Is the 'Age of America' Really at an End?
And while it's true that China has enjoyed the full fruits of capitalism, its economy still suffers from faux-communist distortions. From uninhabited, brand-spanking-new "ghost cities," to a financial sector that would make Tim Geithner blush, Beijing is sitting on multiple power kegs while smoking up a storm.
China is also up against the limits of its arable land. About the same geographic size as the U.S., China has four times the population and a lot more desert. Combined with Beijing's growth-at-any-cost policies, the Chinese ecology is under serious pressure.
However, China does have strengths all its own -- over three trillion of them, at last count. $3,050,000,000,000 is the current dollar value of China's foreign currency reserves, and that's the kind of big, swinging… purchasing power that can win a country some friends in a pinch. More importantly, cash reserves that size have let China paper over its most pressing financial difficulties. So far, at least.
The real secret to China's success is no secret at all. Whether it's accurate or not, reforming Chinese President Deng Xiaoping is believed to have told his people that "To get rich is glorious." Mao was dead, and so was communism. And the Chinese people heeded the call.
Our president has declared "that at a certain point, you've made enough money." Barack Obama certainly acts as though he thinks the U.S. is now plenty rich -- and should get no richer. Obama has used "spread the wealth around" as his policy on pretty much everything. Medicine? ObamaCare put everyone in the same leaky boat. Manufacturing? He gave away big chunks to General Motors to the UAW which had helped drag it down. Energy? There's been nice talk about nuclear energy, but also ham-fisted and unnecessary drilling moratoriums and threats to make burning coal economically unfeasible.
Our dollar is in a tailspin, our financial house makes Enron look like a model of probity, our education system costs too much while demanding almost no rigor of its pupils, and our East and West Coast cultural bulwarks remain staunchly anti-American.
And all those allies America can claim? Obama has made it a point to offend some of the best and strongest of them. The rest have certainly taken note.
China has aggressively pursued its national self-interest, while our president and his party have aggressively denied Americans the chance to pursue theirs.
The story isn't so much about China's rise. After all, an industrious, intelligent, and entrepreneurial people can be held down by their government for only so long.
After centuries of hardship, the Chinese learned that lesson to great success.
We need only to remember it.