Invasion of the Robots

December 13, 2017

Recode.net reported in May 2017, why manufacturing jobs are coming back to the U.S. – even as companies buy more robots. “In April, 12.4 million Americans worked in manufacturing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up by about 25,000 jobs from a year prior, and almost a million from early 2010. But it’s still down by about one third, or more than six million jobs, from 1980. …

“Last year, for the first time in decades, more manufacturing jobs came back to the United States than left, according to data compiled by the Reshoring Initiative, a firm that works to bring jobs back to the U.S. …

“Even though now both human jobs and robotic manufacturing are on the rise, in the end machines do take away jobs from humans. For every robot brought into the U.S. workforce between 1990 and 2007, six human jobs were lost,”

However, jobs coming back will not stop the popular political pass time in the United States to bash China for stealing jobs from US workers.

In addition, Smirking Chimp.com says, “The perception among some Americans is that immigrant labor and off shoring of jobs are the major causes of unemployment. Indeed, American corporations choose to utilize migrant labor and off shoring to India and China in order to pay out lower wages. Yet, studies have estimated that off shoring accounts for 10 percent of unemployment and would only affect two percent of employed Americans.”

Does that mean that 90% of jobs lost in America were to robots and computers and not to China or other countries with cheap labor?

No matter the facts reveal, it is a safe bet that if someone is out of work, it is easier to blame it on China or Japan or India or South Korea, or Bangladesh, for example, than on some machine probably made in America by another machine that caused the  lost job.

The New York Times even published this in December 2016: “The Long-Term Jobs Killer Is Not China. It’s Automation.”

And it isn’t just the United States that firing humans and replacing them with robots. China is also doing it. Quartz Media reports, “It’s not just the US: Chinese factories are turning to automation as wages rise. … In 2015, according to the International Federation of Robotics, factories in China bought 68,000 industrial robots, 20% more than the year before, and more than all European countries combined.”

Next time you hear someone curse China for stealing jobs from the United States, see if you can shut them up long enough to tell them what’s really happening. “It isn’t other countries that are stealing our jobs, Stupid, its robots.”

What will happen when there are no jobs left for humans because robots took them all?  Will the robots become the consumers of the products they produce?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Eating Turkey in China

November 22, 2017

Turkey is a big bird most Chinese seldom eat. However, eating duck and chicken is common. Duck is even considered a delicacy. In fact, the Unvegan says, “No trip to Beijing is complete without eating some Peking Duck.”

The Virtual Tourist said, “It is thought that Beijing roast duck, like the tradition of roast turkey in America and the UK, owes its origin to the roast goose that is still popular in Europe on festive occasions.”

Most Americans do not celebrate the Chinese New Year (the Spring Festival) and most Chinese do not celebrate Thanksgiving. After all, Thanksgiving is an American holiday that Canadians also celebrate, but earlier in October than when it is celebrated in the U.S.

CBS News.com reported, “America is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of turkeys. As a nation we’re also the largest consumers of turkey …” and “China is the second-largest market for U.S. turkey exports, reportedly buying more than $70.5 million in turkey meat in 2012.”

If you are visiting China during Thanksgiving, you have a choice between Peking Duck, which is easier to find, and turkey.

Go China says, “Just head to your local international grocery store (Jenny Lu’s in Beijing … Cityshop in Shanghai) and stock up on all the fixings: frozen Butterball turkeys, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie makings. But you better do it fast, there tends to be a run on these items so if you’re shopping on the last Thursday in November, you’ll be out of luck.”

In fact, if you are visiting Shanghai, the Shanghai City Guide helps you find where to buy your favorite food. There are even Walmarts in China (if they sell turkey), and The Beijinger.com tells us where to get stuffed on turkey for Thanksgiving.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Seeking Harmony versus the Search for Happiness

November 15, 2017

The Search for Happiness in bold white print was splashed across the cover of my November 2017 issue of National Geographic Magazine.  In the United States, it has been my perception that the search for happiness sends many people to places like Disneyland or out to eat something that is horrible for their long term health. Maybe buying that type of happiness explains why more than 70-percent of Americans are fat or obese. In other words, when feeling depressed, spend money and while out shopping, walk around texting your friends nonstop until you run into a tree or bounce off other pedestrians because you weren’t paying attention to what was going on around you.

I think this type of thinking is one reason why the U.S. child prodigy Grace VanderWaal wrote and sang “So Much More Than This”.

Like Grace VanderWaal says in her song, “Close your phone and breathe in the air. You’ll soon realize that there’s something that is so much more than this …”

Money will buy fleeting happiness but unless you have an endless supply of money to keep buying that happiness, it will not last long. That’s why I think buying happiness is the same as being addicted to cocaine and heroin. The withdrawal symptoms when the money dries up are agonizing.

What does harmony mean to many in China and can harmony lead to a more stable form of happiness?

 

In China, harmony plays an important role in everyday life. Cultural etiquette among Chinese revolves around harmony as Confucius taught. Confucianism still plays an important role in Chinese society. It is a system of ethics and conduct, the obligations of people toward each other based on their relationships.

