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Entries in US (269)


A fundamental difference between Chinese and US education

Lovely bit:

Zheng Yue, a young woman from China who is teaching her native language to students in this town on the Oklahoma grasslands, was explaining a vocabulary quiz on a recent morning. Then a student interrupted.

“Sorry, I was zoning out,” said the girl, a junior wearing black eye makeup. “What are we supposed to be doing?”

Ms. Zheng seemed taken aback but patiently repeated the instructions.

“In China,” she said after class, “if you teach the students and they don’t get it, that’s their problem. Here if they don’t get it, you teach it again.”

China, we are told, wants to teach the world Mandarin, so it's sending several hundred teachers here to teach in US schools, subsidized by the Chinese government.  US school administrators visit Chinese schools in reply.

I think this is inevitable and good, strengthening bold sides and increasing understanding.  It is hard to imagine a global culture a generation hence that isn't as infiltrated by Chinese and today's is by Japanese--the exporters of cool.  Nothing quite makes a culture feel secure in its own accomplishments than to have their ways incorporated by other cultures.


In the category of pretty damn cool: American troops march in Red Square

NYT piece by way of Jeff Jennings.


Never before in history have active-duty American troops been invited to march in the Victory Day parade, according to the United States military. The occasion is the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, a date that carries an almost sacred meaning in Russia. Russian leaders have taken pains to explain that the Americans — along with contingents from Britain, France and Poland — were invited as representatives of the “anti-Hitler coalition.”

Not for nothing are they explaining. While more than half of Russians greeted the invitation with approval or enthusiasm, according to an April poll by the independent Levada Center, the sentiment was not universal. In a country that still regards NATO as its primary security threat, 20 percent of respondents said they disapproved and 8 percent were dead set against it. Communist and nationalist leaders have latched onto it as a rallying cry, organizing rallies on the theme, “No NATO boots on Red Square!”

There is ambivalence, even for those in the first category. Most Russians say they believe that the Red Army would have defeated Hitler without any assistance from Western allies, Levada’s research shows. Many say the Allies held back until it was clear which side would win.

You know the old bit:  British minds, U.S. money and Russian blood are what won WWII, so some truth in that suspicion.

Still, nice sign.


The best sort of rebalancing

Japan Times story (by way of WPR Media Roundup) on recent global polling re: attitudes toward great powers:

Despite widespread talk of a rising China and an America in decline, the latest BBC World Service poll shows not just strong residual American soft power but actually an increase. At the same time, the data depict a China whose influence is viewed as more negative than positive in an increasing number of countries.

Old truth: when your popularity is high, it's got nowhere to go but down, and vice versa.

More tactical reality:  every day China gets perceived by more of the world as globalization's great purveyor/integrator/action-force.

And with that burgeoning reputation will come a lot of negative feeling--especially so long as China remains a single-party state.  Eventually, the CCP will have to kill the dictatorship to save itself.  Why?  It'll need the capacity to swap out leadership in response to dramatic failure.

And yeah, those failures will come, as will the global blame.

More polling details:

In 2005, 49 percent of people thought that China's influence was mostly positive, 11 points higher than that of the U.S. However, China's numbers have fallen, reaching 34 percent this year, trailing the U.S. by 6 points.

As China's political, economic and military power have grown, global attention has focused on its influence and activities in Asia.

Public sentiment in the region is shifting dramatically. Japan has for many years had a strained relationship with China. While 59 percent of Japanese had a negative view of China in 2009, this number has now fallen dramatically to 38 percent . . . 

But Indians are moving in the other direction. In 2009, Indians leaned toward a positive view of China, 30 percent versus 24 percent, with many declining to state a view. Now, there are more Indians who view China negatively, 38 percent versus 30 percent who have a positive view.

South Koreans are going even further than Indians, with 61 percent viewing China negatively, compared to 50 percent in 2008.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesians view China less negatively than before, with 43 percent holding a positive view and 29 percent negative, compared to 37 percent negative previously. And in the Philippines, sentiment has shifted sharply, from 52 percent negative in 2009 to 55 percent positive today.

Why a souring of perceptions in South Korea and India while none in the others?  SK and India see themselves as similarly rising powers, something that Indonesia and the Philippines don't yet do and something Japan has passed on.


Will the post mid-term paralysis be far worse?

Yes, says Fred Barnes in the WSJ, thus the Democrats' urgency in shoving through legislation, insinuating that Obama will be forced to concentrate on foreign affairs after 2010, because that's what you do when you can't get any domestic agenda moving.  The wild card?  Shoving a value-added tax or VAT through a post-election lame-duck Congress.

Meanwhile, The Economist laments the "perverse impact" the looming elections are having on immigration.  Wild card there?  Harry Reid pushing an amnesty bill through the Senate so he can tap the 15% Hispanic voting pool in his state.  This may backfire.


Our broken low-wage labor market

Bloomberg BusinessWeek story says our immigration system isn't broken nearly as much as our low-wage labor market.

Russell Sage Foundation says that the US has the highest advanced-economy share of low-paying jobs (defined as less than 2/3rds the median wage) at 25%.  France and Denmark sit down at around 10%.

How do they do this?  

In other developed nations, nannies, sale clerks, and waiters are well-trained and earn living wages.

