Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why the Chinese, and the Americans, do not feel they are winning - Janet Carmosky

Janet Carmosky
Unstoppable economic growth, more wealth and growing political leverage has not made the Chinese citizens really happier and they find themselves in a dead-end, like the Americans. Self-declared sino-centric Janet Carmosky explains why we need more than only a GDP number  in the Scenario Magazine.

Janet Carmosky:
Distortions in China’s current job economy leave literally tens of millions of unemployed migrant workers and recent university graduates turning down work because the compensation offered is not a real living wage; The Center for Work-Life Balance reported that average white collar work weeks in China run over 80 hours; and the experienced elite job-hop relentlessly, driving managerial compensation and job turnover into the stratosphere. 
The sense of possibility in America – land of possibility – has also collapsed, thanks to the dearth of restraint in the past 30 years. Too much consumption, too many wars, too much credit extended. By technical terms, the US economy is in recovery. In real life terms, the descent into desperation may be just beginning. Unemployment remains close to 9%. A number of the states are broke. Political backlash is frightening. One state, the generally affluent and well-educated Michigan, has granted the governor the rights to dissolve government, to raid and privatize any part of the state by executive decree. In more than a dozen states, the rightist Tea Party is waging war with public and private sector unions. The obesity and morbidity of the population are shockingly high. Home foreclosures will remain high for at least another few years. All this while CEO pay is climbing again; Wall Street – arguably responsible for a large part of the global financial crash – is paying bonuses again. And, I’d bet whatever is left of my retirement funds that the Gini coefficient, hovering around 4.0 a few years ago, by now must be pretty close to 4.5. 
How did a single party, top-down socialist, atheist, Asian system and a bottom-up Western democracy based on ideals of humanist – let’s be blunt, Christian – ethics arrive at the same dead-end, at the same time? 
One potential answer: in the absence of a meaningful, measurable goal by which to steer, even the world’s oldest, most resilient and practical civilization; and the youngest, most ingeniously structured and idealistic nation; both nations of high educational achievement, female literacy, life expectancy, nations we expect more of…they have reverted to Newton’s First Law of Physics. 
China is the juggernaut – it develops real estate where none is needed to make everything look like it is growing. China focuses on continual marketing of itself as a destination for foreign investment, as if what it needs is more money. Things in motion tend to stay in motion. If GDP is our index for reporting success, and it’s possible to game the system by spending on infrastructure, then Beijing simply builds faster, bigger, more. 
The USA is in paralysis, flailing. Things at rest tend to stay at rest. State and National legislatures are engaged in warfare. The country is deeply divided, obsessed with job creation in an environment where corporations and the wealthiest citizens have come to expect that they will pay spectacularly little, if any, tax; and where banks no longer extend credit to any business that actually needs it. Clearly the USA has resources to tap, which will ultimately enable a breakthrough and a return to value creation. If we can only agree on how to get un-stuck; on a direction.
More in the Scenario Magazine.

Janet Carmosky is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch. Or do fill in our speakers'request form. 
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