TCS Daily

Democrats Are Heroes... and Villains

By Rowan Callick - November 23, 2006 12:00 AM

The Democrats are being lauded in Europe and much of the Americas as the heroes of the hour, rescuing the USA from those mad neocons. But in most of Asia the perception is quite different -- of the Democrat majority as a threat, an enemy of trade, and a busybody across a broader range of issues than the Republican human rights campaigners with their predictable religious focus.

In China especially, where the mid-term election itself attracted little media interest, its outcome is now starting to arouse loudly expressed concern about the future relationship of the two great powers.

There, Iraq, Iran, Palestine and global warming are issues of secondary importance. But trade, Taiwan, and preventing what the government views as unwelcome interference in its domestic affairs, are issues of the highest priority.

And on each of the latter, the top Democrats are leading what Beijing perceives as an anti-China charge. With about 20 pieces of legislation critical of China, most relating to trade, awaiting legislative approval, their chance of enactment appears to have suddenly soared.

In the case of Vietnam, the US Congress voted in mid November to deny permanent normalized trade status immediately after the country was accepted into the World Trade Organisation, and on the eve of Hanoi hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit of leaders who included President George Bush.

The APEC nations, which together account for more than half global economic output, are among the world's most promiscuous and eager trading partners - multilateral, bilateral, regional, whatever it takes.

Australia's veteran Prime Minister John Howard, the Western leader now, after ten years in power, closest to his Asian counterparts, said: "I fear that the cause of international trade reform may have been somewhat damaged by the outcome of the Congressional election in the US, with the election of a significant number of protectionist Democrats."

There has been disappointment in Asia that the Bush White House has appeared so distracted by the Middle East. But when regional leaders have caught a glimpse of the president, they have tended to like what they have found. If there has been a criticism of the Bush years in Asia, it has been of a lack of involvement in the region rather than of excessive zeal there.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, son of the country's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, said after meeting him on November 16: "Whether the election had a thumping outcome or not, he is in a thumping mood... He is a strong leader, with a certain verve."

The US trade deficit with China, which soared by a quarter last year to $A 263 billion, and is still rising rapidly, is often cited by organized labour and Democrat critics as the result of "unfair" trade.

On the Republican side of politics, critics of China on human rights and religious freedom grounds have tended to be outweighed by the power of the business lobby which has both invested massively in China and relies heavily on cheap Chinese imports for continued consumption growth.

And Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs chief seen as the most powerful figure in President George Bush's present Cabinet, is viewed by Beijing as a "lao pengyou" - an old friend and supporter.

In contrast, the anointing of Californian Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as the incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives has been welcomed warmly not in Beijing but in the embattled "pan-green" or pro-independence circles in Taiwan, which China claims as a rebel province. Taiwan's Foreign Ministry spokesman David Wang said: "We feel happy about her being elected, and offer our heartfelt congratulations."

Veteran pro-Taiwan Washington lobbyist Coen Blaauw told the Taipei Times: "Democratic control of the House is good for Taiwan."

Senior Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer, sponsor of a bill which he is holding in abeyance that would impose a 27.5 per cent tariff on all Chinese goods unless China substantially revalues its currency, said: "I want to be known as the senator who's against China."

The likely new head of the International Relations Committee, Democrat Representative Tom Lantos, last year presented Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian, Beijing's Public Enemy Number Two (after Falun Gong guru Li Hongzhi), with the Congressional Human Rights Caucus' annual award. He told US internet companies which had acceded to Chinese rules to gain access to its vast market: "Your abhorrent activities in China are a disgrace. I cannot understand how your corporate executives sleep at night."

Chinese commentators expressed concern about the election outcome - though many also stressed that the relationship between the countries was now too deep and diverse to be easily derailed.

Zhang Liping, a researcher at China Academy of Social Science, called Rep. Lantos "a trouble maker, opposed to China on almost every issue." However, "many Democrats are still clear-minded, so the relationship won't become too unstable."

Wang Yiwei, associate professor at the American Studies Centre at Fudan University, Shanghai, said Rep. Pelosi is "quite prejudiced against China, so we may expect more noise on human rights and the trade deficit." Jin Canrong, vice dean of Renmin University's International Relations faculty in Beijing, commented on her "great bias against China." A number of newspapers editorialized on the same theme.

