Some late night ramblings on economics and the like

Just got to thinking about a few things, especially since being in China this last time. I guess this is my place to get them off my chest.

Its such a strange world we live in. Massive industrial cities in China (and elsewhere too) springing up overnight, built with riches of the west in order to supply cheap goods to the world. The rise of capitalism combined with advances in communication and transportation technology have allowed for trade on a massive scale. This in only the last 50 years or so.

But as my taxi wound its way through the streets of Xian (the driver was lost) I wondered how much better off the people in China really are. Xian is an incredibly dirty and smoggy city in inland China. Had Mao really screwed things up so badly that there was no opportunity for a good life in the countryside? Was the city really the only place to get ahead and make a living. I have heard that most of these people are saving for a TV and then maybe a motorbike. But what a difficult life many of them live in these large industrial cities! And what a environmental catastrophe! The smog was so thick, I could barely see the hills that flanked the highway.

And what about us? Are we better off? The corner grocer has all but disappeared. We have to drive to a box store to buy milk. The small shop owner has been replaced by a store manager who answers to the board of a corporation – a corporation whose goal is to maximize shareholder wealth. The corporation hires designers who do studies to discover the best ways to decorate their stores to make people buy and then they apply this same design to every store in the country. Yep, it looks nice, and makes me want to buy and I become one with the modern culture I live in. For a society that prides itself in individualism, we look much alike.

I guess I am probably sounding like a socialist right about now… I don’t think I am. Maybe it is some aspects of modernism I have problem with. Anyway, enough for tonight. Now I can sleep peacefully on my bed… made in China.

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