America in a time-warp?

America in a time-warp? All societies are in one time warp or other: they traverse different historical trajectories, high end & low end, and everything in between. They’re at different stages of human & material development. America has for long had the good fortune to be at the higher end, with unprecedented material progress; but it’s now in a sort of decline owing to its own profligacy, born of that fortune. Yet it still remains a magnet for many other less fortunate societies. Why? For several reasons: quality higher education, greater economic & political freedom–that alone makes it the stuff of people’s dreams. But they achieved & sustained such a high standard of living also by external factors: cheap oil whose sources they secured by offering military security abroad, cheap labor in poor countries, propping up and doing business with authoritarian regimes, etc. In doing so America reached the very zenith of prosperity, unknown or unrealizable to most of mankind. But perhaps its time is up. China is muscling in, taking advantage of arbitrage & the weakness of Americans for a lifestyle to which most of its citizens have become accustomed. China’s/India’s currency is export-favorable & its people tend to save their money. There’s the rub: they can live much more modestly than Americans, who want cheap goods but extravagant lifestyles. That icon of ruthless, hard-nosed business, Donald Trump says China’s playing unfair by dominating U.S. markets through their cheap currency. What does he suggest? Slap on a tariff of say 25% on all goods entering the U.S. What would that do?–make goods more expensive, thus further raising wages & making jobs scarce. The fact is, Americans must learn some austerity in the way they live, cutting down on all sorts of consumption to conserve non-renewable resources; how else can they compete with those societies who’ve made sacrifices for centuries? Indians & the Chinese must also realize that the arbitrage they enjoy due to outsourcing may not last in the long-term. They need to build the strong institutions that attracted them to the U.S. in the first place. So you see, it all comes full circle. Different historical trajectories are now beginning to converge–we don’t really have a fair & humane globalized society yet; there are too many unresolved tensions, and a host of challenges concerning the kind of future men dream of.


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