How the Chinese View Us: Too Many Hamburgers

by Fred Abramson on September 22, 2010 · 5 comments

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times is currently on a trip to China. He relays a skit that he believes cuts to the core of how the Chinese view America. Here is the story:

China’s CCTV aired a skit showing four children — one wearing the Chinese flag, another the American, another the Indian, and another the Brazilian — getting ready to run a race. Before they take off, the American child, “Anthony,” boasts that he will win “because I always win,” and he jumps out to a big lead. But soon Anthony doubles over with cramps. “Now is our chance to overtake him for the first time!” shouts the Chinese child. “What’s wrong with Anthony?” asks another. “He is overweight and flabby,” says another child. “He ate too many hamburgers.”

That is how they see us.

Friedman observes that the infrastructure in China is top-notch. He (incorrectly) contrasts China’s bullet trains with the malfunctioning  the escalators at New York’s Penn station, but his point is well taken. The Chinese are racing  to the peak, focusing on creating first class projects that take massive government intervention.   On the other hand, large projects in the US proceed at a snail’s pace.  Exhibit A: My law office is two blocks from ground zero which is still a construction site.

Our political system is hampered by political forces that have more a stake in getting elected rather than providing concrete solutions to our problems.  American’s need to think more about what is best for America rather than what is best for them on an individual level.

What do you think?  Is the political center unfocused? How can our government work faster to create projects in a massive scale to help economy keep up with China? What should the role of corporations and the private sector be?

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