Friday, April 22, 2005

Living With the Dragon

this episode:

Will There Be A Final Conflict Between the West and The Communists?


Can We All Just Get Along?

Years ago I began a mild obsession (if there can be such a thing) with China. I have yellowing clips from local newspapers of letters to the editor that I had written warning of the threat China will one day pose to America and the West. That day, I fear, will soon be upon us. The real question is one of degree. Will the Chinese Empire simply compete with (and crush) America and the West economically, or will there be a shooting war?

Realistically, either scenario will be bad for America. No one wants a shooting war. I have no doubt that our sophisticated military machine would crush China in an all out war, but for Heaven's sake we don't want any part of that. Economically we can still hold our own against the burgeoning Chinese machine by being smart and flexible. I fear that we will be neither - the signs do not look good.

American businesses might be the most dynamic and innovative entities the world has ever seen but the flat out greed will be its undoing. In recent article published on the Internet site Allen Cheng points to the real reason America is in trouble:

[Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji] "Zhu was visiting the US and he needed a new pair of running shoes,” says Brahm, the author of the recent biography on the premier, Zhu Rongji and the Transformation of Modern China. “He sent an aide to go buy him a pair of Nikes. The pair of running shoes was ‘Made in China,’ but came with a price tag of $130. Zhu was surprised it was so expensive. He asked the aide to check the freight-on-board price of the pair of shoes when it left China’s ports. The aide came back and said ‘$5.’ Zhu was shocked. ‘You mean to say our manufacturers made only $5?’ the premier asked with incredulity. What the premier told me sums up the entire Sino-US relations for you. Much of the rest of that $130 price tag was pure profit for Nike and the American retailers.” In other words, good Sino-US relations are a winning combination, albeit with America winning much more handsomely than China.

I personally find that kind of greed breathtaking. I am as much a free-market conservative as Bill Buckley himself, but this kind of gouging makes American business look small not smart. Speaking of the king of all conservatives, William Buckley recently wrote a damning screed against American executives taking extreme personal compensation packages even after their respective companies posted billion dollar losses. There was the recent 60 Minutes piece on outsourcing healthcare to southeat Asia and India. It seems that $100,000 bypass surgeries can be performed in Thailand by American trained doctors for $12,000. They can do it so much cheaper because 1) doctors are paid less 2) hospital executives are paid less 3) malpractice insurance companies are paid less (therefore lawyers) and finally 4) everything costs less. The real lesson here is that we Americans are being ripped off at every turn. I find nothing wrong with making money and profiting from doing good business, but greed is a killer.

What does this have to do with China? Everything. If we don't find a way to tame the greed monster we will not stand a chance against a nation of 1.6 billion people literally dying for tiny portion of our fat and comfortable middle class life. We need to be smarter than them. We have to offer more flexibility, quality and value with our products and services. Allen Cheng points out that when Japan and other southeast Asian economies took a plunge in the 90's American business wooed investors with the promise of the "New Economy" and the "dotcom" explosion only to find that it was a cruel joke that made a few executives (ie:'s Mark Cuban, AOL's Steve Case) billionaires while pulling away investment money from legitimate businesses. These international investors have fled to the open arms of the Chinese.

To keep things in perspective, currently the American manufacturing sector alone is larger than the entire Chinese economy. That said, the trajectory of the two are moving in opposite directions. We still have the largest most dynamic economy on the planet, but all the signs are pointing to and end to that lofty, lonely perch. The United States has been preaching to the rest of the world that the key to a stable and resilient economy is the tranparency of our financial systems. Publically held companies are required to report on an anual basis to their share holders and elected officials must face the public at election time to ensure that this so called transparency exists. Yet, the final decade of the twentieth century left us with massive corporate scandals and brokerage firms feathering their own nests at the expense of investors. This is transparency? Serious and concrete steps have been taken by the current adminstration and the Congress to correct these gross misapproprations, but greed lives on.

