Here's one of the reasons why China is going to kick our asses on the global market in another fifty years.
I've been reading up on the development of the Chinese economy, and the strides that ordinary Chinese make to assure they become more than running shoe stitchers for American shoe companies in the future.
They love education over there. School is serious business in China. They learn math and languages at higher levels much earlier than American students. They also have a massive thirst for English language instruction. Learning a second language is desirable to them, and they seize the opportunity if they have it.
Contrast that with the attitudes towards bilingualism in the United States. I recently read an interesting article about a pilot program in a San Francisco kindergarten, where the students received immersion in Mandarin Chinese for an entire year. They had a Chinese teacher who spoke nothing but Chinese to the kids from Day One, and at the end of the year they communicated with the teacher (and each other) in competent Chinese.
I made the mistake of mentioning this program on a conservative-leaning online discussion board, and the responses were overwhelmingly negative, by a ratio of ten to one. This is America, I was told. In America, we speak English, or we are encouraged to go back to whatever furrin place we came from. We don't need to learn no Chinese--they're learning English, after all, and the whole thing just sounds like another liberal attempt to enforce multiculturalism. Press "one" for English, or get the fuck out of the country, yessir.
This is why our economy will be left behind. It's not just because the Chinese are willing to work for less money--it's because they value education, and they recognize the importance of making yourself competitive for the world market. We're going to be left behind because we dumb down our education system, and because we whine that we deserve twenty-dollar-an-hour union jobs--and by golly, we should have the right to make those companies who outsource their labor stay in the United States, because if a corporation is based here, they have the duty to hire Americans above anyone else, even if that American is half as educated and paid ten times as much as his Chinese counterpart. The sense of entitlement that has permeated every fiber of the American quilt naturally extends to the workplace now, and this is where the so-called Conservatives fall right in lockstep with the Socialists they despise. That's when you find them all clamoring for government regulation of private business, because it's simply not fair/patriotic for a business owner to hire foreigners over his own countryfolk just to make a profit.
It's kind of funny that a country which officially embraces capitalism would cripple itself economically by embracing socialist attitudes about work (the right to an income, national allegiance above profitability, government control of the flow of goods), and a professed socialist country would increase its economy exponentially by embracing capitalism and free market principles.
In the age of instant global communication, you simply cannot turn up with your diploma from Mediocre State College and expect it to be a voucher for a 90k-a-year white collar job. The white collar jobs are increasingly being picked up by people in Bangalore, Mumbai, Peking, and other places where education hasn't been dumbed down to the point of being the punchline to a joke. The blue collar jobs have already been picked up by the uneducated folks in those countries about twenty years ago, when their American counterparts still insisted that a person needs to be paid a healthy union wage for turning the same screw or hitting the same button all day long.