China is becoming more sophisticated about letting such commentators pre-emptively off the leash, hoping to head off potential conflict while it remains mainly a matter of rhetorical flourishes amplified in the electoral arena.

Maintaining smooth relations with Washington is at the core of Beijing's foreign policy. But if Congress keeps kicking China, Beijing will not hesitate to launch a contest for influence in the region at a time which least suits a distracted USA.

Rowan Callick is the Beijing-based China Correspondent of The Australian newspaper.



Democrats don't like China?
Since when?

Clinton sold the Chinese lots of secrets for campaign cash.

Being Pro-Trade
If China (and for that matter Japan) are truely "Pro-Trade", they will immediately implement a Floating Currency policy. Both China and Japan (and others countries) currently control/manipulate their currencies, which is just as proctectionist as the tarriffs Senator Schumer proposes.

Protectionism is a lose-lose proposition. Mr. Bush is to be commended for not responding to a bad policy with more bad policy. However, China should respond to Mr. Bush's good faith by reducing/eliminating currency manipulation and other protectionist measures. If they do not, it will be their own fault if our relationship deteriorates. And all members of the world economy will be damaged.

Crying "no fair"
In my humble opinion, pressuring a vendor beyond a certain point to adjust his price becomes bad form. We have asked China to give us more expensive stuff. They have declined to do so. We now have the choice of continuing to patronize their store, or of going next door to someplace like Vietnam in search of a better deal.

To me this is a nonissue, and we can move along to the next item on our agenda.

A Country's Best Interest
If indeed the US and others have multiple options to China for investment and trade, then it is even more imperative to China that they shore up their competitive status.

The stakes are high. China's GDP could decline to less than certain other (hertofore unmentioned) industrial countries with non-competitive economic policies.

Creditors and Debtors
"If China holds a lot of our debt, couldn't that have an impact on our ability to negotiate with China?"

Parties that have a major Creditor-Debtor relationship are natural allies. Whatever is best in total for both is the path both should define and select.

In the current trade "talks", the US is negotiating patiently and China is primarily stalling. This is not is the best interests of either country in the long run.

This article is actually about China...not Democrates...
This author writes a lot about China. So let's talk about China.

But first! The Democrats and the Republicans normally split emotional issues (that should bring out voters) between themselves. However, there is no logic regarding which side of an argement competitors in the Washington DC Debating Club (Congress) take. It seems like they flip a coin in the Men's Room of some bar in Chicago. (Billy Goat would be a good spot.)

For example, with abortion you would think the Catholic heavy Democrates would be Pro-Life and the "elitist", "less government in your personal life" Republicans should be Pro-Choice. Quite the reverse.

And now the left-leaning Democrats have taken sides against the Communist Chinese peasants and in favor of the big business government in Taipei. What's with that? And the Republicans must, therefore, play nice with Beijing and make the government in Taipei feel nervous? It's crazy!

Such issues are split for debating club purposes only. Our actual policies must be in the best interests of our own GDP (global trade) and regional stability (security for Taiwan) whichever party is in the White House.

Economic isolationist legislation will never make it into law. One can say that our jobs are going offshore as loud as one wants. But we are at full employment, domestic wages are moving up and inflation is still low! Trade with China is very good for us. The yuan pegged to the dollar is important to keeping our costs down and our profits up. American companies are the most successful players in the expanding global economy. Take that away and we would no longer be competitive. There are too many great foreign companies out there.

US Treasuries constitute the underlying value for major currencies (rather than gold). Every nation should manage the value of its currency in its own best interest. And they will. Just like we do.

The US government substantially manipulates the value of the dollar by adjusting our overnight rates (Fed targets). Low interest rates increase global liquidity and the dollar depreciates. We did this on purpose during our recent recovery to make our exports more attractive in Europe and Japan. We didn't care very much about exporting to China because their consumer markets are still not well developed.

