • Sevo||

    Calidissident| 4.9.13 @ 10:19PM |#
    "I think we're arguing over definition. It was false in the sense that it (to some extent) was doomed to be undone. By nature it was ephemeral, which prosperity does not have to be."

    Well the long-term trend is positive, but the business cycle means that the trend will be interrupted.
    Often enough, since we have no choice, both the rise and subsequent fall will be a result of gov't market distortion; the business cycle co-opted by gov't intrusion.
    But when it's good times, it still is good times; no reason to let the gov't intrusion prevent you from profiting.

  • Sevo||

    Damn!

  • Paul.||

    I think both can be true. China's growth and prosperity overall has been utterly amazing.

    However, their growth should be slowing-- and it's currently padded with a lot of disturbing facts, like entire towns built where no one lives, trains to nowhere that don't work, etc.

    Add into that China's so-called lead in 'green industry' is largely unsustainable.

  • Scott S.||

    Maybe I should have been clearer that I was referring to recent economic growth. Noted.

    Also, based on the citizens' investments in housing as a form of savings, a lot of those folks are going to be reintroduced to bone-grinding poverty and soon.

  • ||

    a lot of those folks are going to be reintroduced to bone-grinding poverty and soon.

    I am old enough that I remember my mom telling me to eat everything off my plate because there are starving children in China.

    There is poverty, like lose your house kind of poverty then then is bone grinding poverty like Mao Zedong 5 year plan kind of poverty.

    One is a shitty down turn the other is a stone age nightmare.

    They are not even remotely related.

    Go read a history book Scott.

  • ||

    The Chinese have quite a bit farther to fall than their subsistence farming peasant grandparents did. I'm assuming Scott was being at least a little hyperbolic, but China's economy has been on life support for several years with make-work cities, roads and rail lines that are never intended to be used. For your average Chinese person who manages to own their own home though, property values could easily evaporate because of the massive amount of spare housing that's being created by these projects, which would indeed reduce many people to poverty. Probably not Sally Struthers poverty, but they will suffer mightily.

    It's always possible that they'll liberalize and reorganize their economy enough that it'll painfully deflate instead of pop, but they've made very little effort to do so and have doubled down on "stimulus" projects.

  • Scott S.||

    Well, since it won't be quite as bad as the famines, there's nothing to worry about then! Silly me.

  • Irish||

    Yeah, who even cares about this Great Recession nonsense? We're still better off than we were in the middle ages, so everything is peachy keen!

  • JW||

    Scott--Don't feed the aspies. It will never end.

  • ||

    100s of millions of people pulled out of bone grinding poverty over the last 30 years by liberalizing markets? Good. Really good.

    100s of millions of people pulled out of bone grinding poverty over the last 30 years by liberalizing markets who are now leveraged up to their eyeballs by overinvestment in never-to-be-used infrastructure? Bad. Really bad.

  • Paul.||

    Debts don't matter.

    /Krugman.

  • johnl||

    Corning, every brand new shopping center that's empty is listed in some financial plan with some expected revenue associated with it. And that revenue isn't happening. At some point the expectations and the reality meet. China can't expand for 30 straight years without any slowdown anymore than anybody else can.

  • ||

    Scott's claim was that the economic growth of China was artificial.

    Millions of people not starving to death because of free market reforms is not artificial....it is a fucking miracle and perhaps the greatest human achievement of the 20th century.

    Did the government go on a spending binge in the later years of this miracle that will result in economic malaise?

    Probably Yes.

    But economic malaise does not equal millions of people starving to death...and it sure as fuck is not artificial.

  • Scott S.||

    I figured it was clear that I was referring only to recent developments, but for you, I've added a note.

  • Paul.||

    JC,

    You're being overly sensitive on this. For example, watch the video. 18 seconds in, Barbara Walter's evil twin says, "China has been nothing short of a financial miracle" No issue with that. She goes on: "In just thirty years, this state-controlled economy became the world's second largest, deftly managed by government policies and decrees".

    Whoa, wait a sec... which state-controlled economy was responsible for the financial growth? The one that started the Great Leap Forward, resulting in millions starving to death? No? Not that one? So what changed from one state-controlled economy which generated policies and decrees to the other state-controlled economy generating policies and decrees?

    I'd guess it's the state-controlled economy that devolved itself from the economy. And those decrees were largely the removal of barriers, not erecting more better ones.

    What's my point? The point is that China is still a communist country, and still suffers from the same back-end thinking it suffered during the Great Leap Forward. There's still a powerful element in China that believes it can just make growth so by decree. They're about to discover otherwise.

    And when the bubble pops, how will the Chinese government react? We honestly don't know if they may suddenly go all North Korea on us while screaming "Market Failure!"

  • Bam!||

    Read http://www.mpettis.com/. He'll set you straight.

  • ||

    Based on the quality of construction I see in China many of those buildings will fall down before they are occupied.

  • Paul.||

    And when they do, think of the constructions jerbs!

  • fish||

    "I know there are a lot of politics that go on in Washington, but we're from California and we're not interested in politics," Brown said.

    Shame to see an old man slip into the T o n y like dementia of Alzheimers.

