Monday, July 19, 2010

The Shadow Of India, And Other Stories

Pew has a tendency to do nifty polls like the one at right. I should look at more of them.

I agree with Matt that the growth of China's economy is a good thing for America as a whole, and it's unfortunate that people don't see it that way. What you'd want here is to take the good neoliberal thing where you do mutually beneficial trade with the emerging Chinese economy and pair it with the progressive thing where you tax the proceeds of that trade and spend it to make things as painless as possible for the losers. But this is exactly the sort of grand bargain that you can't actually do in the American political system. So lots of people are just responding to the immediate short-term pain that they're going to feel, and they're right that it isn't going to be ameliorated, except way down the line when somebody is able to tax the winners to pay for social service improvements in a way that doesn't explicitly connect the issues. (Of course, people also get to buy cheap Chinese stuff, but that disproportionately benefits the few who actually have enough money to spend.) No wonder you get results like this.

Pakistan likes the rising Chinese military most. The big underlying dynamic here is that Pakistani foreign policy is all about India, except when it's about some other issue that Pakistanis are going to think about anyway in relation to India. Having an ally against India is something they're excited about. I'm kind of surprised that even this many Indians are okay with rising Chinese military power. Who's the plausible mutual enemy? I guess Pakistan is enough of a basket case that having them connected with a country that's fairly rational is some kind of move up, but you don't want them to end up stronger and ally with a country against whom you've also had a war.

In a sign that human beings aren't insane, everybody likes Chinese economic growth better than rising Chinese military power. Even with the distributional issues, people would rather play the positive-sum game where we buy and sell stuff than the negative-sum game where we get better at killing each other.


Blue said...

Yeah and Yglesias just had a recent post about “people hate losing jobs more than overall rising standards of living, especially when there is no clear path for how to get new jobs” and “the benefits of this rising growth obviously aren’t spread evenly”.

Also duh, people are nationalistic and generally dislike hearing “other countries are now bigger than you”. I mean regrettable, but hardly new.

Blue said...

(By which I mean, I wouldn't expect him to be dense regarding this. You are obviously right.)

chris said...

Who thinks that Chinese military is good? Pakistanis, and US military mercenaries/suppliers?