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America's Great Leap Forward

December 14, 2009

Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them – George Santayana

When Barack Obama was campaigning for president in 2007, his backers frequently compared him to former president John F. Kennedy. After a year in office, however, President Obama's words and actions align more closely with China 's despotic Chairman Mao than with JFK's. 

When Mao Zedong conquered China in 1949, his secret goal was to dominate the world. When Obama was elected President, many started referring to him as President of the World. Both Obama and Mao had carte blanche to set out a path of radical change.

As part of his strategy, Mao informed his top echelon, "There has to be a personality cult...it is absolutely necessary."* With the aid of the state media, Mao crafted an iconic image of himself as the savior of the common man. Propaganda was everywhere - including the fields where workers could listen to messages from Mao as they worked. Sound familiar?

In 1958, Mao kicked off what he called The Great Leap Forward, an extraordinarily creative intervention in China 's economic development. Mao planned to abolish wages and put society on a non-cash basis. He then set about abolishing private property.

The ownership of tools, animals, and other means of production were taken over by the state - in the name of the people. Just as the ownership of the auto, banking and insurance industries of today have been taken over by our government.

Chairman Mao, in the name of the people, also took over China 's health care. The 'state' determined who would receive this essential service. The elderly were moved into "houses of happiness" so that they could be looked after - by the state. Much like the proposed government takeover of America 's health care today.

Chairman Mao's government also plunged the country into a deep debt by drastically increasing spending on the development of heavy industry. But the state-sponsored industry that developed was not only non-productive, it ended up wasting money and resources on a massive scale without producing anything of value. Much like the bloated government behemoth Obama's policies are producing today.

Mao, through a cult of personality and firm control of the levers of government, had the ability to impose his own version of reality on China . Just as Obama has today.

Mao believed that collectivizing agriculture would lead to a new 'utopia.' Obama's campaign promise of 'equality' for all Americans is the modern vision of Mao's utopia. Which, by the way, not only failed, but failed spectacularly.

One year after Mao launched China 's Great Leap Forward, things in China started to go wrong. Politics increasingly took precedence over common sense. Mao's utopian dream turned into a nightmare as the central leadership grew increasingly out of touch with reality.

By the spring of 1959, in theory China was awash in grain. In reality, it was not. Rural communal mess halls that had been handing out free food ran out of food. China 's grain reserves were exhausted and the famine began. 

Scholars have estimated that somewhere between 16.5 million and 40 million people died before Mao's experiment came to an end in 1961, making the Great Leap famine the largest in world history. Even Mao himself was forced to acknowledge that he had been wrong. Oops.

By late 1960, private ownership of land was reinstated and a modicum of capitalism was re-introduced. Peasants were finally given incentives to produce as much spare food as was possible by allowing them to sell their excess on the open market. Socialism had failed, yet again.

Chairman Mao never had to pay the price for his failed social engineering. The Chinese people paid it for him. Leaving Mao free to regroup, repair his image, and emerge back on the national scene in 1966 with yet another bold plan. The Cultural Revolution - which resulted in yet another failed social experiment and untold human suffering. The beat goes on.

The similarities between Chairman Mao and President Obama are too numerous to ignore. Like Obama, Mao's philosophy of how to 'change' China was clear from the outset. "...the country must be...destroyed and then reformed." "People like me long for the destruction because when the old universe is destroyed, a new universe will be formed. Isn't that better?" Quick - whose philosophy is that - Mao, or Obama's buddy Bill Ayers and numerous Obama appointed czars? Answer: Both.

All of Obama's actions as president to date reflect the same mindset - the destruction of traditional values, the unwillingness to learn from history, the utter reliance on theory instead of reality. And the belief that man takes precedence over God and thus has the ability to shape reality according to man's whim.

Hubris and a charismatic personality allowed both Mao and Obama the freedom to implement costly social and economic 'change.' Change which is not change at all, but another futile attempt to revive the failed model of socialism. 

Like Mao, Obama will most likely never be held to account when the socialist, big government policies he has championed fail. And fail they must. History shows us that. The American people will, once again, be forced to pay the very real price for Obama's naive attempt to prove socialism is a workable theory, as long as its Obama's version. 

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Copyright ©2009 Nancy Morgan

Nancy Morgan is a columnist and news editor for RightBias.com