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February 27, 2014

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ajay

That is a pretty constrained definition of "doing the best thing".

dsquared

Yes, when you're the ruler of a totalitarian state, the defence "we're doing the best we can under the circumstances" does invite the rejoinder "let's talk about those circumstances"

ajay

Maybe they could take some of those eight million people they have watching the dissidents 24 hours a day and get some of them on to childminding duties instead. Just a thought.

jamie

actually, yes: that should have read something like 'whole state failure mitigated by imaginative pragmatism at local level' which is actually a significant reason for why the system as a whole continues to work. Which was really what I meant.

I think the main structural factor here was a combination of the semi-privatisation of China's health and social security system in the 1980's, which saw funding from central government to locally based institutions drop and moves in the 90's to force local governments to kick up more tax income to the centre. That put the whole sector on a basis of frantic rent seeking.

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