The Widdershins

Be not afraid…

Posted on: July 9, 2013

Good morning Widdershins. For those expecting to see one of Fredster’s brilliant posts this morning, we have Great Walldecided to play whack-a-mole in order to frustrate Edward Snowden wannabes. Regular order will return once Pat feels better and is back to her side-splittingly funny dead-eye accurate satire.

While there are oodles of stories crossing the airwaves, like the House’s consistent embodiment of the lyrics to Turn Back Time, the Zimmerman trial, or the FISA court, I’ve been reading some off-the-beaten path pieces.

Every pundit and their dog whines about how China is going to overtake the U.S. economy and it will be the end of life as we know it. If you ask me, it is just another stale bromide left over from the “Evil Empire” and “Axis of Evil” days where we had to have a shiny enemy to keep us from noticing trickle down economics just kept wetting itself.

China has some monstrous problems — and if history is any guide, each time they have let down the “Great Wall” over thousands of years, it has resulted in an eventual reinstitution of isolationism resulting from their inability to trust themselves. This time around the unanswered question is this: Have they gone too far, too fast, to be able to quell the lure of a middle class lifestyle?

The first article is China’s Policy Factory: The NDRC. The National Development and Reform Commission is a superministry dating back to 1952 and Mao Zedong where it was envisioned it would set production targets for everything from steel to wheat through Five Year Plans. It’s grown a bit since then.

With 30,000 red pencil wielding bureaucrats spread throughout China, the NDRC decides just about everything from the size of the Shanghai Disneyland (116 hectares, now under construction), to how thin plastic bags should be (no less than 0.025 millimeters), to setting gasoline prices and taxi fares, and recently used its sweeping power to fine China’s two best-known liquor companies $73.25 million.

With its plenary control over the cost of just about everything, it’s sorta like Wal-Mart without the yellow smiley face price guarantee.

Downtown ShanghaiThe actions of the NDRC have come under attack on Chinese social media of late and there is a worrisome backlash to its actions. You see, China must have continued strong growth in its GDP in order to ensure sufficient jobs for the hundreds of millions of farmers expected to leave the countryside. Therein lies another problem, the shrinking available workforce in China.

Which brings me to the second article about Chinese manufacturing. The country’s one-child policy is taking its toll. The number of working-age Chinese in 2012 fell by 3.45 million, to 937.27 million. While that’s just a small drop, it’s the first decline since record-keeping began and marks the start of a trend expected to accelerate in the next two decades. China no longer has an inexhaustible supply of young workers.

There’s also something else at work. In 2012, 25 provinces increased the minimum wage by an average of 20.2 percent. The current five-year plan ending in 2015 calls for base wages to increase by an average 13% per year, part of a policy to address growing income inequality. (Wouldn’t it be grand if our government recognized the inherent dysfunction engendered by a 700:1 disparity in U.S. income inequality between CEOs and factory floor workers?)

The reason I think this is important is too often “China fear” is the subject of too many headlines spewed by Chinese Recycling...politicians and just as often, the predicate of those headlines is, “a shopping list oiled up by military contractors.” Suffice it to say, China has huge problems facing an economy where governmental control must continue to be centralized, but where its heavy touch must be perceived as lighter and lighter to assuage a growing middle class.

So the next time you hear a whining “China fluffing” politician start a sentence with “We must be afraid, very afraid“ before he or she rattles off a shopping list from the military/industrial complex, remember China has a world of problems to say “Grace” over, that is, if they said “Grace.“

And here is an fun fact to know and tell, in their fiscal year just ended March 2013, Booz Allen Hamilton reported $5.76 billion in revenue, 99 percent of which came from government contracts — one quarter of which were from U.S. intelligence agencies.

What are you reading?

This is an open thread.


13 Responses to "Be not afraid…"

Not only does China’s one child impact their future, but the hordes of Chinese adoptions of female children must present some problems for the further procreation of future Chinese workers, A generation of exported little Chinese girls now reside in the US and are unlikely to return.

OMG – the infamous 5 year plans! I though they had ditched those just like the former USSR did.

We hear all the time that “China will ‘own’ us”, because they buy so many of our Treasury notes. But by the same token they need us to buy all of their products that they flood send to us.

one of Fredster’s brilliant posts this morning 😆

were it so!

Booz Allen Hamilton reported $5.76 billion in revenue, 99 percent of which came from government contracts

The Haliburton of the spy industry.

Outsourcing national security to the for-profit sector. Of course, they will have our best interests at heart………

chat@4: and of course, what could go wrong?

Booz Allen spun off everything else they did into another company. Now, it is just a government contract sucking monolith.

All of this outsourcing of government contracts, particularly for intelligence, was supposed to be a short-term proposition or so said Dubya and Evil Dick. Once these vampire squids got their blood funnels into the real “inexhaustible” money there was no prying them loose. Of course, Obama has done nothing to curtail them — in many cases he has hooked IVs up to their embedded blood funnels.

Prolix@6: What cracks me up about the contracting out stuff is that under Bush they tried to contract out a sh!tload of stuff under A-76. I mean from processing this and that to lord knows what else. Under A-76 they had to let the fed employees try to “match’ the contract costs. There was a lot of it at DoD. The funny thing was that in almost every case, it came out cheaper to leave the processes with the Fed employees and I think that A-76 stuff just went by the wayside.

@7, another fun fact to know and tell — the average outsourced intelligence functionary is $225,000. The average “in-house” governmental intelligence functionary is $125,000.

You know, this is as much the fault of the Democrats as it is the Repubs. For too many years through the 1980s, Dems were afraid to address Reagan headon about, “Government is the problem.” The meme is oh so easy to swallow while being so disrespectful to thousands of hardworking public sector employees.

All you have to do is look at the administrative costs associated with Medicare — less than 10%. The administrative costs of private insurance at times was upward of 40% because so much was “off loaded” on their financial statements. That is why the ACA has capped the admin costs at 20% — still double of what Medicare is. And the other hidden secret is this: Most of the admin of Medicare are privatized — they just have really accurate and punitive managers who watch every cent and have the statutory ability to bring the hammer when they need to.

Prolix said: the average outsourced intelligence functionary is $225,000. The average “in-house” governmental intelligence functionary is $125,000.

Yep, the fed employees are ceilinged in the GS grade level they can go up to. And that’s determined by OPM and the job series the employee and job are in. Meanwhile the contractor employee has no such limits on salary.

The meme is oh so easy to swallow while being so disrespectful to thousands of hardworking public sector employees.

Again yep. Before the budget became such an issue, it used to be there as parity in pay raises given to both the military and civilian employees. Congress would balk and then they would get reminded that a goodly number of federal civilian employees were being deployed to the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan just as the military was, being put in harms way. That would usually shut the repubs up with their kvetching about salaries.

Chat @1: Exactly what I was thinking! Not only did they have only one child, but they were so keen on having males! The real China problem is that millions of Chinese men will be coming to America to find brides. And good luck with that too!

And now that we have all of these trained outsourced military units, rich people and corporations can hire them as their own private armies.

SophieCDT@11: And the bizarre part of that link is in this comment:

The only problem is that IT ISN’T THEIR PROPERTY!!! It’s a state forest and by state law must be accessible to ALL STATE RESIDENTS.


Perhaps one day we might look forward to Blackwater variants fighting wars in the Middle East to “protect American interests” then.

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