All we really want to do with China is buy processed materials and finished goods over there. If their yuan appreciated against the dollar then we would pay more for what we buy from them and our profits would be hurt. And the stuff at Wal-Mart would be more expensive. American workers are not losing many jobs (to China) that anyone here wants very bad. (If we kept such manufacturing jobs in America we would need more undocumented immigrants from Mexico, wouldn't we? And then voters would be upset about that.)

Bonfils, the Chinese are not being protectionist when they peg their currency to the dollar. They are simply following our lead.

The debt's in our currency. That matters huge.
Chinese start dumping our debt, the dollar goes down, they sell less in the US and their economy slows, while US exports increase cause of the cheaper dollar. Meanwhile the US dollar debt they still hold has just gone down in value, perhaps like 20% or some such.

This stuff is real and a major factor.

As well, the Chinese need us more than we need them. There is no major replacement market if their exports to the US went down some 30% say. Their economic growth would take a MAJOR hit and they might go into actual recession. They already have major problems with vast parts of their population not participating in the coastal new industry boom - inland areas and those employed by older communist era industries - most of their population.

We on the otherhand can shift sourcing of clothes and computer parts to Vietnam and Cambodia and Sri Lanka, etc. Not without cost and maybe with some loss of efficiency and not overnight. BUt it's there as an alternative and already happening to some degree.

Free trade even as an idealized theory (and the theory leaves some dynamic factors out, such as the "infant industry" argument and phenomenon of incubating skills and infrastructure which can then become competitive) only works at all well if exchange rates adjust. China has maintained a hugely undervalued currency, by some 30-40%, in order to facilitate the accumulation of capital in her industrial sector. It also builds up debt for future generations in the US.

We should stop allowing them to continue with this. A schuedule of ratcheting up tarrifs if the don't adopt a schedule or ratching up of the Chinese currency exchange rate.

Staying competitive
I'm sure China is taking all that into consideration. They momma didn't raise no dummies.

"The stakes are high. China's GDP could decline to less than certain other (hertofore unmentioned) industrial countries with non-competitive economic policies."

Wow. I can think of a country like that. Uncompetitive economic policies, GDP just dropped below three percent. Hey, wait a minute! I think we've been insulted.

Figuring out China
Joanie, you've nailed it in two important respects.

First, I've done a lot of buying in my time, in the commercial sense. Here's the psychology at work. If I'm really unhappy with the way I'm being treated, I never make a fuss. I just find another vendor. The first guy wonders why I never call him up any more. It's swift and clean.

To a seasoned vendor, the guy who makes a big stink and just won't let it go, and every time you talk to him he makes life miserable with the same petty demands, the guy is married to you. He doesn't have any backup vendor. So you know you can treat him like crap, and he'll still come back.

The Chinese have been in business for a very long time-- about five thousand years. They know these things. George Bush has never been in business even for a day-- every deal that was ever handed to him came with free money he could play with. He doesn't know these things.

Item two: "I have a question for you. If China holds a lot of our debt, couldn't that have an impact on our ability to negotiate with China?"

It sure does. And right now we know for a fact that China will put up with a lot from us. Because they have their life savings tied up in dollars. But as soon as we do something to seriously offend them, that can change. And then we are very vulnerable.

As my father used to tell me, "Never slap a man in the face when he's chewing tobacco."

One day we'll know the axe is about to drop. We'll know it when there's a small paragraph on the financial page to the effect that China has "begun seeking a more diversified investment portfolio". That signals the beginning of all our creditors tiptoing, then stampeding, toward the exits.

Keep those comments coming in, J.

Chinese GI's in Iraq
If the U.S. hired Chinese workers to serve as occupation troops in Iraq. We could pay'em $50/week, and get the job done- now that would help the American economy!

Let's go through this point by point...

You have a strong set of arguments so it seems that you have thought about this a lot. Let's go through this and see if I can better understand.

Doug: "Chinese start dumping our debt, the dollar goes down, they sell less in the US and their economy slows, while US exports increase cause of the cheaper dollar. Meanwhile the US dollar debt they still hold has just gone down in value, perhaps like 20% or some such."

RESPONSE: US Treasuries are denominated with a specific yield. If a major player like the People's Bank of China sold enough US Treasuries to push their market value down then the yield would rise and the impact would be to raise spot interest rates somewhat. Nevertheless, someone else (who liked them at the price) would now hold those securities and the impact of China's move would be a one time event.

