What an Opening for Central America on Trade

There is a famous political saying that one should never let a crisis go to waste, and another not from the political world that says one man’s meat is another man poison one piece of the China Trade Wars / Virus story is the opportunity it provides for countries in Central America, land of the caravans.

As has been noted the primary driver of the refugees and caravans that had been driving policy at the US border is economic. People need work and see the US as an entry point for this. As someone who has for the last five years worked in a place where Spanish, Portuguese , Creole were more common than English and Arabic almost as common I have seen this close up.

With both the Trade wars and now the Corona virus running rampant in China there is now a great incentive for produces of products to find alternatives to China for production.

Why not Central America?

This has the potential of a win win win here, you have countries closer to the US in terms of shipping, populations looking for work, governments eager to increase their tax base and to make an even darker point criminal organizations in the area looking for legitimate ways to launder money.

Furthermore given the relative population of China vs Central America the number of jobs and industries needed to fund a boom in the region would be a relative pin-prick in the side of the Communist state.

Now there are risks, you have the randomness of the corruption of the local governments (yes you have the corruption of a communist state in China but it tends to be more ordered and predictable) you have the costs of setting up a supply chain, and you never know what revolutionary group is going to spring up and of course you have the Cartels which if they don’t invest in the ventures will “tax” them to allow them to operate.

However even with those risks you have not only an alternative supplier in case of disaster but a way to lift people out of poverty where they are so they don’t have to come in caravan to the US to make a better life.

China, socialized medicine, and me

Hundreds of people wait to register to see a doctor in Guangzhou, China.

By Christopher Harper

If you want to see what socialized medicine looks like, China is a classic example—a system unable to meet the needs of many patients in normal times that crashes into chaos when a crisis occurs like a coronavirus.

During my travels throughout China over the past five years, I was able to see the system up close and personal. See https://datechguyblog.com/2018/06/05/healthcare-in-china/

While the wealthy can pay for the best care with foreign doctors, most people are relegated to overcrowded hospitals. In the countryside, residents must rely on village clinics or travel hundreds of miles to find the closest facility.

The country does not have a functioning primary care system. China has one general practitioner for roughly every 7,000 people, compared with the international standard of one for every 1,500 to 2,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.

Another major issue, particularly in a crisis like a coronavirus, is the system for handling patients at hospitals, which often is the place where most people go for treatment.

When I went to a hospital in Guangzhou, the third-largest city in China in the southern part of the country, I registered to see a doctor and waited for one hour to see a physician to diagnose a persistent cough.

I sat in a large waiting room to see the doctor—where you can get sick from some of the other 60 to 70 people with a variety of illnesses.

The doctor seemed competent during my five-minute visit, but I then had to go for tests, waiting for another two hours with 50 other people because the hospital closes for lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

It took only a few minutes to get the results of an EKG, but the blood tests came after two hours.

I then saw another physician—in my case, another hour of waiting—before receiving three prescriptions to soothe my chest cough. It took another 30 minutes to have the prescription filled. Again, those waiting for prescriptions amounted to roughly 100 people.

By the time I was done, I’d been around hundreds of people, with a variety of diseases that I could have gotten, and they were exposed to my illness.

All I had was a chest cold and needed a prescription for some medicine. A visit, which would have taken me 15 to 30 minutes with my family doctor in the United States, took more than six hours in China.

But there’s more. At the time I was getting my chest cold diagnosed, hundreds of thousands of children were found to have been injected with faulty vaccines, amplifying the already existing frustration with the health care system.

In recent years, scandals have erupted over bribes to physicians from those who could afford to pay to move to the front of the line for critical treatments.

In my experience in China and elsewhere, socialized medicine may be adequate as long as there is no serious health threat.

Here’s what every voter should ask a Democrat candidate for president: Would you prefer socialized medicine fighting the coronavirus or the current system that exists in the United States? For me, the choice is pretty simple.

Wuhan: The city has plagued China’s leaders for a century

By Christopher Harper

For those who have studied the history of China, it is rather ironic to us that Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, should once again stand at center stage.

Before the virus outbreak, Wuhan, a place unknown to most Westerners, has played a significant role in the demise of the Chinese monarchy in 1911 and later as a symbol of the flawed vision of Mao Zedong.

Often called the Chicago of China, Wuhan is the leading city of the central part of the country because of its railroads and riverway near the Yangtze River.

But Wuhan’s place in history began in 1911 when revolutionaries launched the opening of the attack against the Qing Dynasty, which had ruled China for 400 years.

