Posted July 06, 2021
By Jim Amrhein
America’s Next Declaration of Independence
This past weekend, America celebrated its 245th Independence Day.
In many places across the fruited plain, the festivities included Fourth of July staples like parades, fireworks, cookouts, family gatherings, and the gleeful discharge of firearms (guilty) for no reason other than our Constitutional right to do so. In other places, I’m sure, the occasion was marked by activities that are more politically fashionable in the nation’s burgeoning leftist circles…
Things like cancelling our flag, anthem, and Statue of Liberty, dissing the nation’s founders as a bunch of greedy white racist pigs, and generally feeling ashamed of being American. But hey, that’s freedom for you. And I support all of it as an exercise in principle, even if it’s wrong and undermines freedom itself. You should, too.
But none of that political stuff is the point of this piece. This article is about how America and its people are once again dependent upon a powerful sovereign nation thousands of miles away. And how — if we don’t declare our independence from this nation very soon — we may never be able to break free of it.
Of course, I’m talking about the People’s Republic of China
At the time they officially declared their independence in 1776, the American colonists depended on Britain mainly for military protection and many kinds of manufactured or finished goods. Conversely, the Brits relied on us for raw materials, tax revenue, and as a massive and growing market for their products. There was a lot more to this relationship, too. But the parallel I’m aiming for here should be clear enough…
Today, America is once again dependent on a major foreign power for the vast majority of its manufactured and finished products. In the 1700s, we bought more from Britain than they bought from us, which boosted their economy and military power immensely. This not only made our inevitable adversary stronger — it also forced us to improvise, scramble, and negotiate new alliances in order to produce or obtain the things we needed to ultimately fight them for our freedom.
It’s a similar setup nowadays, in a way. We buy much more from China than they buy from us, which is perhaps the single biggest reason why the PRC’s economy and military have become so powerful over the last 30+ years. If we ever have to fight them, economically or militarily (or both), we’ll be fighting an adversary of our own creation, to a great extent.
This imbalance is steadily getting worse, too. In March, the U.S. global trade deficit hit $74.4 billion. That’s the highest monthly deficit number since we started keeping track of such things back in 1992. Nearly half of this deficit — $36.9 billion — came from trade with China.
This represents a 22% increase in just 12 months.
But this one data point only shows part of the overall trade and production picture. I’ve touched on a number of other very telling measures of this imbalance in previous Whiskey & Gunpowder articles. Consider:
- Manufacturing represented 21.6% of the U.S. GDP in 1977, before we started signing trade agreements with China and legitimizing them in the world trade arena. Today it’s 10.8%, exactly half as much.
- According to estimates from the Alliance for American Manufacturing, less than 6% of Walmart’s sales will have come from U.S.-made goods for the ten-year period ending in 2023. And I guarantee you these numbers are similarly lopsided for other major U.S. retailers (Target, Home Depot, etc.).
- Owing to the strength of their manufacturing sectors, China was the only major world nation to finish the year in positive GDP territory for 2020. It’s now estimated that the pandemic accelerated the pace of their projected global economic dominance by five years, to 2028.
- To illustrate their bottle-rocket rise to production supremacy another way, “factory to the world” China’s share of global GHG emissions has increased by over 350% since 1990 — while America’s share has remained virtually flat, despite our population growing by over 32%.
I could go on with data like this, but the point is made…
America has been outsourcing its manufacturing to China for 40 years, to the detriment of both the planet and our nation’s power, freedom, and influence. Without the PRC making all our stuff, the U.S. would be all but crippled. All things considered, I believe China wields more power over us now than Great Britain did in the 1770s.
China is not only by far our largest trading partner by dollar value — they’re also perennially one of our largest suppliers of advanced technology products, systems, and communications equipment. This makes us very vulnerable if things get dicey between the USA and the PRC.
So am I suggesting that we go to war with China to end our dependence on them?
No, at least not a shooting war.
It’s a different world now than it was in 1776. And thankfully, the U.S. remains militarily competitive, if not dominant. China doesn’t want an actual war with us — it would set back or end outright their quest for economic AND military domination of the world by 2049. That’s definitely their plan, too. You can look it up.
