Peter Thiel recently observed that one of the best barometers of globalization is the share of corporate sector profits going to the financial sector. When you have an economy built on borrowing money from China and then buying the stuff it makes, you need a robust financial sector. Getting all that money from the U.S. to China, and then there and back again, takes, well, money. And for two decades, while America has consumed much and made little, there has been no better industry than moving fake currency from one location to another. Even if you zoom out from the finance industry, it is hard to find an American tycoon who hasn’t benefitted, directly or indirectly, from the rise of Beijing.
And if you look at the boards of most of our big conservative institutions, you’ll find many of those people. Increasingly, they talk a big game about China. They’ll express concern for the Uighurs, who are undoubtedly an oppressed people. They may even encourage a satellite military conflict in the years to come, because it won’t be their children loading the magazines or firing the rifles.
But there will be precious few resources for those designing the policies to shift a substantial share of our manufacturing capacity back to the United States. There will be limited campaign dollars for politicians who advocate those policies. It is one thing to offer platitudes for the Uighurs, and I suspect we’ll hear many of them in the years to come. It is another thing entirely to tell Apple’s leadership that they can’t flog them half to death for failing to meet production deadlines, or to tell the S&P’s shareholders that they will no longer benefit from the labor arbitrage of China’s slave camps. It is one thing to whine at NBA owners and superstars for bending the knee to the Chinese Communist Party and another to make them pay for doing so.