Dear Editor:

Recently I read two articles — the first, Paul Krugman’s, which labeled Ben Bernanke a “hippie” for downplaying the need to cut the federal budget. It seems that today those folks fixated on cutting budgets are the same group who believed so blindly in the Iraq war and it’s lies, all the while labeling all dissenters as “hippies.” The second by David Brooks, who compared the learning virtues of the Chinese to those of Westerners. It seems we study for personal advancement while the Chinese are generally following Confucius’ advice to attain a higher value as wise persons.

Two different cultures following opposite learning goals. I think our competitive goal of bettering one’s self for personal enrichment builds the “edge” for innovation, whereas the Chinese process is more inclusive, develops diligence and seeks to master detail, which would enhance sequential and analytic skills, essentially building integrity.

So, which is the best training model for jobs and national competitiveness, a few innovators or a large workforce able to maintain a high level of quality? Or maybe the question is which group has the potential to survive long term? Both sides have weaknesses: the Chinese are highly vulnerable to the new wave of manufacturing, nano-robotics, while our system enriches the few and inherently seeks the most efficient business model, which unfortunately supports job exportation.

Very few innovators are as generous as Bill Gates. Most of our successful individuals/corporations seem to be lacking in any nationalistic altruism. This versus Chinese youth who are nationalistic, train to endure while improving the lives of others. Given all the tradeoffs, who do you want to lead our nation at this time, the true-believers fixated on cutting budgets/competitiveness, unable to learn from the past, or the “hippies” trying to find the best way to build a more competitive nation through education for all our youth?

Dave Blake

This story was posted on March 14, 2013.