Back then, many Western powers saw railway investments as part of the consolidation in their spheres of influence over China. Provincial governments, with permission from the Qing court, began to construct their own railways, obtaining huge loans from foreign countries that maintained financial control of the routes. This policy was met with stiff resistance, including massive strikes and protests. At one point, the military opened fire on protesters, leading to widespread dissatisfaction among the population.

On October 10, 1911, revolutionary forces within the military staged a mutiny in the Wuhan area and forced the Qing leaders out of government buildings and residences. Within two months, the country elected Sun Yat-sen as its leader and forced the young Qing emperor to abdicate the throne.

Fast forward to Mao and his dream for a huge hydroelectric dam. Wuhan, which sits near a critical part of the Yangtze River, became the site of the dam near an area known as the Three Gorges.

Mao started to promote the dam’s construction almost immediately after taking power in 1949. Although his ill-conceived economic plans stalled the building, the project was finally finished in 2008.

Although the dam provides 2 percent of China’s electricity, the project devastated the local economy, displaced 1.3 million people, and created numerous ecological problems from fish migration to landslides. Corrupt politicians lined their pockets with money intended to build the dam and help the local population.

During a trip along the Yangtze two years ago, I got to see the engineering feat and the consequences to the local population. The local economy is dependent on tourists—most of them Chinese–who travel along the river to see the dam and ignore its impact.

The coronavirus has put Wuhan on the international stage yet again. Not surprisingly, the government failed the recognize the impact of the disease on the population and limited public knowledge to help prevent the spread of the illness.

Although the ineptitude of President Xi is unlikely to result in the fall of the country’s current emperor, the coronavirus underlines the government’s failure to recognize the implications of its wrongheaded policies—much like the long-term impact of the Three Gorges Dam.

What does a 355 ship Navy mean?

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, from NavyTimes.com

The US Navy is locking horns with Congress and the other services, trying to build to 355 ships, which it needs to fight China and Russia in any sort of future conflict. Despite the recent claim about rebuilding our military at the State of the Union, the current Navy is in a bit of disrepair, mainly from being run ragged around the world without enough shipyard time to make repairs. 355 ships would make a huge difference, but its not achievable with the current budget structure.

But when we say 355 ships, what does that mean? Currently, the US Navy has 10 aircraft carriers, 34 amphibious ships, 22 cruisers, 12 littoral combat ships, 68 destroyers (including Zumwalt class), 52 fast attack submarines and 4 SSGNs, plus 14 SSBNs. That brings us to 102 surface warships and 70 submarines. On the support ship side, we have 78 ships. Navy official website says 294 “Battle Force Ships” and 338,114 personnel.

If we look at the last time we had 355 ships, it would be 1997. Back then, we had 20 more surface ships, 21 more submarines, 2 more carriers and 7 more amphibious vessels. Back in 1997, we had 398,847 personnel. Doing my napkin math based on the current way we man ships, that isn’t far off from what we would need.

Image captured from Navy History Website

I put battle force ships in quotes because the Navy came under fire for counting ships differently. When ship count dropped a lot, Congress got (rightfully) concerned that we didn’t have enough vessels to do our tasking. Navy came back with some new counting that made Common Core math look good. So, if you think 355 ships means 355 warships, then we need to flash back to 1992.

I count 343, including amphibious ships but excluding mine warfare, patrol and auxiliary ships. Back in 1992, the Navy had 576,047 personnel.

We’ve gained some efficiencies in how we man ships, but not orders of magnitude more. The crew size on a current DDG is 329 personnel. A Spruance Class destroyer from the 90’s had a complement of 335 personnel. Other ships are similar, and in many cases need more personnel to run the advanced equipment onboard.

If we think war with China is a coming reality, we need to start expanding our Navy now, or there is little hope to stop China from walking all over countries in their first and second island chains. Representative Carl Vinson saw that in 1934, we had lost too much ground to the Japanese Navy, and pushed through a number of bills to authorize what would eventually become a two ocean Navy. Japan’s Navy went from one of the largest in the world to utter destruction in only 4 short years, thanks to Congress’ foresight in building new warships quickly. We need that same foresight today.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

China’s economic troubles

By Christopher Harper

As business and political leaders descend on Davos, Switzerland, for the four-day World Economic Summit, Chinese President Xi faces a variety of problems.

Although the press has questioned the gains made by the United States in the first round of a trade deal with China, it’s clear that President Trump made significant inroads.

Under the deal, China agreed to buy an additional $200 billion in American goods over the next two years. The agreement protects U.S. intellectual property, addresses technology transfers, and ends currency manipulation by the Chinese.

