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China Is Here

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Posted on Jul 17, 2009
Flickr / Haldini

By David Sirota

GUIYANG, China—Before planning for and making the transglobal trek to the most populous country on Earth, I knew mainland China mostly through television and movie screens. My sinologists were Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Egg Shen, the crotchety shaman from “Big Trouble in Little China”—a Cabinet of advisers who left me, ahem, unprepared for my voyage east.

Thus I was thrilled when, upon arriving here, a Peace Corps volunteer handed me a 1997 tome called “Red China Blues.” Written by Chinese-Canadian journalist Jan Wong, the book tours a nation on the verge of superpowerdom, and it ends by suggesting the country’s industrialization may mean “the future of China may be the West’s past.”

One excursion does not make me a China guru, but I can report with some confidence that when it comes to economic growth, Wong is right. China is walking in our shoes—and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

On my trip (which you can read more about at Openleft.com), I’ve seen America circa 1900: coastal metropolises of towering wealth hemming in a polluted and destitute heartland. Two Chinas, as John Edwards might say—one you constantly hear about and another hidden from view.

In Hong Kong, I gaped at the sleek office towers, fine restaurants and nouveau riche—the “miracle” endlessly celebrated by The New York Times’ Tom Friedman (China is a place of “wide avenues, skyscrapers, green spaces, software parks and universities”), Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria (“China’s growth has obvious and amazing benefits for the world”) and most of America’s Very Serious Commentators. Indeed, according to MIT’s Yasheng Huang, China’s best-known cities are known for tricking incurious observers into portraying the entire country as “sanitary … largely free of grotesque manifestations of poverty [and] one of the most successful countries in tackling income inequality.”

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Of course, in Guiyang, a coal-mining town of 3 million in China’s poorest province, I found exactly the opposite—the darker side of the “miracle.”

Here in the countryside is the soundstage of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick—filth-covered tenements slapped together with crumbling cement and kitchen tile; limbless paupers with burned faces begging for food; an atmosphere choked by soot, exhaust and the stench of human excrement.

Scholars insist this is the unavoidable consequence of a country being run by the Chinese Communist Party—an extreme version of the Republican Party that couples Genghis Khan’s intolerance with Hank Paulson’s authoritarian capitalism. Pundits assert that China’s inequality, which according to World Bank data now rivals our own Gilded Age, is just a necessary evil—the obligatory pitfall of nonetheless positive Western-style development. And while some Americans may lament international poverty, many are too distracted or unsympathetic to care about seemingly far-flung tragedies.

But, then, the challenges China poses aren’t about Save-the-Children altruism, and they aren’t distant triflings. As none other than “Big Trouble in Little China” presciently warned, China is here—and we cannot simply cite inevitability as reason to ignore its metastasizing problems.

We’re not talking about the United States in 1900—a country of only 76 million people pigheadedly despoiling its way into the 20th century. It’s 2009, the planet’s already on the brink of resource exhaustion and climate catastrophe, and China is 17 times more populous than America was during our industrial era.

If we just sit back and listen to those who pooh-pooh the complaints and celebrate supposed “miracles”; if governments refuse to strengthen international environmental policies; if the world merely hopes for the best as 1.3 billion Chinese pursue old-school smokestack industrialization, then there’s not going to be much of a world left.

Our future won’t be that gleaming Hong Kong skyline we keep being told about—it will be downtown Guiyang.

David Sirota is the best-selling author of the books “Hostile Takeover” (2006) and “The Uprising” (2008). Find his blog at OpenLeft.com or e-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com

© 2009 Creators.com


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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, July 27, 2009 at 11:44 pm Link to this comment

Gordy,

Was it not you? I beg your pardon, please forgive me. I tried so hard to make certain I had addressed the post properly, but somehow unintentionally got crossed up. Thank you for correcting my mistake.

So then, my address is to rfidler for his lack of understanding about what selfish really is.

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By Gordy, July 27, 2009 at 5:03 am Link to this comment

MarthaA, there’s just one problem… 

RFIDLER SAID THOSE THINGS, NOT ME!!! 

[sigh…]

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By Inherit The Wind, July 27, 2009 at 4:53 am Link to this comment

MarthaA:
You correctly point out that these acts are in one’s self-interest.  While I disagree with your definition of “selfish” generally, it’s a usable and workable definition, as long as you CLEARLY keep the demarcation between “self-interest” and “selfish”.

The Amish barn-raising (who hasn’t seen “Witness”?) is one example.  FDR cited another to justify Lend-Lease: When your neighbor’s house is on fire, you lend him your hose so he can put it out—and that keeps it from setting YOUR house on fire.

Enlightened self-interest is frequently mistaken for charity or sacrifice, but it’s not. It’s the understanding that ultimately, helping others helps yourself.  In parts of California, that anti-property tax creed is wealthy areas is SO strong that there’s no money to repave roads.  So the wealthy there would rather pay Mercedes and Lexus to FIX their cars than pay taxes to fix the roads and save their cars.  THAT is selfishness that HURTS their self-interest—and it’s moronic, of course.

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By MarthaA, July 26, 2009 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment

Gordy,

Here is what you said:

“Even KDelphi would step back up onto the curb to avoid being hit by an oncoming bus. That is a selfish act.”

[No, this is not a selfish act, it is an act in your best interest; doing what is in your best interest is not selfish unless you are knowingly and deliberately harming someone in order to do it.]

“Amish neighbors banding together to build a barn for their neighbor is a selfish act: There is a presumption that the others will help them one day in return.”

[Neither is Amish families helping each other acts of selfishness.  They are following the Golden Rule.  The Golden Rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” which is far from being selfish.

It does appear that your thinking is selfish, because you apparently don’t consider helping someone else unless you think pretty positively there will be a return on your investment, which is not the reason one should help someone else, because you are not suppose to expect anything in return, otherwise, you could end up being angry at your neighbor, who may be unable to fulfill your expectations.  People who selfishly do something for others only because of what they expect in return are often disappointed, but it is an act of expectation you are talking about, not real selfishness.

People who are selfish, are stingy, and will not do for or give anything to anybody without a return on their investment. All they are concerned about is their self, never others.

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By Inherit The Wind, July 26, 2009 at 5:14 am Link to this comment

FT:

You find ONE example in China, and omit that the government takes 30% of the profit (or it is the revenue?) and somehow that “proves” me wrong.

Sometimes you are quite smart and sometimes you are quite the dullard—this was the latter.

Gordy rhetorically asks the right question: Is your answer that “your” side gets all the power and then they’ll magically fix everything?

Now THERE is a pipe dream!

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By Gordy, July 26, 2009 at 4:43 am Link to this comment

Stop oafing around FT - you have to actually engage with the arguments if you want to be taken seriously, or in fact if you want to claim that you contribute positively to debate itself.  I hardly think claiming that socialism has never been done is a decisive hammer-blow against what I have said.  You reek of arrogance - here I am trying to make a serious point and you are flippantly dismissive.  It looks very much like you rely on the knowledge that many will agree with you out of pure instinct without really thinking or requiring any compelling argument from you.  Should I just rest on my laurels like you and call you names back? 

Even if I grant you that socialism has never truly arrived in any nation, that could just as well PROVE my point that human nature gets in the way. 

It’s a dull, hoary old contention though…  Stupid, because if I was a fanatical capitalist fundamentalist I could just as credibly complain that ‘capitalism has never truly arrived in any nation, it has always been watered down or distorted’.  I would not be surprised to find that plenty of (rich) people think this.  All these ideological shades get applied by degrees, never absolutely. 

The Care Bears showed us how to love one another and live in a state of cooperative idyll, so I try to promote their message of peace online and wherever I go.  People say to me that ‘Careism didn’t work’ but I tell them that it’s never really been tried. 

Folktruther, I suspect that you don’t even understand the point I am trying to make - please summarize it in your own words.  So far no critic of my view has accurately addressed specific points that I have made - they have just made sloppy generalizations about me being being some kind of mystical right-wing nihilist who advises people to retreat into a life of self-help.  It shows that these people don’t really question their own views - they just stick to a side they identify with, and bark thoughtlessly at the other side like the monkeys on 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

Earlier, Folktruther, you said: “Somehow earthpeople must gain enough power to overcome the Fiddlers of the world and take the economy away from them.  How we can take the money away from the rich, and thus their power, is the task we own to our children and grandchildren.” - so your solution to the world’s problem is that you and ‘your side’ get all the power and have your way completely?  Hmm, sounds familiar…  And fucking stupid.  Dream on.

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By Folktruther, July 25, 2009 at 8:49 pm Link to this comment

I like that, Gordy, “ermergent group will of individual human natures.”  I plan to steal it from you, theft being the sincerest form of flattery. But you are still a dingbat.  Socialism may or may not be corrupt but we don’t know because it hasn’t existed yet.

there are a hundrem million people working in coops in the world, but I don’t anything about them.Anarcisssie is a big coop entusiast, but there hasn’t evolved any way of uniting them yet while maintaining their essential character.

Inherit, you’re a dingbat.  and not incidentally, in China roads are private enterprise, people paying tolls on them to support local governements, who rent them out to privaate companies.  It keeps people from aimless traveling.  Banks are owned by the government.  What would ayn rand think.

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By Gordy, July 25, 2009 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

“A FAR better solution is strong, but sane regulation of industries for safety and fair practices, but not determining how much they produce or the price they charge (unless they engage in price-fixing—collaborating with competitors).

Programs that are NOT suitable to private ownership, such as creating roads, bridges, railroads, AND HEALTHCARE should be government functions.”

That passage from Inherit the Wind illustrated my point well: with a little imagination you can conceive of either system working well in an ‘ideal world’, but reality is reality.  Yes, I can conceive of a world where the power of capital is bounded and regulated for the common good, but in reality it naturally overruns or subverts any restriction. 

Similarly, I can conceive of an ideal-world Socialism in which the leaders are like kind and attentive parents nurturing, respecting and selflessly facilitating the self-expression and unfolding of humanity.  I could draw you a picture with crayons. 

But humans are what they are, and in this world capitalism is corrupt, and socialism is corrupt.  Humans are the alpha and omega. 

Whatever the means for getting the best out of individual humans, that is where we must place a large part of our attention, instead of drawing plans and maps for some future cloud-kingdom that no one will rally for. 

History is like gravity and arguments are only one kind of boulder rolling down the mountainside; NOT principle determinants.  Concrete things like population-growth, scientific development and capital determine the course of history and the temperament of politics at least as much.  Above all, the emergent group will of individual human natures.

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By Inherit The Wind, July 25, 2009 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

Capitalism is a form of rental slavery that is more to the interests of workers than feudal slavery.

Socialism is where the people control the means o production.
*******************************************

In these two statements, FT shows that it is HE that is the dingbat, not Gordy.

In the first statement, FT shows his profound ignorance of both capitalism AND slavery.

All of us who have labored under a bad boss and put up with it to pay the rent and keep groceries on the table felt like we were a slave with no escape.  But it’s nothing other than self-indulgent crap.  A slave could be chained, whipped, branded, castrated, sold, or killed, all without ANY recourse under law.  If he took the only ways out, running away, or killing his master, he would be killed, usually by torture—even in 19th Century America.

If you can just walk out the door of your job and never come back, you aren’t a slave.  If you don’t have to put up with being whipped, on pain of death, you aren’t a slave.