  • Sevo||

    (illegal A-series light-bulb flashes on!)
    Hey, can they keep him?!

  • General Butt Naked||

    Is it just me or did Lesley Stahl seem genuinely disappointed that she wasn't gonna get any KFC?

  • ||

    Biden/Brown 2016. Double Down on Stupid.

  • Paul.||

    Clinton/Biden in 2016. Get it right.

  • Paul.||

    And uhh, Biden 2016 would be *tap*tap*tap*, quadrupling down on stupid.

  • Robert||

    Especially since he's not eligible to serve another term as VP.

  • creech||

    The boss came back from his annual trip to China, marveling that the Reds had built a four lane expressway from the airport to downtown while he was gone...in less time than it took him to get a permit to put a three car unattached garage on his house.

  • General Butt Naked||

    What the fuck are you on about now?

    Just say what you mean, child.

  • Irish||

    Didn't you know that poor Mexicans result in high prices, General? I mean, it's just basic common sense.

  • Irish||

    More Mexicans also means lower cost of labor, means more production at lower cost, means lower prices.

    Yawn. Troll elsewhere.

  • Calidissident||

    Yeah, Mexicans are responsible for high housing prices. Not shitty government policies or environmental regulations. Gotcha

  • Sevo||

    Calidissident| 4.9.13 @ 8:34PM |#
    "Yeah, Mexicans are responsible for high housing prices..."

    Darn braceros out-bidding folks in SF for a house! Whadaya gonna do?!

  • ||

    Did you not scold HM this morning for engaging the troll?

    I didn't get into it on lady libertinism with him out of respect for you, but now I see you're just like the rest.

    *sobs and runs out of room*

  • Irish||

    I am filthy troll loving hypocrite. That doesn't mean I can't give other people good advice, even if I don't take it.

    If I were a whore, and I told my daughter not to become a streetwalker, it's still good advice.

  • ||

    Hahaha, "if"

  • Irish||

    Well I certainly don't have a daughter.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Well I certainly don't have a daughter.

    Your barren womb is a consequence of years of whoring and untold back alley abortions.

  • ||

    Your barren womb is a consequence of years of whoring and untold back alley abortions.

    Whoa, I didn't realize he'd had so many back alley abortions. I thought it was just the chlamydia.

  • Irish||

    Hey, my womb is as fertile as ancient Mesopotamia, thank you very much.

    Little known fact: My womb is so fertile that if you pour dirt in there, flowers sprout on my Fallopian tubes.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Those are tumors.

  • ||

    my womb is as fertile as ancient Mesopotamia

    Pre or post irrigation?

  • Paul.||

    Oh, I thought you were talking about Jews. That's not where I was expecting this to go.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Lemme guess, some dirty wetback came over here and stole your sarcasm detector?

  • C. Anacreon||

    Woosh! Right over your head!

    Good one, Paul.

  • General Butt Naked||

    MEXOPHOBE PWN3D...

    Point goes to Paul.

  • Sevo||

    "Point goes to Paul."
    Gracias, XNor.

  • General Butt Naked||

    I thought he was a sheep fucking, JERBS! type, but wanted to give him a chance. Woops, won't let that happen again.

  • Calidissident||

    California's crime rate isn't much different from the rest of the US. And it's lower now than it's been in decades past. And overcrowding is subjective

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I'm going to go ahead and be "that guy."

    Any chance some liberty-minded Chinese, or just a practical joker, can slip about 1 ounce of marijuana in Moonbeam's luggage?

  • Irish||

    It's funny that you think Moonbeam's luggage isn't already filled with marijuana.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I would just like Moonbeam to experience the Chinese's open-minded and tolerant policy on drugs.

  • Sevo||

    Think maybe he could learn to make license plates? I mean the guy needs a skill; he's never held a job.

  • EnglishCuckoo||

    I'm more than a little convinced that Jerry Brown and James Gordon Brown, former Prime Mentalist of the UK, are actually one and the same person. Have they ever been seen together? They both seem to suffer from a fundamental confusion about 'investment' meaning 'squander as much taxpayers' money as possible', they both appear in public saying clueless and gormless things to foreigners who laugh at them. And the ex-PM has of late gone AWOL from his role as MP.

    Oh - I never introduced myself did I? A British GI bride of the 80s, sometime resident of Phoenix, now back in Blighty, and looking around me aghast at the trash and self-pity abounding here.

  • General Butt Naked||

    I'd get back to arizona posthaste.

    You can have all the guns you want there.

  • EnglishCuckoo||

    Would that I could... As messed up as the US is right now, I'm in a country where it's becoming SOP to issue police cautions for admitted rapes. How the hell did it come to this, where perpetrators must be cared for and understood and not put in prison in case it damages their life chances?

  • General Butt Naked||

    Gotta keep room for all the victimless criminals and thought felons.

    Not that we're much better over here in that regard.

  • Thane of Whiterun||

    Oh - I never introduced myself did I? A British GI bride of the 80s

    A woman! We have like, 7 now.

  • BuSab Agent||

    TEOTWAWKI

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Pics or it didn't happen!

  • Invisible Finger||

    Wait a sec. I thought China purposely built dead malls so they could be like California.

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