Everyone is freaking out about economic projections for China’s economy to become the largest in the world. Both parties are using this event as a “beat stick” to point at what they think are bad policies on the other side. How did we get to the point where a country’s growing economy was considered an omen of doom? We really need to take a deep breath and realize what is going on here.
1. So… The Chinese Are Still Human Beings, Just Like The Rest of Us
I just want to take a moment and point out that China is a country made of human beings, not aliens or mysterious creatures from the dark beyond. Why are we so upset when their economy is doing well? Do they not deserve the same comforts, luxuries, and opportunities as the rest of the world? Why do we get so indignant that a country other than our own may be doing well? “Oh no! Foreigners are eating well! We are all doomed.” Seriously, get over it.
(Photo: Ai Weiwei, one of my favorite people from China. His art was recently featured at the Indianapolis Museum of Art)
2. China’s GDP is Getting Bigger. That Does NOT Mean the Economy is “Better.”
So China has over one billion three hundred million people, almost 20% of the world’s population. American has just a little over three hundred million, or about 4.5% of the world’s population. That means that if China’s economy was doing even HALF as well as America’s economy, their GDP would be over TWICE the size. So let’s get this straight, it still sucks to live in China for a strong majority of their population. China is not a paragon of economic policy or health by a long shot. Anyone saying we need to learn their methods right now is just plain ignorant.
3. China is Cheating, and Economist Are Holding Their Breath
China is well documented for artificially inflating their currency, as well as recent investigations showing that they are building “ghost cities,” which are massive infrastructures with no supporting population. Economists are not sure how long China can sustain this rate of growth through smoke and mirrors. One of two things are going to happen: China’s bubble will pop dramatically OR we will find out that our current economic theories are wrong and discover new ways of growing economic health through arbitrary and anticipatory funding of projects. (The latter is unlikely but would be pretty cool.)
4. Globalization Means We Grow Together
China has to grow economically for the rest of the world to grow. We can’t expect 20% of the world’s population to live under the same standards as the developing world and still expect a strong global economy. We should be looking FORWARD to the day when China has twice the GDP of America, not fearing it. American will get just as much benefit selling to a strong Chinese consumer economy as China has had manufacturing for our consumer market. When our work forces have similar living standards, there will be a lot more to go around.
5. Free Market Means Everyone, You Must Have Confused It Nationalism
Most of the people bemoaning the rise of the China’s GDP are self-proclaimed “free market” idealogs. Look, free market means free for everyone everywhere to trade. Complaining when someone who looks different from you ends up getting ahead under the free market means you aren’t a free market proponent at all, you are a nationalist. Nationalism is an outdated philosophy of fear and scarcity which has no place in the modern world. It says that if we let others have, there is less for us. That position is the foundation for all hatred, suspicion, violence, and war. The truth is that if China was actually wealthy (not fake wealthy) we would be wealthy too. Just like how America’s wealth has brought wealth to much of the world up to this point.