It makes good coffee-house talk and good broadside propaganda to call workers “slaves” but it’s crap.  Besides, the workers HAVE had a weapon that has been abandoned mostly since Reagan: It’s called LABOR UNIONS.

FT further betrays his complete and profound ignorance in this first statement because he shows he has NO idea what capitalism actually is.  He doesn’t understand that when two people trade what they each make well, THAT is capitalism.  He doesn’t understand that Adam Smith’s and David Ricardo’s simple examples of British cloth and Portuguese wine and the concepts of comparative advantage are also capitalism.

In fact, FT betrays the fact that he has NO knowledge and NO understanding at all of the science of Economics, from the simplest Supply and Demand curve to the most complex international macro-economic models.  FT remains in complete and blissful ignorance as he lives in his fantasy world.

Then there’s the second statement, which, if possible, is even stupider than the first.  FT fails to recognize the obvious: WHO among “the people” runs the means of production?  Why, it INEVITABLY turns out to be the government officials who want power and influence just as much as the capitalists he decries.  Yet, when the State controls all production, you, the consumer, can’t vote with your feet and your dollars.  You have NO CHOICE.  If the State decides there will only be one automobile, or one size television, that’s what you get.  If the State decides that all radios can only tune to one station, that’s the only radio you get (North Korea has something like that—a squawk box in every home that can’t be turned off and spews propaganda as the State chooses).

Before you know it, a privileged few are controlling the means of production and living high on the hog.  The ONLY way to tell them from the “Evil Capitalists” in our society, is they wear ill-fitting ugly pseudo-military uniforms rather than business suits, so they can pretend they are proletarian soldiers.

Don’t take me at my word: Look at the world you live in and you’ll see it’s true.  Socialism is just like capitalism, only without the benefits of competition.

A FAR better solution is strong, but sane regulation of industries for safety and fair practices, but not determining how much they produce or the price they charge (unless they engage in price-fixing—collaborating with competitors). 

Programs that are NOT suitable to private ownership, such as creating roads, bridges, railroads, AND HEALTHCARE should be government functions.

Economics has THIS defined as well: Public versus Private goods.  A public good is a river, a private good is your land.

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By Gordy, July 23, 2009 at 4:07 am Link to this comment

I know Sweden isn’t 100% Socialist but it has adopted socialist policies. 

Martha, what you said has nothing to do with what I said. 

Once again, I am all for sharing, I am not a ‘conservative’.  I am not advocating inactivity or passivity but suggesting that individual egotism is the unit of global egotism and the cause of our current catastrophes. 

I am appalled at the ignorant knee-jerk reaction against this inoffensive and frankly inarguable hypothesis.  What is arguable is whether our problems can be resolved on an individual level, but I guess that to so much as ask this question is antagonizing to those who prefer to believe all real progress arises from mass movements.  Yet the history of mass movements is hardly a glorious one.

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By Folktruther, July 23, 2009 at 1:32 am Link to this comment

Gordy, I’m back in town and I see that you are still a dingbat.  That fidler thinks that you are brillant and a true progressive would be an indication, if another one were needed.  Nor that I am classing you with fidler, an ignorant bigot. But just stop referring to Sweden as a socialist state and ten or twenty other things and in a few years you will be just as normal as the rest of us.

Xntrk, you really do get around the world, don’t you.  You seem to be a gutsy lady, like KDelphi.

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By MarthaA, July 22, 2009 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

Gordy,

Stepping back onto the curb to keep from being run over by a bus is not a selfish act. It is a cautious act of self-preservation, but not selfish at all. It would be a selfish act to kill yourself by letting the bus hit you.

Doing what is in your own best interest is not selfish, unless you have accepted a political position to represent others.  It is selfish for politicians to represent themselves at the expense of their constituents,  instead of representing their constituents, like Max Baucus, the Conservative Blue Dogs, and the Conservative/moderate New Democrats.

A selfish person is concerned and thinks only of the welfare of his/her self.  When one makes, keeps, saves, and does only for oneself, one is selfish. 

A good example of selfish is, if your neighbor had an egregiously bad headache, but discovered he had run out of aspirin; knocks on your door and says, I hate to bother you, but I have a splitting headache; I have run out of aspirin and I’m running late and don’t have time to run by the store; do you have a couple aspirin I can have, so I won’t be late to work?

Would you give your neighbor a couple aspirin?  Or, would you be selfish?  If you, knowing you have a full bottle of aspirin, tell your neighbor, sorry, I have no aspirin, you are being selfish, because you have determined that if you give your neighbor any, there will be less for you; this example is an analogy of what the selfish CONSERVATIVE Right-Wing REPUBLICAN EXTREMISTS do to the 70% Majority Common Population all the time.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, July 22, 2009 at 8:52 pm Link to this comment

Gordy,

Stepping back onto the curb to keep from being run over by a bus is not a selfish act. It is a cautious act of self-preservation, but not selfish at all. It would be a selfish act to kill yourself by letting the bus hit you.

Doing what is in your own best interest is not selfish, unless you have accepted a political position to represent others.  It is selfish for politicians to represent themselves at the expense of their constituents,  instead of representing their constituents, like Max Baucus, the Conservative Blue Dogs, and the Conservative/moderate New Democrats.

A selfish person is concerned and thinks only of the welfare of his/her self.  When one makes, keeps, saves, and does only for oneself, one is selfish. 

A good example of selfish is, if your neighbor had an egregiously bad headache, but discovered he had run out of aspirin; knocks on your door and says, I hate to bother you, but I have a splitting headache; I have run out of aspirin and I’m running late and don’t have time to run by the store; do you have a couple aspirin I can have, so I won’t be late to work? Would you give your neighbor a couple aspirin?  Or, would you be selfish?

If you, knowing you have a full bottle of aspirin, tell your neighbor, sorry, I have no aspirin, you are being selfish, because you have determined that if you give your neighbor any, there will be less for you; this example is an analogy of what the selfish CONSERVATIVE Right-Wing REPUBLICAN EXTREMISTS do to the 70% Majority Common Population all the time.

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By MarthaA, July 22, 2009 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment

rfidler,

If you want to know about Cuba’s health care go down there like Michael Moore did?  I think you would be pleasantly surprised.

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By MarthaA, July 22, 2009 at 7:18 pm Link to this comment

rfidler,

If you want to know about Cuba’s health care go down there like Michael Moore did?  If you are not a pessimist, I think you would be pleasantly surprised.

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By MarthaA, July 22, 2009 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

rfidler,

If you want to know about Cuba’s health care go down there like Michael Moore did?  If you are not a pessimist, you will be pleasantly surprised as to how efficient and beneficial to the citizens Cuba’s health care system is.

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By rockinrobin, July 22, 2009 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://www.billmoyersjournal.com had an interesting article on a Chinese named Wong as well; businessman worth $20m; who brought a boat load of country men who had paid him well to an Island that flies a USA flag; fancy resort for “politicians” esp & other “wealthy” individuals; they were basically indentured servants, sleeping in tiny cubby holes; with a piece of fabric covering it; working 12 to 15 hours a day for “expensive” Corps: any children had to be aborted; every Congress person visiting stated that this was acceptable (free dom it is called) for 20 years; they loved being begged by the “free” Chinese folks to cash their “checks” which were pitifully small as they had to “pay” (and pay & pay & pay) which of course is known as “democracy”; for lodging, & much more);
easy to just keep “raising” prices to the public anyway while in reality the cost is far smaller isn’t it? not known as “capitalism” it is called “exploitation” which of course is how “democracy” is run; and it is a crime; off to do to all the nations since gotten away with it in USA for so long;
BTW, Ruth Stout books: you can easily produce double & triple the amount of food production with no chemicals at all; there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for any hunger in the world or any nation to not have running drinkable water; until the PEOPLE of a nation RISE UP to no longer be ENSLAVED to CORPS: & GOV working together: it’s going to continue to be run just like a “large plantation”; toxic Gov & toxic countries;
with the SAME handful of dominant men setting the “rules” and “dictates” that change on constantly shifting sand with a so called “judicial” system backing them up; USA & CHINA have been allies for years; we told them to “set up” a Congress; listen to the people; write the Laws that they wanted, they would THINK that the laws were being followed; then just do whatever they wanted to do; THIS is the reason the WORLD is in such a mess: not 1 environmental law is being followed; NONE;

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By KDelphi, July 21, 2009 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

rfidler—gordy may have some intelligent comments, but I have yet to hear any from you.

I am tired of watching an houseglass trying to go through this long thread.

If I’m an “amateur” on posting, good. It just means I dont spend all my time “trying to be a good blogger”. Maybe you do. It didnt work.

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By rico, suave, July 21, 2009 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

Gordy:
You keep getting better and better.

KDelphi:
You’re a total amateur and completely out of your depth next to Gordy. You should limit your direct responses to the folktruthers of this website.

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By KDelphi, July 21, 2009 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

gordy—speaking of melodramatic.

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By Gordy, July 21, 2009 at 9:14 am Link to this comment

Rfidler, I wasn’t referring to anything you said; I know that you were not being critical. 

I am not throwing my toys out the pram; I just think it is rude and lazy to ask questions of someone that they have taken considerable pains to answer already - I get the impression of some sort of defensive knee-jerk reaction on the part of posters who are motivated by vociferous political passions.  They hear me talking about taking a long view and describing these partisan causes as ephemeral and possibly futile, and they think “who the hell are you to say my outlook is futile buddy!?” 

Half the point of my posting on these sites is to test my thinking so I would consider it a personal failing to not properly absorb explications of flaws in my arguments pointed out by another.  I want flaws to be exposed.  That is a service others render to me when they discover inconsistencies or errors I had hitherto overlooked.  But the arguments against my viewpoint expressed here seem wrongheaded and melodramatic.  They do not really address what I have said, so I have to keep repeating myself and pointing out that I have already addressed the criticisms, which is tiresome.  If someone is determined to cling to a point of view - which I think is the very essence of war, conflict and hate - then I will only make them more angry and vociferous by trying to argue against them. 

As I have made all reasonable efforts to put across my point of view in a calm and reasonable manner, yet have been ascribed all sorts of outrageous beliefs.. I mean, Ayn Rand, come one, really…  (READ MY DAMN POSTS - HOW CAN YOU SERIOUSLY THINK THAT!?)  I have to cease flogging a dead horse. 

Rfidler, I have said pretty much all I have to say.  There are religious and philosophical texts out there that claim that there is an esoteric consciousness in Man that can be developed in such a way that he transcends both his egoism and his brute nature.  You either agree with me that it is possible or you believe that man will always require bullying and policing by authority figures, forever.  At present I think that Man has the world he deserves: people WOULD go bonkers if all the sticks were removed, it is true.  Yes, our innate biological nature has altruistic and social instincts as well as competitive and violent ones, but.. what of it KDelphi?  What is, is.  We are in a bewildering high-tech world of stressed-out, millions-strong super-tribes; we can’t revert back to these half-imagined idyllic hunter-gatherer social units.  You can put other possible social structures into the online suggestion box and hope that someone takes notice, but real pressures made things the way they are.  Neither you nor I can account for all of these pressures: they are infinite in number.  The whole universe is a network of interdependent factors; the sun is my progenitor just as much as my biological parents and my culture.  This world is a great mesh of gears, and disgruntled people everywhere are like caged birds flapping against the bars in protest.  Debate and political passion is part of the world, it is also a gear in this mesh, this great universal clockwork.  If people realised this they would be serene and make a far better contribution to this world than all these aggressively partisan types with inflexible minds and fixed views.  They pretend that they are the ones changing the world when it is really a big self-indulgent temper-tantrum - ‘sound and fury, signifying nothing’.

