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Does the Future Belong to China?

 
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

A country can also add to its wealth and population by conquering and looting weaker countries. The U.S. added to its natural wealth by expanding westward in its first century, but for the last hundred years has not relied on expansion. Russia similarly expanded under the Czars, and the Soviet Union never stopped trying to expand until it collapsed.



In a way the USA is still expanding. The expansion of a country is its growing influence over the world's resources. Traditionally this is done through increasing the influence of the country over the resource of territory - such as the USA's taking of Indian land, or the USSR's creation of puppet states in Eastern Europe.

The USA currently expands its influence over resources in a different way - through economics. The growth of the influence of American corporations and the dollar in the international market is as much a growth of its international power as when it acquired new land.

Countries are a bit like living organisms, thriving best when they are growing. Part of the reason why the USA is thriving is because it is still growing, even though it is in the field of economics rather than territory.

While this gives large advantages, it has its own risks. Just as grabbing more territory caused some countries to become unstable, grabbing more of the international economy may cause a country to be over exposed to the fluctuations of the markets. If the economy of the USA, and its interactions with the global market, suffer, then the country could enter a period of decline.

Even as a non-American, I think its probably best if the USA remains economically strong for the time being - history has shown that when the American economy struggles, the rest of the world struggles with it.


Yes, but the basis for the U.S. economy is its culture -- its political, religious, and social philosophy. This was also true for 19th century Great Britain.


While political, religious, and social philosophy can have positive effects on an economy, they mean squat if the economy doesn't have access to and influence over resources. Take Canada and the USA. They both have (in comparison with the rest of the world) fairly similar cultures, but very different standings in the world economy. The USA has an advantage in that it has a large population and a very large amount of resources.

True, the culture helps make an environment where by these resources can be accessed in a good way, but without these resources the USA would be a much poorer country. Its probably a combination of the two which leads to the USA's success - the twin ingredients of resources and culture thrown into the economic soup


What happened is that the spiritual basis for England's power -- the Protestant work ethic -- dissolved along with its Protestant religious fervor. Poor people feel no shame in taking charity, and the children of the wealthy squander their wealth on luxuries. Even though who inwardly continue to harbor the old beliefs have lost their assertiveness.


I would strongly disagree with this. The work ethic in Britain is very strong, even without the Protestant factor being so influential. The average British worker works longer hours then his mainland European counterpart. Excepting charity remains a strong stigma in most of parts of British society.

Britain's decline in economic influence is nothing to do with a reduction in work ethic, but more to do with the nature of its Imperial economy. During the time of the Empire, Britain relied upon the ability to tap into the resources of it's colonies, and then to trade them with the rest of the world. The world wars and influenza epidemic (a much overlooked factor in 20th centaury history) heavily disrupted the world economies, and caused tremendous damage to the man made resources in Britain. Given that most of Britain's trade route's were blocked, its work force were conscripted and its factories either bombed or converted to war use, its hardly surprising that the economy suffered.

The wars also redefined the UK's relationship with its colonies. Previously Britain could have advantageous trade agreements with them, but growing desires for independence and individuality among the colonies meant that they wished to open up their markets to other countries. Britain had to therefore do a lot of restructuring to refocus their economy from the Imperial/Commonwealth countries to new trade partners in the USA and Europe.

Another influential factor on the British economy was the opening up of world economies in the post-war era. The British economy had at one time been heavily based upon manufacturing, but as more 2nd and 3rd world countries came into the world economy, Britain could no longer compete in industries which relied on a cheap workforce. It was then forced to make another large adjustment by shifting from a manufacturing based economy to a services based economy.

All of these factors meant that Britain had to take a long time out of international economic influence, while it realigned and readjusted to new the new economic environment. Its certainly not because the workforce became more lazy through a change in work ethic.
 
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Originally posted by Dave Lenton:
In a way the USA is still expanding. The expansion of a country is its growing influence over the world's resources. Traditionally this is done through increasing the influence of the country over the resource of territory - such as the USA's taking of Indian land, or the USSR's creation of puppet states in Eastern Europe.

