Comments: 'When we were Chinese, we were behind Americans ... I guess I can't win'
A new survey projects Singapore will be home to the wealthiest citizens in 2050.
August 17th, 2012
03:35 PM ET

Comments: 'When we were Chinese, we were behind Americans ... I guess I can't win'

Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. What follows is a look at some of the most talked-about stories of the day.

They say money makes the world go 'round, but what happens when money goes around the world? Readers weighed in on a report about Knight Frank and Citi Private Wealth's 2012 Wealth Report. The "rich list" postulates that Asia will host four out of five of the world's wealthiest economies by 2050. Comments indicate that residents of the fifth-ranked country, the United States, are probably not alone in pondering their place in the world.

World's rich list shows emerging Asian century

We heard from a lot of readers who said they were skeptical about making assumptions about the future. The following commenter says the grass is always greener somewhere else.

CWhatsNew: "OK. My husband and I both studied English very hard, got Ph.Ds, struggled out of China 25 years ago, (pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps), and made successful careers and our American Dream. Before we wake up from the sweetness of (taking pride in) ourselves, our kids need to turn the dream around to study Chinese and go establish a Chinese Dream? Ahyaya! So when we were Chinese, we were behind Americans. When we are Americans, we are behind the Chinese. I guess I can't win."

chromebus: "Your sentiments ... are exactly the same as many American Koreans. South Koreans have a negative term for American Koreans who came to the U.S. after the Korean War for a better life because unbeknownst to anyone, South Korea became a powerhouse and land prices rose like crazy, thereby creating incredible equity for many. It's the American Koreans who, er ... came out poorer. But! Life is also about purpose, eh? Don't feel bad!"

Aki Charles Saito: "Don't worry, most of us will be no longer alive by that time when most of West is in bottom and most of East is up."

The original poster returned to respond to the chain.

CWhatsNew: "Thanks everyone. No worries. Given the same opportunity to come to America 25 years ago, and even knowing at that time China would have become what it is now, we'd still have made the same choice of coming here, striving for our life in our own way. By no means would I spend the best 10 years of my life waiting for government housing (or) to get married, or waiting (until) the weekends to get a shower. Now China is so far developed. They enjoy the fruition of their own effort that I haven't been a part of. I'm happy for them. When you really read into the article, the U.S. would still be on top. With the added benefits that this piece of land has to offer, i.e., fresh air, respect at work, feeling safe to bike or hike any trail in the country, and this (freedom to post) without any concern ... I guess I'm totally good staying put. We are even buying a family plot for my parents and us in the future. This article hasn't reported the tremendous increase of wealthy people immigrating into the U.S. There must be something good here ? 🙂 chromebus is right that it's the purpose and pursuit of your life and not the absolute average dollar amount that really matters, unless the situation is too bad, i.e., no house and no shower."

Readers talked about how different countries value education.

chromebus: "I think lots of Americans are taking this CNN story the wrong way (as usual). Let's just congratulate these Asian countries for doing well, find out what they are doing better in, such as education or training or business incentives and then emulate those aspects. There's no need to substantiate any annoyance with cheap potshots of 'you depend on us for' this and that. ... Look at things factually, and that's it. Rogers is a genius, we are not. He learns. We learn, too. Nothing to gripe about."

Dionysus86: "The overwhelming difference between us and Asia is the way we view education. We view it as an expense, a necessary evil that we'll fund just enough to be passable, wherein Asia it is viewed as the most significant investment society can make. Until we view education as an investment and stop trying to cut the wages of teachers and force them out of their unions, good luck keeping up."

jawsua: "We view education much more differently than that. In much of Asia, education equals memorization, while in the West, education equals creation. The Asian system of education puts a cap on one's abilities."

Some discussion focused on the idea of a "benevolent superpower."

runabout: "The question is whether these countries will be as benevolent as the U.S. has been while on top. And before people start flaming, yes, we haven't always been judicious in our application of military force ... but economically, we have been very generous while on the top. Much more generous per capita than a lot of cultures who criticize us. Sadly, the last 30-40 years as a people, we have been losing the will to be great collectively. And now we focus more on ourselves and our whiny infighting and allow the extreme right and left sides (to) dominate politics ... and we play it safe as a culture. And playing it safe almost always gives a zero or negative rate of return on cultural investment."

chromebus: "That's a great point. The U.S. has been generous, although pushy with its brand of democracy. One brand of democracy does not suit all developing nations, eh? Niall Ferguson of Harvard brought up an interesting point. All of these mentioned powerhouses (minus Hong Kong) were one-party states for their formative run-up years. Yup. Even South Korea, which was a military dictatorship until the 1980s. However, the real question is whether China will be a benevolent superpower. I can tell you one thing. Asian economies listed here are comfy being China-centric (the technical term is 'sinification') as long as China is fair with them. Look at the list. Taiwan (all Chinese). Singapore (80% Chinese minus the expats). Hong Kong (obvious). South Korea ... You get my point ..."