It would be premature to applaud the deal UNTIL the Chinese meet these goals, but these steps are the most significant in the history of trade between the two countries.

Noted Chinese expert and author Michael Pillsbury dismissed the attacks on the deal, calling it a “historic agreement.”

He criticized the Democrats. “They said all the things that President Trump said today, but they couldn’t get it done. They didn’t have a strategy on how to bring the Chinese leadership around. Now I’m afraid they’re a little bitter and even embarrassed. Their own ideas have been implemented by Donald Trump, and they can’t stand it.”

Although the deal may help Xi and the economy, the Chinese president faces other financial issues. 

As The Wall Street Journal notes, Xi’s domestic economic policies have stumbled. “He has appeared to choose political reliability over profits and efficiency as he throws his support behind government-owned businesses in the form of subsidies, financing, licenses, and pressure on competitors. Bankruptcies are running higher than ever in China among private companies, which suddenly have less scope to expand,” James T. Areddy writes from Shanghai.

During my travels throughout China during the past five years, I have noticed a growing disparity between the growing middle and upper classes in the cities and the crushing poverty of the countryside, particularly in minority areas. It’s true that the countryside has made gains in the past 20 years, but these are far less dramatic than among the urban elites. 

Furthermore, the much-touted Belt and Road Initiative has hit some significant resistance aboard. One of the features of the initiative was to provide jobs to the Chinese building sector, which faced fewer projects inside the country. Now the international building program faces growing concerns that the developing countries where projects are centered will see mounting debt to finance the programs. That means fewer jobs for Chinese workers outside the country. 

President Xi isn’t likely to face any serious challenges from inside the Communist Party. Still, the international community will note how his once-gleaming economic acumen has lost much of its luster. 

Under The Fedora on Monday “Moderate” Opinion, Why Dems Attack, Selling China Rice, The Church following the rules, and a Pat’s still bring fear

If you want to know why people don’t give “Moderate” Muslims the benefit of the doubt this is why

It wasn’t long ago when such a piece would be too fringe even for the Guardian.


I think this tweet is the single best political justification for the media/left’s actions on Trump that I’ve read

if you are the party out of power looking to regain it the last thing you want is for the people being “the happiest they’ve ever been” when your foes are in charge.


At the Doug Ross Journal (where I found the above tweet) I saw something that jumped out at me.

It turns out this isn’t a new story:

The U.S. can now ship rice to China for the first time ever, signaling a win for President Donald Trump in his efforts to reshape the trade relationship just after talks between the nations broke down Wednesday.
Officials from the nations finalized a protocol to allow for the first-ever American shipments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday in a statement. China is the world’s biggest rice consumer, importer and producer.

That’s from 2017 and this is from Feb

While there’s no guarantee, farmers and millers are increasingly optimistic because the Chinese ban has been lifted, a handful of U.S. rice mills have been cleared for export, and China is looking to make the Trump administration happy with commodity purchases.
It was in December that China took a major step toward making that happen, changing its customs regs and officially lifting its ban on U.S. rice. Separately, China has now officially cleared seven of the 34 U.S. rice mills that USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has asked China to certify under the country’s sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, U.S. industry and government officials tell Agri-Pulse. The remaining mills are still under Chinese consideration, sources say.

Oddly I don’t remember reading it before. Remember Media Bias isn’t just what gets reported, it’s what gets promoted.


Apparently a judge in Michigan believes it’s discrimination when a catholic priest decides not to enable her in a state of mortal sin to commit further mortal sin.

Judge Sara Smolenski, the chief judge of Michigan’s 63rd District Court, received a call from the priest at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, requesting she not attend communion.
“This is not about me against the priest, and it’s not really me against the church,” Smolenski told CNN. “This feels like selective discrimination. Why choose gay people, and why now?”
Smolenski, 62, said that the Rev. Scott Nolan, the priest at St. Stephen for approximately three years, called her on November 23 and told her, “‘It was good to see you in church on Sunday. Because you and Linda are married in the state of Michigan, I’d like you to respect the church and not come to communion.’”

Actually given the Pope we have the idea of a church actually enforcing the rules of the church might actually be newsworthy.


Finally thanks to my injury I was able to watch the entire Patriots game this weekend and see them one guy keeping his balance on an onside kick away from a shot at yet another miracle comeback.