Even the way the government in China does business is governed by the same principals. As much as most Americans and Europeans seem incapable of understanding China, the Chinese often see foreigners as barbaric when they do not behave properly according to Chinese standards.

Understanding cultural differences is a two-way street.

For instance, several years ago, after dinner with guests one night, I got up to wash dishes at the sink while Anchee and our daughter were still eating. Anchee later explained that when we have Chinese guests it is impolite to do that since it signals to the guests that it is time to leave. Her advice, “Soak the dishes and leave them until the guests go.”

Discover The Return of Confucious

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Law versus what is Morality

November 14, 2017

The Chinese legal system may have been shattered during Mao’s Cultural Revolution but that didn’t last forever. After Mao died, China rose from the ashes like a phoenix and a lot has changed since then.

For instance, China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 11, 2001. The admission of China to the WTO was preceded by a lengthy process of negotiations and required significant changes to China itself.

Many elements in China’s WTO accession agreement required improving the rule of law. When China joined the WTO, China agreed to ensure that its legal measures would be consistent with its WTO obligations and that led to China’s Rule of Law Reform.

In addition, China made a substantial number of other WTO commitments related to the rule of law in areas of transparency, judicial review, uniform enforcement of laws, and nondiscriminatory treatment.

China then reformed its judicial processes to ensure that they were compatible with its WTO commitments.

This transition from Chinese to western legalism hasn’t been as smooth as some critics wanted it to be, but it is taking place, and it’s clear that in the last few decades China has made an effort to fit into the community of nations while retaining its own identity.

That might be explained by the differences between Chinese legalism and Western legalism primarily related to morality. Western legalism defends the rule-of-law but argues against the morality of law. In contrast, Chinese legalism, especially in the early Pre-Qin era, did not separate morality from the law.

The fidelity to law in Chinese legalism was interpreted as the fidelity to the monarch in moral terms often as defined by Confucianism. In other words, morality in the United States and Europe is mostly based on the teachings of Christianity and many western philosophers while the morality of China is mostly based on Confucianism.

Understanding China’s history and the morality that’s part of its legal system is often ignored by many in the west, especially many Americans that judge China based on Western values and laws.

For instance, a conservative, born-again Christian, former friend of mine, once said to me that China needed a proper legal system. Since China already had a legal system, what did he mean by that?

I knew this individual for almost sixty-years, and I’m sure he meant that China should have a legal system like the one in the U.S. or the U.K. After all, he claimed scripture guided his life and the Christian Bible has been around for centuries proving it comes from God. To him, that meant there was no other choice. For his approval, China had to bend toward Christian scripture.

The problem with that logic is Confucius was around spreading his teaching for centuries before Jesus Christ was born, and the fact that the New Testament didn’t exist for centuries until after Christ died meant that what Confucius taught has been around longer. Was God behind that too?

The Chinese learned from Confucius while in the West we learned from the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. There were many other voices that influenced western thought, and Eternity in an Hour provides a list of famous western philosophers.  Do you think that too many voices often leads to confusion, and that might explain why Chinese civilization has been more stable over the millennia than the west has?

If China becomes the world’s super power in the next fifty to one-hundred years, will the Chinese judge the United States and Europe based on Confucian morality?

Discover The Return of Confucious To China

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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War with North Korea and What China wants: part 2 of 2

November 1, 2017

North Korea is frozen in time, but South Korea and China have evolved and adapted to the global economy.  It is in China’s interest to see North Korea merge with South Korea and become a capitalist nation, but achieving that goal will not be easy and a nuclear war with North Korea is not the answer.

The Independent, another publication in the UK, explains what nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea might look like. “The most immediate reaction would likely be massive artillery fire on Seoul and its surroundings. North Korean artillery installations along the border can be activated faster than air or naval assets and larger ballistic missiles that can target South Korean, Japanese or American bases in the region with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Those countries have ballistic-missile-defence systems in place but can’t guarantee they will shoot down everything. Japan has begun offering advice to its citizens on what to do in the event a missile lands near them — essentially try to get under ground — and US firms are marketing missile shelters. While it’s unclear if North Korea can successfully target US cities like Denver and Chicago with a nuclear ICBM, it’s similarly unknown if US defence systems can strike it down — adding to American anxieties.”

The New Yorker reports, “The Obama Administration studied the potential costs and benefits of a preventive war intended to destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Its conclusion, according to Rice, in the Times, was that it would be ‘lunacy,’ resulting in ‘hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of casualties.’ North Korea likely would retaliate with an attack on Seoul. The North has positioned thousands of artillery cannons and rocket launchers in range of the South Korean capital, which has a population of ten million, and other densely populated areas. (Despite domestic pressure to avoid confrontation, South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, has accepted the installation of an American missile-defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or thaad.)”

And we shouldn’t forget this fact also reported by The New Yorker. Some two hundred thousand Americans live in South Korea.

