Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Elephant and the Dragon

I am taking a discussion class based on the book The Elephant and the Dragon by Robyn Meridith, a writer on economics. The subject is the economic rise of India and China, with China predominant. Economists make me profoundly uneasy. They see the world in terms of money, and I realize that money is powerful. But economic discussions are always abstract and these discussions talk only about manufacturing and trade balances. Economists concentrate on that portion of the population who work for big corporations whatever country they're talking about. But the truth is only a small percentage of the people in any country actually work for big corporations. Furthermore everything else is generalized. Saying that 4% of Americans control over 40% of America's wealth means nothing. The same is true in China or India. I have a deep distrust of thinkers who don't factor 96% of the people into an equation. The statements that people make in the class are essentially meaningless to me.

As a product of a "fly over" state [Indiana] where no one I knew worked for a large corporation, or had a bank account in excess of $10,000 [if ever that!] or an education much above high school, I think of the vastness of China [and India] and all the "fly over" land there and the millions of people who are not taken into the abstract patterns of economists except when they mention that rural people are moving to the cities at greater rates than ever because they hope to find jobs in those factories. But that is so simplistic, so inhuman and finally so meaningless. I am frustrated as I read the book -- which was published in 2007 and so is already five years out of date -- and I'm even more frustrated in the class as a room full of well meaning, curious, intelligent senior citizens tries to understand something about the world they hear about on TV and read about in newspapers. It seems to me they haven't the tools to understand another country if they have only economic abstractions. I'll revisit this subject in a couple of weeks when I have an opportunity to speak to the class about what I know and feel about China having been there more often than anyone else in the class [4 times although two of those times, to me, were not to China but to Tibet -- no matter what my passport says.]

1 comment:


June -- that is a problem when we look only through the eyes of economists. So many factors are not included in such fine tuned economic rhetoric. Your post is churning with how to look at the real truth of things. Great post.