The thing American politicians like about a free market is that it allows them to be lazy. The 2013 Congress was even dubbed “the do nothing Congress” by the media. Republicans and Democrats alike can blame economic problems on the market being “cyclical,” going through “ups and downs,” or “evening out.” There has also been a lot of finger-pointing on both sides of the aisle. This is all simply nonsense: the real problem we face is a lack of leadership–a lack of planning.
Take China for instance. It has the largest population of any country on the planet and has risen from Third World status to become an industrial nation in the span of a decade. We do not want to model ourselves after a country that lacks basic human rights, but it is at least clear the Chinese government is serious about jobs and building up its middle class.
Dominic Barton, the global managing director of consulting firm McKinsey & Company, has lived in Asia for nearly the past decade. He recognizes Beijing’s slavish obsession with economic indicators like GDP as part of the Chinese government’s concern for job creation.
“The leadership in China is always worried about how to stay ahead of the growth to create enough jobs,” Barton told Reuters just last year. “They know that if they don’t and there are disruptions and the people don’t have jobs, there will be revolution.”
That is something leaders in Washington need to realize, too.
In 2012, China had a trade surplus of $213 billion. With import tariffs ranging from 25 to 300 percent, China has the money to not only employ citizens but also to create high-speed rail projects that the United States can only dream of doing. In fact, the nation is earning so much, it can afford to help keep the American government running. As of September 2013, the United States owed $1.29 trillion to China.