It's become commonplace to worry about China and its threat to the American economy. But everyone should stand back and realize that two billion people are rising up from poverty there. Throughout Asia the story is much the same as the dispossessed are getting a seat at the banquet table for the first time. It's recorded that more has been done for world poverty in the past fifty years than in the previous five hundred, with much of that progress coming in the last twenty years.
Instead of resenting this trend, it should be celebrated as a victory for American values. Poverty is ending because of opportunity, progressive thinking and greater freedom, the very things that America stands for. Occasionally I hear a positive voice like Warren Buffett's, who says that what's good for China is good for the U.S. Ultimately, there will be a balancing out. The Chinese will have to take care of hundreds of millions of old people, no easy task with a policy of one child per family. Middle class incomes will mean greater consumerism, making China a country that imports goods from outside. But even if this balancing weren't going to occur, the moral thing is to stop griping about the rise of impoverished nations like China and India.
We Americans sit at the head of the banquet table, as we have done for a century. Our standard of living is luxurious by any measure. It's time to show generosity of spirit to the less fortunate. We use more energy per capita and produce more air pollutants than any other society (even if China is fast catching up in the latter category). We deal more arms to the world and instigate more wars. Yet the American ideal of peace continues to spread, with deaths from all forms of war, including terrorism, falling in the last decade by 20%, with a 75% decrease since the decades of the Cold War.
Fareed Zakaria is one of the few to bring this wider perspective to light. A few optimists won't relieve American anxiety, but our growth and recovery, even since 2008, has been a success compared to the Great Depression, especially considering that bank losses and factory output fell more this time than in the Depression.
Globalism began as a vision of a world with free trade, shared prosperity, and open borders. These are good, even noble things to aim for. They haven't been fully achieved, but we've come a huge distance compared to fifty years ago. Despite the sour mood in the country -- much of it inflamed for political gain by the right -- the ideal of globalism is an American ideal. Billions of people know it. How much better if more of us did.
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