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By rico, suave, July 20, 2009 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

Look Gordy, I’m not being critical. I’m trying to have a conversation with you. You’re the only intelligent voice on this blog. Put some skin on and let’s talk.

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By KDelphi, July 20, 2009 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment

Survival is very different from selfishness, in that, most selfish acts effect others’ lives adversely..most survival instinct (acts of) do not. Surel y you know of people who do selfless things for reasons other than the law. Or perhaps you and Ayn Rand think that that is impossible, but most behavioral psychologists would disagree with you.

Most humans have a innate sense of justice. I said most. They know when it has been violated, but, can learn to repress it if they see it everyday…that is the goal of Capitalism. To make completley selfish and greedy behavior look like the “norm”—-that doesnt make it so. It just makes it programmed.

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By Gordy, July 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

My previous posts answer these criticisms - I give up.

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By rico, suave, July 20, 2009 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment

Gordy:

I really regret throwing the word “selfish” into the mix here. The definition I’m using is NOT the one which conjurs a little kid not sharing his toys, or a greedy banker not throwing the street bum a dollar, or whining about giving half his income to the government. It is more properly understood to mean a “survival” instinct.

Even KDelphi would step back up onto the curb to avoid being hit by an oncoming bus. That is a selfish act.

Amish neighbors banding together to build a barn for their neighbor is a selfish act: There is a presumption that the others will help them one day in return.

Of course selfishness can be self-destructive, too. There are volumes of literature on game theory to illustrate this concept.

I believe it is a basic characteristic of humans, as opposed to folktruther’s mythical “earthpeople”, and will never be expunged, only controlled, by society.

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By KDelphi, July 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment

So, Gordy, what are you doing to improve yourself? Dont you have some suggestions for us unenlightened ones?

I dont think that selfishness is inherent in people—I think that it is encouraged and fostered in a selfish society—unregulated Capitalism.

Once humans survive babyhood, they should have been socialized to the point that they no longer have only self interest.

It is not natural for humans to be “lone wolves” (wolves are social/group oriented—-thats why lone wolf is wierd) or to only look out for themselves. Humans and great apes are inherently social—it becomes more acceptable to only be concerned with yourself when society is beginning to break down.

US Imperialisatic Exceptionalism is not only a freak of nature—it is a failure for the great majority.

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By Xntrk, July 20, 2009 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment

Gordy.
Who is the ‘Nihilist’? You talk about human beings having flaws that make in unlikely, if not impossible, for them to ever solve the problems they face with wars, the environment, etc. Then you suggest we should perfect our own behavior before we attempt to improve society. 

Sounds fairly self-defeating and nihilistic to me… By the time I finish working on all my faults and flaws, I’ll be 50 years in the grave. I really think your ideas are an invitation to do nothing for most people who might be tempted to try them.

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By Gordy, July 20, 2009 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

“I do not believe that man will be forever a brute. I do believe humanity has come a long way in the last five hundred years. But I do believe that we ALL have a “selfish gene” which will never be bred out of us, and so must be tamed by the rule of law.”

I think that ‘selfishness’ is a word used to describe two very different realities: there is the egotistical selfishness unique to humans and any being that possesses a psychological ‘self’.  And there is the unselfconscious ‘selfishness’ of animals.  These are different phenomena, and it is the former, I think, that is responsible for human suffering and social chaos. 

Freed from distortions of the personality like vanity, greed and hatred (which animals do not suffer from) humanity would be in a unique position: animals must squabble in harsh environmental conditions just to eat and breed, but humans can increasingly completely engineer their environment, even their own bodies and minds. 

Also, maybe, we could live in harsh times with noble souls: compete and fight, but without hatred, lies and regret.  I don’t know, it’s hard to conceive of all possible futures.  Hard enough to attend to and correct one’s own life, which is where we all must begin.  I keep trying to make this point that that doesn’t mean ‘do nothing for anyone or any cause until you become perfect’, I am just saying that it is the foundation and should be our principle orientation.

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By Xntrk, July 20, 2009 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

rfiddler
Any discussiohn with you seems to founder on your bottomless ignorance and prejudice:

Cuba did NOT try to
‘rape 3rd world counties for oil. Remember Angola?’ Castro and the Cubans are heroes in South Africa, Angola, and Mozambique. Mandela commented last year on the 25th Anniversary of the end of Apartheid, that the Cubans were the only whites who had ever invaded Africa with arms, and left when the war was won.

As for Cuba’s difficulties economically, have you ever heard of the Cuban Blockade? We not only stop US products being exported to Cuba, but shut down foreign businesses that do business with Cuba if they have ANY links with US commerce.

Our roll vis a vis Cuba is much like that of the 6th Grade Bully. First we knock down Juan the 1st grade kid and steal his lunch. Then we knock down that Swedish 2nd Grader for sharing lunch with Juan, and steal his lunch.

Then, we have the Principle call Child Services because Poor Little Juan was sent to school with no lunch.

That is what really pisses you conservatives off, isn’t it? The thought that some little Commie Country thumbs its nose at us over and over… Tough for the Macho Fascistas to deal with.

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By KDelphi, July 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

rfidlr—The problem with the “
selfish gene “is that “free mkt” systems reward it , and, propagate its spread by reinforcing these peoples’ behavior with huge salaries…

The selfish gene is at the heart of Capitalism and is seen as an asset in our commercialized society—-for the long term survival of mankind , as a social/group species, it is not positive…just for the singular selfish human and his genetic spawn.

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By KDelphi, July 20, 2009 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

Gordy—I am still not sure what you are saying. Maybe I’m just stupid. No, undoubtedly, I am…

I dont think that rulers are “evil people” but I do think that to want to “rule” means you must have some monstrous ego. And, even if the person is not evil, too much power generally leads to evil actions.

I dont know how I made you activate your caps lock—-magic…lol ..actually, I was meditating on it very hard—and it made you do it??!! Wow! (J/K ok??)

I am not much for “spirituality”, in a religious sense, but atypical spirituality is interesting.

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By rico, suave, July 20, 2009 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

Gordy:

I just didn’t want to get too long-winded in my post. I of course see your thought as very progressive. What I was trying to say was that I also see you very well grounded in reality, unlike many posters here. Your understanding and explication of the nature of the battle is very refreshing to me after reading so much frustration in the voices of most posters that neanderthals like myself are so reluctant to just roll over and let them tell me how to live.

I do not believe that man will be forever a brute. I do believe humanity has come a long way in the last five hundred years. But I do believe that we ALL have a “selfish gene” which will never be bred out of us, and so must be tamed by the rule of law.

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By Gordy, July 20, 2009 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

KDelphi, you are not reading my posts properly - I don’t want to just repeat myself. 

I did not say that rulers and subjects have equal power, did I? 

I am not saying that we should do nothing politically; why would I be on this site and engaging in political debates?  I have made this abundantly clear.  I explicitly said just for your benefit that I AM NOT ADVOCATING NAVEL-GAZING.  Damn, you made me unleash the caps-lock. 

I am just saying that idealistic intellectuals always talk about what ‘should’ happen without attending to the human nature that political realities emerge from.  This is not an ‘excuse for dong nothing’. 

I like Buddhism though do not call myself ‘Buddhist’.  A cursory glance at the life and teachings of the Buddha demonstrates that he was VERY POLITICALLY ENGAGED.  Not a big Bible fan myself, but Jesus was also against gross inequality of wealth.  Spirituality can be the necessary foundation of a better society; it is not an ‘opt-out’ into a mystical dreamland.

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By KDelphi, July 20, 2009 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

Gordy—I think that “being the change” or “begin with yourself” is an excuse not to do anything and to become more self-centered.

To pretend that the common people and leaders have equal power (especially military) is just not true.
Are you a Buddhist or something?

What is it you are advocating?

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By Gordy, July 20, 2009 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

Sorry, I meant: “Rulers aren’t some separate evil species.”

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By Gordy, July 20, 2009 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

KDelphi, I don’t think you are quite getting the point I am trying to make. 

Firstly I did not say that the Revolution was ruined by the common man.  I said that underlying consistent flaws in human nature undermined it.  That is a big difference.  Also, just because you feel you can pin the blame on the machinations of some Machiavellian class of mandarins or conspirators, it does not lessen the fact that it did fail and the common man failed to save it.  ‘Human nature’ includes the ruling class as well as the common man, remember.  Mind also that in an abusive relationship the sadist needs the masochist.  I don’t think you can contend that the common man is not to blame.  Rules aren’t some separate evil species. 

I also tried to make it clear that I do not advocate disengagement.  What I am talking about has nothing to do with Americans’ ignorance of world news.  Be engaged, but realise that your own ‘sin’ in that of Mankind.  You cannot look into the mind of another and make him a better person; you can only do this for yourself.

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By KDelphi, July 20, 2009 at 11:03 am Link to this comment

gordy—I do disagree on one point—the “common man” did not ruin the Russian Revolution…along with others, the dictator Stalin did.

I think that USAns “turn inward” (albiet superficially) way too much as it is.

You dont have to “live for a change” in the future, but you can set it up for the next generation to carry it on—some change may look small , but may mean the world to one person.

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By Gordy, July 20, 2009 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Rfidler, I think you’re way off on one essential point that I did make clear: I think that human nature has the seed of real goodness in it, and that the cultivation of it is the way forward, rather than getting too tangled up in ephemeral-perennial, forever unresolved issues.  I hold out hope for a utopian future, but not through a war of ideas.  For me however it is certainly not a ‘sure and certain hope’ - we may fail, but it’s a big universe and other intelligent species have presumably succeeded and will succeed where we have so far failed.  No biggie - we’re just nature’s shit that didn’t stick.  Either way, fulfilment isn’t in the utopian future - it’s now, if you can mend your own heart - this is my experience.  No point in living for a change that will happen at tectonic rates if ever.  So I don’t get uptight about it. 

So when you say that I have a ‘deeply conservative view’ like your own, I’m guessing that you believe Man will be a brute forever? 

KDelphi, I much prefer Socialism but my point is about what is possible, and where the individual should turn their attention in order to improve the world: inward, more than outward.  Not living in a cave navel-gazing, but considering the wellspring of human action and sentiment - this is where change begins.  I see flawed humans on both sides of the ideological debates; until they correct themselves it will not be a boon to mankind whichever side wins.  Lefties thought it would be a boon for the common man when the Commies took over Russia, but it was not.  Flawed humans snatched defeat form the jaws of victory as usual.

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By rico, suave, July 20, 2009 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

Gordy:

Once again—brilliant!

I think your observation that the war goes on forever is a profoundly conservative point of view- and one which I share. I think it is brave but futile to hope for a fundamental change in human nature as so many classical liberals and progressives do.

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By KDelphi, July 20, 2009 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

gordy—It may be true and that may be the eternal struggle—or it may be useless.

