I was surprised to read a news story this morning that announced China had overtaken Germany as the world’s top exporter. It wasn’t China that surprised me; it was Germany.
Who knew that Germany was the world’s top exporter before China nosed ahead in December? Not I. But according to the news item, Germany’s exports in 2009 totaled 816 billion euros ($1.17 trillion). China’s exports for the year were $1.2 trillion, thanks to a $130.7 billion surge in December.
Americans and Britons (and members of the British Empire) marched victorious through western Europe, while the Russians grabbed the eastern part of the continent. The Allies had won the war. Hitler’s Germany was defeated, destroyed, humiliated.
Now, a little more than half a century later, Germany is a great economic power, rivaling China for world supremacy. What happened? I wish I knew. But the information I get leaves me clueless. The television news that I see doesn’t mention Germany or any European nation unless there’s a terrorist attack or some other dramatic occurrence over there. American newspapers and magazines leave me with the impression that the U.S. is the center of the world, the universe even.
It’s the Tiger Woods scandal that rocks our world, not the economic success of some faraway place like Germany or China.
You may recall that a decade or so ago, Japan enjoyed a halcyon period. Japan, that other nation devastated by World War II. Remember those news stories about the threat posed by Japanese purchases of “trophy” properties in America? But for reasons largely ignored by the media, Japan’s economic dominance has faded, and the Japanese are apparently in as bad a mess as America. I say “apparently,” because I don’t hear or read much about Japan these days.
Are you as baffled by all this as I am? What happened to the notion that “to the victor go the spoils”? Why does one country rise and another fall, while the same financial interests get richer and richer?
Is there an alternate world out there, one we never hear about, one in which countries don’t really matter, wars don’t really bring defeat or victory, and the average Joe is kept in the dark and fed BS, like a mushroom?
While American cars sport bumper stickers urging us to “support our troops,” is the real war between a multinational ruling class and an impoverished mass of workers spread out over the various jurisdictions? Is it the money that matters, not the nationality?
Whether “China” or “Germany” – or any other country – prospers, do the same corporate investors reap the benefits?
I guess I’ll never know. I’m just one of the mushrooms.