Friday, October 8, 2010



I’ve been reading the Wall Street Journal since I was in 7th grade. It is succinct and intelligent. Its writers are among the best in the country. Until recently, it avoided the fluff and excerebrose nonsense that has come to dominate most other corners of the press. That seems to be changing as its “Personal Journal,” “Friday Journal,” and “Weekend Journal” sections, chock full of vital stories on the relative merits of various wines, or whatever constitutes the latest ephemeral yuppie fascination, and commentary on the latest figurative excretory product served up by the nation’s television networks to a public seemingly eager to swallow such dyspeptic fare, come to dominate the Journal’s available space, but the Journal still has retained a greater semblance of sanity and sobriety than most other papers. And even though the Journal’s editorial page over the last few years seems to have abandoned its traditional defense of free markets and free men to assume the position of a meretricious cheerleader for the Republican Party and/or for big business in general, we still see glimmers of its former greatness when one of its young writers gives in to his or her atavistic impulses and stands up for the notions of freedom and responsibility most of its readers still hold dear. In short, the Journal, despite its growing list of faults and missteps, remains perhaps the greatest of the nation’s national newspapers, certainly for those of us who are more interested in business and economics than in the latest adventures of the air-headed celebrities who populate Hollywood and Washington, D.C.

Over the forty or so years I have been reading the Journal, I have read, in addition to the daily news stories that so endear me to the paper, certain articles, usually, but not always, in the Opinion section, that confirm for me the wisdom of having spent so large a portion of my life with this extraordinary product of the journalistic art. One of those article appeared today (Friday, 10/8) on page A19 of the Opinion section. This article, entitled “The U.S. Will Lose a China Trade War,”

written by Dee Woo, who teaches economics at the Beijing Huijia Private School, is notable for a few things. First, it has that quality of saying things that I, and doubtless most of you, knew all along but have never heard put so articulately…or starkly. For example…

When other nations want imports, they must produce goods to sell abroad. All the U.S. needs to do is print more greenbacks…It’s little wonder that manufacturing is dying in the U.S. while Wall Street is prospering. And it’s no coincidence that Germany produces robust machinery, while the U.S. produces dazzling financial derivatives.”


“…Washington can’t afford a weak-dollar policy—because the only thing standing between the U.S. and a Greek-style sovereign debt crisis is the dollar’s status as the global currency. A weaker dollar would threaten that status.”

Second, the tone of the article is disturbing, almost alarming. We are not used to people talking to us in the manner in which Mr. Dee talks to us in this article. For example, in the last paragraph:

All this means that the U.S. should adopt a collaborative approach toward China. Now is a bad time for collaboration. The U.S. currently needs China more than China needs the U.S.”

I emphasized that last sentence because it is increasingly true. And, while it might be fashionable to bash the Chinese, we would do better, as a people, to look in the mirror when looking for someone to bash. We probably have reached the point at which we need China more than China needs, and the Chinese feel free to talk to us in a manner in which we do not like to be addressed, due to our own profligate spending, out vastly over-extended lifestyles that we take as an entitlement, our steadfast refusal to save, our abandonment of the responsibilities inherent in self-government, and our smug attitude toward the rest of the world, born of a widely applauded, indeed seemingly mandatory, impulse to constantly and loudly reassure ourselves that we, indeed, were, are, and forever will be the world’s greatest nation regardless of our abandonment of those principles, such as thrift, personal responsibility, self-control, perspective, and humility that once made us not only the world’s greatest nation, but something special, something unique, something seemingly endowed by God with gifts and attributes that had never appeared before on earth. While many of us believe God had a role in creating this once great nation, we have a role to play, as Benjamin Franklin reminded us at the Republic’s inception. And much of our citizenry has decided it is too busy with the mental and spiritual cotton candy that so permeates our society to bother with the hard work of building, maintaining, and preserving the great nation that God and our forefathers entrusted to us.

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