But the truth is that, while the rest of the world is making new “relations” and trading partners, the US has gone to shit economically (and it sure wasnt socialism) and stupidly refuses to re-partner through trade, some of its old frienes, prior to Cold War thinking. In the past 20 yrs , we have had numerous “golden opportunities” to partner up with Russia on trading or some other issue, etc. but, we didnt do it. We lose out, not Russia.

The word “Socialist” will always terrify people that think of it in Cold War terms ala Stalin. They need to get over it and realize that almost al of our allies are Socialist Democracies and that our system isnt working.

Whether pure, unregulated Capitalism will survive is not at issue in most countries…let’s keep up this time…we’re not in a position to be criticizing other countries economies, trading partners, allies or anything else.

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By Gordy, July 20, 2009 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

Seeing this debate about Cuba I again have to say that so long as the raw human materials of a society are egotistical self-serving folk like we see the world over then the different possible configurations of a society will all involve serious trade-offs and compromises, and be unstable and temporary. 

I don’t know much about Cuba, but I know that Sweden is cited as a great socialist success.  I like what they have done.  But they still have serious problems, and after one of their Prime Ministers was assassinated their open society ethic has taken a knock.  These social engineering experiments are fragile even on the extremely rare occasions where they are overwhelmingly successful. 

I also know that while the ‘highest suicide rate’ thing is a myth, it is not the Garden of Eden, I mean it’s probably nicer there than it is in the US or UK but I don’t think that the best possible state of humanity is necessarily achieved by fully pursuing the logic of socialism to its full consummation. 

I think it is futile to argue about whether Cuba or America is better for most of their respective citizens…  We don’t know, and even if one side knows, the other side will only have their word for it.  It is not important to the fundamental debate. 

This thread arose from a rather thin and polemical article on ‘scary China’s steamroller-style development’ which has gotten a lot of observers worried.  Some attacked the ravenous and destructive course the country is taking, and some considered these attacks to be hypocritical or misguided.  Now it has become a debate on which system is the best, with most arguing a leftist view. 

A glance at history should be enough to demonstrate that a ‘war of ideas’ is fought forever and is never concluded, just like our territorial and resource wars. 

I think there is a better way. 

It is common sense that a sharing caring society is nobler than a cannibalistic free market one.  It takes some pretty twisted logic to argue the opposite, usually involving appeals to a brutal or flawed human nature that is fixed and must be dealt with realistically.  That is the real point of contention here, not socio-political models. 

If humans wake up to the need for change within themselves (and assuming that this is possible - I happen to think so) then they will take the political measures that were always obviously sensible and compassionate, like looking after the poor and working together for common benefit - it’s not rocket-science, it was only human characteristics that were ever preventing this, not an unconcluded war of ideas.  This debate is like an atheist arguing with a fundamentalist Christian - it goes on forever, left vs right.  In both cases it is a human psychological fact at the root of the problem, not a subtle argumentative point that the other side will FINALLY grasp if you just use one more example or make one more clever argument.  The war goes on forever and if you have been on forums for any length of time you will have seen how rarely anyone ever changes their mind.  Fighting a war implies being fixed in your mind on one side.  The war IS the problem.

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By rico, suave, July 20, 2009 at 5:31 am Link to this comment

MarthaA:

FREE health care does not necessarily mean COMPREHENSIVE health care, or TIMELY health care.

If you could show me that if I lived in Cuba I could get an MRI on demand for free, a hip replacement on demand for free, a liver transplant for free, etc, then you’d be saying something.

Just to say something is free isn’t the same as saying it’s available.

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By KDelphi, July 20, 2009 at 12:54 am Link to this comment

Xntrk—Its true and I’d love to visit…

The Confederacy has never learned to do its own work, it seems. Slavery and Imperialism are the only way that they know to survive, it seems.

We must realize that laissez-fare Capitalists feel threatened and know that their Chicago School system has failed and the whole world is catching on…not a country in the world will uphold the US ‘cuba boycott”—well, Israel and Palau…

When I was in EU, people there talked about how stupid the US looked to the rest of the world and how we will have poor relations with L America until we lift the embargo

They were all enjoying the great beaches and low prics, while US politicians crumbled to the tune of money from South Floridians, first generation only. The younger Miamians dont agree.

Its all about political Capital…the Cold War thinking is primitivistic.

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By Xntrk, July 20, 2009 at 12:04 am Link to this comment

rfidler: When is the last time you were in Cuba? Did you just do the tourist crap and stay at a beach resort, or travel independently? You seem so certain of your ‘facts’ I am sure they must be from 1st hand experience - Or perhaps via Rush and the Miami Mafia Herald?

I spent 5 weeks there a year ago, and am doing my best to get back for another visit. The friends I made e-mail me regularly - they seem to be doing ‘ok’ financial crisis and hurricanes etc. be damned.

In many respects, they are not wealthy but, they get free housing, a guaranteed income, with or without a job. A job does provide more, altho for years they tried the same money for all, worker or not.

Energy is free for the basics, if you are a power hog, you pay a healthy sur-charge. To improve the energy system they have rebuilt all their diesel generating plants with ultra efficient technology, and are going to solar and wind where possible. They also made new, energy efficient washing machines available to all, for $20 each. No dryers tho, hang your laundry out.

Health care, and education thru University is free. Transportation and cultural events are virtually free for Cubans. Tourists pay more, in Tourist Dollars rather than Cuban pesos at Museums and special events, but I went to a base ball game for a nickel [Havana Industrials vs Villa Clara, Villa Clara won] I traveled by bus to Cienfuego fo $12 Tourist - a citizen goes for hardly anything. Comparable to traveling by Greyhound thru Wyoming in the 50s. Clean Comfortable, no toilets.

I also saw no armed police. Check out the BBC video of the big crowd outside the Ballet. Everyone sitting on the steps of La Capitolia watching the dance on giant TVs. No cops or military around, from 8 till midnight. Try that in an American City of 7 million without getting mugged, robbed, or worse!

So, what’s your bitch? They don’t want to be a Plantation Colony anymore, working as slaves for the Gringo boss man?

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By KDelphi, July 19, 2009 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment

rfidler—stop attacking people personally! All your posts do is ask rhetorical questions and attempt sarcasm

I dont suppose that the US embargo even figures into your thinking.

I was stating the facts…and you responded so emotionally , that you would think that you had a personal stake in it or something…I am not going back and reading the entire thread.

There are plenty of countries without “western style capitalism” that are much happier and more civilized than we are. I dont think Cuba is a paradise, but you become so histrionic it is silly to belabor the point.

The countries with the highest standards of living are NOT laissez fare Capitalist countries. Norway decided it preferred to take care of its citizens over Cold War-style Imperaialism. I guess we havent because of opinions like yours.

“Free mkt” Capitalism only spreads wealth among the elites of every country that gets snookered into it.

The US will get over its superior attitide, I suppose, when the Cold Warriors die off and not before. There is not another country in the world that defends the kind of ruthless, piss on the poor ecnoomy that the US has been espousing for 30 yrs. But its already collapsed, so I guess we just have to wait…

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By MarthaA, July 19, 2009 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment

rfidler,

But, Cuba has FREE Health Care for ALL of their citizens and even help other countries with their health care. View the following documentary, it is worth the time:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6646340600856118396&ei=9wjmSb3OMp2wqAOL_o25Dw&q=sicko

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By rico, suave, July 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

kDelphi:

Thank you for supporting my point: Despite their vast natural resources and large quantity of well-educated, healthy workers being paid a slave wage, Cuba is incapable of self-reliance. They need Hugo and Mahmud, et al., for their oil, public housing (what other kind of housing is there in Cuba?) etc., etc. (They tried raping the Third World for oil on their own once but failed- remember Angola?)

Raul turned down the OAS’s invitation to rejoin the club, saying it was an imperialist grouping. (Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador! Imperialist? Well, come to think of it, maybe he’s right.) But that’s cutting off your nose to spite your face, don’t you agree?

Instead, Cuba has gone back to hours-long power outages like those which occured soon after Russia left. Tourism industries are being returned to state control.

Also, I can bet that Raul never bothered to ask the Cuban “earthpeople” whether they wanted to rejoining the OAS, or turn their little tourist car rental agencies back to the government.

If Cuba wants to be that brave, defiant revolutionary cadre, standing out in the cold, lonely against a cruel world- sort of like you and folktruther- then fine. But please don’t hold Cuba up as a place preferable to any country in the hemisphere- except maybe Haiti.

Please go back and reread “Gordy, July 19 at 7:15 am”, below.

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By MarthaA, July 19, 2009 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment

Bush and the Right-Wing isolated the United States, Obama is trying to do repair, although, sadly, he grabbed too many DLC members and is not throwing away all of Bush’s DLC policy, and he should throw it all away, but if he did, I guess he would be killed by the puppet controllers, like President Kennedy was.

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By KDelphi, July 19, 2009 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

rfidler-Russia, China, Iran Venezuela and others are all “helping” Cuba with investments in oil and “space programs”.

Time marches on, while the US isolates itself further…

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By rico, suave, July 19, 2009 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

Gordy, let me help you:

By Folktruther, July 18 at 8:13 pm #
“However, Gordy, you are a dingbat.  Like Sedartha (sic).  and Buddhism.  You keep on like that and you will turn into a cockroach in the next life.”

Foodtrooper:
Hope you took public transportation out of town. Or maybe your bike?

You said:
By Folktruther, July 19 at 11:41 am #

“Socialism is where the people control the means o (sic) production.

You don’t think socialism is suitable for people and yet extol incipient Cuban socialism as being better than capitalism.  Which, I agree, it is.  It was establaished (sic) by social revolution which destroyed US imperialism in Cuba.  It is now being supported by China to halp (sic) overcome the half century American economic blockade.”

Do you really think for one second that Cuban workers own the nickel mines? The tobacco fields and cigar factories? The hospitals? The tourist hotels? Are you kidding!! Have you read about Raul’s recent cutbacks, even in the face of OAS re-recognition, and easing of the US embargo under Obama? The Soviet tit ran dry twenty years ago and Cuba is incapable of self-reliance.

I see now why you refer to “earthpeople”. You ARE from outer space.

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By Gordy, July 19, 2009 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Folktruther, I am not without optimism that there is something to this notion of ‘social evolution’, which is what you seem to be getting at.  Capitalism may be the current stage in an advance towards something better. 

It has been hypothesized that altruism arose from the incentives for making friends with meat-possessing humans.  Ironically, this self-serving impulse would eventually lead some to advocate vegetarianism.  Whether this hypothesis is true or not, it demonstrates that it is not unimaginable that a violent thing could lead to a peaceful thing.  Capitalism could create the educated world citizens that go on to shape a more charitable world society.  Maybe. 

But I must return to my original point and remind everyone that good and bad people apparently have existed for thousands of years, not only before modern civilization but possibly before any civilization.  The psyche of thinking beings is always going to be the alpha and omega.

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By Folktruther, July 19, 2009 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

Gordy, thank you for your response.  I can’t seen to find where I called you a dingbat and I’m leaving town in a few minites. But I’ll reply, I promise.

Xntrk, your post is the reason that I think we need to de-educate Americans.  The US power structure has miseducated and misinformed people so we can’t develop a consistent worldview of reality.

