China Is World’s #2 In Billionaires

October 17, 2009 at 12:58 am (General, Politics, The Economy, The Environment) (, , , , , , , , , )

Word is out this week that China now has the second biggest concentration of dollar billionaires, with the United States having the most.  The story (from Reuters) reports that:

“China’s rich are getting richer, with the average wealth on the list $571 million, up almost one-third from last year…”

And how has that happened?  Could it be because America has exported millions of our manufacturing jobs to China?  Huh.  Do ya think?

Not to mention every other “developed” country in the western world.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, one thing that’s wrong is that once upon a time America used to have assembly and manufacturing jobs that were good entry-level jobs, with an opportunity for advancement.

That’s how I got my start in high-tech electronics back in the mid-1970s.  I started as an assembler, and eventually – through perseverance and learning on-the-job – I worked my way into engineering support and design positions.

Now, the only entry-level assembly jobs left in America are at McDonald’s, assembling burgers. Where’s the promotion path from there? Manager?  Ugh.  Sign me up – not.

What’s happening in China right now seems to be a recapitulation of what America experienced in the 20th century – urbanization, dramatic growth, massive amounts of construction, a growing middle class, a rise in consumerism as a lifestyle, and all the pollution that goes with it.  China also seems to be going through all the stages of development more quickly than America did.

And what have been the benefits? Loads of cheap Chinese crap for us to by at WalMart, and this:

China’s new wealthy need to spend all that money on something, don’t they?  Might as well be lucky pears in the shape of babies.  Lord knows, we Americans also have a taste for the tasteless.  Check out this USB accessory for your computer:

It can be embarrassing being a geek.  Sometimes.

But the real issue here – in my mind – is the cost. There is a real cost that hasn’t been reckoned, or factored into the headlong rush to “development”.  Right now, America is seeing the downside of growth – when growth is not sustainable, the result is a cycle of booms and busts. Growing and shrinking. This is a normal process in organic systems.  We’re seeing that as autumn begins here in the northern hemisphere, and plants go dormant.

However, when it happens to economies and cities, you get decay and blight, and city managers suggesting that US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive.

Tough times.  Scary times.  I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we need to be asking questions, and trying to find some answers.

Or, like Arthur Dent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, start lying in front of the bulldozers.

Oh, I almost forgot.  The most disturbing quote from the Reuters article:

“With the greatest wealth destruction in the west of the last 70 years, we’ve seen China buck the trend and the wealth seems to be still growing,” [Rupert] Hoogewerf told Reuters…

No, it’s not our imagination.

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