The term, “autistic economists” applies to those who still believe it was a good idea for our federal government to allow corporations to abandon American communities and locate manufacturing facilities in low-wage countries — and then sell goods duty-free in the U.S.
Gordon G. Chang is a classic example. In a recent Forbes magazine editorial, “The People, Not the Government, Authored China’s Revival,” Chang charged, “Especially since the middle of the last decade they [in the Chinese government] have blocked acquisitions of local businesses by foreigners, increased state control of enterprises, employed predatory tactics against multinationals and diverted credit away from private enterprises.”
He then claimed “Contrary to popular belief, the Chinese people, not their government, created China’s miracle. It’s no wonder that, with the Communist Party grabbing more control now, the economy is faltering.” Chang’s analysis is so much in error it’s hard to decide where to begin.
It wasn’t the Chinese people or its government who created China’s miracle. Republicans and Wall Street Democrats created China’s miracle by allowing American corporations to give it our advanced technologies and financing to manufacture products to sell duty free in the U.S. The exodus of U.S. industry began in earnest when this political coalition passed NAFTA and accelerated the trend for free trade deals worldwide.
(Note: Sens. Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms were GOP exceptions who voted against NAFTA because they knew it would kill the textile industry. Although most Democrats opposed NAFTA, President Clinton was convinced by his Wall Street advisers that it would make corporations more profitable, and he could reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the top 1.2 percent. It worked. But on the backs of American workers).
Our corporations not only gave “the Chinese people” the technologies and financing to build their industries, they trained their engineers and scientists to develop advanced technologies. This cut higher-paid U.S. workers, engineers and scientists out of the process, and resulted in huge profits for the corporate executives and their investors.
Of course, China’s government also had an indispensable role in its miracle. It assured U.S. corporations that they could count on a low-paid nonunion workforce with no workplace protections, and fewer environmental regulations.
And now?! Mr. Chang expresses dismay that China’s leaders are beginning to restrict opportunities for foreign investors to utilize their cheap labor. He’s surprised China has decided they don’t need U.S. investors so much anymore — the ones who gave them their miracle.
Charles M. Kelly is a retired consultant living in Burnsville. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org