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First-Hand Experience With a Planned Economy

June 4, 2003

I was born in early-mid 70's in a very remote China village, my dad worked for a government owned motorcycle company all his life since that was his only choice, my mom was a peasant. With this very limited financial resource, my parents were able to put my brother, my sister and I through school, though not all of us were able to go to college. I'm the only lucky one out of us three who had that opportunity, and here is how it went.

I started primary school at age of 5, there was 5 years for primary schooling, I was denied to go on to middle school because I was too young, so I had to stay one more year in primary school, so my total primary school years were 6 years, then 3 years of middle school, 4 years of high school - normally it's 3 years, but since I didnít score high enough for the test, I lost the opportunity to go on to college, I had to stay another year to take the tests again. We were split up to two groups at the beginning of second year in high school - Science Group, Literature and Art Group. We had to make a decision what our future career was going to be at that time, it was very stressful days since none of us knew what the society was really like, we didn't want to be pushed through a one way path, thinking about we might no like it later.

At this point, whether you'd go on to college or not, it's very strong competition, you have to take a 3-day tests, then the state education department of the Central Government will decide what the college admission cut off lines for scores for each area and provinces, these tests are taken from July 7-9, this is known as the "Black July" in China, lots and lots of students lost their only chance to change their fate, there were a lot of suicide attempts in that season. When I took the test, there were 108 students in my class, only 4 of us scored high enough to go on to college.

When I went to college, I didn'ít have a whole lot of choice but to choose Accounting as my major, Central Government paid us like 38RMB (about 5.00USD) a month to be in college since I scored high enough to be admitted, after college, they also assigned me a job in some remote mountain area, I didn't want to go, so I had to pay 6500.00RMB (about 850.00USD) to buy myself out, that's a lot of money while I was only making 400RMB (50.00USD) a month after my college graduation.

As time went by, the Central government realized that the old school-career assignment system was really holding back the country's economic growth, they made policies to open up so called "Talent Market" all over the country, to give people who have been pushed through a narrow path earlier years a second chance to market themselves freely at a open labor market. Have gone back to China a couple of time, I could really see that the open talent market policy has benefit the country greatly, people in the work force doesn't just have only one set of skills ,which has pushed the economy growth greatly, and they don't have to work at only one place till they retire, because of open talent competition, it also benefits the work force for better pay as well.

Thanks for your time and attention to this matter.

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