Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm still afraid of China... Part 2

This is a continuation of my previous blog where I express my growing concern for our inability to compete with China....

    In a discussion on the advantages that China may hold over us, if I didn't mention their education system, I would be remiss.  Anecdotal as it may be, this struck me particularly as my son and I were touring Princeton University a few months ago, and 2/3's of the tour guides seemed to be of Asian descent.  So I did some research.  Here is what I found...  School in China is compulsory for 9 years and then for the last 3, students go to technical schools, high schools or start in the workforce.  

The days typically start at the same time as our schools do, 8am, unless the kids come in early to clean the school.  That's right, they clean their own schools.  There are no janitors in Chinese schools, the kids have the responsibility to clean. They have, on average, 8 - 40 minute classes, instead of our 7-40 minute class routine, but they have it 6-7 days per week instead of 5.  It is not unusual for Chinese children to be in school until after 9 at night. They take breaks and can go home for lunch and dinner, but come back to school after each.  The time spent at school, between classes, is mainly spent studying, as there are exams each day.  Uniforms are normal, but if not, there are strict dress codes.  Chinese children are not allowed to date in schools.  Their middle school is generally accepted as being equivalent to our High Schools.  For those parents and teachers, who hate teaching to the test, don't move to China.  The 3 years of High School are mostly spent preparing kids to take the Gao Kao, the higher education test.  The last year of High School is entirely dedicated to it.  Forget about being on a Varsity Sports team, they don't exist. If you are good at sports, you go to sports schools where you study and train in your sport, while you have little interaction with textbooks on other subjects.  Let's talk Olympics for a minute, as a way to illustrate that the Chinese are good at setting and achieving goals.  China won 32 gold medals in the 2004 Summer Olympics, about twice the number they had if you averaged the previous 5 Olympics.  They set a goal to do better on their home turf, and 4 years later, they won an unprecedented 112 gold medals in the 2008 Summer Olympics.  That's over 3 times better than their best effort ever, and a scary thing if you think about what they could put their minds to do next.

     If you really want to be scared, you'd want to take a close look at the financial comparisons between our countries.  Seriously, don't read any further if you are weak-hearted....China, in the last 28 years has moved from a "poor" society to the 2nd major economic power in the world.  From 37th place to 2nd place, that's a huge spread.  How do we do against this "poor" country in our currency reserve?

We suck. While the "rich" country of the United States of America set set aside a whopping 77.65 billion dollars, China has, at the same time, set aside $1,955 billion dollars, um I don't have a calculator handy, but isn't that more than 25 times what we have?  We probably make it up in our comparative debt analysis, but no, lo and behold, we are at 37% of our GDP and China is at 16%.  Well at least it's not 3x our rate, there should be comfort in that. FYI ours is at 13,750 Billion while China's is at 400 Billion.  That's more of a stark reminder as our debt has to be measured in Trillions and at the same time theirs is in billions. Sobering thought, isn't it?  China actually owns 907 billion dollars of US treasury bonds, so they could pay off their debt twice with just these if they wanted to.  That makes them our largest creditor, FYI, and gives them a huge amount of political and economic clout.  Ever wonder why we have become largely silent on any, human rights issues out of China?  I don't. I tried to find some good statistics on how much property the Chinese already own in the US, but I couldn't. I am certain, that the Chinese are buying more and more of our properties though, as we look like a fire sale to them.

Their dollar is strong, and our properties are cheap.  It's not only China doing it, a Canadian friend of mine came down recently to buy 2 homes in Florida, saying that it was a deal he couldn't pass up.  There has been talk of eventually having to back our debt with some sort of collateral, and one of the only things we own of value, is federal land.  Think how scary that could get if China owned the roads we drive on, or the power plants we pull from?  It's already happening at the state level, what's to stop it at the federal level?  Nothing. 

     One of my biggest fears is the widening gap between male and female births in China.  With the government's "one child" policy in place since 1979, and with the invention of portable ultrasound technology, more Chinese families have chosen to abort female offspring, to make sure they have a male heir.  This has vastly skewed the numbers for males, and with the Chinese already having almost 20% of the world's population, the last thing you want is a disparity between men and women. 

Some estimates put the number of young Chinese men, that cannot find mates, to 40 million by 2010.  Um, that's a lot of horned up, motivated soldiers to have, and it's less than 9 years away.  What are we doing to combat this?  We are ramping up our exports of Hollywood films and TV shows so we can show these men what they are missing.  I posted a modest picture of Kim Kardashian (left) to illustrate what we show, but trust me, it was tough to find a modest picture of Kim Kardashian.  Exporting pictures and films of our best looking women to scores of frustrated Chinese men, seems like taunting to me, at the very least, it seems like a bad idea.  It is nice to see us still manufacture something here in the US though.  One need only to drive through some of the once great manufacturing meccas in the US, to see the shuttered buildings, and gated properties that used to be manufacturing plants to get the feel of whether we are growing or shrinking against China as a manufacturer (the answer is shrinking).  We even buy a lot of our military gear abroad now, which makes us more vulnerable in the event of an attack.  China, on the other hand, has thousands of new factories and trained labor ready to convert to making things for use in war.  We still make more bullets than China currently, but of course we will have the greater need. 

     I'm going to close this blog with a tongue and cheek look at how an attack on the US might go.   Let's imagine the Chinese military landing on some beaches in California and see what might happen. Picture our General talking to his aide getting an update on the landing just hours after......

General:  What's the sit rep on the landings?

Aide: Um, not good sir, we've lost all five beachheads.

General: ALL FIVE?  How in God's name did we lose all five?  What happened in Santa Barbara?

Aide: Bed news sir, it was overrun quickly.  They tweeted ahead of time that they had covered their bayonets in dust, gluten, latex, and Oh the humanity of it all, Peanut Butter! They found no resistance when they arrived.

General: Those Bastards! What about Toro Canyon?

Aide: Funny thing about Toro Canyon sir, they technically own it.  The first boat came ashore and it was filled with lawyers and eviction papers, and well, we were trespassing after all......

General: Hollywood?

Aide: It was an inside job sir.  For years Jackie Chan has been hosting events and flash mobs in all the strategic places and the press has conveniently sent these pictures out.  The Chinese had every square inch recorded and were able to circumvent our defenses easily.

General:  San Diego?

Aide: Overrun and surrounded in minutes by the Chinese and their paid mercenaries. 

General: Paid Mercenaries?

Aide: Well technically they were the day laborers standing in front of the Home Depot, but they were still pretty effective.  Our intelligence reports that they were back by noon, looking for landscaping jobs.

General: Well that just leaves Ormond Beach where we have the Naval Base, how bad were the casualties there?

Aide:  Good News sir, no casualties.  Bad News sir, we surrendered immediately.  Don't take it out on the soldiers though sir, it was diabolical what they did.  They knocked out the Internet, except for Google, and paid to have the top 20 searches return with the answer "Surrender to the Chinese" It was over before it started sir. We didn't stand a chance.  The Troops are being held captive in their own homes, and are already complaining about the conditions there sir.

General: My God, who could have predicted this?

Aide: Only the Ongion, sir.  

The future Mrs. Kim, Kim Lee Kardashian


Daphne Mays said...

The bigger surprise to me is that they have not yet made the move to take over. I wonder what they are waiting for.

Bill said...

Wow! Thanks for the long comment with some very cogent points. I think it overloaded my feed for comments on the blog, it hasn't worked since you posted it. As you can tell I'm not as much afraid as I am nostalgic for when we did manufacture quality goods here in the U.S. With the freedom we have, we have to take what comes with it I guess.