My message to China is: Be careful. Some of your diplomats sound awfully arrogant. As the proverb says: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” America still excels in a lot of areas.
But my message to my fellow Americans is: We now have to return to and double down on what was our formula for success.
And that is: educating our work force up to and beyond whatever technology demands; building the world’s best infrastructure of ports, roads and telecommunications; attracting the world’s most energetic and high-I.Q. immigrants to enrich our universities and start new businesses; legislating the best regulations to incentivize risk-taking while curbing recklessness; and steadily increasing government-funded research to push out the boundaries of science so our entrepreneurs can turn the most promising new ideas into start-ups.
On this front there is some hope, noted McGregor: “Congress has begun sorting through the hundreds of China bills introduced in the last Congress to forge bipartisan legislation to invest in science and technology, R&D and U.S. leadership in the same technologies that China has declared as the next frontiers.” And President Biden is talking about spending trillions!
Nothing could be more important. Because good ideas — respect for human rights, democracy, an independent judiciary, free markets, protection for minorities — don’t just win in the world because they are good ideas. They diffuse and are embraced because others see them producing justice, power, wealth, opportunity and stability in countries that practice them.
American ideals infused every global institution in the 20th century because we were powerful, and we were powerful because more often than not we implemented our ideals.
But, if we as a country continue to act as we have of late — “dumb as we want to be” — then our power will be diminished and with it the power of our ideals. We will have steadily less influence on China and on the world at large no matter how loudly we chant “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.” So, let’s make sure we win the Olympics that count.
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