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Public Opinion And “Elite” Opinion Differ Widely On China

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Reposted from the Campaign for America’s Future blog


Public Opinion And “Elite” Opinion Differ Widely On China

Steven Coppozola  |  September 20, 2012  |  Campaign for America’s Future

Let’s look at some simple stats…

U.S. manufacturing employment in January 2000: 17,292,000

U.S. manufacturing employment in January 2012: 11,860,000

Annual U.S. trade deficit with China in 2000: $83.8 billion

Annual U.S. trade deficit with China in 2011: $295.4 billion

What do we see from this:

  • A trade deficit with China that has climbed by more than $200 billion in the last decade.
  • A manufacturing sector that has lost more than 5 million jobs in a dozen years.

The conclusion seems fairly obvious: At the same time that the trade deficit with China has increased, the U.S. has lost millions of manufacturing jobs.

A poll released in July by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) found that an overwhelming majority of U.S. voters are greatly concerned by this loss of manufacturing, and they want to see Washington get tough on China.

This would seem fairly logical, given such massive job loss in the manufacturing sector as well as the skyrocketing trade deficit with China.

However, a different poll conducted by the Pew Research Center finds that America’s “experts” have a very different view than the general public. Apparently, scholars and the news media are far less likely to worry about Beijing’s burgeoning economic power and U.S. jobs lost to China.

The disparity in views between the general public and elite opinion makers is extremely troubling, especially when one considers that these same elites have been consistently wrong on China, dating back to 2000. Essentially, the argument at that time in favor of opening trade with China was that Beijing would soon liberalize its markets. Increased commerce would bring a wave of new jobs and greater democracy to the Chinese people. Simultaneously, this new prosperity would help open the Chinese market to more U.S. exports.

Sadly, the exact opposite has happened. Political repression, especially in Tibet, has continued apace. China continues to maintain closed markets while deliberately undervaluing its currency. And U.S. manufacturers have continued to lose market share.

In fact, a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that the growing U.S. trade deficit with China cost more than 2.7 million American jobs between 2001 and 2011, with job losses in every state.

It’s amazing, then, that the so-called elite opinion makers in the U.S. have been so completely, brazenly wrong when it comes to the core issues affecting the nation’s economy. Hopefully, the prevailing view of the American people will start to win out, as the “China issue” takes center stage during this year’s election season.

Read more in this Pew Global report.

One Response to “Public Opinion And “Elite” Opinion Differ Widely On China”

  1. Bruce Bishop says:

    Steven Coppozola says: “It’s amazing, then, that the so-called elite opinion makers in the U.S. have been so completely, brazenly wrong when it comes to the core issues affecting the nation’s economy.”

    Thomas Sowell explores this phenomenon in his 2010 book, “Intellectuals and Society.” The biggest problem with “public intellectuals” as Sowell calls them, is their total lack of accountability. He defines “intellectuals” as people whose only product is ideas. Because of their influence, which is out of proportion to their numbers or their actual knowledge, their ideas often influence public policy, and often with disastrous results.

    Sowell dissects the group of “intellectuals” into individuals who, through focused study, have acquired a great deal of knowledge about one relatively small subject. He further makes the point that they represent about 1% of mankind’s knowledge, while the rest of us have the other 99%. He also points out that some of mankind’s greatest disasters were perpetrated with the full blessings the “intellectuals.” Both Hitler and Stalin were favorites of the intellectuals. In the 1930s and even today, many “intellectuals” still favor the sort of collectivist society that brought millions of deaths and decades of misery to the former Soviet Union.

    Fifteen years ago, the “intellectuals” were cheering for globalization. They claimed that we didn’t need manufacturing; we were going to be a “service economy.” A few years later, when it became apparent that many high-paying service jobs were going to India, the “intellectuals” announced that we were going to become a “biotech/nanotech” economy. Their solution to massive unemployment was for everyone to get an advanced degree in bioengineering or particle physics. Despite the fact that this left anyone with an IQ below 125 with no way to earn a living, it is now apparent that those biotech/nanotech jobs are going to China and India too.

    The bottom line on “intellectuals” is, they don’t care. They are never held accountable. They can continue to pontificate, while the rest of us pay their generous salaries, and rarely does anyone get around to telling them they are full of crap.


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