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Forum Post: In what way are the Chinese more "American" than the US?

Posted 2 years ago on Feb. 9, 2012, 7:53 p.m. EST by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

To begin, let me explain that the purpose of this post is not to advocate communism, nor to deny that severe abuses were ever perpetrated in China. I would add though that tremendous wrongs were committed against China by the west as well, such as the Opium Wars. Instead, I only wish to focus on a single positive aspect of China today, which is its economic policy, which in some ways bears a resemblance to the traditional American System of economics.

Traditionally, the distinctive characteristics of American economics were its emphasis on the development of internal infrastructure as well as a manufacturing base. In fact, we fought the revolution in order to do our own manufacturing rather than accepting cheap British goods from its Indian colony. Similarly, the emphasis on infrastructure development is evident in key American figures such as Lincoln and his development of the railroads, and FDR and his New Deal policies.

China's commitment to such an economic approach is also evident by it's vast quantity of manufacturing for export and its emphasis on infrastructure development such as it's fast train network, which is rapidly growing. So why is it that the United States must fall behind in it's traditional areas of excellence? And would it be possible to revive our economic competencies, possibly through collaborative efforts with China?

61 Comments

61 Comments


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[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (21297) 2 years ago

China is at an earlier stage of capitalism because they have only had a capitalist economy since 1976 so it may seem like the way the U.S. used to be. The U.S., on the other hand, is moving beyond that toward a more modern economy based on technological change in the information age just in a very unprepared way. I don't think we are anywhere near where we need to be in terms of economics in the U.S. We need to re-vamp the system to match the new realities.

[-] 2 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

I believe there are two forms of capitalism, one that extracts wealth through low wages, etc., and one that builds wealth by developing the people and the economy. Both China and the US have a mixture of these two.

I believe our modern economy is unfortunately too extractive and that we need to bring back more of its productive capacity.

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (21297) 2 years ago

I've never really heard of those two types of capitalism, but okay. And I don't know if that is possible to bring back productive capacity, but it's an idea. We certainly could use our infrastructure rebuilt.

[-] 3 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

You may know these kinds of capitalism by other names such as "free trade" or "globalization" for extractive capitalism, and "protectionism" for productive capitalism.

Protectionism has a bad name these days, though its only recommended in a mild form. But considering that it makes sense to protect ourselves militarily, shouldn't we protect ourselves economically as well?

We can always bring back productive capacity. America used to be the greatest manufacturer in the world, because of our people and our institutions. We can reclaim this role in the world if we simply have the will to do so.

Extractive capitalists think that the only way to reduce the cost of production is by paying the workers less, but productive capitalists believe in reducing costs by educating the workers to make creative advancements.

[-] 2 points by flip (6996) 2 years ago

if you look at all the countries that have developed economically, you will find that they all did it through protecting their young industries with tarriffs etc. britian and then the united states in the 1800's and you can move forward from there

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (21297) 2 years ago

Hmm. Okay. You have many ideas.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

I'm glad to see you're interested in this topic. I've bumped into you quite frequently here.

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (21297) 2 years ago

Yes. I've always liked economics.

[-] 1 points by freewriterguy (882) 2 years ago

yes and sharing the earth instead of witholding it would be a good start at revamping in my opinion. As if Im not tired enough from slave labor everytime I want to go explore a cave or a meteor crater, I have to pay tens if not hundreds of dollars to another man. I just wish I could charge them in like manner for using my oxygen, or my gravity!

[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (4784) 2 years ago

Hi Arturo,

What is the medical system like in China?

Best regards

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

In some ways its good, rather affordable. In some ways, its not so good. For example, it is somewhat of a tradition that for important operations, the patient must pay the medical staff a bribe to ensure that good care is given.

I haven't used the system since I've been here, but my English friend uses it frequently and claims that for him it works quite well.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (26864) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

Arturo - This might be a good video to show your students:

Amazing Video Emerges of China‘s ’Ghost Cities’ | Video ...

[-] 0 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

I saw that video quite a while back, myself. But consider this, and remember that I'm not quoting you exact figures here, but China has something like 3-5 hundred million people living in cities now, who are relatively well to do. The other billion people are poor to very poor and live in the villages, doing agricultural work.