It’s a testament to what Brady has done in the past that when they managed to score the 2nd of the three scores they needed for a chance that even with under a minute to go and no time outs kicking the ball that you could hear double in the voices of the announcers in a game that should have been over and feel fear in the stadium after Edelman caught that touchdown, but in reality the Texan response was classic Patriot defense by a former Pats defensive coordinator, leave the other team just enough space and just enough time to get close but still lose.

Fall of Berlin Wall anniversary offers lessons for misguided millennials

Blogger next to Berlin Wall slab at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in 2018

By John Ruberry

Saturday was the thirtieth anniversary of one of the most profound events of the 20th century, the fall of the Berlin Wall. What began as a bureaucratic slip became a people power moment as oppressed East Germans stormed the wall checkpoints and with the help of West Berliners, literally began hacking away on what Winston Churchill called “the wall of shame.”

It was also a wall of failure. The smartest and most gifted people of communist East Germany were more likely to seek freedom and prosperity in the West. The brain drain threatened the stability of East Germany, so after receiving permission from his fellow dictator, the USSR’s Nikita Krushchev, Walter Ulbricht ordered construction of the wall in the summer of 1961.

Just a few days ago Dennis Prager explained on his show that there is a difference between a dictatorship and a totalitarian state. Augosto Pinochet’s Chile was a brutal nation in the 1970s, but if you didn’t like it, you could leave Chile. Not so in the USSR, until its final days, where my wife was born, or in the absurdly-named German Democratic Republic. East Germans who tried to escape to West Berlin would have to conquer not just the wall, but also beds of nails, attack dogs, and barbed wire, as well as avoid sharpshooters in watch towers. The number of people killed attempting to escape in the 28-year existence of the wall is disputed–about 200 is a common estimate.

Of growing up in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, Mrs. Marathon Pundit told me this morning when I was discussing this post, “We were slaves, really.”

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll released last week shows that over one-third of millennials approve of communism, which betrays the failure of our schools and universities that seem much more interested promoting the 56 genders and waving their fingers at guys like me over “white privilege.” Oh, the founders of the communist movement, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were white dudes. As were the earliest communists in power, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky. All five of them came from middle class or wealthy backgrounds. They had white privilege.

OK, millennials!

The lessons of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the evils of Nazism obviously should never be forgotten. But what is overlooked by schools and society are the murderous regimes of Stalin (20 million killed, maybe more), Mao Zedong (65 million killed, maybe more). and Cambodia’s Pol Pot (1.5 million killed and perhaps more, roughly 20 percent of that nation’s population).

Another 30th anniversary involving a repressive communist regime passed this summer–the Tianammen Square protests in China that ended in the slaughter of pro-democracy activists. For 24 straight weeks there have been pro-Democracy protests in Hong Kong. The more things change…

Ulbricht and his successors’ East Germany didn’t have the high death count, but it excelled in mental torture. Its KGB was the Ministry of State Security, commonly known as the Stasi, whose goal was to “know everything about everyone.” Two movies are essential viewing for millennials–actually for everyone–to learn more about East Germany. Both of them are available on Netflix, Karl Marx City, a documentary, and The Lives of Others, an Academy Award winner for Best International Feature Film. Fittingly, The Lives of Others is set in the year 1984.

Apologists for communism regularly point out that the reason these Marxist regimes failed is that the wrong people were in charge and “real communism” has never been tried. It is they who are wrong. People in power, for the most part, have one thing in common. They want even more power.

There are exceptions of course. King George III asked an American what George Washington would do now that he had defeated the British Empire. When told that the general would return to his farm, the king replied, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Is that lesson being taught in many American schools? I doubt it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Imagine if South African PM Pieter Botha invested in the NBA in 1979

After watching the NBA in general the last week and LeBron James in particular this week there must be a bunch of elderly South African exiles kicking themselves today. If only they had known!

Just think, if back in 1979 or the early 80’s South Africa PM Pieter Botha had the foreknowledge of today he could have invested a big chunk of South Africa’s not unsubstantial wealth in the NBA. What a difference it would have made!

Imagine Magic Johnson or Doctor J or Michael Jordan out there saying how misunderstood South Africa is. Ponder Celtics big three of Bird, Parish and McHale insisting that we have no business butting in. Picture Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman James Worthy, Patrick Ewing and the lot having no comment and finally Sir Charles statement on china rephrased defending his fellow players not getting into the issue of Apartheid in South Africa because of finances.

