Obama and his zero-sum world
The Economist has an article up today in response to Barack Obama’s snoozer of a State of the Union. (Let’s face it, they have all been snoozers, going back to Roosevelt.) It is called “The Zero-Sum President,” and it is worth a read. Take a gander at some excerpts:
The president was not so unreasonable as to suggest that the American economy could recapture all of its lost manufacturing jobs. Nor was he wrong to point out that countries like China have used direct subsidies, financial shenanigans and currency manipulation to give their exporters a leg up. Yet at no point did he attempt to justify the unstated assumption that what America ought really to do is develop an economy like China’s—a place, recall, scarcely one-sixth as rich as America, riddled with potentially debilitating economic imbalances, and governed by an unaccountable monopoly of a communist party.* Perhaps more distressing, he implied in several places that the reason to become more like China was that only by doing so could America defeat China, and others, at economics.
*Emphasis mine. I also like the emphasis on people as people, and not as nationalistic pawns. Nationalism is a dangerous heuristic, as a cursory glance at the twentieth century would tell you. Capitalism and freedom require peace. A free people cannot constantly be at war, with guns or otherwise.
People who live outside of America are people just like Americans, and we should all rejoice in their rising prosperity, the more so when it occurs through additions to the stock of human knowledge that will benefit people everywhere. If an American president can’t communicate that simple idea to his citizenry, out of fear that he’ll be drummed out of office on a wave of nationalistic outrage, then he doesn’t deserve to be president and his country doesn’t deserve to win a damned thing, least of all the right to call itself “exceptional”, a beacon of hope and freedom. A zero-sum world is a world without hope, and if Mr Obama is convinced that’s what we’re in then I don’t see much need for him to stick around.
I don’t see much need either.