Corruption kills economies and governments. The Chinese government is a communist one and all communists are corrupt. But are we really any better? If we are to continue to be a safe and profitable place to do business and attract investors in this global economy, we will have to be morally superior to the Chinese. Without morals they will crush us. No one does immorality better than a communist.

So, will there be a shooting war? That will be up to the Chinese. If they try to take Taiwan by force then we could see military conflict... A frightening thought. Yet, even Taipei is busy setting up deals with the mainland that make a hostile takover less likely. But as I said, Beijing is a communist government, and therefore conflict is never completely out of the picture. Still, there is hope that a rising middle class and a fledgling Christian movement could persuade the Chinese dragon to quietly take its place in the modern world. Okay, I admit, I'm a dreamer...


Monday, April 18, 2005

Wobbly America

There are two major things threatening our country... No, wait. There are three major things bearing down on our nation... Scratch that, hold on a sec. There are four major things putting pressure on this republic... Oh for heaven's sake we've got problems, OK.

The way I see it among the many "challenges" facing the good 'ol US of A the top four in no particular order are: Global (Islamic) Terrorism, China, Education and Illegal Immigration. Only two of them are we in any kind of agreement that there is actually a problem and for neither of them do we have a consensus on how to solve them. The answers, of course, are not easy, they never are, but we if we ignore them and go about tending to our own little lives we run a risk of literally ending this 230 year old experiment we call America.

- Terrorism
Well, if 9/11 didn't wake you up to this peril then you're already beyond hope. I think both the left and the right do recognize this as a serious threat, yet the approach each side has taken couldn't be more diametrically opposed. One side looks inward and asks "why do they hate us? surely we must be at fault..." It's the battered wife syndrome all over again. The other side realizes, quite correctly, that the only thing a wife beater understands is the collective force of the law coming down on him. The terrorist does not respect handwringers but he will respect a bunker buster and a daisy cutter. The George W. Bush led War On Terror has been to date a mitigated success, don't let the mainstream media try to fool you on this one. We have come a long way since the the impotent days of Clinton administration.

- Education
Here we have consensus that a problem exists - no one can look past this ugly wart. The education of our youth is in a dismal state. Yet the liberals see the boogyman as being lack of funding and the threat posed by vouchers and private or home schooling. Throw money at the problem, reduce those class sizes, bring in counselors and psychiatrists and don't forget the condoms and AIDS education for 1st graders. This approach is, of course, what brought public schools to this sorry sate in the first place. The whole model of public education is broken. Even in socialist Europe they have kept control of the school systems in local hands. It is interesting that private and home schooled kids are reaching academic levels on par with the best educated youth in the world. The answer is to get back to the basics and hold schools accountable. This is something The President has pushed for but the compromises forced on him by the Washington way has so diluted the implimentation as to render it useless. Primary education, I'm afraid will continue its downward spiral until the the stranglehold of teacher's unions and state bureaucrats is broken. God help us on that one. As for secondary education - colleges and university - I fear there is no hope for this cabal of socialist indoctrinantion.

- China

Just try to buy shoes, clothes, electronic gadgets of a whole list of everyday consumer items that don't say made in China. Yeah, so, what's the problem? Why are we giving our country away to a communist totalitarian slave labor state? Why is the American business man ignoring the peril that is looming as America watches the Chinese lie, cheat and steal everything that has made us the greatest economic power the world has ever seen? Short term thinking? Stockholder pressure? A quick buck? Yes... These clever Chinese even attach the value of their currency to ours so that we can never make up the imbalance in trade, an inbalance that is nearly beyond comprehension.

Beyond just the economic threat ( a threat American business does not fear and the American government will not address) the quiet rise of Chinese global dominance goes unchallenged. The Chinese have been buying up parts of the Canadian economy for years. They have strong ties with Cuba and many South American states and of course they took "possesion" of the Panama Canal (which the American taxpayer built) from Jimmy Carter in the late 70's. They are building a military machine to rival ours and American consumers are paying for it. Soon Europe will end its weapons embargo and France and Germany will help arm them for a conflict with us.

