We are in this mess for a good reason

Twenty years ago, watching big American companies move production to China, I clearly remember thinking “We will bitterly regret this. Short-term it will look innocuous, yes, reducing prices for consumers. Long term it will mean that China will be a super-power, challenging the United Stares. Living standards will become static, jobs fewer and worse paid, and the great mass of Americans will become bitterly resentful. Meanwhile, the US will have to spend more to restrain China, which has no comprehension of democracy or human rights.

As it happens, I was right – and, much as I can do nothing about it personally, my peace of mind is roiled as I think about the implications for the young, who will have to struggle with what to do, short of another world war. China is ruled by a megalomaniac, and we know what that can mean. Thousands were slaughtered in the struggle against Hitler. But this time there is no powerful United States to shut him and his yes-men down.

Worryingly, the priority of many of our politicians seems to be to make the rich richer. The latter, however, by and large (there are some great exceptions) don’t care about the country. They have hideaways in places like New Zealand. They resist even paying a fair share of tax. Don’t rely on them to lift a finger to help resisting China, where many are making fortunes.

One Comment

  1. I’ll do you a decade better. Thirty years ago, I told my children they should learn Chinese before they graduated from college. I’d have said high school, but it wasn’t taught there. My advice wasn’t based as much on the number of companies and jobs moving to China as the number of acres of U.S. land the Chinese were acquiring, especially land with either crops on the surface or oil below it. My law practice was primarily in oil & gas, and I was surprised at how much of our domestic oil supply was being acquired by Chinese companies. I expect if I practiced real estate law in New York or Los Angeles I’d have noticed how many city blocks were being acquired by Chinese companies. There was a push by state legislatures in the 80’s to restrict foreign ownership of farmland, but it didn’t get beyond requiring disclosure. The federal government didn’t seem interested in backing such restrictions. I suspect letting in Chinese owners may have been tied to our ability to borrow money from China which holds most of our debt. I think an actual fighting war with China is unlikely. They’re pretty well-positioned to prevail without firing bullets or missiles; they’ll use dollars.

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