What China Knows that We Don't

by: Sudden Debt
This story made the "front" web-page of New York Times: China Leading Global Race to Make Clean Energy. According to the article, China is now the world's leading manufacturer of wind turbines, ahead of Denmark, Germany, Spain and the U.S. It is also the largest maker of solar panels and is leaping ahead in the construction of nuclear and "clean" coal-fired plants.
Surprised? I'm not, because as a trained engineer I know very well that manufacturing is at the core of technological advancement: start with making cheap textiles in Lowell, Massachusetts, and you end up sending people to the Moon - particularly if your competitors are fat and lazy and you are hungry and motivated.

Does it sound familiar? Of course it does, because history does repeat - but we must know enough of it to recognize the pattern of the tune, not just the notes on the scale. And that's another reason why this blog makes so many references to the past, frequently from the Graeco-Roman era. As Ecclesiastes put it: There's nothing new under the Sun.

Before I am painted a hopeless past-gazing curmudgeon, here is a very young singer that gets it: Miley Cyrus is just 17.

..Wake up America. Tomorrow becomes a new day. And everything you do matters. Yeah, everything you do matters, In some way. Stand up, I'll try if you will. Wake up, It's not a fire-drill. All she needs is a little attention, Can you give her just a little attention? Oh, it's easy to look away, But it's getting harder day by day...

Going back to the NY Times article, here are some particularly interesting excerpts:
  • These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.
  • Interest rates as low as 2 percent for bank loans — the result of a savings rate of 40 percent and a government policy of steering loans to renewable energy — have also made a big difference.
  • With prices tumbling, China’s wind and solar industries are increasingly looking to sell equipment abroad — and facing complaints by Western companies that they have unfair advantages. When a Chinese company reached a deal in November to supply turbines for a big wind farm in Texas, there were calls in Congress to halt federal spending on imported equipment.

Our biggest obstacles in recognizing today's yesterday, so to speak, are those sclerotic high priests of political economy who daily genuflect to the crumbling altars of neoclassical deities.

"Praise Adam, Glory be to Milton, Hallowed is thy Invisible Hand..".

Meanwhile, the Chinese summarily dethroned Marx, Lenin and Mao when their teachings became obsolete.

I am not saying that we should today follow the Chinese model as is, any more than we should have followed the Japanese model a quarter century ago. Imitation may be flattering, indeed, but it never leads to true advancement.

Instead, we should renounce what cannot be modified, modify what can be improved and invent anew what cannot be improved.

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