The example of Europe here is explained in more detail:

Investing in employees to upgrade their skills and put them on a path to promotions and higher pay is good for employers as well as workers. In Denmark, meatpacker Danish Crown pays relatively high union wages and competes successfully with American meatpackers that have turned to immigrants to keep wages low. In the U.S., companies like CVS, the drugstore chain; Staples, the office-supply chain; and Nypro, an employee-owned plastics maker, have shown the profit potential in hiring low-skilled workers and training them for advancement. "It's not the border that's broken, it's our low-wage labor market," says John Schmitt, an economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. Schmitt co-edited a book called "Low-Wage Work in the Wealthy World" based on the Russell Sage-funded research.

You can't have high unemployment and high immigration at the same time, but as the piece points out, when there's a huge disparity between supply and demand, prohibition doesn't work either.  It simply drives up the criminal delivery system, whether you're talking booze in the 1920s or people smuggling today.

We can either continue to bring in "indentured servants," as one academic calls them, or raise the living wage to the point where the jobs work for "more Americans who have drifted away from gainful employment."

Good argument, especially when the job recovery arc on this last recession looks dramatically different from recent ones.


Chart of the day: visualizing U.S.-world trade


Found here at Visual Economics.


Keeping the A Types coming to America

Lexington column in The Economist.

IMMIGRANTS benefit America because they study and work hard. That is the standard argument in favour of immigration, and it is correct. Leaving your homeland is a big deal. By definition, it takes get-up-and-go to get up and go, which is why immigrants are abnormally entrepreneurial. But there is another, less obvious benefit of immigration. Because they maintain links with the places they came from, immigrants help America plug into a vast web of global networks.

So it's not just enjoying all those A Types coming over and interbreeding with us; it's the connectivity they bring.

Bill Easterly likes to write about the "bamboo network" that links countries with large Chinese immigrant pools back to China, something we see with Indians and Chinese, respectively, in Africa today.

America is unique, says Lex, because we don't have much of an expat population abroad but we own "by far the world's largest stock of immigrants, including significant numbers from just about every country on earth."  The all assimilate eventually, "but few sever all ties with their former homelands."

It is a huge advantage, our demographic make-up, in a globalizing world, but it speaks to why we, among all the world's nations, rose to our level of power and prosperity and freedom, and THEN chose to spread that economic model around the world in the form of an international liberal trade order-cum-the West-cum-the global economy-cum-globalization.

Classic story told here of Peruvian immigrant to US who builds a biz and then wants to expand it into South America.

To me, this is a no-brainer reason why we want to continue to attract these people, who, on average, are far more entrepreneurial than native borns--and far more networked globally to do something about that ambition.

Lex puts it well:

Immigration provides America with legions of unofficial ambassadors, deal-brokers, recruiters and boosters.  Immigrants not only bring the best ideas from around the world to American shores; they are also a conduit for spreading American ideas and ideals back to their homelands, thus increasing their adoptive country's soft power.

Piece ends with Lex asking Obama to follow through on his campaign promise to make America's "cumbersome immigration rules" more efficient in operation.  Would take some real courage, but something worth spending political capital on.

Interesting on this score how easily one can lump the US with China and India.  It's an old theme of mine:  as globalization grows, we find that we have a lot more in common with New Core pillars than Old Core allies, because we remain young at heart, and we're natural globalizers in this age by way of being such an immigrant nation.


Millennials: plenty spiritual, just not religious

Pic Found here

USA Today story about Christian research firm surveying 1,200 18-to-29-year-olds, with almost three-quarters declaring their spirituality trumps their religiosity, meaning they belief--just not in churches.

If the trends continue, says the report, we'll see churches close as fast as bankrupt car dealerships.

Hmm, makes me wonder about my last trip to the Netherlands and speaking to a community group at a defunct church (I spoke from the sacristy--of course).  

Fits with Stephen Prothero's Religious Illiteracy:  the notion that most Christians (two-thirds of Americans) are, in the words of the president of the research firm (LifeWay Christian Resources), Thom Rainer, "either mushy Christians or Christians in name only."  

Most are just indifferent.  The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith.

Prothero, whom I used in Blueprint, made the basic point that, throughout US history, our faithful have become more intense in their idiosyncratic belief-systems while becoming less knowledgeable about their actual religions to which they claim to belong--more religiosity with less religion.

I see this as the ultimate way ahead for religions the world over as globalization succeeds in spreading development.  The competitive religious landscape allows for everyone to pick or craft their faith in the end, resulting in infinite variety and infinite direct connections to that which you hold dear.


Esquire's Politics Blog: 5 Missing Links Between the Times Square Bomber and Pakistan, Connected

My first post to Esquire's group blog.

As useful idiots go, Faisal Shahzad is proving himself in all directions: the naturalized terrorist who stirs up anti-immigrant fervor; the ex-pat who puts Pakistan back on America's hot seat, the screw-up bomber who almost escapes President Obama's grasp only to be Mirandized (the horror!) upon arrest, the sleeper jihadist who scores a global media bonanza for his handlers back in Waziristan (not a fake name), and the super-talkative detainee still spilling his guts to the G-Men. This numskull's got something for damn near everyone. Hell, I even feel sorry for BP, fortunate as it was to have 53 hours and 20 minutes of semi-relief from non-stop media glare.

Read the rest at's The Politics Blog.


I got the heads up last night around 6pm and turned 725 in around 9pm. Was feeling decidedly under the weather (allergens are death right now in Indy), which is why it took so long. Still, fun to be included in this new group blog at Esquire.

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