The People's Bank would need to quickly replace those securities with other interest-bearing instruments because excess cash balances decline in value every day due to inflation. A major demand for alternative securities would similarly increase their price and drop their yields. The managers of such third party portfolios would then take their profits and purchase the lower priced US Treasuries now on the market, bidding up their value and bringing us back to the same place we started.

You might be thinking that the People's Bank could start dumping their dollar denominated currency balances and converting these into some other hard currency. (Of course, the yuan is pegged to the dollar so if they did that and the value of the dollar declined then their own currency would take a hit too.) Nevertheless, the portfolios of yen and euros would make money against dollars in a one time event, the dollar would qickly recover to its real market value and the Chinese would have to go back into the market to buy enough transactional dollars to operate the very next day. Indeed, the Chinese should only be holding transactional balances of any currency and the rest should be in interest-bearing instruments on any given day. Therefore, the amount of excess dollars they might be able to dump would be limited.

Doug: "Free trade even as an idealized theory (and the theory leaves some dynamic factors out, such as the "infant industry" argument and phenomenon of incubating skills and infrastructure which can then become competitive) only works at all well if exchange rates adjust. China has maintained a hugely undervalued currency, by some 30-40%, in order to facilitate the accumulation of capital in her industrial sector. It also builds up debt for future generations in the US."

RESPONSE: Your statment that "Free trade... only works...if exchange rates adjust" seems wrong. We enjoy free trade here in America between the various states and we are all using exactly the same currency. The Chinese currency is pegged to ours so we are both using the same currency printed onto two different types of paper. Adjustments in exchange rates only impact the value of money and have nothing to do with the technical operation of free trade. If anything a reliably pegged currency would mean that import/export transactions could be denominated in either currency. Therefore, an adjustable currency might make free trade somewhat trickier.

Your statements that a) China has undervalued currency, that b) this facilitates the accumulation of capital (in their industrial sector) and that c) this builds debt for future generations of Americans... are more difficult.

a) China has undervalued currency? How so? The yuan is pegged to the dollar. Has been since 1994. Still is, no matter what they say.

In the United States we were suffering from an overvalued dollar that slowed down our exports. Relatively high interest rates here increased the worldwide demand for dollars and depressed dollar liquidity. The Fed dropped interest rates to stimulate the recovery and this both increased liquidity and made our Treasury paper less interesting. So our currency depreciated against other major currencies. (But the yuan is more of a transactional currency than a portfolio currency and few investors would hold yuan as a speculative hedge against the dollar.) Plus, there is relatively little demand for US high-end goods and services in China so a depreciated dollar against their currency would not have helped our exports much. Finally, in so far as Chinese export contracts are denominated in dollars appreciating the yuan against the dollar would have caused inflation in China at a time that strong earnings and their rapidly growing economy already put inflationary pressure on them. And, in so far as export contracts are denominated in yuan those exports would become more expensive for China's US customers who would respond by demanding price cuts. And the Chinese already operate very close to the bone. Further, if our exports become cheaper for the Europeans and the Japanese then so do China's exports to those folks if they simply peg to the dollar. It is an all around winner for them. The yuan is not undervalued. The yuan is just right.

b) China's undervalued currency facilitates the accumulation of capital? How so? Capital accumulation is measured on the asset side of the balance sheet. Chinese balance sheets are denominated in yuan. An undervalued currency would, therefore, accumulate fewer yuan. An undervalued currency would, therefore, depress the accumulation of capital in all sectors.

c) China's undervalued currency builds debt for future generations of Americans? Again. How so? The American National Debt is a result of our own government's accumulated deficit spending. That debt will be held as income producing instruments (Treasuries) in someone's financial portfolio. China's undervalued currency, everything else being equal, means that the People's Bank of China is able to purchase fewer of our dollar denominated Treasuries than they might otherwise. Indeed, if China's currency was valued higher against the dollar then they would hold more of our debt and you might like that even less.

In summation, maybe I don't understand your logic. Could we go over this again? Thanks.

