Putin’s Inventions. His Envy and Greed.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

The Russian dictator must be having trouble at home because he decides to amass troops on the eastern border with the Ukraine and then claim he must do so because Russia is under threat by the West.

According to Putin, should Ukraine continue to lean toward the West his empire would be vulnerable to invasion.

But who would want to invade Russia? What for? Who wants to go there?

Instead, it is Putin who is a threat to other nations. He aids in the repression of democratic protests in Belarus, supports the Myanmar dictator’s savage repression of his people, joins with Assad to brutalize Syrians, aids the socialist government in Venezuela, which regime is responsible for the largest exodus of people in recent history, six million Venezuelans having sought refuge in neighboring countries with all the attendant pain of dislocation.

Russia may have 4000 nuclear warheads to scare the world, but it is a nation that inspires no one.

And now Putin wants to pressure the West into forbidding that NATO expand its reach to Ukraine and Georgia and demand that no western forces be stationed in Poland or the Baltic countries.

That Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet Union is clear. But those citizens in all those eastern countries formerly in the Soviet Union, have something to say about it. And they don’t want the Russian boot on their throats.

Putin’s dictatorship has held back Russia’s development. He makes every effort to choke the opposition and now has one of their leaders, Alexei Navalny, in prison.

Putin is clearly envious of the West and their ability to be productive, in spite of all our problems. He has been in power since 1999 but cannot get the Russian people to be more productive. This has nothing to do with Russians’ capacities. They are competent people, but for one reason or another, fell under the spell of a man who thinks only of how great he is.

Putin is also envious of China. He wishes he had come up with their way of attracting capital to get their economy moving. But he couldn’t do it. It wasn’t in him.

What is in him is his ability to scheme and invent crises, hoping to profit from them.

Now talks are under way to ease the tensions Putin has created with the threat to invade the Ukraine. But the West should not give in an inch.

Putin’s move gives, in effect, a great opportunity for president Biden to unify the Western alliance which had been frayed by Trump’s shortsighted diplomacy.

Russia’s government, not the people, is an enemy to the West. The Russian people are being diminished in their possibilities by an authoritarian regime that has made their nation less competitive in the world and caused them to fall far behind.

If Putin chooses to invade the Ukraine, then president Biden should follow through with his promise of aiding Ukrainians in defending their nation without sending in American troops.

It would make for a bloody war, for Ukrainians will fiercely resist having to bow to the Russian government.

Freedom has a price. A protracted war in the Ukraine would have the effect of strengthening the anti Putin movement in Russia, hastening his fall.

President Biden and the West must stand firm against Putin and his disregard for humanity, including that of his own people.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net also available in anchor.fm, apple and google podcasts and buzzprout.

Immigration and American Political Discord

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Immigration is at the core of our political antagonism but we’re not confronting the issue in a way that aims to resolve the matter.

There are several key themes to which we have not fully applied our ingenuity and thus linger partly unresolved. These themes are inequality, racism and immigration. Address those in a comprehensive manner and we will move up to be at the vanguard of nations.

Hard to believe, isn’t, that we are not there now.

And it is not for lack of talent, but for lack of leadership willing to commit to the task.

It has been hard for the white majority in this country, to accept that immigration has become essential for the nation to move forward. Hard for the white majority of this country to recognize that they cannot – cannot – move forward this country without immigrants.

Self serving politicians will tell you that they can make America great without the input of immigrants.

But it cannot be done.

Demography speaks loudly.

Without immigrants we would not have the numbers of people or the depth of talent to combine into the productive capacity required to move the nation forward.

Immigrants from all over the world have come to our shores and begun to make their contributions. We need to keep those doors open.

Their children, those born here – the second generation immigrants – soak up all that is part of being an American. And they do so eagerly, competing with all they have to be the best they can be because it is in their nature to do so. Like their parents, they know, deep in their hearts, what it is to get a second chance.

Immigrants are grateful to this land. And once here they connect with the essence of what is being an American.

And that essence is the right to be free.

And with being free you have the right to bow to no one.

But immigrants will say ‘thank you’ to whomever, no matter what their color, if those people have put effort into adding value to this great land that has opened the doors for them. To those, gratitude is owed. Always.

The not bowing to anyone is a fundamental American right.

Have you ever seen in the Olympic games when the delegations of every country parade and come in front of the grandstands where the big wigs sit? Have you seen how nearly all countries tip their flag in deference to them?

