Comment: Mr. Scheer, I hope that you read the comments section of your recent article “The Chinese Aren’t Coming.”
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:16:10 GMT
Guest, would you like to direct Bob to any particular comment he should have read?
10:16 Robert Scheer
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:16:44 GMT
(To dihey) Well, it is amazing that this historic event—the first-ever agreement between these sworn enemies, Taiwan and mainland China—has largely gone unnoticed. We wasted the lives of millions of people, enormous resources, over a half-century of fighting a Cold War against a Communist bogeyman that was accepted throughout our political and intellectual circles as a unified, unchanging, inevitable menace to our freedom. Towards that end, until now, we have felt the need to support the government in Taiwan, assuming that it requires our intervention. The real lesson is that these people have been quite adept at making their own history, evolving dramatically into new forms of social order, and determining that peace is more advantageous than war. That’s a lesson that I believe can be applied to the warring tribes of Afghanistan, Iraq or lots of other places where we want to poke our unwanted noses.
Here’s another reader question: “Bob, what about in terms of the importance of government intervention? I mean, with the U.S. and the financial crisis, deregulation, we’ve seen that this is a problem and it’s important sometimes for the government to protect the people. Shouldn’t the Taiwanese be protected? What implications will it bring to them? Rather than this being a fear of China getting stronger, shouldn’t we view it as a fear of the Taiwanese quality of life decreasing and capitalism growing stronger for the worse?”
10:21 Robert Scheer
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:21:03 GMT
Well, first of all, the Taiwanese are masters of capitalism, and this deal very much more benefits them than the people on the mainland. Taiwan already has 41 percent of its trade with the mainland, and what this deal does is give them legal protection, give them access to financial institutions on the mainland, and basically legitimize the integration of two capitalist economies—one which pays tribute to both Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong. They don’t need our protection. These are wise, wily capitalist bandits on both sides who are quite capable of looking out for their own interests without American taxpayers and troops getting involved. That is the lesson of modern history that George Washington tried to teach us at the founding of the nation when he said (paraphrasing) beware the impostures of pretended patriotism and avoid entanglements of foreign adventures.
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:21:16 GMT
Here’s another question: “After China unchains the yuan, how soon will Obama start subsidizing imports?”
10:23 Robert Scheer
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:23:30 GMT
Let me answer this question in an unexpected way: I don’t believe in any of the principles of protectionism. I think American workers, without having an erosion of their working conditions, can be competitive with workers anywhere in the world. We just have to get back to producing products that people want to buy. We have great resources, great climate, a very skilled workforce, and as we’ve seen in relation to the entertainment, computer, agricultural industries, no one can touch us. It’s just when we make cars that people don’t want to buy that we have problems. I don’t think we have to be competitive in producing T-shirts and underwear; that’s not where the real money is anyway.
10:23 Comment From Silent Otto
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:23:35 GMT
Comment: How can we persuade China, and India too, to find a third way and NOT adopt the “greed is best, wasteful personal transportation for everyone, me me mine” attitude of Western thought?
10:25 Robert Scheer
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:25:27 GMT
It’s for them to find. I am so sick of the assumption that our basically intellectually clueless population somehow has the answer for other people. The Chinese and Indians operate out of rich traditions—a much higher level of civilization than we have been able to obtain—and it is for them to make their own history and find their own models. I know that is difficult for people raised on the notion that we represent the center of all human achievement to accept, but it is a reality that we’d better get used to. They don’t really need us all that much.
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:25:44 GMT
Another question: “Why should lifestyle for citizens in China rise, & USA citizens fall into Third World poverty?”
10:29 Comment From WSmart
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:29:39 GMT
Comment: (To Robert Scheer) Floored. That makes at least two of us. Now if we can just get Chomsky to sober up. Men stopped being men when they started drinking alcohol if you ask me, and our alcohol-loving cultures are a ticking time bomb. The first step to problem solving (and developing character) is being real, and that’s not on the table.
10:30 Robert Scheer
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:30:45 GMT
If that happens, it is our fault and has nothing to do with the Chinese or anyone else out there. We are still largely underpopulated and resource-rich—by world standards. For example, China, when I was a fellow in the UC Berkeley Center for Chinese Studies a half-century ago, was thought to be incapable of any serious growth, because it was thought to be hopelessly overpopulated with 400 million people at the time; its resources, particularly its agricultural land, were considered to be depleted beyond reclamation. It did not have oil to speak of, and now, with 900 million more people, its resources have not significantly expanded. And yet, its quality of life has expanded beyond anyone’s expectations. The same is happening in India. And we’ve got to stop blaming our failure on their success—this is a very dangerous notion: that our prosperity is dependent on holding back other people. Our prosperity is dependent upon becoming better at what we do in terms of production rather than military conquest, which we have been focusing on and is a big loser—it is not cost-effective. It is the Chinese succeeding—not through the power of their army but through their trade. How ironic that this lesson about the health of free-market capitalism has been exemplified by the success of the Red Chinese.
10:31 Comment From Gerard
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:31:04 GMT
Comment: They also “operate” out of a tradition of massive poverty, acceptance of cooperation for survival, and lower expectations, financially speaking, and even in the area of civil rights. We had better understand both cultures before we start making major decisions. How many Chinese and Indians speak English? How many Americans speak Chinese or any Hindu subculture’s language—Gujarti, for example, crucial in the northwest?
10:31 Comment From Silent Otto
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:31:12 GMT
Comment: Thanks, Bob, I agree. As a Canadian, I see American exceptionalism from the outside (and Canadians are no less deluded). However, the prevalence of American culture in other countries is insidious in trying to inculcate Western “values”. I saw it in both Japan and Korea—all the kids wanted to be American. I’m thinking if this becomes the predominant thought pattern in China—i.e. you are worthless without a car—then we have no chance to arrest global warming, dominance of big oil, hyper-capitalism and the rest. Hope that makes some sense.