I’m closing in on another birthday.
Maybe it’s because I’m fast approaching older-than-dirt status, and the naïveté and gullibility of youth is all but sloughed off, or maybe it’s because I just finished reading a bone-headed column in the New York Times written by a an even bigger bone-headed economist who suggests that we should all simply ignore the National Debt, which is now rapidly approaching $14,000,000,000,000,000.00 (and, my dear CounterThinkers, that grandiose, unimaginable total is the invoice due– before–the two-thousand-five humdred page ObamaCare bill takes it’s toll), but I’m beginning to get a bit troubled by the prevailing thought of the idiot masses that we can somehow borrow and spend our way into prosperity. And that we can do so with no thought for being eventually economically Shanghaied by the Chinese, who have been gobbling up US debt and assets like Queen Latifah at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
In the mid 1970’s one of my many odd jobs in collage was driving for a local Limo company. I had only been with the company a few months when I got an interesting gig—although, after a few go-rounds, it did take on a creepy Groundhog-Day-like feeling .
On the second Tuesday of every month for the entire two years I worked there, I would drive a 20-passenger van to the corner of Mott and Canal streets in New York’s Chinatown where I would pick up a sixty-something, only-slightly graying Chinese gentleman by the name of Lin. Together, Lin and I would drive to Kennedy International Airport where we would fill the van with a group of middle-aged, identically dressed and appointed Chinese men—each man donned in a boxy navy-blue suit, white shirt and dark-blue tie, carrying a plain, small black leather valise in one hand and a just-as-plain black leather briefcase in the other. In the briefcase, each man had a note pad, cassette recorder and an Instamatic camera.
From the airport, I would drive Lin and his group to various, well-known businesses in the tri-state area—manufacturing companies, pharmaceutical houses, shopping malls and the like—where they would spend the day taking notes and making pictures.
Lin wasn’t what you’d call a chatterbox; he was a very formal and proper man who took some time to get close to. In fact, it wasn’t till, maybe a year or so into our monthly routine that I finally felt comfortable enough with him to ask him what the deal was with our monthly excursions and all these different groups of men.
As it turned out, Lin was a kind of a tour organizer for the Chinese government, and as he explained it, the men were Chinese business scholars intent on studying the American ways of doing business—hence all the picture-taking, note-writing and dictation.
The closer I got to Lin, the deeper and more philosophical our conversations grew. I once joked with him about the “scholars” saying, “So basically, they’re ripping off all our best ideas.” It was the first time I ever remember seeing Lin laugh.
My stupid joke actually led us into a deep discussion about the differences in eastern and western thought. Lin drew the distinction between east and west with a simple definition of a commonly used term: “In America, as in most of the Western world,” Lin began. “You consider a five or ten year plan to be ‘long-range’. In China we plan for how our actions will affect those three generations from now.” It was then that Lin told me of his countryman’s goal of worldwide economic domination in the next 100 years. It would begin, Lin said, with the feeding of the world-market’s insatiable hunger for cheap goods, and end with China owning the world’s debt:
“The country that controls the world’s debit, controls the world’s economy.”
Was Lin just yanking my chain? Hell, I don’t know. Look, I’m no economist, but it looks to me like the plan Lin talked about nearly 30-years ago is solidly in place and well ahead of schedule.
Someone please tell me, what the hell happens when the National Debt exceeds the National GDP? Can we really be stupid and gullible enough to believe that we can borrow our way into prosperity? Don’t we have to pay back the money that we’re borrowing on all those bonds at some time? How? By confiscating yet another 10% of the hard-earned wages from an already overburdened, freakishly stressed out taxpayer-populous—who are still lucky enough to have jobs—like they just did in California, or maybe by borrowing more money from the Chinese?
I don’t know, maybe I’m doing that “Chicken Little” thing, or maybe my lack of Ivy League ecomomic cradentials is keeping me from understanding the obvious complexities of National Policy, or maybe it’s just the effects of the 70′s catching up to me… But this all sounds like the same kind of Ponsi scheme that landed Bernie Madoff in jail.
But then again, Madoff wasn’t a member of congress and immune to prosecution.
Compare America today with Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” and the similarities are unmistakable. We have been on the “Decline” slop for the last few decades and now we’re perched near the edge of the cliff—only inches away from the seemingly inevitable Fall.
And I’m sure it was just coincidence that the Empire State Building here in Manhattan—one of America’s symbols for free enterprise—was recently lit-up in red and yellow Chinese colors in celebration of China’s communist revolution and the 60th anniversary of the bloody communist takeover.
Me? I’m thinking about checking into Betty Ford for help in breaking my Dollar Store addiction and then heading off to the New School to study Mandarin.
But then again, who is John Galt?