“Now they work for us” (Retrieved)

October 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm (By Randy)

Reposting with apologies to Icepick. Original comments appear below the fold.

Original comments:

Amba wrote:


Peter Hoh wrote:

Yeah, tax and spend is bad economic policy. Of course, borrow and spend is worse.

And the video totally glossed over the part about over-extending the military.

Icepick wrote:

Last time I checked the Chinese only had about $800 billion of our debt. That leaves almost $12.5 trillion that they don’t own. My info is a few months old but I doubt their accounts have changed that much in the meantime. The Japanese owned about the same amount at that time, and they stopped being scary decades ago.

The Federal Reserve is carrying about the same amount on its balance sheet as the Chinese are, plus another $1 trillion in MBSs. QE2 may well mean that the Fed will add up to another trillion (or three, or five, or 0.5 – no one really knows) of US treasuries. Now they’re REALLY scary.


  1. Maxwell James said,

    Great, more electoral-season Sinophobia.

  2. Randy said,

    Maxwell, it seems to me that the primary argument of the ad above was really debt and spending, there is no doubt about this Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ad running in Pennsylvania. It is blatant Sinophobia.

  3. Maxwell James said,

    Yeah, I saw that one too, no argument there.

    But I disagree that this ad is not xenophobic – it obviously is. That it is making an argument you are sympathetic with does not change the basic fact that it’s trading on images of Chinese hegemony over the US, and a notion that our loss is their gain. It is using the same tools as the noxious PA ad, only in a somewhat more intellectual manner.

  4. Randy said,

    OK – Fair point: variations on the age-old yellow peril theme. I don’t see a specific candidate endorsed, opposed or mentioned in the first ad. Not sure if it is even running anywhere except on YouTube. Maybe it is. I am reminded, however, that California Democrats have been raging about outsourcing of jobs to China and India for over a decade now, using similar tactics in legislative and congressional elections. They used the state assembly to commission a study to prove the point, and when it reported the opposite, that more jobs were created than lost, they tried to prevent its publication. Their reactionary advertising belies the claim to being the progressive party.

  5. Maxwell James said,

    There is no progressive party in the US. Both parties are an amalgamation of interest groups, nothing more. And their composition shifts like the tides, if a bit more slowly.

    Stepping back from the immediate controversy for a second: I think this is a good example of why free traders are always going to be at a political disadvantage in this country, and indeed in most countries. It may be the right position to take, it may be enlightened, but it inevitably comes off as deeply elitist. I’m not sure what to do about that problem, but in our current age of economic stagnation I think it’s an increasingly serious one.

  6. Randy said,

    I agree.

  7. Icepick said,

    No apology needed Randy, but thank you. I just wondered what was going on.

    As for free trade being the enlightened position – I’m not so sure. I’m typing one-handed with a baby in my lap, so I can’t put in the link, but Charlie Munger (for one) has questioned the higher-order effects of free trade. No economist wants to even acknowledge his point, which makes me think they don’t like the implications any more than he does.

    Besides, trade, and the economy more broadly, shouuld be tools to achieve goals, not the goal itself.

  8. Randy said,

    This observation by Dave Weigel, made while stranded in Midwest, is interesting.

  9. Peter Hoh said,

    Anybody else seeing ads from Republicans pledging to defend Medicare from any cuts?

  10. Randy said,

    No (and not to be argumentative) but I find it ironic that the party that beat up on the other during almost every election in my lifetime over imaginary threats to Social Security and/or Medicare now finds itself on the other end of that stick.

  11. Peter Hoh said,

    Yep. Larison thinks that the shifts places like Pennsylvania are due to seniors moving over because of the threat of Medicare cuts.

    Kinds derails the narrative of voters being fed up with spending.

  12. Randy said,

    I’m not so sure, as almost everyone has a different definition of what constitutes unnecessary spending. In the case of Medicare recipients, it seems to me that they are saying “Don’t mess with MY program. I know what I like and I like what I know.” All of the talk of cost containment this past year has made them much more anxious than they would otherwise be.

    At the same time, it hasn’t helped that the vaunted stimulus package, the enormous cost of which was trumpeted from one corner of the country to the other as the price necessary to get us out of the mess we’re in, turned out to be riddled with irrelevancies/pork. (Here’s an Economist piece on “the historic infrastructure investment that wasn’t.”)

    [EDIT] FWIW, just saw this Reason Hit & Run post: Will Medicare Bankrupt the U.S? Answer: It just might.

  13. Randy said,

    Maxwell, if you’re still around, you might be interested in this article: Why China Bashing Is for Losers. (It’s bi-partisan in it’s criticisms ;)

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