Another reader said Asia may be in for a rude awakening.

Octavian81: "Not likely. The key to understanding Asia's future is understanding what happens once China's economy begins to stall and retract as A.) (Its) population continues to gray and (it doesn't) have enough young workers to maintain (its) welfare state, B.) Civil unrest continues to spread (most of China's prosperity is based on (its) coastline and the inner part of the country is still very much Third World), C.) They cope with the destruction of their fresh water supplies, and D.) ... Asia is in for a very bumpy ride in the first half of the 21st century. Furthermore, and as other posters pointed out, the caste systems and inequality in Asian countries are absolutely crippling and shocking - and will also absolutely benefit both America and Europe in the long run. Born as an untouchable in India? Are you a smart Chinese national who knows they'll never get anywhere in life because your family doesn't have the right political connection? A word to the wise for the Asian economies: If smart, innovative and talented people know that they're getting a raw deal, they'll always vote with their feet."

But then again, maybe Americans' views are tainted - or tinted.

Childen: "Not surprised at all. Take off your red, white and blue-tinted glasses and it's easy to see that the USA is maybe not necessarily declining, but definitely not improving at the pace of other countries. We're falling behind in education, infrastructure and technology, and this will only continue with our current state of politics."

Should people in the United States compare themselves with other countries? Your answer may depend on your age and experience.

YourEpiphany: "I don't know how old some posters here are, but I've (been) crawling around this Earth now almost half a century. Ever since I was a kid I have heard how the USA wasn't as good as it used to be, our education sucked. I can't count how many time I have heard we're ignorant, arrogant, and act like the police of the world. Always we have heard China ... and other emerging economies were going to overtake us. Then there are Armageddon religious nuts who expect us to fall any day now and Jesus will appear on the Temple Mount and usher in the new system. My message to all these clowns is quit worrying about what the world is doing ... and just go out (and) do the best you can do (and) try and contribute something useful to the place we all live, Earth."

What do you think about the future of the global economy? Yes, that's a big question. Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: China • Comments • Singapore • U.S. • Wisconsin • World
soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. Philip

    "Moved labor intensive manufacturing portion of their business to China", Tony?
    Is that why China builds pre-fabricated nuclear powerplants and Kellog Brown&Root, once the world's leader in nuclear powerplant construction, collects trash for a living?
    Do you really think that labor costs more than oil and natural gas when it comes to manufacturing?
    China produces 54% of it's own oil, about the same as US. While US pays 100 dollars per bbl. and import OIL from places like Venezuela, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia, China imports Caspian Basin crude via Afghan pipelines (now that the government and corporation operating those pipelines are all dead or at GITMO). china also purchases oil and Ng from Iran and Russia.
    On avg., China pays 28 dollars per bbl. for crude oil, and is why China produces more for less. That, and fraud is punishable by death in China, insuring an honest workforce.

    August 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Three men were hiking in the wilds north of America, in the country that is now known as Canada. They gradually realize that they are exploring undiscovered territory.

    Man 1 looks at his buddies, clearly excited. “I think we discovered a new land, eh!” He says enthusiastically.

    “We’re venturing where no men have ever gone before, eh,” Man 2 agrees, also excited.

    “Let’s name it,” Man 3 decides. “We’ll each pick a letter, so it’ll be fair, eh!”

    The three of them agree to this method, and Man 1 begins.

    “C, ay,” Man 1 starts.

    “N, ay,” Man 2 continues.

    “D, ay,” Man 3 finishes.

    And that’s how Canada got its name!

    August 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bobcat (in a hat)©

    @ little mister

    tThe literal meaning of philosophy is “love of wisdom.” But, really, philosophy begins in wonder. Thus taught most of the major figures of ancient philosophy, including Plato, Aristotle, and the Tao Te Ching. And it ends in wonder too,

    Such as :

    I think
    I think I am
    Therefore I am
    I think.

    August 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      "All men by nature desire knowledge" Hello Everyone, @bobcat(in a hat) you keep churning them out. @little mister, getting us off on philosophical quotes. My starting quote is one that I've instilled in myself forever and hopefully in my offspring.

      August 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      @ dazzle

      I responded to you, but they posted it above. Now it appears they are not letting me respond directly to you.

      August 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rascal Rabble

      aren't that great...their wisdom and rather the lack thereof was not able to lead them to the one true god nor were they able to reconize the creator...their words are folly for fools...

      August 19, 2012 at 5:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. bobcat (in a hat)©

    And little mister, if you were trying to say I was morphing, as in changing shape or expanding on thought processes, etc. You used the wrong descriptive.

    August 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bobcat (in a hat)©


    .Can I yell "movie" in a crowded firehouse ?
    .How do a fool and his money GET together?
    .Why does Hawaii have interstate highways?
    .If the pen is mightier than the sword, and a picture is worth a thousand words, how dangerous is a fax?
    If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?
    .What was the best thing before sliced bread?
    .Did Washington flash a quarter when asked for ID?
    .How is it possible to have a civil war?

