Even if these problems are rectified, China cannot expect continuation of its recent economic expansion, which is already dissipating. If the United States has the good sense to significantly lower its corporate-tax rate, this dissipation will accelerate. Additionally, the lack of intellectual private-property protection in China will prevent it from generating the kind of innovation that usually accompanies pinnacle-nation status.
When it comes to energy, China has large potential reserves of shale gas, but lacks natural water in those areas, making extraction difficult without new technology. We may be unable to exploit this weakness because of self-imposed, shortsighted overregulation of the energy sector in our country.
From these few examples, it can be seen that a combination of wise moves by China and unwise moves by the U.S. in the next few years could have very troubling implications for the future of our country.
If there is a sudden, cataclysmic debt-engendered U.S. financial crisis, China is only one of a number of possible successors to our position. Perhaps our energy should be spent figuring out how to avoid financial collapse and also invigorate the most powerful economic engine the world has ever known. We should take advantage of the great laboratory of ideas: successful states that have gone from severe budgetary deficits to significant surpluses through actions of wise governors and legislative bodies. Let's look at their taxation policies and the business conditions they created that stimulated economic activity. There is nothing partisan about this approach. It would be a manifestation of common sense, which should know no political affiliation.
The economic problems we are experiencing in this country fortunately are induced by our own ineptitude. I say fortunately, because it is within our power to alter our course. We do not have to depend on the good will of someone else. When we work together, as was the case with the Simpson-Bowles commission on fiscal responsibility, excellent ideas can be generated that could move us along the path of economic recovery. As was the case with the Roman Empire, our fate is in our hands.