Feudalism, where large landowners own the land worked by peasants and tenent farmers, was not a Western phenomena, it was a world phenomena. The farmers were often legally tied to the land and landowners often took half of the produce.

Capitalism is a form of rental slavery that is more to the interests of workers than feudal slavery. 

Socialism is where the people control the means o production.

You don’t think socialism is suitable for people and yet extol incipient Cuban socialism as being better than capitalism.  Which, I agree, it is.  It was establaished by social revolution which destroyed US imperialism in Cuba.  It is now being supported by China to halp overcome the half century American economic blockade.

Do you not think that as the world is developed under capitalism it is possible to have a more just and humane system as the next step in earthperson development?  As economies develop, coercion becomes less necessary, although is often even greater in class society, notably American society.

But you have to get from one form of power sytem to another.  Capitalism was installed by bourgeois revolutions, like the Freech and British revoltuions that brought the bourgeois class to power.  A combined process occurred in China because of Western imperialism.  As the world becomes increasingly interdependant, it is increasingly likely that new social forms will occur all over the world.  This will involve historical power changes like those that occurred in the past, but oriented to the new forms of the future.

They can only be led by people with consistent progresssive ideologies.  these have yet to be developed.

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By rico, suave, July 19, 2009 at 5:53 am Link to this comment

Gordy:

That was the best post I’ve read yet on all of Truthdig. Thank you.

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By rico, suave, July 19, 2009 at 5:47 am Link to this comment

idarad: Your wrote: “Gotta love this progress, guess sweet dreams for this family…

Vaughn Reed, 46, and his three children, Markeisha, 17, DeMarco, 12, and DeMarte, six, died in the early morning hours of Friday from carbon monoxide emitted by a generator in the basement of the family’s two-story home on Detroit’s west side.”

And this has to do with Sirota’s piece…. how?

It seems like commentary on this subject has run its course.

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By Pete Murphy, July 19, 2009 at 5:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our enormous trade deficit is rightly of growing concern to Americans. Since leading the global drive toward trade liberalization by signing the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947, America has been transformed from the wealthiest nation on earth - its preeminent industrial power - into a skid row bum, literally begging the rest of the world for cash to keep us afloat. It’s a disgusting spectacle. Our cumulative trade deficit since 1976, financed by a sell-off of American assets, exceeds $9.4 trillion. What will happen when those assets are depleted? Today’s recession is the answer.

At this point, I should introduce myself. I am author of a book titled “Five Short Blasts: A New Economic Theory Exposes The Fatal Flaw in Globalization and Its Consequences for America.” My theory is that, as population density rises beyond some optimum level, per capita consumption begins to decline. This occurs because, as people are forced to crowd together and conserve space, it becomes ever more impractical to own many products. Falling per capita consumption, in the face of rising productivity (per capita output, which always rises), inevitably yields rising unemployment and poverty.

This theory has huge ramifications for U.S. policy toward population management (especially immigration policy) and trade. The implications for population policy may be obvious, but why trade? It’s because these effects of an excessive population density - rising unemployment and poverty - are actually imported when we attempt to engage in free trade in manufactured goods with a nation that is much more densely populated. Our economies combine. The work of manufacturing is spread evenly across the combined labor force. But, while the more densely populated nation gets free access to a healthy market, all we get in return is access to a market emaciated by over-crowding and low per capita consumption. The result is an automatic, irreversible trade deficit and loss of jobs, tantamount to economic suicide.

One need look no further than the U.S.‘s trade data for proof of this effect. Using 2006 data, an in-depth analysis reveals that, of our top twenty per capita trade deficits in manufactured goods (the trade deficit divided by the population of the country in question), eighteen are with nations much more densely populated than our own. Even more revealing, if the nations of the world are divided equally around the median population density, the U.S. had a trade surplus in manufactured goods of $17 billion with the half of nations below the median population density. With the half above the median, we had a $480 billion deficit!

Our trade deficit with China is getting all of the attention these days. But, when expressed in per capita terms, our deficit with China in manufactured goods is rather unremarkable - nineteenth on the list. Our per capita deficit with other nations such as Japan, Germany, Mexico, Korea and others (all much more densely populated than the U.S.) is worse. My point is not that our deficit with China isn’t a problem, but rather that it’s exactly what we should have expected when we suddenly applied a trade policy that was a proven failure around the world to a country with one fifth of the world’s population.

If you‘re interested in learning more about this important new economic theory, then I invite you to visit either of my web sites at OpenWindowPublishingCo.com or PeteMurphy.wordpress.com where you can read the preface, join in the blog discussion and, of course, buy the book if you like. (It’s also available at Amazon.com.)

Please forgive me for the somewhat spammish nature of the previous paragraph, but I don’t know how else to inject this new theory into the debate about trade without drawing attention to the book that explains the theory.

Pete Murphy
Author, “Five Short Blasts”

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By Gordy, July 19, 2009 at 4:15 am Link to this comment

Folktruther, how about thinking before calling me a dingbat - who are these perfect people who are going to create perfect institutions that will correct us spiritually and in every other way?  Who are these perfect citizens who will cooperate with these institutions?  Chicken, egg, anyone..? 

Where religion is concerned, you appear to be one of those who want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Also, I certainly did not suggest that we revert to a theocracy or anything like that.  I don’t know why you have to throw in a phrase like ‘traditional religions’ when I am getting at something at the core of thought, value and human endeavour, not some ossified doctrine.  A ‘revolutionary spiritual ideology’ was kind of what I was getting at - but it starts with YOU, ME, NOW, not with placards - that comes after.  I’m not trying to promote a particular religion.  It is something that philosophers ponder and religions perennially rediscover when they’re not legitimizing tyranny. 

China, like America behaves like a chess-player. It absolutely will not do anything that will get in the way of victory.  People are not in charge of China; China is in charge of people.  When a state is created the people living there identify with it and promote its interests as opposed to the interests of rival nations.  Sharks and the Jets.  Folktruther, you are the dingbat if you think that people and nations that behave like this will ever, EVER create utopian institutions that will progress society toward something better than a chaotic chess-game.  You are expecting a wolf to turn vegetarian and say please and thank you.  A wolf is a wolf is a wolf, forever.  I would like for nations to cease being wolves to each other, but I have to begin by looking honestly at myself and asking whether I can cease to be a wolf to others.  That comes first.  That is still only an experiment - some have their minds concluded one way or the other: they say ‘man is brutal by nature’ or ‘I know we can be thoroughly compassionate’.  The rest of us must find out, THEN draw wider conclusions.  Chicken, egg, cart, horse.

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By MarthaA, July 19, 2009 at 2:41 am Link to this comment

If we want to get any kind of change in the United States, we will have to remove the CONSERVATIVES/moderates from the Democratic Party.  The Republican Party only professes to have Liberals/moderates, as the Republican Party made Liberal a dirty word, so that the Republican Party will have no Liberals in the Republican Party.  The whole CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN Goldwater ruse that the Democratic Party went along with, divided the Left by putting CONSERVATIVES/moderates in the Democratic Party, while the Right stays strictly CONSERVATIVE, with only a little moderate lip service.  Great take over plan, but it must be squelched.

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By Xntrk, July 18, 2009 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

Foltruther: Lets back up a bit “Capitalism is a more progressive economic system than feudalism, which was the previous system for over a thousand years.  As barbaric as it is.  And as much as it produces barbarians like Fidler.  People are healthier, we live longer, and we have glimpses of what could be if we could control the economy.”

As I grow older, I tend to mull things over - Like a pin ball in the machine, looking for the lever that leads to the way thru - or something…

But the pin ball got stuck on your statement about Capitalism vs Feudalism. It is only true, if your concept of history is Eurocentric. Most of the people in the world didn’t live under feudalism until Capitalism destroyed their indigenous societies. Hell, the Bolivian Indians didn’t know what tin mining was till the Europeans enslaved them and turned them into pack animals working 12 to 14 hours a day seven days a week.

Whether you call it slavery or feudalism or some other name, Capitalism only exists by stealing the wealth of the less powerful. It enslaves people by its very nature, whether thru wage slavery, the IMF, or sheer power.

To say people are better off under capitalism is simplistic, and only works if you judge people only by the value of their belongings rather then their personal identity.

As for Socialism, I prefer it to Capitalism, but I don’t think it is the best system for large masses of people. It, like Capitalism lacks the ability to allow people room to be… I am probably a Communitarian visualizing Utopian communes, linked together by larger services operated by groups of communes for those things that are better provided over larger areas [roads, some energy systems, transportation, etc]

An example of a better way to live might be the tremendous spectacle of the Royal Ballet in Havana this week. Tickets under a dollar, huge TV screens outside for those without tickets. Carlos Acostas, the Cuban dancer who spent the past 2 years setting this up said he was treated like a Footballer who had scored the winning World Cup Goal. The Brits couldn’t believe the crowds and the importance of culture in this ‘3rd World Nation’. Ballet in Britain is about as important to the masses as it is here: NOT!

Food, housing, education, health care, culture; those are the things the terrible Commies waste their money on in Cuba - Come hell, high water, or 4 hurricanes. In contrast, as our economy shrinks and unemployment and homelessness increase, we cut back on all the social services, dump our money into military adventures, and can’t even fund the Libraries. Culture consists of a week-long extravaganza celebrating the life [or death?] of Michael Jackson. And the tickets were a lot more expensive than $0.91.

IMO Capitalism has destroyed the environment; devastated entire cultures; and poisoned our future. To say it is ‘better’ than what was’, only refers to technological advances, which would probably have developed under any economic system.

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By idarad, July 18, 2009 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

Gotta love this progress, guess sweet dreams for this family

Falling behind in your bills can be deadly, as the tragic story of a Detroit family shows.

A 46-year-old father and this three children are dead from carbon monoxide poisoning after their local energy company cut off their power, prompting the family to use a generator that poisoned them with carbon monoxide.

And the family’s power company says a bureaucratic “glitch” caused them to shut the power off when it shouldn’t have been.

Vaughn Reed, 46, and his three children, Markeisha, 17, DeMarco, 12, and DeMarte, six, died in the early morning hours of Friday from carbon monoxide emitted by a generator in the basement of the family’s two-story home on Detroit’s west side.

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By idarad, July 18, 2009 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment

26,000 children die every day from conditions that are easily preventable.
Dreamy / stoned .... no just tired of the nightmare and having relatively intelligent people argue about build more crap to entertain themselves, then saying that it is progress.  I prefer my dream to the bloody nightmare you’re living.

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By bachu, July 18, 2009 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is nothing in the Bible about End Time global warming. Global Warming is a satanic lie intended to mislead the ignorant.

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By rico, suave, July 18, 2009 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment

Xntrk:

Thanks for the breakdowns, but:

I’m not arguing that income equality is disappearing. I’ll gladly (sadly?) agree that the rich are richer as compared to the poor. My contention is that the poorest of the poor are shrinking in number, irrespective of the increasing number of plutocrats at the top.

idarad: “The thing is we are here, what we have is here, what we need is here, what we can be is here, we have simply chosen not to see it, hear it feel it and be it.”

That’s pretty dreamy. Are you stoned?

forktoother: I see your best arguments are still ad hominem. Instead of trying to mobilize “earthpeople” (as opposed to Klingons?) into taking wealth from rich people, why don’t you put your energy into figuring out how to create wealth for poor people.

