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2005.12.21

Comments

Roger

I'm curious about that last question too, since I'm firmly convinced that Americans are highly skilled at ignoring "inconvenient" facts - even ones that clearly contradict their oh-so-important causes. I'd love to be proven wrong about that.

Personally, I don't shop at Wal-Mart. At all. Ever.

I don't have anything against the Chinese, but I am bothered by the fact that their labor laws (nearly non-existent) and their intellectual property laws (also nearly non-existent) make it all but impossible for the American worker to compete with the Chinese worker, when least cost-of-goods-sold is the goal. In addition, the recent American fascination with patenting every little thing we can think up in five minutes only makes matters worse - when companies can't create a competitive marketplace because they can't (or won't) pay the exorbitant license fees asked by the patent holders, it's simply going to drive more and more production overseas - to companies who couldn't care less about American patents.

Gareth Wilson

"I heard yesterday on Marketplace that China's now the No. 4 economy in the world, knocking Great Britain out of its spot; it's expected to unseat the U.S. as No. 1 within the next 30 years."
That's applying purchasing power parity, in absolute terms the Chinese economy is smaller than Italy's. And by 2030 25% of China will be over the age of 60. They'll have European demographics and a third-world economy, presided over by a Communist dictatorship with absolutely no legitimacy. Personally, I buy as many Chinese products as possible to delay the Second Chinese Revolution, where we find out what's worse than the Communist Party.

Lisa

Gareth, can you elaborate on this Second Chinese Revolution idea, please?

Gareth Wilson

Sure. The problem is that the Chinese government's only source of legitimacy is economic growth. No-one voted for it, and it doesn't even have ideological support since no-one believes in Communism any more. But the economic growth is much more fragile than you'd think. The demographic problem is only one of the ways China could stop getting rich. They could get outcompeted on price by poorer countries. Their workers could get made obsolete by automated factories in the West. (Maersk refrigerated shipping containers are already made a factory that employs only four workers). They could even just hit the limits of moving farmers into factories, like the Soviet Union did. Once economic growth stops, you have millions of well-educated, ambitious people who can't get jobs, can't vote, and can't even hold street protests. A prosperous middle class shut out of political power and facing a fall in living standards is exactly what causes revolutions. And we have absolutely no guarantee that what emerges from the revolution will be a liberal democracy.

Lisa

Gareth, thanks for breaking that down in a way that was so easy to grasp.

mikyung

i have made friends with the local Fuchinese(chinese dialect)speaking take out family
no matter how hard they work--their poverty and lack of healthcareand education in china
will never be erased--i dont know how to help america or the chinese immigrants-i can t even help myself and im korean american without a full time job... all i know is someone is getting rich and its not any of us

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