I disagree. Automation will revolutionize the world economy in the 21st century. Most manufacturing jobs will be eliminated.

Chinese GIs - - - - ?
We should be hiring Chinese dissident GIs to bring freedom and democracy to the peoples of China. That would solve a lot of problems for everyone.

At the same time,(Roy has it right) we should accept all the low cost high quality imports China has to offer, that increases the wealth of both sides, but mostly our own. Their dollar-denominated US Bonds will immediately lose value if dumped on the market, or even if rumored to be. Buyers will be scarce. So, our economic futures are inexorably tied together, at least for the near to medium term :-) .

US Foreign Legion
Create a US Foreign Legion comprised of non-US citizens who can earn their citizenship after serving, if they survive.

The New 21st Century Automation
The new automation will be much more advanced than the technology Joanie describes. The new computer programs will do most of the thinking for the user. It will become very easy to manufacture products in the store from raw materials.

Foreign Soldiers In The U.S. Armed Forces
I think the status quo in our American military works well. Although, in my opinion, a few minor changes should be implemented. Recruits enlisted from foreign countries do not require the right to become U.S. citizens. Literally, hundreds of millions of foreign recruits would be willing to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at the current pay scale.

My Experience
I have a number of years experience working on a variety of jobs in manufacturing in the United States. For the past 17 years, I've been self-employed running a flyer distribution business in Phoenix, AZ.

For over 20 years, I've wanted to start-up a business building machines; and installing automation in the world market. I'm currently working on a business plan with some members of my alma mater's alumni association to build a new machine for the restaurant business.

Anybody can e-mail me at I'll be happy to respond. Charles Holden

Transformation anyone? - - - - - -
A smallish island, located in the North Sea, ruled a good share of the world (upon which the sun never set) for two or three centuries with a large navy, relatively small, technologically advanced, disciplined, professional army, plus many mercenaries and local troops.

Where freedom and democracy don't prevail, there are always military contests hanging fire. The Brits would pick one vicious gang to support against the other, making it dependent and bringng it to power. Then rule thru it. Recall our brilliant and quick conquest of land locked Afghanistan, using air superiority and just a handful of CIA and Special Ops folks to help the nearly-defeated "Northern Alliance" to prevail. All this, in a matter of months, including going half way round the earth into the heart of Asia.

Are we discerning a pattern or strategy here? Is it similar to the Reagan & Bush II doctrines? Pretty close. We should use mainly local infantry, supporting it and a government-in-exile, with training, logisitics, advice, air & sea power, satellite intelligence and other technological aid. Our own ground pounders could then well consist of but about a couple of divisions of Marines plus one of Special Ops and one of Navy Seals. Today, a single ground, or air, spotter, can direct, with exquisite accuracy, an unlimited quantity of 2,000# bombs against enemy targets, we don't need to mass ground troops and ground firepower.

I don't want to seem verbose or picky about this military subject, but I want to restate my strong opinion. In Iraq, Afghanistan, or other potential conflicts around the world; the need for a large occupation army exists.

As we are witnessing in Iraq, a guerilla force can persist and inflict damage. Deploying occupation troops is still the only means of maintaining order. A certain amount of order in the society is necessary to train the indigenous security forces, if an insurgency is present.

are they even worth it - - - - - - ?
Chas, thanks for your thotful followup. I'm not unsympathetic to your take. But, it may have a long-term problem that is insurmountable, called "killing with kindness". We've protected Oldeurope, and others, from evil for generations, asking nothing in return, certainly not gratitude. As a result, they have lost their grip on reality and become dependent, like spoiled children, who despise their parents, while demanding more and more of them.

Should we decide to expend all the blood and treasure required to do everything for everyone, even if it worked in the short run, we'd not earn thanks, but irrational hostility, as we get now, and eventually we couldn't bear it. We just freed 50 million folks from vicious dictatorships, a great gift to civilization. As a result, we are universally denounced and the Irakis whine that we're not getting them electricity fast enuf.

After this dust-up, perhaps we should take a break from world policeman, and bring our troops home. We will be the least affected by new wars. Let them slit each others' throats to their heart's content. We can then amble in spouting platitudes about the evils of war, shoot the wounded and make off with the spoils, to universal admiration.

