How “Kingdom Economics” Can Enable Human Rights Abuses

For Westerners in desperate need of an organ transplant, there is no friendlier nation for your need than China. Just don’t ask where your organ is going to come from. After spending about $50,000 and two weeks in a luxurious Chinese hotel, a Falun Gong prisoner will be killed and his dead organs will be harvested and transplanted to your body. This has become a widespread practice in China.

So what the hell is going on? Where is Sojourners? NT Wright? My God if you want to look at real social problems, the ‘injustices’ that the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty fight against are pathetic compared to what the Chinese do to their citizens. The Weekly Standard reports that at any given time there are roughly 100,000 Falun Gong in the Chinese penal system. An investigation by Canadian human rights lawyers revealed a correlation with the rise in Falun Gong incarceration and organ transplant activity in China. Anywhere else in the world it takes a year to get a tissue match for an organ donor. In China it’s one week. Over the past five years, there have been over 50,000 unexplained deaths in Chinese prisons. And that’s a conservative estimate.

This is not new news. This is old news. This is 2008 news. And yet the West is doing nothing. The reason? Americans need the Chinese to pay for all their generous social programs.

Niall Ferguson likes to characterize the relationship between the US and China as ‘Chimerica.’ Coinciding with China’s rise to power, the US and China have worked out an unofficial ‘mutually beneficial’ relationship where the US gets cheap products and cheap loans and China gets manufacturing jobs and savings.

Let’s assume as an economic constant that a country’s total supply of credit (money that can be loaned) is limited to its total supply of savings. The Americans for many years have had a pathetic, and sometimes negative, savings rate. And yet they’ve been able to purchase a vast amount of goods and services and they’ve been able to borrow trillions of dollars. This is only because of Chinese savings. Over fifty percent of US government debt is sold to foreign governments, the majority of which is bought by China. If this was not the case, Americans would not be able to spend more than they save, American banks wouldn’t be able to lend at the incredibly low levels of interest that they’ve been able to and the US government would not be able to fund some of her major entitlement programs.

One of the things I picked up from Stanford economist Thomas Sowell is that when it comes to evaluating the morality of various economic systems and positions what matters the most are consequences and not intentions. A good example of this is housing. Jonathan Reckford, the head of Habitat for Humanity, believes that the poor in the US and Canada don’t get a fair shot at owning their own homes. He must have been delighted with George Bush’s 2003 American Dream Downpayment Initiative which helped over 40,000 Americans with their down payments. Bush pledged to expand this to ‘millions more’ by the end of the decade. Hooray. And what was the main criticism of Bush on this by the left? He apparently didn’t go far enough! But, did no one ask where this money was going to come from? How can a country with no savings lend money to the poor with no money down and ridiculously cheap financing?

It’s policies like these that have gotten the U.S. enmeshed even more with China. The sad fact of the matter is that the US cannot afford to pay for its Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. It desperately needs Chinese savings. And as long as the US needs Chinese savings, the one country who could probably pressure China to change her malfeasant ways will remain silent on her horrendous human right abuses.

Next time I hear someone talk flippantly about how ‘kingdom economics’ mandate cheap housing for the poor, free healthcare and generous social programs, hopefully they’ll realize that the world is a lot more complicated than they think it is. After all, I don’t want people inadvertently putting Jesus on the line for Chinese human right abuses. I’m just saying.