As agriculture becomes increasingly mechanized in China, fewer people will live in the villages, and will move to those cities which are now vacant, and will manufacture agricultural equipment, in addition to doing a wide variety of other kinds of jobs.

I think its just taking them a little longer than they expected. But if China continues to make progress, it is inevitable that people will increasingly move from the country to the cities.

[-] 1 points by 1sealyon (434) 2 years ago

I do a fair amount of business in China, particularly in the South East where the economy is booming, and I had an interesting discussion with one of my friends there. He argued that his life is more American than mine. He asked me what % of my income was taxed. I told him, and he said, "not just Fed income tax, all taxes". I said, "well that could 40%".

He told me that he makes $ 23,000 a year which is roughly equal to $115,000 per year in the US, and his total tax is $ 0. If you make under $25,000 in China you pay no tax, none at all. So he smiled and said to me “who has a bigger affect on their lives by the Gov, me or you?”

So I said, "wait a minute, your Gov has repressive laws, like the suppression of free expression by the people".

He said to me, "you don't get it. There are 1.4 billion people here with one central Gov made up of only a few people. Every once in a while they catch one guy doing something wrong and they make a big public trial for him to make an example. He gets the usual sentence (capital punishment, China executes about 5000 people per year, more than any other nation) but the average person does not worry about breaking these laws because the chances of getting caught are like the chances of hitting the lottery (which is also legal now in China, along with private land ownership)”.

So in the end he argued that China beats the US when it comes to limited Gov intrusion on their lives, low or no taxes, and freedom of expression and movement (you can’t drive in the US if the Gov takes away the money you need to pay for gas and monthly car payments).

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

I lived in China for a year, and found many of the things you mention to be the case.

[-] 1 points by 1sealyon (434) 2 years ago

Well I only spend short periods there, a few weeks at a time, and I was just embarrassed about my ignorance of what it is really like. I had always pictured it as this scary, Orwellian society, but it’s not.

It sort of reminds me of the old western gold-rush towns shown in movies with half-finished buildings; all of the people rushing in every direction trying to make the most of the boom. It is actually a very refreshing experience to witness so much excitement and enthusiasm. People are so optimistic. I like going there.

My worst fear is that America is losing its optimism and frontier independence, qualities that are lacking in this forum. We used to tackle great projects like building huge bridges, massive highway systems, and harnessing rivers for electricity. Now we seem more timid and less adventurous.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Yes, you're right about all of that. When I first went to China, I was afraid too, and after a very short while, realized there was nothing to be afraid of. And yes, we do need to regain our optimism and take on the big projects like you mention.

The American figure, who is probably the main proponent for optimism and big projects, is Lyndon Larouche. He has been propagandized against as much or more so than China:

http://larouchepac.com/

[-] 1 points by 1sealyon (434) 2 years ago

If you could wave a magic wand and pick one great enterprise that the US should pursue, what would it be?

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

I'd recommend expansion of the rail system and it's conversion to magnetic levitation, that is, trains that don't run on wheels, but rather on magnetic fields. This would require the expansion of electricity generation facilities, such as, by solving the problems of nuclear energy.

[-] 2 points by 1sealyon (434) 2 years ago

This is exactly the kind of project that we need.

We have not built a new nuclear power plant in 35 years and we are on the verge of a nuclear renaissance. The events at Fukashima will actually help speed the development of new US plants.

We have the opportunity to do what Germany and Japan did after WWII in replacing their devastated infrastructures. We can leap frog the rest of the world by building the safest and most efficient plants using the latest technology.

These plants are small (100 square miles of ugly windmills vs a nuke the size of a Wal-Mart), are located near water which is also convenient for major cities where most energy is consumed, provides energy independence, produces no green house gasses, and can provide electricity and heat for all sorts of new technology like electric cars and shale-oil extraction.

There are three new plants under construction now with another 20 or more on the books. This work would fix so many problems. We just need the guts to do it.

I really credit President Obama for having the courage to push ahead after what happened in Japan and not wimp-out like some others (Germany).

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

I'm glad to hear you have positive views on nuclear energy. For a comprehensive group of articles on nuclear power, in relationship to the economy, check out the following page:

http://larouchepac.com/nuclear

Unfortunately, I have some doubts about Obama, he advocates certain good ideas, but never really makes any progress on them.