Well, the American delegation does not.

And that same spirit is embodied in those who become American. We do not bow. We don’t do that.

It has been hard for a section of the white majority in this country to accept that our land is changing. And change will continue for it is inevitable.

Nature, in its infinite wisdom, spreads its gifts widely, across all ethnic groups of this earth.

By keeping our borders open, in compliance with our laws, we allow all kinds of talent to come to this land and because of it we have the richness that we have.

The new immigrants challenge us all, challenge us to be the best we can be. They bring new energies, new ways of doing things, fresh perspectives.

Today, a good number of major corporations are headed by first or second generation immigrants. Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Tesla are in that category.

Lamentably, there are politicians in our midst who stir up animosity against the new arrivals. Instead of helping the native, who has fallen behind, to better understand the importance of immigration, they stir up antiimmigrant sentiment because it is easy to do so.

‘Look, they’re different than you, what are they doing here? They are taking what is yours.’

Rather than to help them understand the many reasons why they’re so angry.

‘Look – the responsible leader could say as they address the resentful American – your life’s task, like it is for all of us, is to be the best you can be, but the immigrant coming in may be more creative, more daring, more imaginative than you are. So why get angry at them when they may be making contributions to your land?’

‘I was here before,’ may be an American’s reply.

But is that enough? Think about it.

The nation, your country, owes it to you, to have opportunities to develop. And you may have had such opportunities and not taken advantage of them, or maybe you didn’t have the opportunities, in which case you have grounds to complain and demand you’re given such chances.

But the nation cannot wait. The nation’s productive capacity has to keep pace with the rest of the world for otherwise we fall behind. Any reforms required have to be made as we continue to move forward, and as of this time, part of the precious energy helping propel us forward comes from the immigrant engine.

Someone with antiimmigrant views may ask, ‘look at the Chinese, look at how fast they’ve risen, and they don’t have any immigrants. Why can’t we do the same?’

First – the Chinese, at 1.4 billion people – roughly three times our population, have a vaster genetic pool than we do. Thus, greater variety of talents. But they, too, have had migrations from neighboring countries over the centuries.

Second – the Chinese are enjoying the benefits of a significant transfer of knowledge from the West, since emerging from their isolation during the leadership of Deng Xiaoping.  

This new strength of the Chinese, who now have become a formidable rival to the West, should be reason enough for America to further open its doors to immigrants the world over.

To erect barriers to immigration at this juncture, would be to deny ourselves the huge possibilities of enriching our genetic pool.

What is required of American leaders at this time, is a commitment to confront the nativist sentiment. Confront to enlighten. This moment calls for leaders willing to engage and willing to work through whatever the resistances, so truth is accepted.

If we have such leaders, then we will move further on our path to bridge our differences.

If not, we will lose valuable time and set the stage for making mistakes that will dim the nation’s possibilities.

Oscar valdes.     Oscarvaldes.net

What Will Bring Us Together?

The divisions between us have existed all along, but they had been neglected by our leaders.

Trump saw his chance and made the most of it.

Crafty fellow that he is, he assessed the circumstances and thought to himself, ‘I can do something with that. I can stir that pot to my advantage.’ And oh, he did it so well.

One for the record books.

There has been much pain and acrimony from all that the man has put us through, but he may have done us a favor.

The favor of exposing how vulnerable we are to the devices of a demagogue. Demagogue, as in a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims, to gain power (Webster’s).

Yes, he did it.

But we can learn from it.

Ideally, we should start on that process right away.

Biden has made it a chief theme of his campaign. Overcoming our divisions.

It won’t be easy but it’s a journey we should embrace.

It would require a little self reflection, an acknowledging that no one owns the truth, and that in compromise lies the key to a successful resolution of our major differences. Never mind the small ones. There will be time for those later.

Having a leader steering us through the healing process will be essential. Biden is uniquely qualified for the role of Healer in chief. He’s been preparing for the task a lifetime and is willing to invest the years he has left to guide us through the process.

We should take him up on it.

Of course, we can always ignore him, hoping for yet another demagogue to show up down the road – there’s no shortage of demagogues in waiting – but we would be prolonging our pain.

There is, however, another way to come together as a nation. It is cruder and more traumatic but it works too. That is to wait for an outside force to threaten us.