Yet the American media all but ignore this very real threat. The government seems to be going out of its way to accomodate Chinese grand designs. American business is actively aiding China for a quick buck and a rosy balance sheet. I know it is not as simple as all that, but almost no one seems alarmed. I guess we can only hope that a rising middle class in China will transform the communist government... and one day pigs will have wings.

- Illegal Immigration
It used to be that people came to America to become Americans... (pause for reflection)

Hats off to Michelle Malkin, Lou Dobbs (of CNN no less) and the Arizona Minutemen for keeping this issue in front of the public, Heaven knows the mainstream media mostly ignores it. Today we have the government in Mexico literally coaching their citizens on how to cross the border and break our laws. Our resources (dollars) are being fereted out to support a desparate population failed by their own national government. Isn't that tantamount to an invasion and plundering? With our very sovereignty at risk we ask how can this be tolerated by our government in Washington DC? An what about the statehouses? California is fast becoming a defacto Mexican state. Where is this all going to lead? Better question: where is the leadership?

If the right wingers call for a crack down on the border, or support the Minutemen, or oppose welfare privileges for illegals, or push English-only legislation we are called racists. Talk show host Michael Medved points out the folly in trying to "round them up" to send them all back to Mexico. Therefore he favors something like the President's plan to issue temporary worker status for the illegals. This could be made palatable if there was a serious and credible effort by the federal government to stop the border crossings. So far, Washington's response has been far too meager, mere lip service really. The left oppose anything the right wants to do whether it's good policy or not just to deprive the right of any success. I find this more appalling than the half-hearted effort from the right. I'm not sure I buy the adage that the conservatives want the cheap labor for business and the liberals wants the support of the downtrodden illegal aliens. I cannot speak for the left - it seems they want to weaken America in any way they can. As for the right, well, they've gone wobbly on this issue. This is an issue that will eventually come to a head - it simply has to.

I do not want to come off using illegal Mexican immigrants as a whipping boy for all that ails us, we are not Nazi Germany, but common sense dictates that we cannot as a nation continue to permit this blatant disregard for our laws. How long can a nation, any nation, retain its sovereignty if it will not defend its own laws?


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Contemporary Liberalism: Tolerance Squared

George Neumayr, editor of the American Spectator treats us to a revealing look into the heart of contemporary liberalism. Oddly, it looks exactly like the 60's liberalism that spawned a 30 + year run at political power that ended in 1994. Neumayr encapsulates the extreme tolerance liberals have for people who hold alternative views with this paragraph:

In possession of state power, liberals can behave more decorously. There is no need to throw pies at conservatives when you can unleash bureaucrats and judges on them. But deprive liberals of that power and they regress rapidly, justifying any animalistic protest in the name of revolution. When Hillary Clinton spoke to feminists at the March for Women's Lives last year, the feminists, sensing that power was ebbing away from them in Red State America, held aloft signs wishing that George Bush's mother had aborted him (as well as signs wishing Pope John Paul II's mom had "choice").

Mr. Neumayr paints a clear picture of how the radicals true nature reveals itself when they are no longer in control. Not a pleasant sight. Ask yourself; could a conservative get away with some of things people like Howard Dean say in public forums? Could Dick Cheney say "I hate liberals and everything they stand for" and not create a media feeding frenzy? Not likely.


Friday, April 08, 2005

American Malaise: Losing by Winning

In another excellent piece, historian Victor Davis Hanson brings the new malaise falling over America into sharp focus. On the heels of a measured vindication for his steadfast resolve on the global terror war and his tax cut spurred economic accomplishments President George W. Bush faces an unsatisfied American public. As Mr. Hanson so succinctly points out :

...the president's critics expect him to take on tough issues and offer controversial solutions. Calling for bipartisan efforts to cap federal spending and balance the budget, craft an energy policy involving more alternative and traditional domestic fuel sources (coupled with conservation and nuclear power), and close the borders to illegal immigration...