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By Arabian Sinbad, July 18, 2009 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I really don’t understand the underlying theme of this article, and more so its strange title of “China is Here.”

China has been here for thousands of years; thousands of years before even we heard about white or European America. That China, like every country in the world, has its own sets of problems is beyond the point. So writing ambiguously about China’s problems by an American journalist is indeed a misplaced concern and wasted time and energy, especially in light of the fact that America’s problems these days dwarf the problems of any other country. So my point is that the sons and daughters of America should reserve their time, energy and talent to write about America’s problems and the ways to solve them. Anything beyond that is an intellectual luxury we can live without.

I never felt that my time was wasted like the time I spent reading this piece and further commenting on it! It’s like an example of waste leading to further waste!

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By idarad, July 18, 2009 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment

Xntrk -

I think one of the problems is that we assume tat to cats to come together, you have to “herd” them, which was my point, using the same assumptions will not lead you to a clear path or vision, one is too busy herd to see if they are actually “going” somewhere.

The thing is we are here, what we have is here, what we need is here, what we can be is here, we have simply chosen not to see it, hear it feel it and be it.

If I have left the discourse, I do apologize…. but we keep wanting what we thought we had, and it was not there then, and it won’t be in the future.

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By Folktruther, July 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment

Xntrk, when thinking in world historical terms, you have to think in decades and centuries not years.  When doing so you will find, for example, that infant mortality is much less in developed capitalitst economies than previously.  And people live longer and better.  Except spiritually, as Gordy points out.

However, Gordy, you are a dingbat.  Like Sedartha.  and Buddhism.  You keep on like that and you will turn into a cockroach in the next life.  Even though you are quite right, earthpeople are suffering from a deep spiritual and moral malaise.  But traditonal religion is not the answer to our need for a revolutionary spiritual ideology.  And it is not possible to impart one until we change our institutions.

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By Gordy, July 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment

Xntrk, I feel that no meaningful or lasting change is possible until we have this core sickness in the human psyche understood and ministered to.  I see those campaigning for this or that cause as the unrealistic ones - a reversal of the usual perspective, which is that we must deal with the contingencies of a flawed humanity. 

I don’t prescribe waiting until everyone transcends egotism; I prescribe maintaining an interest in the world but regarding oneself as the ultimate source of the ‘problem’.  I often hate, I am often proud - there are no assurances that if I was handed power I would use it more benevolently than our present rulers.  So I introspect and aim to correct my own psyche so that my dealings with the world might come from a good place.  I try not to have a perspective based upon a narrow personal perspective, knowing that this world is a whirlwind and that we can only correct ourselves then work in good faith - if I aggressively assert that socialism or capitalism is the way forward, or that China should do XYZ - that is shooting my mouth off.  If I develop a deep-rooted goodwill, that rubs off on others.  It sounds folksy, but it is really the way philosophy inevitably leads us: away from battles of ideas and towards a benevolent flexibility. 

I instinctively feel that gross wealth and consumption is ugly, but I can imagine an idealized people who are sensual and extravagant yet make it work somehow.  I doubt that there is one ‘right’ approach but I know that you meet good guys and arseholes in all walks of life.  If we were all good guys the details would work themselves out, I think.  Or at least we could have a mature discussion about them and really solve them.

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By idarad, July 18, 2009 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment

Gordy

You are so correct.

We as a species need to make a fundamental change in or perspective.  World bank figures, this institutes numbers, polls, holes and nothing.  Poverty is only a measure of the capitalist system, it does not measure humanity, and humanity must realize that it is nothing if it is at odds with its environment, or itself.
If nine out of ten people are “making it” there is one too few

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By Xntrk, July 18, 2009 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

Gordy, I don’t exactly disagree when you say: “Only when we universally feel the joy and suffering of others as the same as our own will we be able to rise together.  If you think that is impossible, all your conclusions are just dancing around the edges of Nihilism.”

But, it is far easier to herd cats then it is to get humans to ‘universally agree’ on the time of day, much less to come up with a universal agreement on how to improve life on earth.

Call me a Nihilist, but I always try for the possible rather than waiting for the mass reformation of my fellow creatures.

That way, as we go to our doom, I can at least say ‘I tried’.

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By Xntrk, July 18, 2009 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

This is from Wikipdia. Note: I moved the lead-in paragraph for clarification. 
>>James Davies, Professor of Economics at the University of Western Ontario, and one of the authors of the report, said: “Income inequality has been rising for the past 20 to 25 years and we think that is true for inequality in the distribution of wealth.”

“There is a group of problems in developing countries that make it difficult for people to build assets, which are important, since life is so precarious.” [3]

>With regard to wealth inequality (researchers defined wealth as the value of physical and financial assets minus debts), a 2006 report with data from 2000 concluded that:
  * “India dominates the bottom third of the global wealth distribution, contributing a little under a third (27 per cent to be precise) of this group. The middle third of the distribution is the domain of China which supplies more than a third of those in deciles 4-8. At the top end, North America, Europe and high-income Asia monopolise the top decile, each regional group accounting for around one third of the richest wealth holders” (Davies et al. 2006, p.27)
 
  * “the top 10 per cent of adults own 85 per cent of global household wealth, so that the average member of this group has 8.5 times the global average holding. The corresponding figures for the top 5 per cent, top 2 per cent, and top 1 per cent are 71 per cent (14.2 times the average), 51 per cent (25 times the average) and 40 per cent (40 times the average), respectively. This compares with the bottom half of the distribution which collectively owns barely 1 per cent of global wealth. Thus the top 1 per cent own almost 40 times as much as the bottom 50 per cent. The contrast with the bottom decile of wealth holders is even starker. The average member of the top decile nearly 3000 times the mean wealth of the bottom decile, and the average member of the top percentile is more than 13,000 times richer.” (Davies et al. 2006, p.26)

  * “for the world as a whole the share of the top 10 per cent was 85 per cent in the year 2000 and the Gini equalled 0.892 using official exchange rates” (Davies et al. 2006, p.32)

  * “only $2161 was needed in order to belong to the top half of the world wealth distribution, but to be a member of the top 10 per cent required at least $61,000 and membership of the top 1 per cent required more than $500,000 per adult.” (Davies et al. 2006, p.25)

Other disparities can be better appreciated when rich individuals (or corporations) are compared against poor individuals. According to some estimates, for instance:

  * “The richest 1 percent of people in the world receive as much as the bottom 57 percent, or in other words, less than 50 million richest people receive as much as 2.7 billion poor.” (Milanovic 2002, p.50)

  * The three richest people possess more financial assets than the poorest 10% of the world’s population, combined [4].

  * As of May 2005, the three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 47 countries with the least GDP, (calculation based on data from list of countries by GDP (PPP) and list of billionaires) (Annan, 1998)

However, the three richest individuals’ wealth consists largely of stock in their own companies. The value of these assets was largely created by the economic conditions in their respective countries.

  * As of May 2005, the 125 richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of all the least developed countries (calculation based on data from list of countries by GDP (PPP) and list of billionaires).<<

I don’t think things have improved in the past 3 years…

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By Gordy, July 18, 2009 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

A ‘class war’ will not help.  Only when we universally feel the joy and suffering of others as the same as our own will we be able to rise together.  If you think that is impossible, all your conclusions are just dancing around the edges of Nihilism.  Occasional individuals like Siddhartha Gautama have (in his case rigorously) described this mentality, how it is achieved and how it will benefit the world.  It is an idea that applies to everyone at all times. 

Jeez, check me wading in with this seemingly disparate agenda, but I see all these intelligent and well-informed people passionately trying to push humanity in a better direction, and having thought about these things for a long time, I keep coming back to the idea that a good world has to have a firm foundation in human beings.  So long as they are haphazardly altruistic, kind, selfish or cruel, I don’t see how any ‘plan’, whether for socialist reform or compassionate capitalism or whatever, can work out.

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By Xntrk, July 18, 2009 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther, Have to agree to disagree: The survivors, those who live more than 5 years, may be ‘healthier. and live longer.’ but how many die in infancy? Nor are the ‘slum cities’ are not refuges for the farmers forced of the land. The Mexican farmer wants to grow corn and feed his family as he has done for centuries. It isn’t dreams of the future that send him off to the drug wars: It is NAFTA and the inability to get paid a living wage for his work. Same is true in Aftica and SE Asia. Hell, it’s true right here on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Our kids leave because they cannot survive on minimum wage jobs. The biggest threat to the local farmers [we are still very agrarian here] is the onslaught of GMO experiments that are unregulated and based on unknown results in the future. Organic Kona Coffee is the highest priced in the world, and is grown on very small farms. Yet, the big Coffee guys like Starbucks want to introduce GMO in increase yields. For whom? Not the guy supporting his family today, but for the coupon clippers elsewhere.

Maybe it comes down to two thing: What your definition of ‘Living’ is; and how you define poverty.

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By rico, suave, July 18, 2009 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

Xntrk:

Here are some sources:

(Apr 1, 2009 ... results; for instance, using the World Bank’s $1/day poverty line, the poverty rate fell from. 15 percent in 1970 to 6 percent in 2000.) ...
http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2009/wp0993.pdf

(In the developing world outside China, the poverty rate has fallen from 40 to 29 percent over 1981-2005, although the total number of poor has remained) ...
web.worldbank.org/.../EXTPOVERTY/.../0,,contentMDK:20153855~menuPK:435040~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618

(China’s poverty rate fell from 85% to 15.9%, or by over 600 million people; China accounts for nearly all the world’s reduction in poverty; Excluding China,) ...
http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

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By idarad, July 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

rfidler - folktruther
Its a bit of a bit,
but the only way capitalism works is through exploitation of humans and resources.

please view snipit

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBdbZFcdHws

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By Folktruther, July 18, 2009 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

Xntrk, please forgive me but I have to hold my nose and agree with fiddler.  What is true is true.  Generally the people of the world ARE getting better off under capitalism, as disgusting a system as it is.  I don’t think we can morph to socialism untill most of the earth’s people have left the farms and are urbanized in towns.  And this will not happen for decades; longer if there is a nuclear war.

According to the Tete Gallery in London a few years ago, over half the people of the world live in cities now for the first time in history.  They are typically slum cities, far worse than the ones you saw in China.  But better than the farms that they left, where they literally weren’t able to feed their children. 

Capitalism is a more progressive economic system than feudalism, which was the previous system for over a thousand years.  As barbaric as it is.  And as much as it produces barbarians like Fidler.  People are healthier, we live longer, and we have glimpses of what could be if we could control the economy.

Somehow earthpeople must gain enough power to overcome the Fiddlers of the world and take the economy away from them.  How we can take the money away from the rich, and thus their power, is the task we own to our children and grandcildren.

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By Clash, July 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

After returning from a 2 week ride, visiting with friends , family and folks I met along the way. It would seem to me that more folks like Mr Sirota should travel here. His descriptions of China while enlightening to himself maybe, bring no more to the table than already known by most. The land base here continues to be poisoned, and degraded, while the majority of people here still believe that it is possible to support their comfortable life styles by destroying what is left, ignoring the growing amount of humans being left behind by industrial civilization. 

