At this time of rising international trade tensions and global problems, it is more important than ever that political leaders make an effort to understand one another and particularly the problems each faces in their home country.
To foster this greater understanding, I suggest countries initiate a one year Govern Abroad Program. We might begin by sending the U.S. Government to Beijing and the PRC Government to Washington, each to govern the other’s country.
There will be challenges, but with a measure of good will, these will not be insurmountable.
The most obvious is language. Chinese Premier Wen Jiaboa’s knowledge of English is not great while U.S. President Obama’s knowledge of Putonghua is frankly nonexistent. We are therefore quite fortunate that no one pays any attention to what either of them says. I am confident that each could continue to make speeches in their respective language, without anyone knowing the difference.
The role of the respective legislatures also pose very few problems. China’s National People’s Congress is a rubber stamp organization where voting strictly follows the party line. So too is the U.S. Congress where Senators and Congressmen take pride in the fact that they have not had an original thought since the end of the Roosevelt administration, 66 years ago. Chinese legislators may have temporary difficulties until they learn just who runs the United States Government. Fortunately, once on the job in Washington, they will meet many friendly lobbyists who will be more than happy to set them straight.
Another challenge may be the need to learn the difference between China’s rule by policy and the United States rule of lawyer.
A good example illustrating this difference is government’s seizure of their citizens’ homes. In both countries the right of government to throw people out of their houses is well established. This is particularly true when the subject property is owned by a low income person who is unable to maintain his property to the high standards required by the local government. Such property is subject to seizure for two reasons.
a. The property is blighted
b. The owner being poor and relatively unimportant has no rights.
In the event of problems, the China solution is to send in the police who arrests the property owner and sends him to jail. In the event of any legal action the property owner’s lawyer is arrested and he too is sent to jail.
This system has operated so efficiently that local governments have upgraded their efforts. Where once local governments evicted only the poor and powerless, they have now moved upscale. At a well-known gated suburban-style community on the fringe of Beijing, the local government has recently dispossessed doctors, financiers, authors as well as retired government bureaucrats.
This simply will not work in the United States, where each man’s home is his castle.
In the United States even government must follow the law and where you must hire a lawyer before taking any action. The best example, occurred in 2005 in state of Connecticut where the local government seized non-blighted property for the sole purpose of giving that property to a local developer who paid $1 per year. In Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) The United States Supreme Court — the highest court in the country – ruled in favor of the local government stating that seizing private property for the sole purpose of increasing municipal revenue was legal. At that point the local government could Justifiably send in the local police to arrest any recalcitrant former property owners and send them to jail with a clear conscience.
I am convinced that the Govern Abroad Program will not only increase mutual understanding between the U.S. and China but also will show that there is little difference between their respective governments