America is on the decline, and a rising China is on its way to trouncing us, right? That seems to be the conventional wisdom highlighted by a new survey of Harvard Business School graduates. Roughly two-thirds of respondents expect America to "lose ground" to Brazil, India, and China, says the Economist. More than seven in 10 believe U.S. competitiveness will decline in the next three years. "America's most glaring weaknesses," these ex-Ivy Leaguers said, are "its political system (this was the number-one complaint by far), its schools, its insanely complex tax code, its macroeconomic policies, its regulations, and its legal systems." Is American hegemony really in trouble?
Yes. Obviously, China is pulling ahead: The New York Times just reported that Apple has sent hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs to China — jobs that are never coming back to America. It's easy to see why, says Adam Clampitt at The Huffington Post. Apple needed to hire 8,700 industrial engineers to oversee its iPhone's manufacturing operation. In America, it would have taken nine months. In China, it took 15 days. "Our nation has some soul searching to do if it really intends to compete in a globalized economy." We need vocational schools that focus on large-scale production. We need infrastructure to handle "fast-paced, flexible, and highly technical supply chains." Otherwise, we're toast.
"Made in the USA: It's more complex than you think"
America is doing just fine: "Predictions about the death of American hegemony have been greatly exaggerated," says Daniel W. Drezner at Foreign Policy. Yes, China is doing well. Yes, America's public debt is soaring. But the United States is actually doing a "relatively good job" at trimming its total debt (the sum of consumer, investor, and public debt). And don't forget: The American manufacturing industry is on the mend. We're making real progress toward energy independence. When you look at the big picture, this economic doomsaying "sounds like a lot of pious baloney."
"Predictions about the death of American hegemony may have been greatly exaggerated"
It's actually China's dominance that is greatly exaggerated: Let's put this in perspective, says Michael Beckley at International Security. "The United States is not in decline; in fact, it is now wealthier, more innovative, and more militarily powerful compared to China than it was in 1991." Sure, China looks impressive when you compare it "only to its former self." But the focus on China's growth rates "obscures China's decline relative to the United States" in per-capita income, military spending, and the tech industry. "China is rising, but it is not catching up."
"'China's century?' Why America's edge will endure"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 8 secrets to steal from power networkers
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- How to make classic pulled pork
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
Subscribe to the Week