Nazi Germany and the Axis nations united us. We knew that we had better pull together or, eventually, we would end up being their vassals.

There is no prospect for another Nazi Germany today. And Russia is starting a process of renewal.

So which nation could threaten us into uniting? China.

They are rising fast and aim to be the leader of the world. Why not? A divided America only makes it easier for them.

So wouldn’t it be less painful and more productive to go the Biden way?

Settling our differences without an outside threat would be a sign of national maturity.

We can do it. We ought to.

And this is the time

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation and other books. Available on Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net

The Race to unRace. Virtue in the Browning of America

Our nation created conditions that vigorously stimulated global growth since the end of World War II.

The many advantages implicit in our system of governance made possible the peaceful resolution of the Cold War. Our push for trade liberalization led to China’s rise and yes, while they rose we profited too. Now China is no longer the sleeping giant of yesterday. It is a giant with aspirations to surpass us.

So what do we do?

Is there a parallel between the Soviet bloc that challenged us but crumbled in the 1980’s and the China of today?

There is. And it is their autocracy.

With autocracy comes inefficiency and the stifling of possibilities.

Will the newly affluent Chinese put up for long with the current restrictions?

I say no. Slowly, their suffocated spirits will join forces to demand greater freedom. When will it happen is hard to predict.

As it now stands China is challenging us. In the face of it, do we examine ourselves or do we pound our chests and shout that we are great?

We have a clear advantage over China, if we care to reflect. It is the undeniable fact that our openness to the world has made us rich. People want to come to America. People from all over the world are pulled by an attraction to be part of this process.

That is the big American advantage.

How do we enlarge such advantage?

We unRace.

That’s right. Racial differences hold us back.

Confronting and resolving them will further the Browning of America, and with that, a new dawn will arrive. Efforts to suppress the development of other human beings results in the blocking of their possibilities. But when we do so we also block our own.

The challenge that China presents to us, is the challenge to reform our way of relating to one another. Race has been holding us back from being the best we can be since the very beginning. It is time to reflect and do the hard work of resolving the differences.

We have known all along what the answer is. Now is the time to square with it.  

It was openness to the markets of the world that built up China. We gave them openness and they ran with it. But they didn’t go far enough. You cannot do so with an autocratic regime that hinders the political freedom of individuals.

If we gave China openness, why can’t we give it to our own?

China’s challenge is a call to reassess who we are.  

Our land has had freedoms, yes, but in allowing profound racial disparities to fester we have blocked ourselves. The challenge of China forces us to ponder and discover where those repressed energies may lie.

It is not hard to find out.

They lie in the relationships that have not been fostered. They lie, trapped, in the prejudices that we have held so dear.

But understand them, work through them, and we will be on our way to enlarging our minds and souls and increasing our creativity. We will be on our way to freeing the giant in us.

Virtue lies in the Browning of America. Which is the unRacing of America.

Move confidently in that direction and we will confront our fears, and as we do we will grow stronger and richer, kinder and gentler.

The Browning of America will do that for us.

Then, as China and other countries witness our gradual transformation, they, too, will act again to emulate us. And the Uighurs will be grateful. And the Hong Kongers and the Taiwanese, and all the peoples of this earth on whose necks the crushing boot of repressive authority has come to rest.

Leadership carries great responsibilities but also great benefits.

Do we want to lead? Do we want to breathe the lofty air that comes to those who strive to become the best they can be?

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation. Available on Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net

To Reopen or Not

We have to. And if we’re careful about it we can do it.

Careful will mean keeping that important distance at all times. And being mindful that a mask which does not have a good fit simply won’t be enough protection if you’re talking to someone infected, even if they’re asymptomatic.

It’s also good to keep in mind the notion of dose.

It is not the same thing to touch a surface that has been previously touched by someone with the virus – and then putting your hands in your mouth or nose or eye – than to have a conversation at close range with someone who has the symptoms or have someone infected breathe or sneeze on you. In the latter case you’re sure to catch the bug, in the former it’s less likely, and if you do, your body will have a better chance of fighting it.

Masks have a positive deterrent effect. Even when the fit around the face is loose and consequently allows a path for the bug to reach you.

Masks tell us that we’re mindful of the spread of the virus. I hadn’t been wearing them unless I had to speak to someone at less than 6 ft, but now I’ve started doing it.

It is also a courtesy to passersby.

Who knows, one might have an unexpected fit of cough or a sneeze just as one draws near another person, whether masked or not.

