Uh oh. Another reverse indicator for China.
This article reminds us of past recommendations for the U.S. to study Japanese culture in order to succeed, right before the Japan bubble came crashing down.
Surely China has many admirable qualities, and the U.S. clearly needs improvement right now, but when the media starts feeding us generic Chinese cultural recommendations such as ‘Look over the horizon’, alarm bells should start ringing.
America’s China insecurity complex could be getting out of control.
You be the judge.
'...the literacy rate in China is now over 90%. (The U.S.'s is 86%)... Chinese students, according to a 2006 report by the Asia Society, spend twice as many hours doing homework as do their U.S. peers.'
'It isn't just about cheap labour; it's about smart labour. 'Whether it's line workers or engineers, we're finding the candlepower of our employees here as good as or better than anywhere in the world' says Nick Reilly, a top executive at General Motors in Shanghai.'
Here we'd have to agree that the U.S. has had far too easy a ride over the last few decades. Americans need to become more educated if they want to compete.
The world is becoming rapidly more educated and catching up very fast.
Only 27.4% of Americans 25 years and older have attained a bachelor's degree or higher according to 2006 - 2008 U.S. Census data. One imagines that leading nations of the future will have much higher levels.
In America, the social cost of being ignorant is far too low. In fact, sometimes ignorance is championed as a sign of 'the common man'. Culturally, this is a problem.
'It's hard to imagine two societies that deal with their elderly as differently as the U.S. and China.'
'To a degree, of course, three generations living under one roof has long happened in the U.S., but in the 20th century, America became a particularly mobile and rootless society. It is hard to care for one's parents when they live three time zones away.
As TIME even makes clear, the fact that American family members can now split up and live independently is a sign of wealth and economic success. If Americans were poorer, more would live together.
It may make sense for some families to live together again, it helps bring living costs down during tough times. Also some families obviously make the choice to live together for social reasons and perhaps some Americans are realising the value of a close family.
Yet let's not forget that there are powerful benefits to being a free-roaming American family member as well. Independent people have more free time and flexibility to go anywhere, live with different people, and take advantage of any opportunity.
Social obligations are sometimes just as restrictive to one's freedom and opportunity as financial or government obligations can be.
'In China, the household savings rate exceeds 20%... wage earners are expected to care for not only their children, but also their ageing parents....
The U.S. government needs to get in the act as well. By running perennial deficits, it is dis-saving, even as households save more.'
This is an apples to oranges comparison given that the U.S. is a developed nation while China remains a developing one.
The U.S. could use more savings, and budget surpluses would be better than deficits, but China will most likely be running deficits in a few decades once it is a fully-developed nation with a developed nation's wages, life style, and an ageing population in need of healthcare. Actually, in the future, Chinese demographics will be far worse than the U.S. in this regard.
So yes the U.S. should save more, but the comparison with China will only be fair 30 years forward. Also, the commonly held notion of the spend-crazy American consumer isn't supported by the data.
'The energy that so many outsiders feel when they are in China... comes not just from the frenetic activity that is visible everywhere. It comes also from a sense that it's harnessed to something bigger.'
''China is striving to become what it has not yet become. It is upwardly mobile, consciously, avowedly, and -- as its track record continues to strengthen -- proudly so.'
This is another apples to oranges comparison given the different stages of development between the two countries.
While there are some huge looming unaddressed problems in the U.S., China has its own and most other nations do as well.
TIME's comparison is the equivalent of comparing the youthful enthusiasm of a 25-year old professional with the more reserved outward enthusiasm of a 45-year old executive. There is certainly a frenzied energy in China right now, and it is indeed very exciting, but that's because it's in its period of rapid economic growth, just like all developed nations have experienced at one time.
American individuals and private enterprises continue to dream big, and it's during hard times like these that the best ideas will shine even if it isn't easy.
So dial down the China insecurity, it's a great culture, but all's not lost with the U.S. system either. Even if Americans should be calling their parents a bit more often.
We greatly appreciate TIME for their opinions, see more here.
Also, if somehow we're wrong, then here's 12 Places To Go If The World Goes To Hell.