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Will Biden’s China focus force workers to turn our ethics away from meritocracy?

Last updated on February 9, 2021 5:35 pm

By Cal Smith Feb 9, 2021

There is an ongoing discussion that China is emerging as a new superpower and replacing the US from the global power structure. There is no doubt that China has already become the global powerhouse economically, and is expected to surpass the US as the world’s biggest economy by 2028.

Like the Soviet Union in the past, China now faces several geopolitical and cultural challenges before it can reach global superpower status similar to the US. China can’t aspire to get the same respect and acceptance worldwide, even if its economic and military power overtakes the US. A democratic US will always have ideological, political, and cultural superiority compared to a Communist China. No doubt, China is a strong state with a powerful party bureaucracy, but its politics is potentially very fragile.

values based on hard work and diligence. It is also a belief in the moral benefit of work and its ability to enhance character. An example would be the Protestant work ethic. A work ethic may include being reliable, having initiative, or pursuing new skills.
Workers exhibiting a good work ethic in theory should be selected for better positions, more responsibility and ultimately promotion. Workers who fail to exhibit a good work ethic may be regarded as failing to provide fair value for the wage the employer is paying them and should not be promoted or placed in positions of greater responsibility.

American Work Ethics.

What was once understood as the work ethic—not just hard work but also a set of accompanying virtues. Many conservatives believe that laziness is morally wrong, even reprehensible, because one is not doing their share of the work and living off of the hard work of others, and for this reason oppose welfare programs.

The desire for wealth is one that seems to have lived in America as long as people have, but of course that isn’t true. It all began when the Puritans came to “the New World”, seeking a “clean slate” to write their ethics and ideas upon. The Puritans, being a devout religious people, believed “that suffering is required to redeem our ‘original sin’ as human beings”. This “no pain, no gain” mentality underlies American society even today.

The epic mistake about manufacturing that’s cost Americans millions of jobs

White House Trade Council head Peter Navarro was explaining what he sees as the biggest problem with the American economy since the 1990s that exacerbated inequality and left the American worker in the lurch. 

“Well, I think you start with the idea that we’ve had 15 years of subpar growth — 2 percent or below,” he said in an interview with NPR to promote “Made in America Week.” 

“Prior to 2001, we grew at 3 and a half percent. The big difference has been the entry of China in particular into the World Trade Organization and our markets. And we’ve just been hammered. What that does as a proxy, basically, is it drains essentially the lifeblood out of our manufacturing economy, out of our communities, out of our tax bases.”

So the narrative from the White House is that China’s big push into global markets is the root cause for stagnant economic and wage growth since the turn of the millennium. But that narrative has a really basic flaw: It’s only half the story. And with only half the story, you’re not going to find a whole solution to the slow growth, low wage, low unemployment predicament we find ourselves in now.

The problem didn’t start in the 1990s, it started in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan — a hero of the Trump administration — was president, and neoliberal economics were first making their mark on policy. Reagan and his ilk distrusted government and believed that the private sector could make the best decisions when left on its own. You’ve heard about this — it’s called laissez faire economics.

This ideology ultimately led to the financialization of the US corporation — the process of putting shareholders first, often at the expense of workers and consumers — and its emergence as an actor that takes resources from the economy rather than creating them. This, combined with a government zeal for lowering taxes rather than spending, means no one — not the government, and not the private sector — is investing enough in America to keep the economy strong across social classes.

In short: Government cuts and changes in how corporations operate mean American workers are getting screwed by their own government and their own employers. Navarro and I end up with the same dire view of the current economic landscape. We just disagree on how we got there.

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