The USA currently expands its influence over resources in a different way - through economics. The growth of the influence of American corporations and the dollar in the international market is as much a growth of its international power as when it acquired new land.

Yes, growth of corporate influence and acquisition of territory through military conquest both expand a nation's power. But they should not be equated, as there is a huge moral distinction between the two, which is analogous to the distinction between making a few extra bucks by starting a home business versus mugging a stranger.


me: the basis for the U.S. economy is its culture -- its political, religious, and social philosophy. This was also true for 19th century Great Britain.

Originally posted by Dave Lenton:
While political, religious, and social philosophy can have positive effects on an economy, they mean squat if the economy doesn't have access to and influence over resources. Take Canada and the USA. They both have (in comparison with the rest of the world) fairly similar cultures, but very different standings in the world economy. The USA has an advantage in that it has a large population and a very large amount of resources.

Actually, Canada's natural resources compare quite favorably with those of the U.S. Hong Kong, Taiwon and Japan were practically devoid of natural resources but became economically powerful. Israel has virtually no natural resources, but produces much more than oil-rich countries. Sweden and Norway have fewer natural resources than Rumania, but have been much more prosperous. Natural resources are a big help, but they're not the dominant factor.


me: What happened is that the spiritual basis for England's power -- the Protestant work ethic -- dissolved along with its Protestant religious fervor. Poor people feel no shame in taking charity, and the children of the wealthy squander their wealth on luxuries. Even though who inwardly continue to harbor the old beliefs have lost their assertiveness.

Originally posted by Dave Lenton:
I would strongly disagree with this. The work ethic in Britain is very strong, even without the Protestant factor being so influential. The average British worker works longer hours then his mainland European counterpart. Acccepting charity remains a strong stigma in most of parts of British society.

And that is why England's economy is better right now than those on the continent. But if you compare Great Britain's culture today with what it was a hundred years ago, then what I said is true in a relative sense. That's why Great Britain is still a 1st World economy, but no longer a world power.


During the time of the Empire, Britain relied upon the ability to tap into the resources of it's colonies, and then to trade them with the rest of the world.

Basically, colonialism allowed British traders to avoid the depredations of pirates. (Perhaps some of the colonies were acquired not by design but as the result of defeating foreign pirate-based governments.) With today's international world order, a country can trade with most any other country without requiring battleships to protect the merchant vessels.

For Great Britain, losing the colonies was actually beneficial. If Great Britain had annexed its colonies, their demands on the British Welfare State would have totally bankrupted the nation.

America, in contrast, brought slaves in to build plantations within its borders; it could not shrug off its internal third-world colonies, so our attempts at creating a Welfare State proved disastrous from the very beginning. That is one reason we have slower to adopt the changes that are shrinking Europe today. (It's also why we have such a high murder rate; it's far lower, however, than England's would be if it counted murders that occur in Jamaica, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa, or Spain's if it counted murders in Mexico and Columbia, or Portugal's murder rate if it included murders committed in Brazil.)


The wars also redefined the UK's relationship with its colonies. Previously Britain could have advantageous trade agreements with them, but growing desires for independence and individuality among the colonies meant that they wished to open up their markets to other countries. Britain had to therefore do a lot of restructuring to refocus their economy from the Imperial/Commonwealth countries to new trade partners in the USA and Europe.

The value of third-world markets are exagerated. Third world countries simply don't have enough money to be key customers. They can offer natural resources in trade; that's all.


Another influential factor on the British economy was the opening up of world economies in the post-war era. The British economy had at one time been heavily based upon manufacturing, but as more 2nd and 3rd world countries came into the world economy, Britain could no longer compete in industries which relied on a cheap workforce.