[-] 2 points by 1sealyon (434) 2 years ago

Yes, but I have to give the man credit when he shows some guts. There must have been a lot of yelling and screaming on 1600 Penn Ave the day Obama decided to keep building the nukes.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Do you have a link on news related to that?

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

That is good news. From what I've heard, there hasn't been one death related to nuclear radiation in Japan.

[-] 1 points by 1sealyon (434) 2 years ago

Correct, but we kill 20,000 people world wide every year mining coal (mostly again in China).

[-] 1 points by Quark (236) 2 years ago

You are absolutely right.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Thank you. Any thoughts on reviving the economy through collaboration with China?

One plan is mutual investments in infrastructure development, such as a train route which would be built on a bridge over or a tunnel under the Bering Strait to connect all of Asia with the Americas.

It would increase both trade and travel, as well as allowing us to pipe oil and gas across, as well as exchange electricity, so that we use China's electricity when its night there, and they use ours when its night here.

[-] 1 points by gestopomillyy (1695) 2 years ago

the US fall behind because the government thinks it is the world care takers.. all our money is spent helping or destroying other countries.. we allow other countries to import cheaper than we export because it makes a few rich while impoverishing the rest. there is no money for infrastructure here because all that money is being spent on infrastructure in other countries. could china have built those fast trains without amercan money? if they had to pay the same tariffs to send those goods to us as we have to pay to send goods to them?

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

well said, but i think we can compete with china, if we can have energy Independence cause that is whats needed to run factories with automation not sweet shops. I work as industrial electrician and see the inside of factories. Half of all the tin cans for bud, pepsi and coke and other soda and beer cans is made in one plant. The plant only employes although few for the most part high paying jobs such as managers, accountants and maintenance mechanics. (skilled labor) but this crew of 20 or so people make 1/2 of all the cans in America, for only 5 cents or probably less And this drives business like contractors and engineers (high paying jobs) the second problem is that manufacturing although good creates pollution. So all we need to do is get alot of cheap energy, make stuff, and keep it clean.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Yes, first we have to end the speculation that is making a few rich, put that system through bankruptcy reorganization, then we can create credit for infrastructure, which in turn will require a lot of manufacturing.

When you talk about China using US dollars for its trains, are you talking about dollars earned from trade (which is my guess) or aid? Because I'm not aware of aid to China for building trains.

And yes, I think the tariffs need to be fair.

[-] 2 points by gestopomillyy (1695) 2 years ago

yes im talking about un balanced trade without that china would not even be on the radar

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Well, remember, in the not too distant past China was the most important country in the world for a number of centuries, perhaps a thousand years. And while globalization has earned China much of its wealth, its a big country and has many things going on.

There was Sun Yat Sen, who tried to bring the American system to China, such as by developing its infrastructure. This strain of thinking still exists to this day alongside communism and free-trade capitalism.

Also, Confucianism, the real philosophy of China, and what originally made it great thousands of years ago, is making a comeback today.

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

collaborative efforts with China? all we need to do stop buying their crap

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Actually, there is much that the Chinese want to buy from us, high tech goods that is. We could get rich selling to the Chinese.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

There's a big market in China for muskrat pelts too.

How good's your trappin' skills?

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Not too good, how about yours?

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

high tech goods? like what china makes electronics. we sell them designs, then they sell it to world, problem is what they make is garbadge, but the masses like buying cheap crap so its getting harder and harder not to buy crap thats made in china

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

No, I'm talking about high quality machine tool, these would allow the Chinese to make better quality products.

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

soon the Chinese will stop buying us bonds and stop taking our useless money, then we will have to reopen all the closed factories and start making something again... we misewell start now, why wait till this happens.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Hell yes!

The Chinese are buying gold now at a tremendous rate, imagining that the dollar will eventually collapse completely. I've taken the hint and have started converting some of my savings into physical silver as well.

[-] 2 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

sales (retail) is like 3/4 of the GDP of the us, i don't understand how economist use GDP as a measure of economic strength, when all retail is moving products around.

imagine if money didn't exist, making things is way more important then just moving things around.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Indeed so.

Considering that you advocate ending the Fed, what do you suggest as an alternative?

I'm mostly familiar with the idea of a national bank, which would create credit at low interest rates for infrastructure development and rebuilding our manufacturing sector.