The New Yorker correctly called this lunacy the Madman Theory, but isn’t that who Donald Trump is: a madman, a serial liar, a failed businessman, and a bully?

Who do you think China fears more Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un and his brutal regime? And the answer is simple. All you have to do is compare how many nuclear weapons the U.S. has vs North Korea. The Independent reports North Korea has 60 compared to 6,800 for the United States.

If you have watched the two videos in Part 1 and 2, you will know what is at risk for all of us on this planet called Earth. There is hope. Trump might also be a barking dog that doesn’t bite.

UPDATE

The Telegraph reports, “China ‘detains North Korean assassins seeking Kim Jong-un’s dissident nephew Kim Han-sol’

“It is possible that Kim Han-sol and his family remained in China under the protection of Beijing, which also extended protection for his father when he was in the country. There have been suggestions that Beijing saw Kim Jong-nam as as a potential North Korean leader should his half-brother be overthrown.”

Return to or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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War with North Korea and what China wants: part 1 of 2

October 31, 2017

The Telegraph in the UK asked, “Did Kim Jung-un kill his uncle and brother over a ‘coup plot involving China’?” From what I’m hearing from my sources in China, the answer is yes. China did try to get rid of Kum Jung-un. For more details about this alleged and failed coup attempt, click the link in this paragraph and read what The Telegraph says.

In the past, when the United States and North Korea threatened each other, China’s response has been for the “relevant parties” to “calmly and properly handle the issue and avoid escalation of tension.”

What has changed? The answer is simple. The current president of the United States is a serial liar, a racist, a bully, a malignant narcissist and a psychopath-sociopath (if it is possible to be both at the same time). Donald Trump is clearly more dangerous, unstable, and insane than Kum Jung-un is. Kim Jung-un is more like the barking dog who might never bite, because he knows if he bites, he will die and so will most of the people that live in his little kingdom.

In the past, China has been reluctant to be sucked into North Korea’s problems with the United States, because China has a history with Korea going back to the Tang Dynasty in 688 AD, when there was an alliance with Silla, a Korean state.

It’s also because Chinese culture, written language, and political institutions have had an influence in Korea since the 4th century and in the 14th century, Korea came under the influence of Confucian thought influenced by Buddhism and Daoism (Taoism). Even today, China has more in common with the people of North Korea and their culture than China has with the United States.

But that 1,700-year old relationship between China and Korea might not be enough to protect North Korea now that the United States has an unpredictable madman and lunatic for its president.

Why did China allow itself to be bullied by Trump to tame a beast it cannot control? The answer is simple and it is Donald Trump and his insane tweets threatening to nuke North Korea.

In an essay written by Sung-Yoon Lee in Hillsdale College’s Imprimis newsletter, he discussed Keeping the Peace: American in Korea 1950 – 2010.

Professor Lee is an adjunct assistant professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and an associate in research at the Korea Institute at Harvard University.

Professor Lee says, “It is important for Washington to hold quiet consultations with Beijing to prepare jointly for a unified Korea under Seoul’s direction, a new polity that will be free, peaceful, capitalist, pro-U.S. and pro-China.”

But Donald Trump has clearly demonstrated that he doesn’t have the patience or intelligence to be part of a quiet consultation with Beijing to fix the North Korean problem. Even after the alleged and failed plot that China was willing to risk to get rid of Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump’s lunatic Twitter raving hasn’t stopped.

When Mao ruled China, North Korea and Communist China looked like evil twins, but today that is not the case because Mao died in 1976 and so did the China he was building. In the 1980s, China emerged as a hybrid one-party republic with term and age limits for its political leaders, so one man would never rule China like Mao did for 26 years.

In fact, China has a lot to lose because China’s middle class is more than 300-million people with an estimate that by 2030 that number will be more than 700-million.

Continued in Part 2 on November 1, 2017

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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How are women doing in China compared to the United States?

October 10, 2017

In 1949, Mao announced that women hold up half the sky. In one day they went from being the property of men to being equal. Sixty-eight years later, how are women doing in China?

China’s women make up 48.1 percent of the population, but Catalyst.org reports, “In 2016, only 17.5 percent of firms in China have women as top managers. … Less than one-quarter (24.2%) of all positions in China’s single-house parliament are held by women.”

When we isolate China and report these facts, China looks bad, doesn’t it?

But how does China compare to the United States when it comes to women reaching the top?

In the United Staets women make up 50.8 of the population.  American Progress.org says, “They are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.” In addition, Rutgers.edu reports, “21 women (21%) serve in the United States Senate, and 84 women (19.3%) serve in the United States House of Representatives.”

The Harvard Business Review says, “In the decades since Deng Xiaoping instituted market reform, millions of women have profitably followed Deng’s dictate that “to get rich is glorious.”

Quartz.com tells us “No country comes even close to China in self-made female billionaires.” China has 56 self-made female billionaires; The United States only has 15. China has almost four times as many self-make female billionaires.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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