Just when you thought that the Washington Post could not go any further in bringing its readers off the wall statements from self-imagined great thinkers, it rises to the occasion. Today we have Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group, giving us “five myths about America’s decline.”
This short piece contains heaping doses of silliness. For example, Bremmer thinks China will be suffering because:
“the ratio of Chinese workers to retirees is around 6 to 1 today, but by 2040, that number is expected to shrink to 2 to 1.” Fans of arithmetic know that this is not likely to pose a problem. Even with a substantial slowdown in the rate of productivity growth in China, the average worker is likely to be close to 4 times as productive in 2040 as they are today. This means that China will easily be able to accommodate substantial increases in living standards for both workers and retirees. In fact, the slowing of China’s population growth will provide enormous environmental benefits to China and the world long into the future.
There are other quirky comments and confused assertions which I’ll skip, but here’s the money quote:
“Finally, imagine a world in which a poorer country such as China becomes the world’s largest economy. The Chinese government’s willingness to lead on issues such as climate change and nuclear non-proliferation would probably pale in comparison with the leadership America provides today — yet one more reason Beijing will not supplant Washington anytime soon.”
Yes, that is an accurate quote. Bremmer thinks the world needs the United States’ leadership in dealing with global warming.
Just in case you have not been able to get news for the last 15 years (stranded in Antarctica or on some Pacific island without Internet access), the United States has been the most important force blocking any action to restrict greenhouse gas emissions. The most progress the world has ever made in this area was when George W. Bush explicitly said that the United States was not interested in taking part in the Kyoto Agreement. This allowed the other wealthy countries to move forward with a plan involving binding caps on emissions. The world would do much better without the sort of “leadership” that the United States has been showing in this area.
Economist Dean Baker is co-founder of Center for Economic Policy and Research and writes regularly on CEPR’s Beat the Press blog, where this post first appeared.