Letters

What is it with these self-hating elitists who want their children to learn Chinese? Readers respond to Andrew Leonard's "Lou Dobbs Is Angry and He's Not Going to Take It Anymore."


Salon Staff
September 14, 2004 10:24PM (UTC)

[Read the story.]

"If Americans want to flourish again, they may just have to tighten their belts and start taking pages out of the lesson plan of the developing world."

Lesson 1: Establish a caste system that denies civil rights to one in every six citizens. Keep agricultural and menial workers in debt bondage to landlords, factory owners and contractors.

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Lesson 2: Establish a dictatorship, kept in power by an army that will slaughter the citizenry en masse. Deny the citizenry the right to organize independent labor unions.

Both techniques exert powerful downward pressure on wages, and can even eliminate the need to pay wages. That in turn lowers the cost of infrastructure, food and housing for industrial and professional workers.

Andrew Leonard is a typically gutless American journalist. He assiduously avoids mentioning the denial of labor, civil, and human rights, which enable low Asian wages.

-- Patrick Tibbits

Currently, there are 170 million Indians with either degrees or advanced degrees in high technology and other, related white-collar industries. Together they could take every job from every member of the American middle class. As Mr. Leonard has pointed out, the Chinese are already huge in manufacturing, and getting bigger all the time. The American blue-collar job is all but gone.

But there's a difference between what China is doing and what India is doing. China is playing the old game that Germany, Taiwan and Japan played in the postwar period: They're "handing us our asses." They're beating us at our own game, manufacturing goods more cheaply (though at a much lower quality) than we can. That's fine, up to a point.

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What infuriates me is that the Indians, Indonesians and Malays who are taking high-tech jobs created in America have done nothing -- nothing -- to create competitive industries of their own. Think of it this way: A child is born in America, or on its way to America. If it is like most, its entire education will be financed by American taxpayers. When it gets that all-important advanced degree, it will be at a taxpayer-subsidized, American university. When it creates a company out of an idea it thinks up due to that great education, it will most likely be financed by American venture capital.

But when the time comes to create professional, good-paying jobs this child of America decides to take that value-added and send it overseas, like someone scraping the cream off the top of an old-fashioned milk bottle and, instead of churning it into butter for the household, throwing it into the yard.

Let me make it even easier for Mr. Leonard, and those who think like him: No middle class? No political stability; instead revolution, chaos, murder. Bombs going off in the neighborhoods of Mr. Leonard's grown children, and mine. Bombs made by other, understandably enraged Americans. And I don't like that idea one damn bit.

-- Rob Anderson

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Mr. Leonard is right, far right, in his condemnation of Lou Dobbs' efforts to stop outsourcing American jobs.

What Mr. Leonard needs to do is to continue his efforts for his children to learn Hindi and Chinese and Spanish, by the way.

Soon American workers will be "sneaking" across the Mexican border by boat and on foot to get "Mexican" jobs. The Chinese will be in our country in much larger numbers than they are now so knowing the Chinese language will definitely be an asset.

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The Indians are rapidly creating a work force that speaks English, which will make it much easier for many of their people to immigrate to America. They have suffered over-population problems for many, many years.

Bravo, Mr. Leonard. Brave-new-world thinking at its best.

-- Joseph Flannery

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Forgive me for sounding like a Republican, but how much of this elitist, self-hating garbage can a person swallow? My Maoist sister, who is the first to "champion the workers," also takes great delight in outsourcing because it is creating the "rise of the Third World."

What about the decline of this one and the displaced workers it creates in our own backyard? I am, among other things, a reluctant capitalist, because I also believe in fairness and have no use for the scot-free enterprise of this Bush administration. But as Churchill said of democracy, "It's the worst system except for all others."

And though I 'd like to believe it, I'm not at all certain that large numbers of displaced blue-collar workers have the capacity to learn Chinese or Hindi as Mr. Leonard suggests. In fact, this strikes me as a classic nonsolution that reeks of snobbery; Marie Antoinettish in its obvious disdain. How about compassion and retraining -- not in the Bush Orwellian sense, but for real? And while we're at it, closing the tax loopholes that encourage this slow economic suicide?

Though I don't always agree with him, I find Lou Dobbs to be a thoughtful and well-informed man, who most recently stated on air that "America isn't just a market, it's a nation." We'd all do well to remember that before we don't have one anymore.

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-- Daniel Koenig

When Republicans finally begin to get it about the end result of their policies -- in this case, how their advocacy for raw capitalism has led directly to the destruction of America's workforce by outsourcing -- we should encourage them, not sneer at them because they didn't get it earlier. And I wish reviewer Andrew Leonard had taken it a step further. Absolutely, capitalism has no concern for lives destroyed in pursuit of profit. It's not supposed to. That's why we have governments, to step in and make distinctions between criminal behavior (the ultimate capitalism) and permissible commerce.

-- Merrily Helgeson

Andrew Leonard facilely suggests that we and our children learn Mandarin or Hindi.

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He says: "Parents ... knew that if their kids wanted to thrive in an international economy, they needed to learn English."

There's one big difference, Andrew. Those parents were looking to improve their standard of living. I don't see many parents in the West wishing to have their children descend into the morass of Third World living, or the groupthink conformity of a repressive overpopulated society such as China.

I'll stick with having my kids learn whatever the hell languages they want to (which happen to be Spanish, Italian and German), grateful that no one made me abort my second kid, abandon an infant daughter, and/or force me into an arranged marriage. And in case you haven't noticed, the lingua franca these days is actually the lingua anglia.

-- Esther Massimini

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Salon Staff

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