    August 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      @ banasy

      Good afternoon my friend. How are you on this lovely Saturday ? Things are doin well here, except of course for this incessant heat and humidity. But, such is life in the deep south.
      Where's the rest of our group ?

      August 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Portland tony

    Interesting posts about China taking over the world because of their lower energy costs. Our $100bbl cost vs their $28bbl cost is definitely a creative number and just how it was derived would definitely be of interest to futures traders everywhere!

    August 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    Hey, bobcat.
    How are you today?
    Keep telling those jokes...

    Still like those giant martini glasses in the picture.

    August 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    @Tony. True. China is flush with cash as we are burdened by a huge public debt fueled by greed and borrowing to purchase goods and services that are simply NOT affordable.
    But the biggest difference between a US employee and a Chinese employee is the fact that they, the chinese, are genuinely honest peoples.
    China's laws INSURE honesty. And proof that their laws work where ours fail can be seen. In China, if you are caught defrauding the taxpayer, you are executed. A nation of well over 1 billion people have about 500 "hot checks" to deal with each year. (more chinese have bank accounts than americans) Your home city deals with more bounced checks each day, for example/comparison.
    Americans will have to become honest by sheer force of government. We have no-choice but to implement laws that allow our CIA to force honesty upon US if we are ever going to compete on the world stage as we once did.
    You folks do realize that US citizens used to be the most productive and physically fit people on earth.Right?

    August 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    As I explained already, Tony. The US imports oil from around the world. China buys local. (Russia and Iran) And also buys from the Carlyle Group.
    It should be obvious to all that buying local is cheaper than going halfway around the world.
    What has you confused is how China is honest where we are crooked.

    August 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      There are no sweetheart deals on the crude market.....with the possible exception of Iran because of the Western sanctions ...The price per barrel, depending on grade (ease of refining) is set by the futures market. No matter where it originated, it's considered one big pool of crude. Why would Russia discount their price to China when they can get the market price anywhere? Why do you think China is at odds with its neighbors over exploration in the South China Sea? They need oil and will pay and do just about anything for it. That's one reason for the redeployment of US Naval forces: To show support for our SE Asian allies!

      August 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dazzle ©

    Hello again, my post got deleted. Come on Moderators, I was just quoting Aristotle."All men by nature desire knowledge."

    August 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      I know I certainly do. Good afternoon dazzle. How are you today ?

      August 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. famous quotes

    "Behind every good and decent man is a woman raising her eyebrows"
    "The people are comfortable in this climate of malignancy and fear [obesity and debt]. Do NOT remind them. They will only kill you."

    August 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      Good afternoon to you @bobcat. That stuff makes me crazy you know. Hot and Humid here, which means more rain that will cool the temps down. How about with you? I could play the guessing game on famous quotes by it's always a give away and I know you get what I mean.

      August 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    Tony. Perhaps you've never heard of OPEC? OPEC nations establish the price of crude and limit volumes sold. Oil refineing corporations then pay the OPEC price, and gouge US from there.
    Although US population has steadily grown over the past 30 years, not one new refinery has been built. As refineries reach their capacity, the price of gasoline and jet fuel rise sharply.
    Roughly 15% of the crude oil we use is used for gasoline and jet fuel. 85% is used for making plastics, pharmaceuticals, baby oil, etc.
    If US oil corporations were allowed to increase refining capacity by 10%, the price we pay for fuel would be much less volitile.
    Greed also plays an important role in what we pay for gasoline and natural gas. (greed is punishable with death in China, and so very few are greedy)

    August 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    And Tony. Caspian Basin oil is landlocked and cannot compete with Arab and other nations that have ports. Caspian Basin oil is 60% of the worlds proven reserves, and is what has been fueling China's economy since Afghanistans government and the Bridas corp. operating afghanistans pipelines were removed by mostly US forces many years ago under the direction of Bush, a Carlyle Group investor himself. The Bush and Bin Laden families are founding members and original financiers of the Carlyle Group.

    August 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bobcat (in a hat)©

    @ dazzle

    The most amazing part of life, is that it never ceases to amaze me.
    It looks like they're playing games with our posts again. I can't imagine you having any humidity out there. I always thought it was the opposite. It sucked the moisture out of you to give itself some semblance of humidity. Down here it does the opposite. It pumps you up with about 20 pounds of water weight gain.

    August 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      @bobcat(iah) that quote really reasonates with me of late. Yes, our posts are all over the place. It is rare to have humidity here but during Monsoon it is expected. I drink tons of water to flush out any of that nasty water weight gain. I am headed out to my pool before the rains set in. Hope to see you later my friend.

      August 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      @ dazzle

      If CNN doesn't start messing with me again, like they did last night, I'll be here. Enjoy your swim.

      August 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. "S.E. Asian allies of the US"

    LMAO. Rotflmao. Good one, Tony. LOL. "southeast asian allies"!!! LMAO

    August 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
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