The Parallel Parliament

by Glen Pearson

Tag: China

Books

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Sometimes falling ill has its own rewards.  My medical complications a year ago meant that I mostly missed out on a relaxing summer and I was determined to make up for it this year.  I have been working hard to finish off a number of books I’ve been writing over the course of the last couple of years and I’m glad to say that they are all completed.  You’ll find a list of them below.  I’m occasionally asked where people can get copies of the books and the links below will help point in the right direction.

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 6.23.21 PMFrom Canada to Brazil, California to China, Catherine O’Hara takes on an odyssey that will change how she views the world of politics. As Minister for the Environment for the Canadian government she has to learn to balance the responsibilities of power with the reality of sustainability and human rights. Essential to it all is David Kronberg – a mystical champion of the natural order who inevitably draws Catherine into a deeper world that will change her position at the centre of power.  You can get the hardback version here and the paperback version here.

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 6.45.34 PMCitizens might well accept reform of government if they actually had a say in the process, or even some kind of direct access to politicians themselves. It’s not to be, sadly, and instead we have information without humanity, communication without meaning, and disenchantment without end. In such days where the customer is always right, this is hardly going to end well. Community engagement is on the only hope for the recovery of democracy.  You can get the paperback version here or download the iTunes podcasts here.

 

LULU cover_smallerTwo great continents intertwined on the world’s stage. And two larger than life characters determined in their separate ways to tell their stories. Chen Chang-Jin – the wildly successful Chinese billionaire working to utilize Africa’s vast natural resources in ways that would be benefit his homeland and raise his profile in the process. Achol Madut Yek – one of the poorest of the poor, trekking from south Sudan, through Darfur, and into Chad, in a journey that will captivate the eyes of the world and cause it to see the strength and potential of Africa and its people in a new light. Dualities is ultimately a story about humanity – its scope, its inequities, its potential – and how the welfare of its most vulnerable members is often more vital than commonly acknowledged.  You can order the hardback version here, the paperback here, or the ebook here.

Coming up – Just finished a new book titled Fired Into Life – thoughts on Jesus and the human personality.  I’m also enjoying being in the middle of some new writing on The Seven Deadly Sins – Gandhi’s list of special challenges facing citizens in our modern life:

Wealth without work

Pleasure without conscience

Knowledge without character

Commerce without morality

Science without humanity

Worship without sacrifice

Politics without principles

 

The Dragon vs. the Eagle

Despite the hype, it was never destined to be a breakthrough set of summits. At both the G20 gathering in Seoul and the APEC summit in Japan, participants warily watched the birth pangs of a new world order as China and the United States squared off over the unfolding of the world’s economy. While the other participants, including Canada, made do with sideline meetings, each was aware that the main event between the two great superpowers could have far-reaching effects on every advanced economy.

Canadians can be forgiven for experiencing difficulty in deciphering all the political rhetoric emanating from both gatherings. The Coles Notes version is this. The Chinese economy is clearly rivalling America’s. The eastern giant is second only to the U.S. in computer sales, but has a larger proportion of first-time buyers. It has more cell-phone users than the States. A clear indication of how things have changed can be seen in car sales. As recently as 2006, Americans bought twice as many cars as the Chinese; now the latter are in the lead. If things proceed as predicted, by 2050, the Chinese will be driving over a billion cars – almost 50 percent more than the current world total.

The greatest distinction between the two economic giants can be wrapped up in two words: production and consumption. Most new Chinese jobs are in the production field, whereas in the U.S. they are in retail sales and services. Chinese companies are plowing their rising profits into increased production, and this is leading to new companies, more equipment, more technologies. While the U.S and Canada invested stimulus funds into short-term solutions, the Chinese dedicated almost $600 billion in enlarging the country’s ability to produce – railroads, power grids, and factories. While its capital spending is nearly equal to the Americans, their consumer spending is only a sixth as large. America, on the other hand, has primarily focused on spending and consumption, leaving precious little for the productive capacity and infrastructure required for the future.

Recently we’ve read of the rebound of General Motors, following government bailouts, but what isn’t reported is that, in 2009, GM’s sales in China were up a soaring 67% from the year previous and that it sold more cars there than in the U.S. But the kicker is that virtually all of these cars were made in China itself, not America. GM received domestic assistance at the same time it was profiting significantly overseas. Increasingly, American companies are moving hefty portions of their operations away from the U.S. and into China.

The issue at the summit meetings was really one of currency and how the Chinese government controlled its flow. China wants to increase more jobs domestically and so it is investing heavily in production instead of consumption. It is to their advantage to keep their yuan undervalued because if the currency rose, Chinese exports would become more expensive in other countries and we’d buy fewer of their products.

All this has caused a huge trade imbalance between the two countries, benefitting China and hindering the U.S. recovery. Obama’s attempts to challenge the Chinese to permit their currency to free-float were rebuffed by the Chinese leadership, leading to the mixed outcome of both summits.

There are lessons for Canada in this, but we appear not to be listening. With reports emerging that the Canadian stimulus funds haven’t produced the effect hoped for, we might have missed a great opportunity to invest in this country’s future if we had only put our money where our infrastructure is – we missed the productivity quotient, opting instead for quick fixes that will eventually leave us with massive infrastructure problems. China and America differ in how they have permitted money to flow in their economies. While the Chinese ploughed excess money into huge capital projects, the U.S., through ongoing rounds of tax cuts, saw their wealth move steadily up to the benefit of the top 10% of wealthy citizens. It’s now more clear who gets the better deal. Canada is currently running the risk of missing future productivity for the sake of present domestic political advantage. Stephen Harper watched from the sidelines at the summits, but soon enough he’ll have to enter centre stage with a limping stimulus investment and no real plan for future productivity. His next budget will have to address that reality or our fate will look more like that south of the border than the burgeoning economy that is China.

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