Two Versions of the Golden Rule – March 2022
We’ve all heard about the two versions of the Golden Rule. The first, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is taught to our children at a very early age. Most people agree that as an overall precept of how we should behave, this rule is the best.
The other Golden Rule, however, “He who has the gold rules” is less a way to live, but perhaps more of a reality. This is evident when watching the winter Olympics. Even though I’ve not kept up with them to a large degree, everyone is aware they are being held in China. The last Olympics that were held in China were used by world governments to encourage the Chinese to try to adhere to the first Golden Rule with their citizens. This time around those governments were largely ignored by the rulers of the country because the Chinese economy had grown to a large enough degree that they could ignore calls to be less totalitarian with their citizens.
China appears to have adopted a two-prong strategy to control their citizens as well as insulate themselves from criticism from others in the world. Ever since Mao Zedong became leader in China, the ruling elite used force to ensure their citizens stayed in line. While growing up, even with the controlled news blackout in communist China, we learned of millions of Chinese who died at the hands of their government. After President Nixon thawed U.S. Chinese relationships through his ping pong diplomacy, the U.S. has pursued a strategy of economic incentives to try and bring about a philosophical change in China’s leaders. For a time, it looked like the strategy was working, but seeing things a little more clearly through the lens of history, it looks like the strategy of China’s leaders was to give its citizens just enough wiggle room to open up the tremendous economic potential of their billion plus population. Instead of relying on force and guns, Chinese leaders found a new way to control their citizens.
Using economic rewards as a first line tool to control folks is not new, but it appears the Chinese leaders using both tools have lifted their economy from a third world economy to one which is challenging that of the U.S. In addition to using economic incentives and force, the Chinese have also begun a process of monitoring their citizens social profiles and giving rewards to those who are supporting the state by providing them better economic opportunities while those who don’t meet the social criteria might get a visit from some government entity using force.
Because China’s economic power has grown, they’ve also wielded that power on the worldwide stage. We’ve watched as groups like the National Basketball Association have submitted to the Chinese threat of economic sanctions to force NBA critics of China to “shut-up.” Then we were treated to a number of NBA players coming out and criticizing those individuals who criticized China. Proof that he who has the gold can wield a lot of influence.
While I’m using China as an example, we in the U.S. cannot ignore how our own government utilizes this same tool. Want to advance a political agenda, then by all means use the power of gold to drive your agenda by either punishing economically someone who doesn’t agree with you or rewarding those who do support your policies with money from the federal treasury. On a national level as we see federal dollars come flowing out of Washington, D.C. in ever increasing amounts. It should concern all of us that with that gold comes the power to dictate what we as citizens can and cannot do. Of course, this strategy depends upon the federal government being able to obtain the necessary gold to carry it out, but guess what? They can also use force to ensure we citizens keep sending them the gold to carry out their desires.
By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President