The wrong-way Corrigans who engineered the U.S. train wreck

America’s decline counts as probably the most precipitate in history. So who’s to blame? America’s ideology-blinded media have a lot to answer for.

As recently as 1965, when I started college, America had the world at its feet. Its decline since then must count as the most precipitate of any major nation in history. As my former employer and supporter the late Sir James Goldsmith remarked in 1994, “What an astounding thing it is to watch a civilization destroy itself.”

Who’s to blame for this epochal fiasco? It is a question that future historians will debate for centuries. Let me give them some advance help with their inquiries.

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A message for the Times: Justice delayed is justice denied

The New York Times prides itself on its uniquely high standards of accuracy and fairness. So why did its overseas edition take so long to correct the record when I was misrepresented a year ago?

For nearly a year I have been seeking justice in a complaint against the International Herald Tribune newspaper, which is the Paris-based global edition of the New York Times. The problem concerns two letters to the editor which damagingly misrepresented me. In the end the editors printed a correction but, in contrast with their usual promptness, they did so only after an unexplained — and ostensibly inexplicable — delay of nearly three months. (Click here to see the letters, the correction, and the original article to which the letters referred: http://www.unsustainable.org/pdf/articles-1208.pdf) This period coincided with the launch of my new book, In the Jaws of the Dragon: America’s Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Hegemony (New York: St. Martin’s Press). The effect was that I was demonized in the Nexis news clippings database, which is widely used in the media to check out the background of authors of new books, at the most important moment of my career (In the Jaws of the Dragon is the culmination of more than two decades of study of the East Asian region and of nearly four decades of writing about economics and finance).

The correction did not appear until two weeks after the book’s launch and even then was not made available on-line until I complained again (and has been only intermittently available on-line since). The correction came too late to minimize the damage to my launch. In other words, this was a case where justice delayed meant justice denied.

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Reactions to my Chang/Kamen review

My review of Paula Kamen’s recent biography of Iris Chang was posted at CounterPunch.org just two days ago. Reader reaction has been fast and sometimes furious.

Judging by the scale and tone of responses to my review of Paula Kamen’s biography, Iris Chang’s memory still elicits exceptionally powerful emotions. Of all the many laudatory messages I received for my defense of Chang’s work (and my criticism of Kamen’s badly flawed biography), one stood out as perhaps the most gratifying reader’s letter I have ever received. “Your article was so accurate and a fair assessment of Kamen’s book,” wrote Ying-Ying Chang. A great compliment indeed given its source — for Ying-Ying Chang was Iris’s mother.

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What the persecution of the Falun Gong tells us about New China

Even if the globalist-minded American press would prefer not to notice, the Beijing authorities continue to persecute the Falun Gong. Yet the movement’s only known “offense” is that it is not controlled by the Communist Party.

Sometimes it takes a while to be vindicated. When I spoke to the New America Foundation in Washington in March 2008, an interlocutor challenged my thesis that China remained a tightly controlled society.

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Iris Chang: Elegy for a brave writer

Iris Chang was a Chinese-American author and historian who took her own life in 2004. As Paula Kamen recounts in a new biography, Chang had challenged the establishments of two of the world’s most powerful nations. [This review was first published by CounterPunch.org.]

  • Kamen, Paula. Finding Iris Chang. Da Capo Press, 2007.

Somewhere in the Sherlock Holmes stories there is an episode where Holmes slyly sets a little test for Watson. Holmes has already checked out the mystery du jour but, without letting on, deputes Watson to take a second look. Watson reports back in plodding and largely irrelevant detail, as Holmes impassively listens. Finally Holmes thunders: “Watson, you have noted everything but what is significant….You see but do not observe.”

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Detroit: A riposte to the bashers

Detroit’s problems are partly — but only partly — its own fault. Other actors, not least the smart-alecks of America’s opinion-making industry, have played a crucial role in this tragedy. (This is a longer version of an article published at CounterPunch.org.)

Never has the American car industry had a poorer press. No epithet these days seems too contemptuous in referring to the industry’s managerial competence and no policy proposal too heartless in addressing the industry’s high labor costs.

The American commentariat’s “let-them-eat-cake” attitude was summed up by Mitt Romney in a New York Times editorial page article a few weeks ago in which he unapologetically advocated that the entire industry be allowed to go bankrupt. Yet the main “benefit” of a bankruptcy is merely that the industry’s surviving businesses would be allowed to walk away from billions of dollars in obligations to retirees. One wonders how Romney would react if some ideologue casually suggested his pension be incinerated on a bonfire of free market theory.

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Finance: A cuckoo in the economy’s nest

Much of my September 1999 book In Praise of Hard Industries was quickly vindicated when America’s New Economy boom collapsed in 2000. But until recently my baleful analysis of the growth in financial services — “the economics of the cancer cell,” I called it — remained controversial. Not anymore. My analysis can be read online via Amazon’s Look Inside feature but, for convenience sake, here it is verbatim and in its entirety.

[Chapter 3 of Eamonn Fingleton’s 1999 book In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the Key to Future Prosperity.]

As we noted in chapter 1, the financial services industry ranks second only to computer software in the extent to which it is extolled by postindustrialists. And true enough, at first sight, the postindustrialists’ enthusiasm for financial services seems to make sense. After all, pay levels in financial services are generally well above average. Moreover, many kinds of financial services have shown extraordinarily rapid growth in recent decades, not least in the two leading postindustrial economies, the United States and the United Kingdom.

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Boeing, Boeing,….Gone: An article revisited

In a cover story in the American Conservative in January 2005, I documented the remarkable degree to which East Asian governments have been persuading the Boeing corporation to transfer proprietary American aerospace technology. Soon afterwards Unsustainable.org crashed and it was intimated to me, by someone who seemed to know, that the problem had been instigated by political interests offended by my article. I am re-posting it now as its message is more relevant than ever. (To read the article in the original click here.)

One evening a generation ago, several up-and-coming aerospace executives gathered to commune with the Boeing aircraft company’s chief executive Thornton Wilson. The discussion turned to Boeing’s vaunted expertise in making aircraft wings. Wilson evidently came across as boastful—so much so that a young General Electric executive named Harry Stonecipher suggested that Boeing was arrogant. “And rightly so,” came Wilson’s serene reply.

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Pursuing prosperity: Address to the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences

This is the abstract of a keynote address delivered I made at a conference organized by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev on November 13, 2008.

One of my most vivid childhood memories was watching Sputnik streak across the night sky in Ireland in 1957. I now know that Ukraine was not only the homeland of Sputnik’s creator Sergey Korolev but was the source of much of the most advanced work on the Soviet space program. Ukraine’s glorious record in aerospace suggests that it will be more than averagely successful in its industrial development plans for the twenty-first century.

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A heated banker and a hurt professor

Now that the American economy has been revealed to everyone (not just to readers of my books) as a house of cards, I thought it might be safe to suggest that things in 1990s Japan weren’t all that bad. Two Tokyo-based observers have surfaced to divert attention from my argument.

My article “Japan Then, America Now” (September issue of the Number 1 Shimbun) continues to draw fire. Writing before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, I argued that the economic crisis already so obviously in prospect for the United States would prove far more serious than Japan’s problems of the 1990s. My analysis has not only been side-swiped by the Japan Times columnist Professor Gregory Clark but has been heatedly denounced by Danforth Thomas, a former top investment banker at Goldman Sachs in Tokyo.

I will deal with Clark in a moment but first let’s dispose of Thomas, who as a new recruit to Tokyo’s burgeoning Fingleton-bashing industry (Clark is a founding member of two decades’ standing), deserves welcome-wagon treatment.

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