“The reverse side also has a reverse side”- Zen Proverb
You have heard it said before, there are two sides to every coin. I am sure we all know people who feel very strongly, and passionately about their opinions or positions, that there is only one right answer and they have it and the rest of us don’t.
I work very hard to remain open-minded. How I accomplish this is by making my mind and my heart work faster than mouth. Sounds like an easy feat right? Wrong. Our natural tendency is to speak first and then defend what we have said rather than the other way around. When we are talking we aren’t listening. It is physically impossible to do both at the same time.
I have very strong opinions about a number of topics (our President-Elect being one of them), but I am always willing to hear the “other side of the coin” particularly if that other side is presented sanely, rationally and with as little emotion as possible. Therein lies the issue for most, removing the emotion from what we so feverishly believe.
Now some of you will take exception with me on this. You will contend that without emotion a position, or an opinion loses its passion, its weight. I on the other hand believe that too much emotion makes us blind to all the other possibilities in front of us which includes both the good and the bad, the right and the not so right.
For example, and honestly I can’t believe I am even acknowledging this but, our President-Elect is once again poking China with a very sharp stick, taking phone calls from Taiwan, and making Twitter comments about China’s policies on trade and security. My initial gut reaction is do we really want to piss this behemoth off? A country that owns $1.157 trillion dollars of the U.S. debt, 30 percent of the $3.901 trillion in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds held by foreign countries. Here is what the President-Elect knows, and what I agree with, China doesn’t play fair. They manipulate their economy which has a devastating economic effect on the rest of us. They eat up our world’s resources without any concern about the consequences. They rattle their saber and the rest of the world cower’s. Why? Stuff.
The U.S. buys $481.9 billion dollars worth of “stuff” from China while the Chinese only buy $116.2 billion dollars worth of “stuff” from the U.S., a trade deficit of $365.7 billion. Don’t think it’s a big deal, check your shoes, your clothes, you cell phone, and your computers and see where they were made. For the long-term health of our economy we need to find a better trade balance with China. Much like our oil dependency with the Middle East once was, we are too dependent on buying cheap Chinese “stuff”. And China has shown that they have no respect for copyrights, patents or any other intellectual property laws that protect the “stuff” we create.
‘Tis the season to buy “stuff” and I have burning Amazon up. Yes, I hear you out there, buy local, mom and pop, brick and mortar. Here is the thing, I hate shopping, I hate driving, and I hate Holiday traffic, so Amazon it is. I am not particularly price conscious. I try to buy products that look well made and if they happen to have a good price that is a bonus. Of the products that I purchased recently on Amazon 60% of them were made in China. Hell I bought some stationary yesterday at the office supply store and guess where it was made? Yup, China.
Everyone of us can look in the mirror and we can identify 50% of our China problem. It is you and me, it’s the eight-dollar flannel shirt at Wal-Mart, the ten-dollar blue jeans at Target and the eleven-dollar reading light I bought on Amazon. And when my reading light quits working in a month or two do I get mad? No, I remember it was only eleven-dollars and chalk it up to cheap Chinese products and…..go buy another one. We are a big part of the problem and the Chinese are just exploiting it because we let them.
So what is our reverse side also has a reverse side with China? Rather than always operating on the defensive with them we need to strike a balance and we need the help and support of other countries. China needs to understand how important the U.S. market is to their economy rather than us constantly wringing our hands concerned that the pipeline of cheap “stuff” will disappear if we piss them off. A trade war with China would be catastrophic for the U. S. economy but by the same token the $481.9 billion dollars we spend with China annually is nothing to sneeze at either. One question we need to ask ourselves, is all the cheap “stuff” worth the human rights issues, air pollution, and environmental destruction China is known for? Are sixty dollar tennis shoes really worth it?
I can not say that I necessarily agree with the President-Elects tactics. I can only hope he has deeper diplomatic resources than his Twitter account. But I do agree that we can no longer sit our hands with China and allow them as much latitude as we have granted them. They are citizens of the world along with everyone else. Their vote is no greater than ours. The question is, can we take the emotion out of our actions, and our reactions. My concern is our President-Elect can’t and all though I agree something needs to be done to correct the track we are on a sharp stick and Twitter may not have been the best place to start.
“When I was growing up, my parents told me, ‘Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.’ I tell my daughters, ‘Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job.” – Thomas Friedman