Wednesday, April 19

My look into the Future

Seeing China's President Hu Jintao sizing up visiting the U.S. makes me wonder about the future as China gains economic clout. To me, it looks like the 2040's are going to be a really crappy decade.

First, social security is scheduled to exhaust its ‘trust’ fund at the end of the 40’s. That’s a happy thought because in 2050, I’ll be 64 so I’ll have paid social security my entire working life for nothing. Congress, give us private accounts please! Not even that, don’t take anything and I’ll save for myself, and if I forget to, I won’t complain about it (I’ll make my future kids pay for me). Unfortunately for the U.S. we’ve aborted one fourth of our kids, +40 million since the early 1970’s. But that’s a different rant.

On the international front, China’s economy is projected to surpass ours in the early 40’s.

Among other things from this article:

-Since 1978, China has averaged 9.4% annual GDP growth

-China has $750 billion in foreign exchange reserves and is the second-biggest oil importer

-China has about $1 trillion in personal savings and a savings rate of close to 50%; U.S. has about $158 billion in personal savings and a savings rate of about 2% (The Wall Street Journal, Nov 19, 2005)

-Last year it turned out 442,000 new engineers a year; with 48,000 graduates with master's degrees and 8,000 PhDs annually; compared to only 60,000 new engineers a year in the US.

The last one is a little scary. Perhaps it's just because I'm an engineering student.

The article I cited above, is by a retired brigadier general who worked in intelligence in the Philippines. He describes a worst-case scenario of a war between us and China, where even without a powerful force, China wipes out our aircraft carriers, the projection of our power.

I'm not a hawk; a war with China would be magnitutes worse than WWII for the world, but that's the potential next big war I see happening. A look at history--War of 1812 (cheating Europe's taxes on shipping), Spanish-American (started over U.S. sugar plantations in Cuba), Hawaii, Japan (at beginning of WWII)--shows that wherever the economy goes, soon the military follows and our economies will be bumping up against each other from opposite sides of the ocean. Hopefully, India should emerge as a counterweight conviently on an ocean we don't touch.

As China grows in the future, we will fade like Britain after WWII when its empire broke apart. Although, it will be interesting to watch China in this new century. They have decided to liberalize their economy with the politics to follow, whereas Russia has done the opposite, liberalizing their politics, with their economy coming later. I can only hope that as the average person in China gains some wealth, education, and property he’ll demand his rights and a decent government, causing reforms and China to finally dump their communism. “Democracies don’t go to war against each other” as the President said.

Letters in Bottles is also watching China

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