I find myself among them who wish for more "leadership" on these issues. As much as I am on the President's side I find his statements on (Mexican) immigration most troubling. As for energy policy I think what Bush has proposed is the right course, however it has not been properly sold. I do not count myself among those wringing their hands over modest government deficits. Of the three issues Hanson touches on the flood of lawbreakers crossing our borders (for whatever reason) is the most worrisome. Right now we are witnessing what loose immigration policies are doing to Europe. In fact, in less than 20 years France will not be recognizable as a European nation if they do not begin reforming soon. In America we are seeing our own Golden State becoming an extension of Mexico.

I see the illegal immigration issue as a unifying force for America. This deeply divided country needs a cause we can rally around. I do not wish to see an end to immigration, that would foolish and counter productive, however, we simply can not allow this flood of illegals wash over this nation. We will lose everything we hold dear if we don't defend our borders, our language and our culture. (Yes, even the raving idiot Michael Savage is right on occasion!)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Poor Jimmah

Just a quick note to relish my joy when I heard Jimmah Carter was snubbed by the Bush White House by not being invited to join the official U.S. delegation slated to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

Just how many times can this decietful little man bad mouth George W. Bush and America (on foreign soil no less) and expect to be treated as a senior statesmen. He is a bitter, spiteful loser who nearly brought this great country to its knees. Yes, he could have rode into the sunset like Ford, Reagan and G.H.W. Bush and he might have been considered to have been President during an unfortunate and particularly dark time for America, but he has been a thorn in the side of every President that followed, including Bill Clinton.

Jimmah, you reap what you sow. Now back to the peanut farm with you!


Monday, April 04, 2005

R.I.P. John Paul II

A giant among men - a bittersweet legacy

He was a man who changed the course of history. The pivotal moment of his papacy came early. His first visit to Poland, his homecoming, set the stage for world shattering events that followed. Together with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan he helped forge the final assault on Soviet hegemony in eastern Europe. In 1991 the Soviet Union ceased to exist and millions of Europeans tasted freedom from domination for the first time in some 60 years. This is the sweet part...

And the bitter... That is the vile, disgusting, sickening and evil behavior of some of the priests under him. For a man who had done so much for the youth of the world to sit idly by while his bishops are shuffling one pedophile after another from one parish to another is simply inexcusable. Let me say this - I am a Catholic and I always will be. While my faith in the Lord is not shaken my faith in the administration of the Roman Catholic church is. In my own archdiosese we have a bishop who declared racism as the most pressing issue facing the people of the Church. RACISM! This while priests are buggering young boys and getting away with it! I am sick about it to this day.

I don't think it comes as any surprise that the Church needs something to win people like myself back. A commitment to justice would be a nice start, but I won't hold my breath. Pope John Paul II was a giant among men, we honor him and remember him but we need to move on now.


Friday, April 01, 2005

Arming the Enemy

Will the West ever learn?

It's not hard to imagine why Germany, France and the EU want to drop the weapons embargo to China. In America we call them "dollar signs". There is a lot of money to be made in the weapons exporting business. I think there is also a more sinister reason. Europe pretends to be an ally of Washington but actions speak louder than words. What was true in the Iraq conflict is true with China: Europe is not on our side. If Europe begins arming China it is arming them for a conflict with us. When the conflict erupts does anyone think Europe will stand by our side? What a pickle Great Britain will be in. Tony Blair has been heeding Sir Winston Churchill's advice about not forsaking the United States, but how long can he hold out?

All of this is not to say Washington is on any less shaky ground when it comes to arming future enemies. It has happened before and it will happen again. There's just too much money to made selling weapons to resist. Honestly, if our government/defense contractors do not satisfy the market someone else will. It is not as easy as taking a high moral stand and declaring a moratorium on foreign weapons sales. As much as I wish it was as easy as that we have to live in the real world. In the real world armies want weapons and where there is a demand there will be a supply.

Me, I would prefer a Cold War with China to buy us the time it will take to outlast the communist regime entrenched there. The communist government in China is quietly plotting their world domination strategy and the West is playing right into their hands. We can only hope an equally quiet democracy revolution takes place before the communists feel emboldened enough to take Taiwan and all hell breaks loose.