Will wearing a mask keep me from catching the bug from someone infected who doesn’t yet know it (because the illness is incubating), if I’m seated next to them during a 4 hour plane flight? I would rather not take the chance. And for that reason I’m unlikely to hop on a plane anytime soon if I can avoid it. Tough on the airlines, tourism, hotels.

Can we adhere to safety precautions and conduct business at the same time? Sure we can.

But it will require an arrangement that instituted the safety measures.

I can see stores doing it. And even restaurants, though capacity will have to be reduced. But it will be hard on cinemas. It will be a while for me to step back into one.

Bars? Never mind.

But I think the University of California system is overreacting when it called for online classes this Fall. Surely students can be trusted to follow safety guidelines.

And what about doctors’ offices? So many have been closed. People are not going to stop getting sick for other reasons. Why force that needless back log and burden emergency rooms?

Basic protective equipment is available.

People who are sick need to be provided with means to support themselves while staying at home unless they have to be hospitalized. Doing so keeps the rest of us safe.

China, now much maligned for not supposedly doing enough to warn us of the perils of corona, had created fever clinics, where anyone with a fever could go and get checked. No costs attached.

A good idea is a good idea, no matter where it comes from.

If people who became symptomatic knew they had a place to go to get checked and, if sick, would be cared for and their expenses covered while ill, then they would be more likely to step up and get tested.

Public transport? Wear a mask and hope for the best. It will definitely put you at greater risk.

Do we then wait for Corona to pass on? We can’t.

There’s too much at stake. The economy won’t handle it.

Jerome Powell, the Fed chair, spoke today about the road ahead. He was not optimistic. We are in an economic contraction and it will take time to recover, even with congress providing relief measures. Lots of jobs may not be coming back as the worksite adjusts to the new reality, i.e. working from home, for instance.

We can’t wait around for the vaccine, can we?

No. It will take too long.

But we can get back to work safely if we are careful and respectful of others.

And why not learn from the rest of the world?

As of today, there have been nearly 85 thousand deaths here in the US, whereas in Japan, with a population of 125 million, there have been 675. That’s right. Six hundred and seventy five. In South Korea, next door, there have been fewer than 300 deaths (population of nearly 52 million), so they’re comparable to Japan.

China, with a population of 1.4 billion, has had less than 4700 deaths, and their economy is already up and running.

Surely there’s no harm in asking what they’ve done right and learning from it, is there?

Eating a little humble pie is in order.

One spoonful at a time.

Savoring it. Mmmm, yes.

Good for longevity too.

And we’ll be making America Great Again.

China Has Arrived

There is a certain majesty to China’s move to command the world stage. As the number of infected and dead rise worldwide, China is stepping up and saying ‘We have got this. We mitigated as was necessary and we have controlled the coronavirus epidemic.’

So far, the results back the assertion. Their economy is starting up again and, filled with confidence, are now sending experts to aid other nations in the grip of the virus, such as Iran and Italy. They are even building hospitals for them.

The Chinese did it.

And they deserve recognition.

China went into full battle with the virus and has come out ahead (South Korea has done the same).

The Chinese imposed severe restrictions on movement, mobilized resources, and got the job done. My hat off to them.

The Chinese do not deserve, to have the US try to devalue them by calling the virus the Wuhan virus. What that shows is how envious the present American leadership is. Trump and company had ample time to take the necessary steps to prevent the wide spread of the disease but instead wasted the opportunity. Is there a word for it? Yes. It is Denial. Massive Denial.

Preoccupied with lesser and partisan concerns, i.e. the building of the wall, his impeachment, Mr Trump could not think ahead to what was looming and how it endangered the lives of Americans. He could not bother to summon the multitude of experts the nation has at its disposal, because he needed to attend the political rallies that he requires to prop up his confidence.

Surely, the crowds chanted vigorously, Make America Great Again! just as dark clouds drifted menacingly in our direction.

The preoccupation with getting elected, prevented the president from hearing the advice that would have led to us having the necessary masks and testing kits and ventilators. But to think in those terms, requires a mind that is free to rise above partisan concerns and look beyond.

Mr Trump could not do that.

As of today, our nation has had nearly 4 thousand deaths from the virus, a figure larger than China’s, with a population 4 times the size of ours. And the forecast of future deaths is ominous.

