The deep polarization that plagues American politics has also infected our thinking on globalization. If China continues its rapid economic ascent, the conventional thinking is that this is bad for America.
I think that’s a false dichotomy.
Instead, I’m deeply optimistic about Chinese growth because I think it is good news for America, the Chinese people, and the world. As China continues its massive transformation from a peasant farm economy to an advanced industrial economy, it will bring about increased prosperity—and more importantly, hope—for millions of human beings just like you and me. Our job as Americans is to capitalize upon Chinese growth to create a win-win situation for both economies and for both of our children’s children. To accomplish this vital mission we must see beyond our fear and mistrust to focus on mutual opportunity.
As promised in my last article, here are four practical steps America must take now in order to keep us on equal footing with the new, emerging economic giant on the block. .
1. School Reform: Thomas Friedman, in his book The World Is Flat, describes a story he tells to his daughters: “Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, ‘Tom, finish your dinner. People in China are starving.’ My advice to you now: ‘Girls, finish your homework, people in China are starving for your jobs.” This is a telling anecdote: Consider that China produces seven times the number of engineers compared to America. In fact, today American schoolchildren are finishing in the middle or low end of the pack on a world wide basis when tested in science and math. There is no quick way to solve this problem, but we would be well served to look closely at the approximately $100,000 we spend to publicly educate a single student from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Are we spending that money wisely? Are we examining everything from textbooks to school buses to determine if our schools are operating in a cost-effective manner that produces academic success? These are important questions that must be asked—and answered. More than that, we must also continue to support the development of school choice programs and charter schools, such as the KIPP program in San Francisco. Innovation and competition at the grass-roots level—and not at the federal level ala “No Child Left Behind”— is the key to education reform.
Doug Wilson is the the co-author, with Edwin Feulner, of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today.
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