Technology can help, but what any company needs to do is to meet the needs of his customer using all of his most valuable assets at his disposal, his people.

I recommend books like "The Ice Cream Maker", "It's Your Ship" and "Mavericks: How to Lead Your Staff to Think Like Einstein, Create Like Da Vinci, and Invent Like Edison".

"CNC prorammers will still have to know the principles of machining parts in order to program machines. They will still have to understand materials, cutting tools, feed rates, and workholding."

All of that information can easily be added to the machines programming.

"Finally, the cost justification just wouldn't be there for the complete automation of smaller jobs. The current trend in manufacturing is "just in time" which increases changeover due to smaller lot sizes."

As computers get smarter, the cost of automation goes down. As the cost of workers go up, the benefit of automation goes up.

I spent a year in shop that makes cabinets for grocery stores.
and everything charles has said is right on.

eliminating the human element
The way to eliminate the human element, is by eliminating humans from the process.

Each new generation of CNC handles more than did the earlier ones. Newer ones have fields for entering the type of material being cut. From that and the entered thickness, the computer figures out how fast to spin the bit and how fast to move the head. These are trivial calculations.

More advanced macines even pick up and place the raw material on the cutting platform, and automatically remove the cut material at the end.

Within 50 years, there will be few if any people working in such woodshops.

Within 100 years, a customer will hand the computer a drawing of what he wants, and will then wait for delivery. No human intervention in the process. We are already more than half way there.

It's crazy, but Joanie, mark and Charles are all right!
Joanie is talking from the design and processing side. Most engineered works are modified by the technicians who actually put the thing together because the base design just won't work they way it is drawn up. Lots of things that look good on paper don't actually wourk without a little modification. There is where you will always need the human element, or at least for the forseeable future.

But Mark hit the jackpot in describing a process where a basic idea is done entirely by machine. The human element will be a technician doing those "shop floor" tweeks to the machine to get the desired outcome.

As Charles poits out, automation will continue to get better and better; this is a good thing for all of us in the long run.

If it truely can't be made
then the computer will say so. If the customer can live with the recommended changes, then a deal will be made. If he can't, he will try someone else's computer.

You seem to be arguing that fully automated assembly is impossible because customers aren't smart enough to know how to use it.

That's silly.

There is no reason why those tweaks can't eventually be built into the software and the milling machines.

Currently human's determine that a bit is getting dull by listening to it while cutting, and examining the cut when it's over. There's no reason why (someday) audio and visual sensors attached to the milling machine itself can't make that determination without human intervention. The machine has access to other information that the human may not have available, such as how much force is being applied to get the bit to cut. There is no reason why a display with this information couldn't be provided to the operator, but no machine I have ever worked with has provided such a display.

Are computers currently up to this? The audio part, maybe, the visual, no, tracking the force on the bit, definitely.

I'm not saying that current computers (or rather the programs that run on those computers) are up to the task of completely hands free design and manufacture, but I see no reason to assume that this will always be the case.

Cute and cuddly ones I hope
But, knowing Mark, they will be little Bobcats born with teeth, claws and an attitude ;)

But that wasn't the point. I good program design is probably capable of using laser technology for a more precise calculation on the bit that the human eye could give.

But taking a design, say for a simple chair, and programing or scanning that into the computer, then having a finished product out the other side, that is a ways down the road yet. Anything more complex is quite a way off yet. All the parts could probably be made by computer controlled robotics right now. But the finished product is still in the future.

Therefore, you and Joanie are correct. Also, as I said, in the long run this is a good thing.

not true
Often people know what they want a thing to do, but now how it has to be made to do it. It take a little knowledge and trial and error to get a new thing to work right, effeciently and reliably.

There will always be a need for some human oversight, no matter how automated a system gets.

Fully automated assembly is possible, with a proven product. You can make a lot of the same thing with automation; and full automation in that area is coming fast.

But designing a new product and using automation to build it from the ground up will not work. The design is always slightly flawed and changes need to be made at numerous stages. The more complex the tool or product, the less automation can build it "from scratch".

