China and the Olympics

I didn’t watch very much of the Olympics. I caught some of the opening ceremony, and a few of the events, and watched some highlights.

But, I’m reading of people who view the beautiful ceremonies, and the organization, and the gold medal count with fear. They see China’s growth and ability to put on such a spectacular show as a sign that we should be worried.

But, as I recall, the Soviet Union invested a lot in Olympic success; but, that didn’t indicate an underlying strength. In fact, I think it was a desperate attempt to portray more strength and success than the underlying society had.

I’m not afraid of Chinese economic success. I welcome it, and hope that it will lead to more political liberty for the people of China, and more wealth for people there and for all its trading partners.

I find myself in complete agreement with Russell Roberts, responding to this idiotic Frank Rich op-ed, that:

Yes, China is growing quickly. Yes, they have mobilized a lot of resources to win gold medals in gymnastics and diving.

But they are a desperately poor country that represses their people too often, has filthy air, and has a massive problem dealing with an exploding urban population. Their mobilization of resources to win medals in gymnastics and diving is a scandal for such a poor country, not a triumph. Meanwhile, in the United States, we are suffering through a mild something, maybe a recession with unemployment at 5.7%. Our debt problem is minor. The fact that a lot of US debt has been purchased by the Chinese government that will be repaid in dollars that buy a lot less than they used to is tough on the Chinese not us.

And, mostly with this:

Finally, Chinese growth is good for the United States. The economic race is not like the Olympic race. It is not zero-sum. In the Olympics, if
you win the gold medal, I can’t. In economics, both countries can grow together.


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