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Let’s journey back … I mean way, way, back to Freshman Biology, or was it Psychology, 101 when we learned that if you throw the frog in a pot of boiling water, it survives as it knows to GET OUT! However, if you put the frog in tepid water and turn the heat up, it dies. You see, the moral is that before it realizes what is happening IT’S TOO LATE! Sometimes people immediately get the appropriate takeaway. To wit, when I asked my student what the takeaway was from the parable, she responded, “Don’t be the dumb frog.”
Today, there is no unanimous consent on anything. There is always the opposing viewpoint, the self-appointed devil’s advocate, those hurt or offended by everything and anything. Even the benign statement that we should all love our mothers, would be debated by some.
With that as the foundation, let me become the easy target and take the bullet. China cheats! China does not play fair! China, as many have easily forgotten or tend to ignore, is a communist bloc country. First, let me acknowledge that the Chinese people are wonderful hardworking people. Many of their brightest end up in academic Engineering classrooms throughout America, including mine. They are impressive yet oppressed in their homeland. It is here that I draw a separation between the people and its government and government policies. However, while I contend that tariffs and protectionist policies contributed to the exacerbation of the Great Depression, subsidized industries are neither free trade nor fair trade. China, rest assured, has a master plan. I remember in my early readings coming across a simple book of profound quotes. Perhaps the profoundness comes from the very simplicity of the quotes themselves. First, they burn the books, then they burn you…. People are reluctant in today’s PC world, flush with progressive agendas, to challenge what “just isn’t right” or that which “doesn’t pass the smell test.” Ever notice that so much today seems at odds with your own intuition? To hip check China gets one labeled as xenophobic. Too bad … let me proceed with my thesis. There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Cheat or be cheated.” Thus they are playing offense and simply getting ahead of the game. Even Napoleon warned, “Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.”
A country, even America, must build lest it fall. We need an industrial base. As shared in previous articles, we must build things and must be able to build the machines that build things. For example, fundamental to anything mechanical is a not so simple ball bearing. Think for just a moment, what doesn’t run without a bearing. Your transportation, aerospace, defense, appliances, manufacturing, and on and on. I could categorically say EVERYTHING, for if you can’t find the ball bearing in a product, rest assured it was in the machine that made the product.
Want to guess how many ball bearings are produced in the USA? Want to guess where they are produced? What if … just what if … they elected not to ship. Do we have the machining infrastructure to ramp up domestically? Do we even have the skill set to do so? Finding a lawyer, easy-peasy. Finding a tool and die maker, not so much. While the U.S. still has premier bearing manufacturing, the trends are disconcerting and serve to punctuate our declining presence.
To further illustrate our vulnerability, just think that our very lives and everything in our lives let me clarify, I mean EVERYTHING is run electronically. Twenty-five years ago, we produced 67 percent of all microchips, today we produce less than 12 percent and currently, there is a severe shortage. Once upon a time, there were 25 major manufacturers of the most complicated microchips. Today, there exist three with only one in the USA (Intel). The manufacturing of microchips has been surrendered to Asia and, while not exclusively, for the most part, China or China ruled/influenced countries. What if … just what if … they elected not to ship.
Finally, as in, oh by the way, to even be alive and stay alive one must be healthy. Fundamental to our everyday life is antibiotics. Did anyone notice at the onset of COVID that 85 percent of our pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, are produced in China? Yes, while those stats have become political fodder and are debated, the fact is if not the pharmaceutical itself then the API’s (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients). Bottom line is, we’re vulnerable. What if … just what if … they elected not to ship
Where executives in America are measured in quarters, with a public report card every 90 days, the focus is, of course, short term. When politicians must stand for re-election every 48 months, the re-election initiative begins the very day one is elected. Thus again, the focus is understandably short-term. Where we think in time parameters measured in months and quarters, China thinks in decades and centuries and millennials. Hmm … could an agenda be at play? Yet none dare call it a conspiracy, for to do so labels you xenophobic.
Where is our power? Our individualism? Our ability to preserve all that is good about us. In just 245 years, with only 3 percent of the world’s population, we generate 25 percent of the world’s output and are first to assist other nations in need. We are mitigating our ability to be us! We would be wise to consider the Bulgarian proverb: “An axe without a shaft is no threat to the forest.”
“There comes a point where the more you depend on other people, the less you learn and the less you know.” — Author unknown