Just recently, the nation was abuzz regarding a mysterious smoke plume 35 miles off the coast of California.
Since the U.S. military denied any involvement, several other possibilities come to mind. Was it:
1) The California economy going up in smoke now that Jerry Brown is once again Governor — as he was four decades ago;
2) A smoke-and-mirrors trick of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, magically creating $600 billion in new funny money — the smoke trail being inflation "taking off;"
3) China flexing its military muscle by test-firing a ballistic missile in America’s backyard.
If you voted for the first two, you win the prize. For those who think it was China the Aggressor, I’ve got news for you: not a chance in the world.
The reason is simple. Unless extremely bold political leadership takes hold of Washington, utilizing common sense and courage in dealing with our biggest global competitor, China wins any way you slice it.
Republicans and Democrats alike had chance after chance to keep America strong by implementing a sound economic policy, but instead, both sides have chosen to roll over. Congress and Presidents —both past and present — have created a system whereby America is almost singlehandedly building China into the world’s most influential economic, political and military powerhouse.
China funds our insatiable spending and massive debt, which we in turn use to A) purchase more goods from China, B) bail out Wall Street (thereby continuing fat cat executives’ huge campaign contributions), and C) buy oil from Middle Eastern nations, some of whom can only be described as enemies of the state…and that’s being generous.
It took Rome 1,000 years to fall. At the rate we’re going, we’ve got them beat by a mile.
Many parts of the country were treated to campaign attack ads by both sides that attempted to use "bad trade deals with China" as a wedge issue. They didn’t work, because until real leadership emerges, nothing will change, except that China’s position will strengthen and ours deteriorates.
It’s easy to paint China as the boogeyman. After all, they’re stealing our companies, jobs and technology, we’re told. Really? Is that how the growing inequality between nations came to be?
Or is the real answer one we don’t want to face? Doesn’t the ultimate responsibility actually lie with the politicians — and we, the people, who sent them there?
It’s certainly not partisan, as Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all had sizable Congressional majorities in their respective Parties to hammer out a sensible policy.
With absolutely no results.
Maybe we should use some of the stimulus money to buy ourselves two gigantic mirrors: one for the voters and another for Washington. Because no matter how much we try to justify our current predicament, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
I am not an apologist for China; in fact, much of China’s conduct is deplorable. They are the world’s biggest polluter; their child policy — both in labor and the forced-abortions — is abhorrent; and their deliberate disregard for basic safety issues is inexcusable, such as widespread existence of lead and other toxins in their finished products.
That said, America’s inability to compete with Chinese manufacturing is entirely of our own doing. And more than anything else, America’s decline can be traced to the outsourcing of virtually our entire industrial base.
Politicians like to explain that away, stating that in the New World Order, it’s all about being a service economy. Wrong.
Service economies cannot last, especially when they run up $14 trillion debts. And despite the talking-heads that try to favorably compare America’s debt as a percentage of GDP now versus 1943, they forget one huge factor: we were the strongest industrial power the world had ever known. We made everything, from ships to TV’s.
Now, we make nothing but excuses.
Let’s face facts. America will never beat China’s competitive edge in labor costs. That’s common knowledge, so common sense tells us we need to improvise and adapt. And there are two immediate steps we can take to begin the long journey back to prosperity:
1) Cut the corporate income tax. The Unites States has the second-highest corporate tax in the world, up from sixth in 2000. Given that the tax is nearly 40 percent, is it any wonder that CEO’s move their operations overseas? No corporate executive wants to do that, but when the American government forces their hand by not lowering the rate (despite the fact that virtually every other nation has made competitive reductions), the gates get padlocked, jobs are lost, unemployment and welfare checks increase, and we end up LOSING revenue.
2) Drill, drill, drill. A policy of energy independence will not only create millions of long-term sustainable jobs, but will also significantly decrease the transportation costs of importing goods from, literally, across the world. And as an added strategic benefit, we reduce our oil dependence on nations that don’t exactly put the U.S. on their Christmas card lists. Energy independence — and we have more than enough resources to achieve that — is the ultimate step in looking out for American interests first, rather than relying on foreign nations that, rightfully so, have an interest in seeing us bent over an (oil) barrel.
These policies alone are not the complete answer, but they are mandatory if we are to regain our greatness. Best of all, they can be instituted right away, with immediate results.
The question is, do we have the political will to do it? If not, you’d better register at your local community college for what is fast becoming the most popular course: "How To Speak Chinese."
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com
Readers of his column, "Freindly Fire," hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller "Catastrophe."
Freind, whose column appears nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX. He can be reached at [email protected]