Saturday, April 07, 2007

Breaking the revered iron rice bowl

Rice is perhaps the world’s most important staple food. It is also an important part of culture and traditions in some countries, especially those in Asia.

Click here and read an array of meaning of rice.

Iron rice bowl is a Chinese idiom referring to the system of guaranteed lifetime employment in state enterprises, in which the tenure and level of wages are not related to job performance.

Traditionally, people considered to have iron rice bowls include military personnel, members of the civil service, as well as employees of various state run enterprises.

When Deng Xiaoping began his labor reforms in the People's Republic of China in the 1980s, the government iron rice bowl jobs were some of the first to go. Almost overnight, fully one third of China's workforce was unemployed. A large majority of these people became migratory workers, moving from job to job in great masses. Factory and construction work were, and continue to be, standard employment. The effects of this change are still felt today in modern China.

The celebrated iron rice bowl system that prevailed in countries like Taiwan and South Korea for several decades are also starting to crack. Now it is considered more important to create economic growth and efficiency of individual enterprises and cut out the inefficiency of the state enterprises.

Even socialist regimes that guarded against economic disruption and took measures to protect workers from dismissal are being pushed to adopt more liberal reforms as capitalism is the clear winner over socialism.

Karl Marx and leading protagonists of communism advocated a classless society which became the system of mind-controlling servitude that caused millions to perish and hundreds of millions more to suffer in grinding poverty as a result of a failed experiment.

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