Consumed as we are with tending to our own, we must now cede the stage to China, and we must because they were vastly more effective than we have been.

It would do us a world of good to recognize it.

It would do us a world of good to state openly, that China has done a most competent job at saving lives. Even as they segregate Uighurs and curtail freedoms to their citizens, which stains their standing as a leading nation.

And yet, as things stand, it would do us a world of good to be frank and upright and recognize that, in combatting the virus, they have done a better job than we have.

As we endeavor to follow the instructions to slow the spread of the disease, we will soon limit the lurid escalation of the death rate. There are already signs that the rate of infection is beginning to slow.

But our economy has suffered a major hit, many businesses will not reopen and unemployment is soaring.

Who knows how long this contraction will last.

China’s economy, by contrast, is revving up and, for now, will be the dominant world economy.

It will do us a world of good, our leaders foremost, to recognize it.

It wasn’t long ago, that nations in need would have looked to our country for urgent assistance.

Preoccupied with divisive concerns, we have shirked from the world, and now we see the cost.

There’s a price to pay for being short sighted.

A price to pay in lives and in prestige.

That matters.

Min and Ting. Two Hong Kong Protesters. (the day after a protest turned violent at the airport)

Min is a young man, Ting a young lady, both 24 and fellow students at the university. Min is lying in bed with his broken arm resting on his chest. It is a small windowless room in his parents’ small apartment. His arm was broken 3 days before in a confrontation with police at a train station. Ting has just arrived and sits in a chair at his bedside. 

Ting – How is your arm?

Min – Better. Were you at the airport yesterday?

Ting – I was.

Min – What happened?

Ting – It got out of hand.

Min – I’d been worried about that. When things get too heated people lose control.

Ting – It shouldn’t have happened.

Min – It shouldn’t have. (he gives her a long look). You’re going back?

Ting – Yes.

Min – You’re strong.

Ting – We have to stand up to them.

Min – I know. But I worry that we’ve gone too far.

Ting – I worry about it, too.

Min – But you’re still going back?

Ting (smiling) – Yes.

Min repositions his arm.

Ting – When will the cast come off?

Min – Six weeks.

Ting – Better a fractured arm than a fractured head.

Ming – I know. I raised my arm just in time. Otherwise it would’ve been my head.

Ting – And you said it wasn’t a policeman?

Min – No. He was a thug. Hitting us while the policemen looked the other way. It was like 15 of them. Just came straight at us.

Ting – You’re brave.

He smiles.

Min – I’m glad you think so. First he hit me in the ribs, took my breath away, then he aimed for my head. He was so quick. I barely had time to cover.

Ting – I’m glad it wasn’t worse.

Min – Me too.

Ting – If we don’t fight who will? Our parents are too old.

Min – They’re paying the bills.

Ting – Yes, that too.

Min smiles up at Ting.

Min – I’m glad you came to see me.

Ting – Of course. You would’ve done the same for me.

Min – I would.

She raises her open palm and they slap in high five style.

Ting – You think Xi will send in the troops?

Min – If he does it will be brutal. Tiananmen all over again. What are the people in the mainland thinking?

Ting (shrugging, pensively) – Who knows what twist Beijing is putting on the story. Their lives are so controlled. Everything so censored.

Min – Have you been?

Ting – Yes. Three times. Last time was a year ago. Went to visit a cousin in Shanghai.

Min – You could tell the difference?

Ting – Right away. Cameras everywhere. Everyone under surveillance. Suffocating. That’s how it felt to me.

Min – We’re fighting for all the Chinese, aren’t we?

Ting – Yes. Even if they don’t appreciate it.

Min looks away for a moment.

Min – They just don’t know what they’re giving up.

Ting (shakes her head) – I think they know… but they figure there’s a price to pay for their physical comforts and they pay it.

Min – What do they say about Xi changing the constitution so he can keep getting reelected until he dies?
Ting – Oh well.

Min – Will they care if Xi sends in the troops?

Ting lowers her eyes for a moment.

Ting – Maybe some.

Min – I was thinking of Prague before you came… August 1968… when the Russians invaded.

Ting – We’re doing it for us. And China did sign a treaty with the British guaranteeing our rights until 2047.

Min – Xi laughs at it. You think the world will stand by us?

Ting – Some will. The many won’t. We’re on our own. if you lose an eye, you won’t get it back, no matter who stands by you.

Min – I’m so sorry for that girl.

