China and Trump
They’re beating him handily.
First he picked a fight with them over trade and intellectual property.
It wasn’t that there weren’t real issues to be addressed, but our president had to make a great show of it. Defeat China, force her to her knees. But they didn’t go down.
Instead of working with our European allies to enlarge the negotiating bloc since they also were affected, he dismissed them. Trump thought he knew better. He would do it alone. After all, he had decades of experience making deals in New York buying and selling hotels.
But that hasn’t translated well into dealing effectively with the world, has it?
The trade war with China raised prices for us and led to huge subsidies to our farmers whose products China chose not to buy in retaliation. Eventually a deal was reached that favored the US slightly, but it was a pyrrhic victory because a lot of resentment was stirred.
Then came the virus.
China did what it had to do. That China is an autocratic and repressive regime there is no doubt, but they fixed their problem. They were heavy handed in quarantining and tracing their people, but they fixed their problem.
As of this writing, 4600 deaths from the virus have been reported in their nation of 1.4 billion and their economy is revving up again.
Contrast with over 71000 Americans deaths in a country of 330 million, less than a quarter the size of China.
Contrast with 550 deaths in Japan, with a population of 126 million, less than half of America’s.
So what happened?
Think on it for a moment.
Yes, that’s right. We screwed up. Big time.
That’s 71000 Americans.
The difference in the death tolls is not the price of freedom. It is the price of folly.
And that price keeps rising.
Known for our abundance we got caught off guard and scrambling for ventilators, for masks, for protective equipment to assist our burdened and valiant health workers.
It is so sad, isn’t it?
It is not that we lack the productive capacity or the ingenuity or the will or the drive or enterprising push to get things done. No. It’s not that at all.
We knew the virus was coming.
On December 31st 2019 The Wuhan Health Commission alerted the Chinese National Health Commission and their CDC. That same day the World Health Organization (WHO) was also notified of the outbreak. Mind you, it took another 30 days to January the 30th, for the WHO to declare it a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ but on January the 23rd , Wuhan city, with 11 million people, was shut down. If that wasn’t a momentous event, then what is? When was the last time a city that size was shut down? To anyone paying attention it should’ve sent a big warning sign. Danger ahead! Watch out!
But we missed it.
Washington DC, America’s seat of power, was distracted.
Our great leader was tweeting on one or another inconsequential matter.
I can only imagine what was going through the president’s mind. When is my next rally? When will I, again, be showered with great praise?
His impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of congress had begun on December 18th 2019 and would not end until February 5th 2020. But all along the outcome was assured. With Republican Senators firmly under his control, Trump would be acquitted. Still he didn’t pay attention.
And the virus gathered force.
The president’s defense? Denial. Grand Denial.
It was like the flu, nothing more, it would go away quickly, he said. We, Americans, would be just fine.
71 thousand Americans have died since. The damage to the economy enormous.
Coronavirus was beyond his grasp like it is beyond him to apologize for not seeing it.
And the virus keeps pummeling us.
We’re all hoping for medical researchers to save us. Those gifted men and women from all over the world, who toil tirelessly to come up with a weapon that will stop the virus on its tracks.
But the White House cannot lead.
Just the other day, a global effort was put together to raise funds for vaccine research. We didn’t pitch in. Mind, you, there’s already much work being done here, but an American contribution to the grand effort would have been symbolic of the desire to join in and be part of a world team. We couldn’t do it.
Our Secretary of State, however, has been very busy trying to get other world leaders to agree to labelling coronavirus the Wuhan virus. But world leaders have not been persuaded.
Not wanting to stop blaming China, the president has spoken of imposing new tariffs in retaliation. They should’ve warned us, the White House says. China should’ve done more to prevent the catastrophe.
Well, they did. China made their own mistakes silencing doctors that told of the incipient outbreak, but eventually they turned around and got to work.
But we could have.
We had plenty of time to take action and prevent the viral spread.
But all is not lost, is it? No. We can still put more blame on China, still time to make up a story that the Chinese actually manufactured the virus so they could inflict us great pain.
And for the gullible that might just do.
For the rest of us, however, let the virus be a warning of what we must do to remain a strong nation.
One key ingredient is to be willing to face the facts as they are and not deny them, to be able to see the truth and act decisively.
And no, China is not in descent as a nation. Let us not delude ourselves. Their economy has temporarily contracted but they remain a powerful engine of growth, a huge market to the world and a mighty rival.
And yes, the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in that land, entrepreneurs contributing significantly to their GDP and representing a huge source of employment for their countrymen.
Eventually, that spirit will prevail in China and their system of government will change.
Meanwhile, we’d better give up the idea that the future is ours. It is not. We have to make it our own, and to do so we must be willing to face the facts at home and abroad and act accordingly.
With a population less than a quarter of China’s size, America’s openness to immigrants and our commitment to freedom of speech, we have a great advantage. But let’s watch out. A short sighted, tribal leader, can squander it all. In less than one term in office.
Sorry for the interlude.
I have been busy finishing my new book. I will be publishing very soon.
Glad to be back.