When we lived in China, my wife and I were having dinner with a great Chinese friend. As often happened, conversation turned to the U.S. and its role in the world. Our Chinese friend grew increasingly upset with what he saw as U.S.-led injustices in the world. Frustrated with the direction of the conversation (and always careful not to enter too deeply into political discussions in China), my wife finally said, “You’re right. You know everything about America. We air our laundry for the world to see. The problem is, you know nothing about China!”
Pow! Right in the sore spot.
Fortunately, the Chinese are gracious people. We changed the conversation, enjoyed our dinner, and have remained friends to this day.
I occurs to me that we know increasingly little about our own country. Our Constitutional roots long forgotten, we look to those in Washington to solve every problem. In the global soccer match with China, we fly from country to country, falling on the tarmac and screaming in an effort to draw a foul that never comes. To be sure, the world is not fair. Other countries have not opened their markets to our products to the same degree that we have opened ours. Yes, the RMB is likely undervalued. Still, perhaps it’s time that we stop thinking so much about the competition and focus on our own game.
There’s a story to be told in the numbers Wall Street obsesses over – the story of our game strategy. Before we ship the last engineer to a low-cost country, perhaps we should ask someone to do some analysis.