Maybe the reason that the Chinese continue to do so well is that China is smarter than we are. Simplest explanation I can come up with.
I don’t mean that individual Chinese are smarter than individual Americans, but suppose in a celestial experiment, the usual Martian were asked to gaze down upon both the US and China as organisms and select which one seemed to be more intelligent. On the one hand, the China organism would appear to be engaging in various self-improvement exercises, while the US organism spends most of its energy running up and down the street barking at cars, knocking small children off bikes, and chasing its ideological tail.
Consider: Soon, more Chinese will ride their high-speed train system than Americans will fly our airline system. You wanted to compare Chinese train ridership with American??? Compare high-speed train ridership???
As Keith Bradsher describes the benefits in an article in today’s New York Times:
Productivity gains to the economy appear to be of the same order as the combined economic gains from the usual arguments given for high-speed trains, including time savings for travelers, reduced noise, less air pollution and fuel savings, the World Bank consultants calculated.
Companies are opening research and development centers in more glamorous cities like Beijing and Shenzhen with abundant supplies of young, highly educated workers, and having them take frequent day trips to factories in cities with lower wages and land costs, like Tianjin and Changsha. Businesses are also customizing their products more through frequent meetings with clients in other cities, part of a broader move up the ladder toward higher value-added products.
My old friend, Bill Lind, now heads the Center for Public Transportation at the American Conservative. Hey Bill, time to get to work.
As a side note, the economic and social gains China gets from better integrating its population seem to confirm the value of physical contact, even in this age of virtual everything.