Actually, a hundred years ago Great Britain _had_ a cheap workforce. As it moved from a Protestant Work Ethic to a Welfare State, its workforce became much more expensive.
[ May 10, 2005: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
 
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

Basically, colonialism allowed British traders to avoid the depredations of pirates. (Perhaps some of the colonies were acquired not by design but as the result of defeating foreign pirate-based governments.) With today's international world order, a country can trade with most any other country without requiring battleships to protect the merchant vessels.


... or they used their own pirates for getting started in colonization:
http://www.global-travel.co.uk/drake.htm
 
Frank Silbermann
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Originally posted by Axel Janssen:

... or they used their own pirates for getting started in colonization:
http://www.global-travel.co.uk/drake.htm

Well, yes, historically speaking, governments have usually been little more than gangs in power, much like rival Mafia families competing over territory. There's nothing holy about government; but we we do well to support it when we get one that is not as bad as most.
 
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DL: The work ethic in Britain is very strong

And yet EU law now prevents working longer than 48 hours in a week, including a required 11 hours of rest each day. This is just plain ridiculous. I'm sure it must be nice having the state determine what an appropriate work/life balance is for people. You can pretty much kiss off any chance the EU has of being competetive in the world.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/articles/18541395?source=Evening%20Standard&ct=5
 
Axel Janssen
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:

And yet EU law now prevents working longer than 48 hours in a week, including a required 11 hours of rest each day. This is just plain ridiculous. I'm sure it must be nice having the state determine what an appropriate work/life balance is for people. You can pretty much kiss off any chance the EU has of being competetive in the world.



Even in the paradise of work regulation (Peoples Republic of Germany) those rules are not enforced on anybody. If you don't work in a big company and if you don't mind to work 14 hours some days, you can do it. I do it.
My sister works in a big company and I have seen with my own eyes her boss and my sister in a nearby bar over some working papers after office hours and the guy from trade union coming in: Ha. Now I catched you. And starting discussion
110% hilarious.
I've once seen a girl in a team I was working with as an external getting in one of those bigmouth-trade union 1-meeting-a-day jobs. She simply wasn't able to fullfill something usefull in a context, where at the end of the day something should be finished.
[ May 11, 2005: Message edited by: Axel Janssen ]
 
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Dont know who works more..
but I read somewhere that Americans jealous Europeans because Europe has more holidays and they spend more money on tourism (I dont know what they mean by spending money on tourism ?)
 
Axel Janssen
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In Germany the people who have a regular job normally gets 30 free days a year. Americans do have far less. I have 29. But I still have 12 days from last year (and 29 from this year). There are a lot of people who are heavily accumulating hollydays by free will, which isn't in synch with the law, because they should have taken last years hollydays until end of april of the current year. So Americans should know that there are differences between theory and praxis.
Tourism is very popular here and it has been getting cheaper and cheaper.
But this is only one aspect of a working environment and one has to know the whole. You have to ask someone who has worked in both countries.
Here unemployment rate 12%. USA 4%, I think. This influences in the working environment.

Working as an external consultant there is one natural law in this country:
The architectonically more sophisticated the building the more incompetent, anti-agile, bigmouth or outright hilarious those inside. I am now in office of the customer with the simpler building. Nice people. Easy to work with.
 
Dave Lenton
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:
DL: The work ethic in Britain is very strong

And yet EU law now prevents working longer than 48 hours in a week, including a required 11 hours of rest each day. This is just plain ridiculous. I'm sure it must be nice having the state determine what an appropriate work/life balance is for people. You can pretty much kiss off any chance the EU has of being competetive in the world.



This could cause something of a problem. While its good that the legislation works out the 48 hours as an average over a year (allowing for occasional peaks in working time), I think it could be going a bit far, especially in the way it will effect people who own their own small business.

Perhaps rather than looking at scrapping the opt-out forms, the EU should look at ways of stopping people being forced into signing them. That way (although, to be honest, it could be hard to do this), they could allow those who want to work more to do so, but protect those who are manipulated into working too much.
[ May 12, 2005: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]
 
Dave Lenton
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

Yes, growth of corporate influence and acquisition of territory through military conquest both expand a nation's power. But they should not be equated, as there is a huge moral distinction between the two, which is analogous to the distinction between making a few extra bucks by starting a home business versus mugging a stranger.