The Democrats and Republicans are ALL villians!!!
Unfortunately, neither major party seems to be a friend of our trading partners and a proponent of cross border trade. Bush's record on dealing with China and the other countries in the Pacific Rim is hadly stellar and now the Semi-Religious/Isolationist wing of the Republican Party led by idiots like Buchannan seems to have some momentum. (Kind of funny given that one of more significants reasons the Republicans took such a beating was because of the Liberterians leaving.)

Only the Liberterians and their focus on private property are supporters of international trade and economic development. Only the liberals have a vision of economic development that goes beyond stupid agreements and promotes private contracts to exchange goods and services. The late Milton Friedman computed that the US was 95 times (that is near 100 times not 100 percent) wealthier than it would have been had it not LET citizens trade with other citizens internationally.

The good news is
Our political system can change hands without bloodshed murder and mayhem. Iran, Syria, the Palestinians, and most socialist leaning european countries are happy about the Democratic takeover. Strange bedfellows it would seem. When you think of it in context the list of people against the war in Iraq reads about the same along with the countries benefiting the most from the food for oil scam ran by the UN.
China has a good reason to be worried because of their unfair trade policy. On the other hand, we consumers keep opening up our pocketbooks and buying Chineese goods that we mostly dont need but just want. Who is to blame?

"I have a question for you. If China holds a lot of our debt, couldn't that have an impact on our ability to negotiate with China?"

If you owe the bank thousands of dollars and can't pay, you have a problem. If you owe the bank millions of dollars and can't pay, the bank has a problem.

The more indebted we are to China, the less likely they'll do anything that would cause us to default on those debts. That being said, I think we're wasting the money we borrow and I'd rather not have to default. It's our own fault for spending so much damn money in the first place that we need so much financing. China is doing us a favor by soaking up so many of our bonds, but Congress has got to get serious about controlling spending.

Chinese goods and currency
Always be careful of what you wish for... you just might get it. China's current currency scheme is actually *good* for us because they're basically subsidising our standard of living with discounted goods as well as keeping our inflation under control. If China became more "fair" by floating its currency, our inflation would rise and it would cause our well being to decrease. So, enjoy it while it lasts and don't worry about trying to change them, they'll go to normal eventually on their on.

Buying goods we "just want" isn't a bad thing, btw. If humans were completely satisfied by what we needed, we'd still be a hunter/gatherer society. Personally I like having access to cars, computers, the Internet and all sorts of fun things even though none of us technically "need" them.

Good Points
I agree in principle with most of what you say. I would feel much better about them if their % of defense spending to their GDP was not so high and their choice of countries to befriend were not so opposed to democracy. Their record on human rights is poor and not getting better anytime soon that I can see.
I would like to see them be more aligned with us in issues brought before the UN regarding the spread of nukes and rogue leaders. We give them the overwhelming benefit of the doubt on trade, I think that they could reciprocate more on foreign policy issues.
Perhaps as they progress, their agenda will come more into line with doing the right thing. I would hope so.

you are overgeneralizing again
Some customers know what they want. Some think they do. Some don't have a clue.

For those customers who need full service hand holding, there will always be companies who provide that hand holding.

For the rest, they will save money by going with the low cost provider.

you aren't silly, you just tend to overgeneralize from your limited experience to the whole world
Yes, some companies force their purchasing depts to jump through many, silly, hoops.

Other companies have their acts together.

In the long run, those companies that take advantage of new technologies and the cost savings that come with those technologies survive, and the rest go out of business.

When an argument is silly, should I call it genius, just so that your feelings won't be hurt?

Any argument that can be countered by just a moments reflection is, almost by definition, silly.

there you go again
because I disagree with you I think the disabled have nothing to contribute?

Do you tend to generalize from the people you have met to everyone in a class. Yes. Over and over again. So I have nothing to apologize for.

You need to get rid of that massive chip on your shoulder.

BTW, by what right do you declare the power to dictate who I post to and who I don't.

If you don't want to read what I post, then don't. Not having you as a reader won't hurt my feelings in the slightest. But when you say something incorrect, silly, or even stupid, then, if I feel like it. I will correct it. I don't need your permission to do that.

Now let me talk a little about your attitude.
Nah, why bother.

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