Ting nods slowly.

Min – Did you know her?

Ting – No. All I know is she was giving first aid to a protester on the ground.

Min runs his hand slowly over the cast in his arm.

Ting – Maybe if you’ve never known freedom it’s easier to put up with people controlling you. But if you’ve known freedom… you fight to keep it.

Min – Even if you’ve never known it, you yearn for it. It’s essential to being human.

Ting – The spirit of George Orwell is with us.

Min – Yes it is.

Ting – One day I will write too.

Min – I would love to see that.

Ting – Thank you. I have to go now.

Min – Back to the airport?

Ting – Yes.

Min – Do you have to?

She looks at him and smiles.

Ting – They’re expecting me.

Min – I wish you wouldn’t go.

Ting reaches over and caresses Min’s face.

Ting – You are sweet.

Min – The struggle is bringing us close.

Ting – It is.

Min – Will you be safe and not do anything crazy?

Ting – I will be safe… and not do anything crazy.

Min – Promise?

Ting – Promise.

She takes his hand in hers and kisses it. Then she rises and crosses to the door. She looks back at him and waves a slow goodbye.

Min – Will you call me when it’s done?

Ting – I will.

She exits.

Trump, Tariffs and the Reelection Bid.

Battle for the Nation (3)

There is no question that the tariffs Trump is imposing on China and the threat to impose them on Mexico are a burden to the American taxpayer. Both sides are hurt by them but Trump is betting that they will hurt the other side more than us. Tariffs have not yet derailed our economic expansion but they may well do so.

Are there problems with our trade with China? Of course. Do they need addressing? No doubt. But what happened to gradualism? Wouldn’t that approach give our industries and every other nation’s enough time to make the necessary adjustments?

Yes, it would.

The reason Trump is rushing headlong with tariffs is clear. He is convinced that they are his ticket to reelection. He appears to think that pushing tariffs will project him as the great American gladiator, the sublime avenger of all injuries inflicted upon us.

But we will not beat China on tariffs. They will fight back and even endure much pain rather than bow to Trump’s demands. In the 80s we could impose tariffs on Japan and stem their rise because we had defeated them in WWII. We did not defeat China. She was not even a nation.

China has become a formidable opponent. Their brand of state sponsored development, their drive and ambition, has challenged our position in the world.

Their commitment to technological superiority, their advances in 5G and artificial intelligence, all make it evident that their push for world dominance is here to stay.

Should we be frightened? It depends on how capable we perceive ourselves to be. 

China’s rise and defiance should be seen as a warning that we have to reorganize our economy and the way we connect to ourselves and to the world.

To do that we need to think clearly as to what our priorities are.

Take immigration: immigrants have contributed enormously to who we are now and what we have. A Russian immigrant is Google’s cofounder. Apple’s Steven Jobs’ father came from Syria. Intel’s Andy Grove, a leading figure in the company’s growth, came from Hungary.

Present day Silicon Valley is filled with first or second generation Indian entrepreneurs.

I live in California. There are several buildings going up near where I live. The major component to the labor force pushing up those structures are Latinos.

When I go for medical care the likelihood is high that the nurse or doctor assisting me will be a first or second generation immigrant. And so too when I go to the pharmacy to pick up my meds.

Same at the bank or when I go for coffee or to get something to eat.

We are immigrants. That’s who we are. We have needed the numbers and immigrants have provided them.

China’s story is different. They have the numbers. But they started to thrive quickly only when they opened to the world. It was that influx of ideas and technologies that, coupled with their drive and ingenuity, lifted them to their present status.

Again, openness.

In China’s case, however, selective openness. They have not been willing to import democratic ideals and so their population remains severely bereft of individual liberties.

The West bet that trade with China would inevitably stir a strong desire from within to transform their communist ideology. It hasn’t happened but it does not mean that it will not.

We got wrong the time table for political change but the central concept remains. Sooner or later China will open up politically.

Trump’s intemperate push for tariffs betrays a sense of panic.

China announces their desire for being the worldwide leader in technology and Trump frets that we will be at their mercy.

He bangs his tariff drum – the louder the better – thinking that it will deter China.

It will not.

The Chinese must love that our president is showing so little confidence in all the pain and effort that it has taken to build America. But Trump has little sense of history.

Our concept of liberty is the distillation of hundreds of years of thought and discussion, struggles and wars.

