Losing the War with Japan… Or was it Losing The War With China…Maybe Ourselves…
Recently, I came across an old episode of PBS’ Frontline that was titled “Losing The War With Japan” (click link to see it on YouTube) In this 1991 report we see how the country was concerned with the rise of Japanese business and their “unfair” practices of Keiretsu and Zaibatsu. Of course the report calls it “Predatory Capitalism” but I would just say that they were being smart. I guess one man’s smart is another losers 1-800-WAAA, but we are a country of laws are we not? So sure, I can see my way clear on some of the charges in unfair practices. However, now that nearly twenty years have passed what have we learned?
Obviously not much…
Lets run down whats happened since the Frontline piece.
1) Japan took over the car market and the US Auto industry learned nothing. They remained bloated and making poorly thought out, bloated, gas guzzlers and are now in bankruptcy or near to it.
2) Japan got too close to America and took on too many of her ways. Soon there was a meltdown in their economy and a slew of admissions of malfeasance by corporate entities.
3) America had a boom and bust over “internet stocks” basically vaporware Greed was indeed good and the Ivan Boesky set began to plan for even bigger schemes that would come to roost in our current “credit default swaps” fiasco and near depression. The net effect, we began to not make anything here except maybe “intellectual capital” that is currently being stolen and reverse engineered in China.
4) America began the great outsourcing of all the things we no longer “make” in order to have better bottom lines on balance sheets from cheaper labor in third world countries.
5) China buys great quantities of our debt.. They now effectively “own” us.
6) The “Great Recession” comes post 3 front wars for many years and an abdication of any kind of regulation on business, banking, stocks, etc. Even though, we were warned that the big banks were playing fast and loose with our money and selling us magic beans.
7) Now China looms as a new kind of super power that deems to attack us on cyber and economic fronts in order to become the pre-eminent super power. Basically, they have us by the short and curlies economically as well as technically (e.g. cyber warfare)
So, how did we not learn from history? How is it that this country just went on its merry way and learned not one thing from its near miss with Japan? Did greed and self absorption just blind us to it all?
In a word.. Yes.
We have failed ourselves by not paying attention and our government has failed us for not being able to comprehend what was going on. We elected the morons in office and they let go of the tiller that controlled the business world’s ethical rudder. Of course, we the people didn’t help either as we were rolling in the new money that was rolling in from tech stocks, or ponzi schemes that had been all the rage.
There’s a line from “Rising Sun” that always struck me as true and now that I look back it is absolutely so.
Lets face it, we are playing catch up because we have been too intellectually incurious to see what has been happening all these years. Can we catch up now I wonder? Or will we continue down the same path of blind faith in the system and personal greed?
Of course one would have to also hope that the “system” i.e. our government would not let themselves be led down the primrose path again like they have with all of this credit default swaps and “too big to fail” banks falderall… I hold out little hope.
Take as look at the Frontline stories and ponder…