While out on the road, it was clear that many people are scared as to what the future may bring them, some are unemployed, some are loosing their homes, some are already on the streets, and those that are still employed “hope” to remain so. While the rest hold on to the “hope” that someone or something will bring a “change” to their situations.

I would agree with samosamo “Unfettered markets and unfettered population growth are nothing less than a terminal cancer about to kill the host”, and would only add that these are the conditions and unintended consequences that create the catastrophes we are now faced with, these condition’s likely were not created consciously but unconsciously over thousands of years of conditioning.

But there it is, that word ” hope ” the last curse remaining in the box.

It’s definition; a longing for some future condition over which we have no agency. Those that cling to “hope” have already given up the present, this allows many to close their minds to the now and allow themselves many excuses to do nothing, when hope dies, action begins. We must go on with the work that must continue, if we are to overcome this industrial civilization that produces this culture of make believe, and the cancerous state called existence.

Stop hoping for outside assistance, stop hoping the terrible situation this culture is in will somehow magically or mystically get better, when all hope fails then the fantasy of hope used by dominant culture will have lost it’s ability to control your free will, and the ropes to the stones that they build their pyramids with may finally be dropped.

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By Xntrk, July 18, 2009 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

rfidler: “But, worldwide, there are less people in poverty, both percentage-wise and absolutely, than there were twenty years ago. Why?”

Source please. This contradicts everything I have seen concerning the rise in poverty. More wealth yes. But in the hands of fewer and fewer of the world’s population. Many many more [percentage-wise] at the bottom, and a rapidly disappearing middle-class.

I suppose if you are one at the top, that Pier and Post type pyramid looks pretty good. Those on the bottom don’t seem to be too happy about supporting the pigs though.

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By rico, suave, July 18, 2009 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

idarad:

I guess we’ll have to respectfully disagree. I don’t think wealth creation is a zero-sum game, which you seem to imply. You said: “Our progress as it is so often called is from destroying the lives and resources of millions of people in sub saharan Africa, South America and South Asia. Our majority well being wasn’t from us pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps as much as it was and is placing those boots on the backs of other so we could reach higher.”

But, worldwide, there are less people in poverty, both percentage-wise and absolutely, than there were twenty years ago. Why?

I agree that in the last three years, there has been a significant setback and that capitalism is being blamed.

I think we should watch China and see how they handle their 8% growth rates. If the hinterland gets short shrift for too long, we may see another Mao in twenty years or so. I personally think that would be bad.

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By Jon, July 18, 2009 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Old News.  China has been ‘here’ for years.  Their kids work 12 hour+ days for virtually nothing to make Nike stuff and who knows what else, while our own labor force has been put out of business.  This is not a new story, but it looks to be since more and more middle class Americans, who always ignored these issues, are suddenly out of work due to ‘free trade’ which means a laborer in Honduras or China making $1.00 a day ‘somehow’ takes jobs from US workers used to making $20, 30 40 50 dollars an HOUR to make the same product.  Duh.  We vote for Congress, and we’ve allowed China to be ‘here,’ and the same with other cheap off shore labor centers.  Remember Tom DeLay saying that the labor conditions in Saipan were ‘what Capitalism is all about?’  Are we ready to make $1.00 a day, no benefits, no retirement, to renounce what our forefathers fought for (e.g. the Ford goons beating up labor who dared to unionize)  Must be so, since we all voted for it to happen. We apparently cannot wait to make $1.00 a day.

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By KDelphi, July 18, 2009 at 9:09 am Link to this comment

Xntrk—I read it this morning! I liked it.I wouldnt be offended, the title is “me”. Truly. I appreciate the ref! tho!

idarad—Yes,western style Capitalism is totally uinsustainable , and, it is not something that we will have to concern ourselves with for very long.

If the US Empire falls, we wont have resurces to be Imperialist, the rich may be brought down to size,but the poor will suffer mightily. However, they already do and no on in DC is doing a damn thing abour it.

So welcome down here with us guys, peeps. Just remember what my dad told me once, “be careful who you have to climb on to get up, cause on the way back down you will have to pass everyone of them” (and each one can give you a punch equivalent to what you did to them to climb—-or something like that) Sortve like, “Once upon a time , you dressed so fine, threw the buns a dime, in your prime, didnt you?.......like rolling stone…”

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By idarad, July 18, 2009 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

rfidler says : “Western-style developement is absolutely unnecessary for well-being, however defined. However, I personally believe, unlike the vast majority of posters here on TD, that Western style capitalism offers the best opportunity for the most people to achieve that well-being, compared with other systems of economic organization.”

I guess you would need to define “well-being” If by that you suggest a temporary time when a relatively large number, but certainly not a majority, are able to enjoy a lack of needs and wants, maybe “comforts”, then yes, western style capitalist systems can provide that “well-being.”  However, if we are to try to imagine a planet that can sustain 7 to 10 billion people on an equitable level, than western style capitalism is an utter failure. 

I don’t believe there is time to play around with developing more “toys for boys’ and expect the planet, let alone humanity to survive.  We do need to seriously consider alternative means to live and share the wealth that nature can provide.  Our progress as it is so often called is from destroying the lives and resources of millions of people in sub saharan Africa, South America and South Asia. Our majority well being wasn’t from us pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps as much as it was and is placing those boots on the backs of other so we could reach higher.  There is no justification for western style capitalism in a human world.

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By rico, suave, July 18, 2009 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

Gordy:

I agree that if there is risk of environmental degradation, it ought to be addressed and avoided. But I’m saying that China doesn’t share our fine sensibilities in that regard; e.g., if they need electricity now, they’ll build a coal plant now, rather than take the delay waiting for a nuke plant or enough windmills to make the equivalent output.

As for the source of recent past Chinese suffering, I can’t say, except that I believe it is generally accepted that Mao’s Cultural Revolution was a disaster for the “proletariat”.

Western-style developement is absolutely unnecessary for well-being, however defined. However, I personally believe, unlike the vast majority of posters here on TD, that Western style capitalism offers the best opportunity for the most people to achieve that well-being, compared with other systems of economic organization.

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By Xntrk, July 18, 2009 at 12:15 am Link to this comment

Kdelphi, Check out Counterpunch today. Joe Bageant has a great article called America’s White Under Class. Do NOT get concerned about the title, it is some finely-tuned satirical commentary on what is happening here - To everyone, btw, or at least those of us who work, or try to for a living [or don’t if we are unwilling to accept minimum wage for crap labor, and no respect]

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By KDelphi, July 18, 2009 at 12:01 am Link to this comment

I agree that we are in a glass house here, but I also agree with samosamo. The US has been praeching (and practicing) unfettered Capitalism for so long, why are we so surprised that another country is better at it than we are?

Emily Anne—could you please give an example of a racist comment here??? Sure there is racism against Asians in the uS, but I dont see it here, by Sirota.

There is also massive poverty in the US, but people are not supposed to mention it—theyu’re all “aspiring middle class”—right. The “middle class” is finished here, following a big boom after WW II.

I dont know how the US expects to be treated when we are broke and helpless, but we had better hope that others treat us better than we treated them . when we were sole superpower, for a short time.

I dont agree with everything Rev Wright said, but he got this part right—“the chickens are coming home to roost”.

As many have said, China has an ancient history that we (especially me!) barely understand…but they could do better than we have, if the people demand that the newfound wealth is spread with some equity and continues to avoid war…..the govt also has the power to step in, in times of crisis, and they dont have the US “fear” of regulation..I guess we wil see…

China may have the problems of a developing capitalist country, but they still have time to move in the right direciton. I am afraid that we do not.

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By Gordy, July 17, 2009 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

rfidler, all you did there was ignore one side of the argument.  If the environmental concerns are well-founded, they logically ought to take precedence. 

I would ask as well, we rush to say how terrible China’s undeveloped regions and recent history is; yes, they have suffered but have they suffered specifically from a lack of Western-style development?  Was everyone universally miserable the world over before (for argument’s sake) 1600AD?  Accounts of and opinions on happiness are, I think, as old as writing.

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By rico, suave, July 17, 2009 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

Here’s my take on David Sirota’s take on the new China:

“Wealth and material well-being——EEEEEWWWW! How gross!”

He describes the glitz and glam of the coast and compares it to the poverty and grubbiness of the interior. But without mentioning that, 30 years ago, the entire country was like the interior is today.

Does anyone remember the mass starvation in the China of the (pre-Nixon, pre-Reagan, pre-Bush, pre-Bush) sixties?

There are hundreds of millions of Chinese living fairly comfortable lives for the first time in hundreds of years. And neither Kennedy, nor Johnson, nor Carter, nor Clinton, nor Obama can take credit for that.

The new China story isn’t about free trade or global warming or population explosion (China is leading the world in birth control initiatives). It’s about a country which is in the process of deciding what it wants to be and doing it- without worrying about CO2 or whales or snail darters or CAFE standards.

There are over a billion “people of color” laughing at us namby-pamby white bread Anglos as we wring our hands over how to provide electricity for our iPods and computers and Priuses without melting Antarctica. Meanwhile, the local Chinese chieftan says, “We need electricity. Here’s some coal. Make electricity from the coal.” And it gets done.

Would that the U.S. had such spine.

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By Gordy, July 17, 2009 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment

It seems to me that people often get overly caught up in the differences where other nations are concerned, and overlook the overarching human truths. 

The future of our environment is not known.  The ways in which technology will solve problems and create new ones is utterly unknowable, but given its very predictable exponential rise, it appears very likely that all these new coal stations will be a very brief stop-gap.  Solar energy collection technology halves in cost and doubles in efficiency every year; in two or three decades solar alone should be capable of meeting our projected energy needs (source: Raymond Kurzweil). 

My point is not to debate these particulars; it is to suggest that these particulars are not knowable, and that doom-criers are making emotionalistic assumptions. 

What is (sadly) universal and constant is the tangle of order and chaos in human affairs - the gross appetites, wasteful conflicts, the vanity and the fugitive sense that some actual good can come of it all, somehow.  The Chinese have their virtues and their illusions just like everyone else.  It is clearly not a perfect country.  Neither is America.  I find I often have to remind Americans that their own domestic prosperity is only evidence of ‘success’ if you discount the price paid by sweatshop workers and the citizens of South American banana republics, to name but two examples… 

But I don’t want to bash America any more than China - I would just like to suggest that there are underlying philosophical questions that are continually evaded - questions like (just an example) “In a globalized free market, is global wealth a pie that can only be divided so many ways? If so, is it wrong to be rich?”  As a species supposedly striving for some ultimate good, what exactly is it that we are we aiming for - that everyone lives forever in luxury and is continually happy?  Do we have any clue as to whether this is possible, desirable or what it would entail?  I feel that we are muddling along dealing with contingency all the time; but the fundamentals slide right out of sight.  No one even agrees on what constitutes ‘the greater good’ yet there’s this unspoken assumption that we all have something similar in mind when we debate a particular topic like this one.  What if the greater good is for all humans to die out?  My suggestion is that unless humans find some kind of real and non-dogmatic pure goodness within themselves and manifest it, Nihilism is a compelling argument and the underlying philosophy of the world.  Certainly, governments that behave so cynically as those of China and the U.S. appear to be Nihilistic more than Democratic, Communist, Christian or anything else. 