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

I don't exactly know, i government run bank will be scary, but hows about a bank or national network of banks, with elected officials, with its own constitution that it MUST follow. There just needs to be some more checks and balances, in the central bank. and i don't think it should be privately held by foreigners.

the FED is so corrupt how the hell can they give TRILLIONS to other goveremnts. and WE pay for it through inflation and tax dept.

http://www.texemarrs.com/022012/fed_rips_off_america.htm

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

We've had national banks before, the First and Second National Banks of America. You might want to look them up (individually) at Wikipedia. I think the idea is originally from Alexander Hamilton.

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

it sounds like they were ran by the government directly. That's probably why they failed.

i was thinking of fist something with a set of rules (constitution or other law) limiting the banks power. so they can't just steal trillions of dollars and not even tell congress or the senate or anyone for that matter who they even gave the money too. these people have too much control.

second, a bank that has elected officials (not sure if that will work either cause elected officials are crooked too, but at least they can be fired and have to answer to the people and the peoples representatives.)

[-] 2 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

I think you are assuming that government is necessarily evil. I don't think I would agree about that. I think we and other countries have had better and worse governments over history. I think some of our governments must have been quite good.

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

evil probably not, but incompetent yes. If left unchecked with too much power though, i think any government will drift towards abusing that power.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

I would say that there have been numerous individuals in our government who were or are evil. I think the principles of the constitution are mostly good, but too often have been subverted by money.

We have had great leaders though, what about Lincoln, JFK? There were a few great ones, but not many.

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

well anyway... gtg to bed now.. gt work in mourning while i still havea job.. nice talking to ya.

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

true, if we didn't have great leaders and all were evil, we wouldn't have made it this far, but it is slipping away and things need to change. The FED giving trillions away, bush-oboma giving trillions away, no sound money, the state of this nation is getting worse, and we need to identify what is cousing this and fix it, we will fall.

something needs to change, for the better, we need to change direction and not keep trying the same thing to fix it. remember "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

i guess the government likes this though, cause every time we move stuff around they get a cut. But the goverement should be worried about this too cause with a high percentage of retail in GDP i just don't see it being sustainable.

[-] 1 points by EndTheFED (65) 2 years ago

why don't we obtain energy independence (green energy & nuclear) , keep the machine tools and use them to make products here, develop better techniques to process industrial waist) then maybe when i go to mexico or canada they don't look at me like we don't take us dollars.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Well, yes, that's part of the idea. We need to rebuild our manufacturing base. But selling to the Chinese would help us decrease our trade deficit with them, and would give some impetus to the redevelopment of industry here. Then we could make our own stuff.

[-] 0 points by smartcapitalist (143) 2 years ago

Quite obviously you haven't heard about the growth of the Asian tigers and China is pretty much following in their paths.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

A few decades ago, China embraced globalization, but in recent years has found that it is not all it was expected to be. What do you do when your main customers, the west, commit economic suicide?

These days, China is switching to the path of developing its internal markets through infrastructure development. We in the US should do likewise, and collaborate with the Chinese on such projects.

[-] 0 points by smartcapitalist (143) 2 years ago

i have nothing to say

[-] 0 points by JIFFYSQUID92 (-994) from Portland, OR 2 years ago

There's no telling what this once great country is capable of, but until we get Republcon, Tea Bagger and DINO saboteurs and feet draggers out of the fucking way we never will find out.

FDR had a Dem majority in both houses and achieved feats of progress the world has never seen. Cons have been fighting to destroy this sort of progress ever since then, going into overdrive with Ronnie Raygun. Taking us from creditor to debtor in only 8 years and down from there.

I say round them all up and put them in a camp until we finish cleaning up their mess.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 2 years ago

Have you heard of Benjamin Fulford? He used to be a journalist for Japanese fortune magazine. He, and others in his milieu, recommend putting the neo-cons and others like them in camps, just as you said:

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/esp_autor_fulford.htm

[-] -1 points by JIFFYSQUID92 (-994) from Portland, OR 2 years ago

Never.

But we do put criminals away to protect society.

[-] 0 points by john23 (-272) 2 years ago

FDR was a massive failure:

http://www.econ.yale.edu/seminars/echist/eh02/ohanian-021008.pdf

I'm not a republican either...so don't start the name calling.

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