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Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on Why India and China Can't Eat America's Economic Lunch

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In her latest column at The Daily, Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia lists five reasons why the American dream is not dead. She writes:

Americans, hit first by outsourcing and then a recession, are becoming deeply pessimistic about their country's ability to maintain its economic leadership. America's Aristophanes, Jon Stewart, commented during a recent interview with the author of India Calling, Anand Giridhardas: "The American dream is still alive — it's just alive in India." Likewise, 20 percent of Americans in a December National Journal poll believed the U.S. economy was no longer the strongest. Nearly half picked China instead.

But neither India nor China will knock America off its economic perch anytime soon, at least not by the only measure that matters: Offering the best life to the most people.

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  1. It depends on what you mean by “anytime soon”. China will be tops in 10-20 years unless Americans stop bickering over everything and agree to work together on the next generation of big ideas like green energy and high speed rail as well as devoting more resources to STEM education.

    1. yes. centrally planned economies have been poised to surpass the US for 60 years. It should happen any time now.

      1. Just about the time the dark night of fascism finally lands here, instead of somewhere overseas, I reckon.

    2. Ahh, looking at the world through statist collectivist eyes. China will overtake the US because China has 5 times the population of the US. The quality of life of the average Chinese person, though, will probably never surpass us, unless they change their system.

    3. China will be tops in 10-20 years unless Americans stop bickering over everything who to pilfer and agree to work together waste money on the next generation of big ideas snake oil like green energy and high speed rail choo-choos as well as devoting more resources to STEM [sic] education.

      I believe you meant ” to foment” education, not “stem” it.

      1. Maybe The Truther wants to build high-speed rail to China to ship the unreliable windmills produced in toxic Chinese factories.

        1. The windmills will be used to power those very same trains, which will be used to ship more windmills, and so on ad infinitum. Perpetual motion and everlasting greenness.

    4. I’m glad to see the self-esteem-building efforts of our public-school system are finally paying off. Keep up your insightful work. Love the use of your quotation marks.

      1. Stop your paranoia about the “yellow peril”. Others might misinterpret your intentions.

    5. Thanks. The Friday Funnies might suck, but we’ll always have you around to provide the laughs.

    6. A serious question, Mr. Truth: If we did all the things you suggest, wouldn’t we simply be mimicking China? And wouldn’t China come out ahead anyway, simply by virtue of having four times the population?

    7. I am impressed that you were poised to be the first comment on this thread. Bravo.

      Of course, you’re totally insane and wrong about China, but credit where credit is due.

    8. “China will be tops in 10-20 years”

      Bull…………….
      shit.

    9. Replace “China” with “Japan” and this could be a response to a story in 1980 or 1985.

      Today, no one is worried about Japan.

      1. From today’s WSJ:

        China’s government-wealth investors last year more than doubled their investments in major Japanese blue-chip companies, with combined stakes totaling more than 1.6 trillion yen ($19.4 billion), according to investment-advisory firms and people familiar with the matter.

        I hope Mr. Truth will weigh in so we know what to think about this development.

  2. …unless Americans stop bickering over everything and agree to work together on the next generation of big ideas like green energy and high speed rail as well as devoting more resources to STEM education.

    1. Americans would already have green energy if the environmentalists from the 70s hadn’t aborted the trend toward nuclear power.

    2. You take the train. I’ll take my self-driving google car. No doubt, I’ll be paying for both.

    1. Oh, yeah…

      3. Why not just mooch off Chinese medical innovation? That’s what the rest of the world does to us.

  3. Pardon me, boy
    Is that the High Speed choo choo?
    Track twenty-nine
    Boy, you can gimme a shine

    I can afford
    To board a High Speed choo choo,
    I’ve got my fare
    And just a trifle to spare

    You leave the Pennsylvania Station ’bout a quarter to four
    Read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore

    Dinner in the diner
    Nothing could be finer
    Than to have your ham an’ eggs in Carolina

    When you hear the whistle blowin’ eight to the bar
    Then you know that Tennessee is not very far

    Shovel all the green energy in
    Gotta keep it rollin’
    Woo, woo, Bankruptcy there you are

    There’s gonna be
    A certain party at the station
    Satin and lace
    I used to call “funny face”
    She’s gonna cry
    Until I tell her that I’ll never roam

    So High Speed choo choo
    Won’t you hi-speed me home?
    High Speed choo choo
    Won’t you hi-speed me home?