Without getting caught up in singling out China as a bad-guy, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is a nation that lies, conquers, tortures and exploits.  If we were talking about an individual human it would seems stupid to tally their good points against such terrible crimes: the fact of the crimes alone would mean that any wise person would not trust this individual.  Such is not only the character of China, but the character of nations in general.  They are power-based sociopathic entities and we need to come up with something better.  For them morality is not a guiding light, emerging from a sentient being’s empathy for life - it is just another rule in the Great Game; part of the landscape.  Environmental concerns are just another contingency.  These green initiatives will be played for selfish advantage at every level from the nation all the way down to the individual consumer.  The environmentalists will cheer and only in retrospect will we unpick how division and competition perverted a cause that was never really defined in the first place.

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By samosamo, July 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

Things that can’t go on forever, don’t!

Herb Stein - nixon advisor in the 70s.

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By samosamo, July 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm Link to this comment

By Eso, July 17 at 10:27 am
““So, tell us, David Sirota, at least give us a hint, in which direction the solution lies.”“
***********************************************

I don’t think D. Sirota would say or admit to this but until the human race is reduced to well under 1,000,000,000 people this ‘civilization’ will spiral ever faster into oblivion in competition for the resources to survive and/or live on, otherwise the planet, in order to support any kind of life will have to do something about the massive footprint of the 6.7 billion people on this planet even though only 20 or 30% of those billions are wasting the resources for their sole pleasure.

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By BruSays, July 17, 2009 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

I’ve been to China quite a few times and continue to travel there because my work is within the travel industry. Here are a few of my observations. See what you think:
1. History. As a “civilization” China has a 6,000-year history, at least 4,000 of it fairly well-documented in politics, philosophy, science and the arts. As a nation, we have have a 230-year history. To the Chinese child learning world history, guess who’s looked on as the “flash in the pan” culture and guess who’s looked on as the long-term survivor?
2. Control. Throughout this history, China’s views on government have been centrist, whether the ruler was an emperor, a dictator or a president. This power is respected and admired in times of prosperity; respected but dispised in times of famine and upheaval. “Democracy” as we understand it, was never in culture of China. Today they see it, they read about it, but they don’t fully embrace it; some distrust it as impractical. Whose system is better? To the Chinese, the jury is still out. They’re willing to test the waters but they don’t want to rock the boat. 
3. The Future. They’re conflicted, as I see it. On one hand, they love to point to their skyscrapers, Maglev trains, freeways, “Gucci” and “Prada” stores as badges of their arrival to the 21st century. “See, we have these things, too!” But throughout most of their history they’ve run their own show. Now, most of what they have has been achieved through trade of goods and technology with Japan, Hong Kong and the West. But with the opening of technology comes a resistance to a loosening of their centrist ways. We’re all aware of their attempts (mostly successful) to control media reports to the West on their troubles in Tibet last year, and the troubles in Urumqi this year. See how they control the Internet and muzzle the press? Notice how they were obsessed with putting on the “perfect” Olympics - the press be damned?

As a nation they have new-found pride in their economic prosperity - something they haven’t felt in a hundred years or more. But at the same time they realize this prosperity - as never before - is inextricably linked to the West. I’m not so sure they’re comfortable with that.

Incidentally, let’s remove Hong Kong from the discussions of mainland China. They’re two very different animals.

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By gao, July 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

sigh…when a nearby supernova explosion wipes out the human race, the Earth will cheer for relief. It will go bad, and to worse; but it is bad as it is and you need to live with it. So quit whining.

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By Virginia777, July 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment

I don’t really get the point of this article (except for the usual China-bashing. Sirota must be looking out for extra freelance work).

As Lost Hills points out, for the United States to point (or shake) fingers at China is ludicrous (and the Chinese see it as just that).

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By Paracelsus, July 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

@ Big B

I saw Soylent Green and I loved the classical music played in the euthanasia room. I hope we can use technology, much of it suppressed, to create a better world. I think of Tesla in this case.

@ tmulli

I find it interesting that a government funded regional authority, TVA, is found to be so egregious. TVA was never very profitable, and it has been a curse to mountain communities since its inception. As for mountaintop removal, I see it as a sign that we are running out of coal. We are getting at the worst most disgusting coal, because we are running out of it. I recall that Clinton had put the relatively clean coal in Utah into government hands. I know it would have torn up Utah, but coal is messy anyhow. Mining is a dirty business, because the earth itself is a big toxic rock with a thin veneer of soil to act as a condom.

As to the coal it used to be high grade bituminous and anthracite, which is the “cleaner” coal. Now it’s low grade bituminous and lignite.

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4061

http://blog.enterpriseitplanet.com/green/blog/2009/06/are-we-running.html

http://www.restoringeden.org/community/CreationVoice/january2009/coalash

I don’t buy the global warming arguments, but I would like to see energy entrepreneurs not be obstructed and oppressed by the old energy dinosaurs, because the current methods of powering dynamos are so poisonous.

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By Big B, July 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

I grew up in the late 60’s and 70’s in america. The movies and books of our time had begun to shift from the all encompassing instant apocolypse of atomic annihilation to the much more suptle concept of a slower downfall for humanity, caused by the trappings of overpopulation, those being famine, disease, pollution, and the exhaustion of natural resources. (imagine “1984” meets “rollerball”) We seem just on the cusp of the begining of our swan song, the fat lady would be clearing her throat, if she wasn’t already choking on the smokey air.

I hope I can somehow live to be 90 in this mad max sort of world we are making for ourselves. Yup, things sure could get interesting around here in the next 40 to 50 years. The 21st century resource wars are just starting, the oil and fresh water will run out about the same time, along with the food.

My advice, don’t eat the Soylent Green.

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By G.Anderson, July 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

Obviously, with our oceans dying, and the vast ecological collapse of the Amazon, our soon to be dead planet, will not be able to support a few billion new people.

As, the dying of our world increases, so too will be the drastic efforts of the elite, to doom us and save them from oblivion. It doesn’t take much to imagine what measures they will take, since neither morality, compassion or conscience has ever had any impact on their actions.

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By tmullins, July 17, 2009 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

Appalachia is being decapitated by mountaintop removal, our air, land and water are toxic in Wise County, Virginia.  There are less jobs and more destruction thanks to the new and improved, clean, green, hybrid coal industries method of extracting said “clean coal”.  The coal goes to China to power their Empire and here in Wise Co., the high schools are so old and outdated, they don’t have power to run the latest technology so our kids can compete on a global scale.  The trade off is so we can go to walmart and buy cheap toxic crap for our families and pets…

http://www.wisecountyissues.com/?p=138

California sure has done great with their air pollution reform when it only takes three to ten days for China’s coal fired plant pollution to reach the West Coast, Appalachian mountaintop moonscapes are belching on tinsle town.

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By Xntrk, July 17, 2009 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

Duplicate post:

I spent a month in China in 2006. The filth, waste and overcrowding were unbelievable. China may say it’s a ‘Communist’ Country, but it is not!

Mao’s little red book mentions China’s abilities pertaining to Capitalism. Mao said it would take ‘generations to wean the Chinese from Capitalism” True, the entire society is fascinated by ‘buy and sell’, and Mao wasn’t in charge that long. Take a ‘Conversational Chinese Class at your local Y. The first class introduces two words: Mai and Mai; [pronounced differently], and that’s beyond my keyboard. One means Buy, and the other means Sell, together they form ‘Business’. Along about class 3, we were discussing visiting with strangers in China: “I REALLY like your watch!”; Vis ” Thank you”; Chinese “No, I really like it, Was it expensive?”; Vis, “Not too…”; Chinese, “Can I buy it?” You get the drift, none of the “The pen is on the table” of French, or “my name is Joe, What is your name?” of Spanish. The Chinese just cut to the chase and get down to business.

Beijing, where I spent 2 weeks at Peiking University wasn’t ok. Crowded and dirty, but fascinating, if you don’t mind crowds. Once we started traveling to the country side, following the sacred sites of Confucius and his primary assistant Menchus, it became apparent that the economy was a two level, or maybe ten level beast. The farms were at best on the level of the US in the 20’s, with lots of hand labor - but they have lots of people. And, the Cooley carrying goods and people up mountains on his back is very much in evidence at the mountain shrines. Not every kid goes to school there, that is for sure. The schools are in pretty poor shape too for that matter, out in the villages.

Let’s not discuss hygiene, and toilets etc. If you wander off the tourist hotel route, they are nightmares. Train travel is yet another adventure… Slit toilets on a swaying train require more agility than this old lady could handle, frankly.

Shanghai was an eye opener, with its Malls and Bund, and fancy eateries etc. Obviously the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ for commerce. But on a River tour, I was horrified to see an overloaded garbage scow being towed UP river. It did explain the absolutely filthy water though, with visible garbage floating downstream. We were told they pull several bodies out daily.

The recent uprisings in Western China should not be dismissed. I think the Communist Government is on the verge of yet another peasant uprising with the increasing divide between the urban cities and the peasant countryside. These are very smart, even greedy people. They are not going to be satisfied with selling their children into the sweat shops so the Capitalist Cosmopolitans can live the good life. The government is busily feeding a real estate boom by moving the farmers off their lands and selling it to developers. Sound familiar?

The scandals over tainted exports are only more evidence of an economy that has slipped lose from the ham-fisted political bosses. Money will buy you anything in China!
***
Folktruther commented that the Western uprisings were the result of our meddling, which is undoubtedly true. But, Western China is also suffering the results of two massive earthquakes. One, last week, and last years horrendous event. Millions of peasants were displaced from the Three Gorges area by the huge damn there. The harsh western regions have always been the poorest, and the easiest to hide from Western Observers. I don’t think they need much outside skulduggery to kick up the unrest.

Unlike Sirota, I had been studying and planning for this trip, since 1982. That is when I started taking language classes etc, and reading some of the literature and history. When my company denied me the opportunity to travel to Fuzhou with the other Engineers, I quit. The trip was on hold for 25 years…

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By herewegoagain, July 17, 2009 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

race_to_the_bottom writes: “It is indisputable that 300 million people have been raised from poverty in the last couple of decades.”

It is? My understanding is that it’s more like hundreds of millions have been displaced from their farmland to make room for more factories. And they - or more likely, their children - are left with little choice but to work in these factories. At very low wages.

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By bg1, July 17, 2009 at 11:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

race_to_the_bottom “but the bottom line is that they physically control the new assets and can dismiss their multinational “partners” at any time they choose. “

Yes, and the CEOs/“partnes” will keep the money they made up to that point, and the so will the pundits and politicians that aided and abetted them.

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By captain Rick, July 17, 2009 at 10:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What must China be thinking? Do they seriously think that hundreds more coal plans are going to solve all their problems/ Do they think that a population 17 time that of the US , consuming what America does, is sustainable.?.This just boggles my mind.What must America be thinking—that it can wage wars all over the planet without serious consequences.Do these countries really think that they can exist in a world polluted and degraded with loss of Oil supply,  that they can go on to build more skyscrapers?
These economies are the proverbial frog in the boiling water.One day it is dead…..

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By Paracelsus, July 17, 2009 at 10:20 am Link to this comment

@ Folktruther

But the US ruling class is now completely predatory, wanting its profits now and not worrying about the future.  After them the deluge.

Après eux, le déluge. Yep, that summarizes it well.

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