I certainly don't think that there is a moral equality between military conquest and economic influence - I was just pointing out that both are possible routes to power. I lean slightly towards pacifist tendencies, so I definitely prefer the economic route

Actually, Canada's natural resources compare quite favorably with those of the U.S. Hong Kong, Taiwon and Japan were practically devoid of natural resources but became economically powerful. Israel has virtually no natural resources, but produces much more than oil-rich countries. Sweden and Norway have fewer natural resources than Rumania, but have been much more prosperous.



Sure, but these countries are not superpowers. In order to elevate a country above the rest in the power stakes, I think several factors are needed, and one of those is influence over resources (although other factors, such as cultural environment are also needed). These resources don't need to just be natural resources though - the work force is a good resource (and population is one factor where the US has a good advantage over Canada). Similarly influence over resources doesn't have to mean ownership of these resources. Countries like Japan can exert large influences over resources which does not originate in Japan through their economy.

Israel is a bit of a special case. Although they are a regional power, this is very much down to the political, financial and logistical support they receive from a superpower (USA). Without this support, they would be in a very different situation.

Natural resources are a big help, but they're not the dominant factor


I couldn't agree more! The making of a super power involves many factors. While not dominant, resources are quite important though.

The value of third-world markets are exagerated. Third world countries simply don't have enough money to be key customers. They can offer natural resources in trade; that's all.


But this was an important factor in the British economy. Britain was able to cheaply acquire a lot of natural resources from the colonies, and then sell them on. When the colonies began to sell their resources in a competitive manor, Britain no longer had a cheap supply of resources and had to adjust to compensate.

Actually, a hundred years ago Great Britain _had_ a cheap workforce. As it moved from a Protestant Work Ethic to a Welfare State, its workforce became much more expensive.


More than the introduction of the Welfare State (which only supports a tiny fraction of the working population), changes in law will have effected the productivity and cost of the workforce. When things such as child labour, cramped and dangerous work conditions, and slave like wage levels were abolished, of course the work force became more expensive. It was right that these legal changes were made though. Working conditions for many people in Britain were extremely bad back a hundred years ago.
 
Frank Silbermann
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Originally posted by Dave Lenton:

Israel is a bit of a special case. Although they are a regional power, this is very much down to the political, financial and logistical support they receive from a superpower (USA). Without this support, they would be in a very different situation.

Yes and no. Israel's economic power is home-generated. But American support has been very valuable in preventing the Israel from being snuffed out by a billion people outraged that a place once under the control of a certain religion should ever descend from that status.
 
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Frank Silbermann:

The two world wars reduced British power by depleting ability to raise armies. That was fatal for its status as a colonial empire, but it could have remained an economic powerhouse. What happened is that the spiritual basis for England's power -- the Protestant work ethic -- dissolved along with its Protestant religious fervor.

What "Protestant religious fervor"? It seems to me that the periods of "religious fervor" were mostly in the 17th and 18th centuries, predating the 19th century peak of British ascendancy. Indeed, Britain peaked during the industrial revolution, which was known more for secular "exploitation" of the masses than for voluntary work stemming from any "ethic".

I would agree that there was certainly a lot of hard work at the time. I would say that it stemmed from two simple facts, though: (1) if you didn't work, you were going to starve, because no one was going to help you out, and (2) if you did work, you got to keep most of your wages, rather than having most of them taken away from you in taxes and such.

America remains prosperous because large numbers of people retain a mentality much like that of 19th century England. Much of the political discord in this country is between those who want to keep things that way, versus those who want America to follow in Great Britain's footsteps.

This part I would agree with - though I would say that over the last several decades, Britain has been doing a very good job of breaking out of its malaise.
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