In true Sun Tzu “Art of War” fashion, China wants to defeat us without fighting.
And they’ll do it, too, if America doesn’t wise up real quick and start doing what’s necessary to preserve (or in this case, re-establish) our economic independence. Or we can just surrender to China — and effectively regress once again into a state of dependent consumer colony that subsidizes a nation’s quest for global domination.
I laid out this choice pretty starkly in an article from last June called The Elephant in the (War) Room:
America is now painted into a corner in which there are only two real courses of action available, neither one of them desirable.
Option one: We can intertwine our economy with China’s to such an extreme degree that they’d be shooting themselves in the foot by harming us in any way.
Option two: We can undertake a messy, painful, expensive, and prolonged divorce in which we’ll suffer the wrath of our vindictive former spouse on a daily basis, in a hundred different ways…
While also struggling to learn how to make even the most basic things for ourselves again — like someone freshly out of a 40-year marriage in which he (or she) never had to set foot in the kitchen.
I can’t present the dilemma that now confronts America any more simply or starkly than this. Nothing in the last year has changed its binary nature, either. In fact, the coronavirus crisis has brought this fork in the road that much closer. One way or another, we’re going to have to do one of these things, by choice or by force.
The problem is this…
Unlike back in the 1770s, we seem to lack the resolve to make the hard choice
To rip the Band Aid off and become economically independent from China, we’re going to have to make some big-time changes in America, and fast.
We’ll need to start making all our own stuff again, especially tech goods. And yes, these products will be more expensive — because they won’t be made at China-scale wages, with giant subsidies from the Chinese government, or in ways that cut costs at the expense of the environment.
We’ll also have to triple our efforts to zealously guard and defend American patents, technology, intellectual property, personal information, medical secrets, etc. in any and every possible way. That’ll be expensive, too.
We’ll also have to radically expand our energy industries — green, nuke, fossil, you name it — and start making our own batteries (China has a near-stranglehold on global battery production).
And like it or not, we’re going to have to ramp up and beef up our military at every level, to dis-incentivize China from getting cheeky with us or our allies once they start feeling the pinch of an economic divorce from the United States.
The question is: Does America still have the will do these sorts of thing any longer?
I ask that because it should be obvious to anyone that the people we’ve elected to represent us in Washington do NOT have the political will to do it — especially under the feeble and China-friendly leadership of “Shanghai Joe” Biden.
So unlike back in 1776, a new “declaration of independence” against China will not come from the top down, so to speak. The PRC has made our leaders too greedy and fearful of temporary economic consequences to do anything except kick the can down the road, unless we force their hands…
Bottom line: If America is going to end its unhealthy, abusive, and one-sided marriage to China, “We, the People” are going to have to file for the divorce. We’ll have to declare our independence from China with our dollars, our voices, and our votes, so that the folks we elect to represent us will have no choice but to follow.
We must be willing to pay more for goods made in the United States, or by allies that don’t threaten or attempt to dominate us.
We must reverse our 40+ year trend away from manufacturing — and once again become the world’s top “producer” nation.
And we must be willing to sustain greater environmental impacts domestically, in order to prevent even more pollution on the other side of the world (because we make things way cleaner than China does).
But again, I ask: Do we have the discipline, vision, and willpower to make these things happen in order to sustain America’s truly independent future?
Or have we all been spoiled so badly by Chinese goods that we’re willing to sacrifice our country for the slightly higher standard of living all that ultra-cheap crap allows us to have?
I was talking about this very thing with a friend of mine not long ago, and he made the comment that “China knows how to suffer.” And that’s a good point. I’m not sure America really does anymore, having been so prosperous and so consumptive for so long.
Not that I believe we’d really have to suffer so much to even the scales with the PRC, and become economically independent from them…
It’s just that here in cushy and coddled America, any sacrifice, shortage, or increase in costs — no matter how trivial or temporary — could be viewed by many as “suffering.” That’s how skewed our national perceptions have become.
In my perfect American fantasy, we’d all come together across the political spectrum to declare our independence from China by 2026, our “semiquincentennial.”
But that may be a lot to hope for, especially with Shanghai Joe running the show.
Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder