Is China Winning? It’s Our Own Fault

W.J. Astore

At his first presidential press conference yesterday, Joe Biden had this to say on China: “They have an overall goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world and the most powerful country in the world. That’s not going to happen on my watch.”

Sorry, Joe, it’s happening and it’s partly your fault.

Here’s a symbol for you. I have an American flag t-shirt. It’s made by a company called “True Grit” (John Wayne!) and the label says “Authentic California.” But was the shirt made in California? Ha ha! It was “Made in China.”

My t-shirt label says it all

Why is China ascending while the USA descends? Here are five reasons:

  1. America’s wasteful war on terror has cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 trillion with nothing to show for it.
  2. Politicians like Obama/Biden prefer to bailout Wall Street and the banks rather than ordinary Americans. For example, the bailout of Wall Street in 2008 was a trillion-dollar mess, Matt Taibbi notes.
  3. The Covid Bailout passed by the Trump administration in 2020 (the CARES Act) funneled $2.3 trillion mainly to the banks and corporate America, with a surge option of $4 trillion for big business, notes Matt Taibbi.
  4. Bad trade deals like NAFTA, advanced by Democrats like Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, ensured that American jobs would go overseas to countries like China having much lower labor costs.
  5. Tax cuts for the richest Americans under the Trump administration starve the government of funds, ensuring little investment in the homeland even as the rich get richer.

Now, imagine if this money had been invested in America. We’re talking $10-12 trillion for infrastructure, essentials like roads, bridges, dams, high-speed rail, renewable energy, better schools, and so on. Imagine how much more advanced and healthy America could be if our priorities changed.

Our government has been captured by the special interests, specifically corporations, banks, and the military-industrial complex. It’s socialism for the rich and dog-eat-dog capitalism for the poor. The plutocrats, kleptocrats, and militarists are cashing in even as America hollows out.

What we need is a true Marshall Plan — for America. A reinvestment in ourselves. What this means is an end to forever wars, major cuts in military spending, higher taxes on the plutocrats and corporations, and a focus on putting Americans back to work and with a living wage. A green new deal could and should be one aspect of this.

We need to show some “true grit” again, America; not grit that’s “Made in China.”

26 thoughts on “Is China Winning? It’s Our Own Fault

    1. I have no idea. Ads are supposedly based on readers’ interests. Actually, I’m supposed to be ad-free now; need to check on this.

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  1. Bill, another realistic report on the Realities of our Times.
    On your 1st point, the Military-Industrial Complex and their Contractors have got that $6 TRILLION, and the ordinary average US worker making the rich richer are being stiffed.

    “The alternative to a rules-based order is a world in which might makes right and winner takes all and that would be a far more violent and unstable world,” Blinken said provocatively.

    Bill Maher really nails it here on what’s wrong with America and Americans,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I accidentally posted before finishing the comment Blinken accused China of fostering in the Alaska meeting that was supposed to re-set relations. They set them backwards not on a more positive note for Future relations.

      Blinken forgot or deliberately ignored, the US already brought in the alternative to a rules-based order is a world in which might makes right and winner takes all and that would be a far more violent and unstable world.

      The US went to the United Nations Security Council seeking the Legal Authority only the UNSC could give, to invade Iraq and remove Saddam. The US financially supported Saddam when he started the brutal 8 year War when he invaded Iran in 1980, to nip the 1979 Iranian Revolution in the bud. There was no moral issue when Saddam used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds and Iran. The US and the West was silent.

      The Security Council denied the US that Legal Authority.

      With the delusional belief in it’s own indispensable exceptionalism, the US invaded anyway, in violation of International Law, undermining the rules based Global Order as represented by the United Nations since WWII, ushering in the Law of the Jungle to the Middle East and the World.

      Foreign Policy Magazine Magazine, the Propaganda arm of the Council on Foreign Relations, the premier Think Tank influencing US Foreign Policy in General, AIPAC devoted only to influencing US Policy on Israel, published this in their last publication,
      “A Chinese Communist Party that fears its power or control is slipping could become more aggressive in the near term”

      The Reality I see is the US fears “its power or control is slipping could become more aggressive in the near term”

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  2. I take issue with Biden’s fundamental premise here. So WHAT if China becomes more wealthy and powerful, perhaps surpassing the U.S.? World politics is not a zero-sum game. The Chinese seem to have a more sensible world view, except in the case of human rights, in which area, by the way, the U.S. has no moral high ground. If cooperation replaced deadly competition, perhaps climate change could be contained, as just one example.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yep. 4x the population, yet, I’d wager, a tiny fraction of the divisiveness and “me-ism” endemic to the U.S. Plus, millennia more history, tradition, respect for their culture, and a patient, long view of the future.

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        1. Of course, no American president can admit to being #2 at anything. “We’re #1” is the American mantra, even when it’s demonstrably untrue.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Is there any doubt which side would suffer more if the trade between China and the US were halted? The Silk Road project is moving right along because to the countries involved China is saying “look what we can do for you that will benefit us all”

    After so many years of disastrous policy and suppression under Mao, China is full of a spirit of accomplishment and will to succeed in the world. They have no doubts about their ability and and so much to do that jobs are ready to hand for those willing to move to urban areas. It’s much like the United States of the late nineteenth century when progress was everywhere with a “wow, look at us!” feeling as the world looked on in awe. We had terrible working conditions that underlay industrialization then and they have sweatshop labor now, maybe even making those “True Grit” T-shirts.

    Biden’s statement is both foolish and arrogant, as if we have some control over China’s boom. There is only one thing left that keeps the US afloat and able to issue such silly statements and that is having the dollar as the international reserve currency.

    Sending naval forces to the South China Sea is posturing as is all threat of military confrontation. China is on a roll and our chief concern should be cooperation with an international power we have no hope of facing down or forcing down. Reason says let’s get together on common problems.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In China the government basically controls the corporations, whereas Western virtual-corpocratic governances, notably the U.S. and Canada, are basically steered by corporations’ economic intimidation or extortion. Indeed, corporate representatives actually write bills for our governing representatives to vote for and have implemented, typically word for word, supposedly to save the elected officials their time.

      China is taking advantage of this serious flaw in the virtual corpocratic rule (corpocracy?) here in the West — profit before individual and even national interests. Generally, both American and Canadian governances commonly maintain thinly veiled yet firm ties to large corporations; it’s as though elected heads are meant to represent big money interests over those of the working citizenry and poor. (I believe it is basically why those powerful $$$ interests generally resist proportional representation electoral systems of governance, the latter which tends to dilute the corporate lobbyist influence on the former.) Accordingly, major political decisions will normally foremost reflect what is in big business’s best interests. And don’t expect to hear this fact readily reported by the mainstream news-media, which is concentratedly corporate owned.

      Those doubting the powerful persuasion of huge business interests need to consider how high-level elected governing officials can become crippled by implicit or explicit corporate threats to transfer or eliminate jobs and capital investment, thus economic stability — a crippling that is made even worse by a blaring news-media that’s permitted to be naturally critical of incumbent governments.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As far as I am concerned, the whole attitude of the U.S. attitude toward China is purely and simply “sour grapes”. Our policy “elite” is a bunch of sore losers. And we ARE losing. Witness just the number of STEM graduates that country is turning out in comparison to the Americans, or the fact that many tens of millions of Chinese citizens have been lifted out of poverty since the take-off in Deng Xiaoping’s era! The entire U.S. policy was obviously arrogant and frankly racist from the start: the Chinese were supposed to be and remain “America’s workshop” and, in fact, their policy of massive export of cheap goods of every profile (see Walmart, Amazon and all the big retailers) did, for a time, compensate Americans for the comprehensive off-shoring of our industrial base and supply chains to China and other low-wage venues. Of course, the captains of American industry assumed that the “Chinks” wouldn’t be capable of building the sort of industrially and technologically advanced giants to compete, even when American corporations handed over the technology on a silver platter – as the price of entry.

    The sad part is all the posturing over human rights, which should concern us all, I think, but that criterium has been completely devalued by the mass-murderous activities of the U.S. and its “allies” in the Middle East and elsewhere over the past thirty years of the “unipolar” moment, let along America’s own history since the founding. It has degenerated into just another instrument in Washington’s imperial toolbox, endlessly amplified by what at this point in history can only be characterized as its captive state media. Human rights of the Palestinians? Of the people of the Donbass? Of the million of Iraqis or Syrians dead from America’s “military diplomacy”? Crickets.

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  5. Additionally, it is curious that, among the reasons cited by this post for the ascent of China relative to American decline, you do not list the enormous capacity for work, discipline and self-sacrifice of the Chinese population in the pursuit of national goals, the achievement of which they may today be justly proud. These are qualities that are quite evidently absent in American society today. Rather, we as a society are defined by hyper-individualism, the obsession with “rights” without any connection to an obligation to the collective that any society is by definition, and an addiction to “consumerism” without limits. There was once a time – perhaps during the era of the Depression and World War II – that American society faced adversity with a larger sense of solidarity: this more than anything defines my image of the “great generation”. I can’t at all imagine anything like that today, when the challenges before us are perhaps the equal of those faced by our parents.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. As we punish evil Iran as much as possible, China engages with Iran with mutually beneficial deals. You might say we take the corporal punishment approach and China takes the silk road approach. The punishment we dish out only drives Iran into China’s embrace. We then pontificate while China and Iran move along.

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    1. SoS Blinken was asked on CNN this am, since Biden called Putin a killer, is MBS of SAWdi Arabia a killer? He couldn’t say the word and danced around it.
      Asked directly a 2nd time, he used Diplomatic obfuscation, and just couldn’t call MBS a killer for being directly responsible for killing Khashoggi.

      SAWDI Arabia is the BIGGEST Customer for US Weapons, but Iran is evil for wanting defensive weapons.

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  7. Just in from a four-hour bike ride and have reread this post.
    My memory isn’t what it used to be, so feel free to correct me at any point:
    As I recall, the Reagan Era – with the complicity of The Democratic Party – for all practical purposes crushed out and demonized labor unions. The American people were fine with that.
    Then, the government pushed for “globalization” and Third World outsourcing, saying not having to pay high union-negotiated wages and health benefits would allow manufacturers to keep costs down. The American people were fine with that, too.
    Once a $15 per hour minimum wage is portrayed as the harbinger of higher consumer costs for goods and services (and in all likelihood a cutback in jobs) the American people will be fine with seeing it consigned to the dustbin of history.
    How many nations have imposed trade sanctions on the US for unfair labor practices? For domestic human rights violations? For gutting the principles a supposed representative democracy needs to survive? For continued military aggression and political assassination? How many threatened/supported a “regime change” – for the US – at any time in the past four years?
    No one respects the US. Certainly, no one loves or aspires to be like the US. If other nations fear the US, it’s only because our standard response has become the threat of military action, executed with “extreme prejudice.”
    Take away our nuclear arsenal and willingness/ability to “project force” anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat, and the US is maybe three steps above a banana republic.
    The biggest threats to the US are within its own borders (which includes The Beltway).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes ‘Bill’(?), your recollection of the Reagan era matches mine, especially the naive acceptance of ‘off-shoring’ by too many of the US populace. In fact, I recall that the initial beginnings of the ‘deregulatory’ policies actually started in the late 70’s — it was the zeitgeist, and Jimmy Carter even spoke in his unsuccessful 1980 re-election campaign about how much de-regulation he had done in his 1st term.
      I put ~70% of the blame for our political situation on the US public, maybe 25% on the media, and only 5% on the actual politicians, since by and large ‘we’ voters are electing them, first in the primaries and then in the general elections. Assholes like Reagan, ‘W’ and Trump, as well as the ‘lesser evils’ like H Bush, Clinton, Obama, & Biden don’t elect themselves. Even if one wants to say that there were ‘irregularities’ in some of the elections and that W was ‘selected’ (which I’ll agree with), the elections were close enough that small amounts of cheating could throw them. And this is the country that re-elected Nixon, Reagan, and W…
      which can’t be explained-away in any moral way…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, Eddie, that the American people bear some of the blame for the ongoing abysmal state of this country. However, they have no say in which candidates are offered for nominations. To be considered, potential contenders must toe the two major parties’ lines. The voters have to choose between generally undesirable candidates, in the end.

        Then there’s the matter of what we vote for, versus what we get. Obama promised change we could believe in, and failed to deliver. In fact, he threw in the towel before he even started. Campaign promises are pretty much 180° opposite what actually transpires. I’d say the RNC, the DNC, and the MIC are the guiltiest parties when it comes to blame for the sorry situation of the last 60 years.

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      2. Forgive me for repeating myself, but the American people are kept divided, distracted, and downtrodden.

        Things are the way they are because certain people and entities are profiting immensely. When the powerless suffer, I blame the powerful.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Before any nation might effectively non-militarily challenge China — a country with almost 1.5 billion consumers — that nation first must have a significant trade-export/import bargaining chip.

    I can imagine that a large enough number of world nations securely allied, however, likely could combine their resources and go without the usual bully-nation China trade/investment connection they’d prefer to sever, instead trading necessary goods and services between themselves. Yet, maybe such an alliance has already been covertly discussed but rejected due to Chinese government strategists knowing how to ‘divide and conquer’ potential alliance nations by using door-wedge economic/political leverage custom-made for each nation.

    Every nation placing its own big businesses’ bottom-line interests first and foremost may always be its, and therefore collectively our, Achilles Heel to be exploited by huge-market nations like China.

    Liked by 1 person

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