And why stop at South Africa? Think of all the other oppressive regimes in the past 100 years, if they only knew that a stake in an American sports league might have made the difference for them. The Central Powers might have won World War 1. Saddam might still be feeding people into wood chippers, the Soviet Union might not have fallen (the idea of funding US colleges turned out to operate too slow to save them), Idi Amin kids would be ruling Uganda, Hitler might still control most of Europe and completed his final solution.

And of course if baseball crazy Japan had thought of this in 1940 this entire China kerfuffle wouldn’t exist because Japan, thanks presumably to the support of US Ballplayers they had paid, wouldn’t have felt the need to hit Pearl Harbor. Instead they would still be ruling China with an iron fist.

All of these things could have been if they had only thought of investing in a US sports league the way China has the NBA.

Of course it’s just possible that today we are dealing with lesser sons of greater fathers who would not have sold themselves, but there just might be some elderly Japanese vet in a nursing home who fought in China in 1940 watching all this unfold on TV & thinking to himself. “It would have been worth a shot”

Reminder that Climate Change Activists are Full of It

by baldilocks

School children went on strike in the name of climate change last week. I don’t even feel like checking to see which day it was because I know that the activists who put these kids up to skipping class don’t really care about the climate. If they did, the United States would be far down on the list for castigation.

But the activists are all over Americans and Europeans about climate change and pollution for simple reasons: they know that the West is capable of being shamed about it and that Westerners have money. Activists pretty much ignore the real problem nations, places like India

Twenty-two of the world’s 30 worst cities for air pollution are in India, according to a new report, with Delhi again ranked the world’s most polluted capital.

The Greenpeace and AirVisual analysis of air pollution readings from 3,000 cities around the world found that 64% exceed the World Health Organization’s annual exposure guideline for PM2.5 fine particulate matter – tiny airborne particles, about a 40th of the width of a human hair, that are linked to a wide range of health problems.

Every single measured city in the Middle East and Africa exceeds the WHO guidelines, as well as 99% of cities in south Asia and 89% in east Asia.

… and China.

According to search results, China and Pakistan compete for the most polluted countries in the world. Most of the other top polluters are in South Asia and Africa, as mentioned in the Guardian link.

Some of these lists of Top Ten Most Sh*tholiest Countries slide the United States and other First World countries into the mix, but I wonder, in spite of what we’ve seen lately in Baltimore and in Los Angeles.

Look at this video. It’s said to be from the Dominican Republic.

Look. I understand why none of the activists want to go bother the children of Middle Eastern Muslims, Africans, or the Chinese. I mean who wants to die or get arrested in, say, Nigeria?

But let’s stop pretending that America is the Devil in the religion of climate change.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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You Can’t Eat Debt

Col Von Luger: Flyers are gentlemen, not peasants to dig in the earth. So I am surprised.

Group Captain McDonald: The English have always been keen on gardening.

Col Von Luger: Oh Yes, but flowers? It this not so?

McDonald: You can’t eat flowers

Col Von Luger: Good Point

The Great Escape 1963

 

I must confess that I was concerned when President Trump started slapping Tariff’s on China having been taught from youth that tariff’s had been one of the underlying causes of the Great Depression and knowing that China has been a great holder of our debt.

His confidence in his ability to manage our trade problems apparently has not been misplaced:

China will exempt some agricultural products from additional tariffs on U.S. goods, including pork and soybeans, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said Friday, in the latest sign of easing Sino-U.S. tensions before a new round of talks aimed at curbing a bruising trade war.

This development is of some disappointment to those looking to defeat him politically but not to producers of Pork and soybeans:

“The importance of this market to U.S. pork producers is clear,” said National Pork Producers Council President and North Carolina hog farmer David Herring. “U.S. pork exports could single handedly make a huge dent in the trade imbalance with China.”


An outbreak of deadly African swine fever, which has cut China’s pig herd by a third since mid-2018, has propelled Chinese pork prices to record levels and left the country in need of replacement supplies from overseas. U.S. pork exports to China so far this year have largely fallen short of expectations.

Ed Morrissey sees what it means.

The concessions on pork and soybeans are significant, much more so than a two-week delay in tariffs. It signals that China can’t afford to deal with a lengthy trade war, especially not this year. They may not like it, but they still need to trade in order to feed their massive population, and China might have to get used to fully opening their markets and complying with agreements to do so.

President Trump, being more successful and more experienced in business than myself and recognizing that checking China’s expansion without military confrontation was a vital American interest apparently understands one of basic facts of life, a fact that he as a person who was born to wealth might not be expected to remember.

The most imposing nation no matter how large a standing army or how broad a shadow it casts on their neihbors, is impotent if it can’t feed it’s people.