    1. The Chattanooga choo-choo did not go through Carolina on its way to Tennessee. Went through Virginia to Bristol TN. Who knows where the hi-speed trains will go, except you know it will never go through the backyard of any pol who votes for it.

    2. Boy, you can gimme a shine

      Ahem….RACIST!!!!!!

  4. I’m reminded of this blurb from Wikipedia (yes, I know) but it states in regards to the Spanish Emprie. “The wealthy preferred to invest their fortunes in public debt (juros), which were backed by these silver imports, rather than in production of manufactures and the improvement of agriculture.” I believe that being the reserve currency of the world helps to hollow out production in the country that issues it whether it’s gold in the Spanish Empire or electroic fiat money in the American one. Why produce anything if you can just create money? Not that there aren’t advantages as well but long term I think it is a net negative.

    1. Or produce oil apparently.

  5. If China or India surpass it, how will that affect peoples individual lives ?

    There are happy people out there that live in small countries, the fact that their country is not a super power or massive does not imply they are are poor and starving. Unless what makes you get up in the morning is your countries ability to bully little ones, who cares where ones country stands, focus on where you as an individual can stand.

    1. The typical Japanese lives in a place that is cramped, damp, crappy and cold. Much too austere by American standards. I once read a comparative study of the mean standard of living for middle class families in the Phillipines compared to the Japanese. Though the Japanese had some desirable advantages, the Filipinos (middle class to middle class) overall were living far more comfortable lives.

      1. Re: sr7,

        Though the Japanese had some desirable advantages, the Filipinos (middle class to middle class) overall were living far more comfortable lives.

        An exchange student from Switzerland invited by my mother, I believe 1992 or so, was amazed that our house had 2 bathrooms, even though we were living in a POS dwelling. He told us that the Swiss considered France more like a 3rd World country by the way those guys were living.

    2. A lot of red-meat Americans ARE more concerned with our ability to bully others (USA! USA! USA!) than anything else. This seems to be a particular affliction for Team Red, which Team Blue then copies to not appear “weak”.

  6. America’s Aristophanes? I object.

  7. You know why high-speed rail will never work here: The government subsidized the build out of power to rural areas, then built roads to those areas, dispersing the population. A dispersed population is hard to serve through mass transit, what with its emphasis on “mass.”

    The funniest part is that liberals and other statists really, really want mass transit, but they fail to see that private roads would probably be the fastest path to it.

    Private roads would mean less roads and an emphasis on dense populations. That some wouldn’t, or couldn’t, afford private transit on those roads would push them towards mass transit. Private roads equal denser populations, less roads, less cars, and more mass transit.

    But yeah, we libertarians are crazy for pushing for such a thing.

    1. Re: Bryan,

      The funniest part is that liberals and other statists really, really want mass transit, but they fail to see that private roads would probably be the fastest path to it.

      They don’t want anything like that, they’re not into toys – if they say they are, they’re lying.

      Liberals are about Central Planning. If they can achieve this by imposing high-speed choo-choos, so be it. If they can achieve this by planting a string of ugly windmills on top of hills, so be it. Lenin though the path to socialism was electrification; Mao thought it was industrialization and collectivization. Pol Pot thought it was mass re-education. Doesn’t matter the toy, what matters is achieving Da Plan.

  8. Please, Shikha, go back to India and have lunch there.

  9. Can we replace the phrase “eating our lunch” in all news stories with “tossing our salad”? I think it has a better ring to it.

    “China and India are poised to toss America’s economic salad.”

    1. Or “tossing America’s cookies.”

  10. But neither India nor China will knock America off its economic perch anytime soon, at least not by the only measure that matters: Offering the best life to the most people.

    Do you measure that surveying the distribution of double quilted, ultra soft, 3 ply toilet tissue? Or how many copies of “The Spirit Level” are being loaned out by the public library?

    It is a BS measure.

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