According to this article from The Economist Americans are apparently unhappy with the state of their country in general. According to the article 80% of Americans think the country is going the wrong way.
The article lists several reasons that the national mood is low – the war on terror and the economy are the major categories. The rising China also seems to be freaking the Americans out pretty badly – let’s see how they react when China wins more medals in the Olympics.
America has gotten into sullen moods before and recovered. But:
“Still, countries, like people, behave dangerously when their mood turns dark. If America fails to distinguish between what it needs to change and what it needs to accept, it risks hurting not just allies and trading partners, but also itself.”
There are things that do need to be changed. For instance: education, health, the war on terror and Guantánamo Bay. However, it is an attitude adjustment that is required when it comes to the rise of Asia and China.
There are two reasons not to worry about the rise of China:
- “Even at its present growth rate, China’s GDP will take a quarter of a century to catch up with America’s; and the internal tensions that China’s rapidly changing economy has caused may well lead it to stumble before then”
- “Even if Asia’s rise continues unabated, it is wrong-and profoundly un-American-to regard this as a problem. Economic growth, like trade, is not a zero-sum game. The faster China and India grow, the more American goods they buy”
I like the last paragraph:
“Everybody goes through bad times. Some learn from the problems they have caused themselves, and come back stronger. Some blame others, lash out and damage themselves further. America has had the wisdom to take the first course many times before. Let’s hope it does so again.”
China is an amazing place – massive, beautiful, and so different to what we Westerners are used to. It is a wonderfully beautiful country and I have blogged about it before.
National Geographic has this short photo essay of aerial photographs of China – “China From Above“. Below are some of the better images.
This one shows limestone pinnacles along the Li River
Blooming fields of rapeseed weaving through the hills. I like the way these steep hills look as if they regularly pop out of a flat landscape.
This one is interesting. They have planted rows of vegetation alongside the roads to keep the desert sands back. The buildings dotting the roadside every few miles house the workers who maintain the greenbelt.
These days security is always an important aspect of major events and the Olympics are no exception. But for the authoritarian Chinese government, security at the 2008 Beijing Olympics must be taken to a whole new level.
This is because the harsh Chinese government tries, with unfortunate success, to control the thoughts and opinions of their public. Like Orwell’s thought police the Chinese government control media and even the internet in attempts to control their public. There is no such thing, indeed nothing like, freedom of speech in China. It is a restrictive and often inhumane regime.
So how are they going to handle a massive influx of people, athletes and especially press that are used to being free to air their opinions? Nobody is really sure, but the Chinese are already having significant problems. The Olympic torch is being constantly disrupted by those who want to speak up against China’s dodgy policies – especially in Tibet.
Recently Bjork shocked officials by called out “Tibet, Tibet” during a performance in Shanghai. Their reaction? All foreign performers are now checked out first, playlists are carefully vetted and all impromptu features like encores are banned. Even child performers are scrutinized.
If that seems crazy consider the fact that dress code for spectators at the Olympics will also be vigorously enforced. Officials worry that innocently dressed spectators could raise a shirt to display slogans offensive to the regime. Security will probably be checking everything people wear. The response from protesters has been to say that fans should wear orange to show support for Tibet. Imagine the anguish of Dutch fans if the Chinese were to ban orange clothing at all Olympic events.
This may seem ridiculous to us, but imagine living there…