china column

Here’s my column from today’s paper, my first Chinese dateline:
SHANGHAI – Bill Gates has a question he likes to ask when he talks about globalization: Twenty years ago, would you rather have been a B student in Poughkeepsie or a genius in Shanghai? And how about today?
(Texans can substitute Mesquite or Waco for Poughkeepsie, if it makes you feel more geographically comfortable.)

3 thoughts on “china column”

  1. The Oct 24th episode of News and Notes had a segment on Reversing Technology’s Racial Divide that brought up the same stats about engineering graduates that you mentioned. I like the point made early in the segment that changing our culture from consumer to creator is key to our competitiveness.
    I enjoyed the irony in quoting a succesful business man without a degree in your editorial encouraging America to stay competitive by graduating more engineers. Surely it’s not just better test scores that will bring China the competitive edge?
    Look at South Korea. GDP per capita they are at $19,200 while China is still just $5,600. Looking at corporate brands you have Samsung and LG right behind Japan’s behemoth Sony. South Korea has stormed to the forefront of Asian cultural exports to again rival Japan for America’s attention in games, books and movies. Lest we forget, South Korea is kicking our ass in genetic research. They don’t do this by educating the most graduates.
    While we bicker over Creationism vs. Evolution South Korea is inventing the future (and patenting it). It’s a culture that treats scientists like rockstars. It’s a country where only 4% of the population is below poverty (compared to our 12%). It’s a culture that rewards creativity over consumerism. There is hope for America. South Korea had a problem with consumerism and debt just like us but the 21st century has seen their debt fall to 21.3% of GDP, compared to us at 65%.
    We do need better schools but without the cultural shifts I mentioned we’ll still fall behind. Maybe the never ending tide of Christian missionaries we send over there will mire Asia in the science education problem we have now so we can catch up. 🙂

  2. Actually, South Korea *does* do it in part by educating tons of engineering graduates The U.S. graduated 73,000 engineers in the year in question; South Korea graduated 70,000, right behind us. That’s despite the fact South Korea has a population one-sixth the size of America’s.

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