China has not done that work. They went from a near feudal economy to world prominence in a very short time. Much like South Korea did, except that we could exert political influence there because we fought for their freedom.  

Why then are we panicking with China’s rise?

There is no need to do so. In fact, it is counterproductive.

To panic is to doubt that our model of governance is effective.

It is effective not only because of our economic and military strength but because it keeps attracting millions of people from all over the world. And yet, it needs to be fairer.

As we embrace greater fairness we will help release the fullness of our citizens’ productive capacities.

Rather than panic with China’s rise, we should welcome it, for it challenges us to remake our society.

Let us not forget that our society is not in its final form. Far from it. It is designed to be in a continuous state of flux because the complexity of life demands it.

China’s spectacular growth has contributed to the rise of nationalism both here and abroad. But reacting in such way is going in the wrong direction. We must not lose faith in man’s thirst for freedom and how it unleashes their creative forces.

China lags way behind the West in allowing the fundamental freedom that man has long aspired to. In time, and with visionary leadership, they will come around.

Immigration needs reform in that the nation must have control of its borders. Let’s tackle that. Let’s discuss it. Let’s do a referendum on the issue.

But let us not allow a leader without a sense of history, to throw us into a state of panic that leads us to question the fundamental values that we have struggled so hard to maintain.

Oscar Valdes  oscarvaldes.net

The Trade War. Envy and Competition.

A centerpiece in the increasingly toxic trade war is the fact that China pushed for forced technology transfers from American and other foreign companies seeking to do business in their country.

Did this practice begin recently? No. It’s been going on for years and years.

So why, then, did it take so long for the US government to bring it up and demand that it be stopped?

Profits.

American and foreign investors agreed to Chinese demands because profits made it worthwhile. In the meantime, the Chinese learned from the technology, improved on it and now have risen to become our rivals.

If that has made us upset then it’s time we got over it.

The Chinese did what they did and we let them do it.

One American administration after another talked about stopping the forced technology transfers but ended up doing nothing.

Why?

Profits.

Maybe we thought the Chinese could never get it together or that we would keep coming up with even better technologies and ideas and forever hold an edge over them.

The growth of China forces us to take a good look at ourselves.

Are we being outcompeted?

Have they copied us too well?

If so, then let’s pull up our sleeves and get to work, not just start a trade war.

We’re envious of China. Envious of their drive and their success and we’re not dealing with it appropriately. Instead, we’re choosing to bellyache and let our president be the bellyacher in chief.

The Chinese have succeeded, no question about it, but they are also paying a heavy price for it. They are a regimented society.

We are not and should take comfort in that.

But not too much.

And I say that because there are now forces here in America that would not mind sacrificing basic freedoms so as to increase growth and ape the Chinese.

Look at the steady rise of mega companies and their continuing effort to dominate markets, making it hard to let in new companies so they can vie for a piece of the pie.

Look at the rise of autocrats, who have got into office because we put them there.

What are we thinking?

Companies that moved into China and agreed to the technology transfers demanded by their hosts did so because they were advocates of growth at any price. Never mind what or whom they left behind. Cheaper labor won the day. And they’re still there. Feeding at the trough. Still doing business. Still making money. So what’s the flap about?

If American companies handed over trade secrets and are now outcompeted and not able to come up with better ideas, then get out. Face it. You lost. No bellyaching, please.

The Chinese are coming into their own and are in contention for the title of world’s leading superpower. They’re not there yet but they’re pushing. That’s a reality. We have no choice but to compete.

This trade war we’re in is unnecessary and a dangerous distraction. It is yet another bid for world attention by our self-aggrandizing president. But it is not just any other bid. It carries with it the high risk of driving us into a world recession.

Growth at any price won’t do. The voices that cry for more competition and for greater opportunity here at home must be heard. And so must the voices that say that we have to stop abusing others, and so too the voices that call for curbing carbon emissions. We need the balance because it brings us dignity.

Safeguarding our freedoms is as important as economic growth. In that sense we’re ahead of the Chinese. So let us value what we have. It’s not all about GDP as we have come to know it but just as importantly, about that other kind of GDP, the Growth Dignity Product. We’re still a long way from getting it right but we’re getting there.

We should not let a narrow minded president think that starting a trade war with China and the world is the way for the nation to pull itself up.

Try investing in Americans. Try raising expectations. Try demanding that we rise to the task.