Here's another example of what happens when a totalitarian government runs an economy. China is creating pollution at an unprecedented scale, and it's affecting more than just themselves. The same thing was true with the Soviet Union, as well, with perhaps the most striking example being the ugliness that was East Germany vs. the relative cleanliness of West Germany.
Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.
Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. Beijing is frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.
Environmental woes that might be considered catastrophic in some countries can seem commonplace in China: industrial cities where people rarely see the sun; children killed or sickened by lead poisoning or other types of local pollution; a coastline so swamped by algal red tides that large sections of the ocean no longer sustain marine life.
But of course, this is collectivism in its purest form. The Chinese government has no problem sacrificing millions of Chinese citizens, as long as its ability to accomplish its goals is unimpeded. And remember, this is a command economy: nobody does anything or lives anywhere by choice.