Sunday, July 17, 2011

China's Advantage Being... What, Again?

Thomas Friedman continues to fetishize China. Friedman contends that there is a sense in Europe and the Middle East, at least on the part of the ordinary people asked to bear the cost, that capitalism has failed to live up to its promise:
That is because there is a deep sense of theft in both countries, a sense that the way capitalism played out in Egypt and Greece in the last decade was in its most crony-esque, rigged and corrupt deformation, letting some people get fantastically rich simply because of their proximity to power. So there is a hunger not just for freedom, but for justice. Or, as Rothkopf puts it, “not just for accounting, but for accountability.”
Instead of arguing that we can improve or democratize the systems that have led to these failures and perceptions of failure, as you might expect, Friedman sees China as having the answers:
But there is an adult lurking. China has been buying Spanish, Portuguese and Greek bonds to help stabilize these Chinese export markets. “These are delicate times, and we take a positive role,” Yi Gang, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, told the British newspaper The Guardian in January.
The solution, then, is communism? To create a police state that can keep people from organizing and protesting? To save money by keeping the bulk of the population poor and uneducated, largely destined either for rural poverty or to grind out their days in low-wage factories and sweatshops, while convincing the likes of Friedman that the schools that serve the wealthy and powerful are representative of the entire nation's academic progress? To manipulate national currencies to gain an advantage in the export market? Friedman lectures,
Either we both put our nations on more sustainable growth paths — which requires cutting, taxing and investing for the future — or we’re looking at a world in which democracies are going to turn on themselves and fight over shrinking pies, with China having a growing say over how big the slices will be.
If we're looking to become China, Friedman should be lavishing praise on Cantor, not criticizing him and his ilk. A government can save money if it doesn't much care if its population at large has access to decent health care, quality schools, access to higher education, decent roads, a middle class standard of living, clean water and air.... Such things don't much matter if your primary goal is to ensure the wealth and privilege of those already at the top. That's where Eric Cantor wants to lead the country. And yes, you can make that future a reality without raising taxes. So which is it - is Eric Cantor a problem, one of a class of "reckless baby boomer politicians for whom no crisis is too serious to set aside political ambition and ideology", or is he part of the solution, bringing the realities of China home to America. Capitalism? Democracy? Hardly. Bring on the communist, totalitarian state!

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