Redemption of the Tiger Mother

Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother: The Audio Book Club discusses. – By Ann Hulbert, Hanna Rosin, and Nina Shen Rastogi – Slate Magazine.

First, i know very little of the subject i am about to write about. All my knowledge of the book came from the Slate podcast review of the book, and i only know Amy Chua via her interview with Colbert and Conversation with History (2004: the myths of globalization and 2007: the moment of empire).

The girls at Slate dissected the book very well and very comprehensively. Other than just talking about the book, they spent half of the podcast discussing the book’s literally genre and its relation and impact to the culture climate of parenting and American anxiety over the rise of China. Their view of the book was overall favorable.

I just want to add two points to their review: I couldn’t help but to notice the book’s redemptive quality. As if the book is Amy’s way to apologizes to her kids for her sometime overzealous methods, while also publicly telling them how proud she is of their accomplishment and maturity. This book will mend some wound and prepare her kids next level of gruesomer education. This book have injected a favorable view of her kids into the public consciousness, which will probably result in easier university entrance and employment opportunities, all according to the grand scheme of the tiger mother.

And about parenting in general: There is perhaps a middle road between tiger mother’s way and the “american” laissez faire way. Maybe kids can be subject to tiger mother’s training and retain 10-20% of personal project/fun time, depending on kids’ performance during the tiger mother’s. Call it the google way if you well.

ps. Amy looked hot in the Colbert interview.





America is the city upon the hill

For many years, I have look to America with insatiable interest. I observe how ideas thrives, dies and evolve in the American jungle of memes. A jungle filled with fantastic demagogues, hacks, intellectuals, pundits, satirist, revolutionaries and extremist of various persuasion. I wonder why old ideas like creationism with its various evolved iteration are entrenched amount the folks. I inquisitively follows how new technology like Internet are conjured up and applied to the masses. I am often sadden by the nihilistic political opportunists and inspired by idealistic technological entrepreneurs. I have learn much from America.

I am not the only one.

The rest of the world too look keenly to the America laboratory, letting Americans test out ideas first before they imitate what worked, avoid what failed and then modify further for local consumption.

This is just one of ways that we free ride on the American. Its ok, Americans don’t mind. They have since their founding fancy themselves as the city upon the hill where example (of good and bad) are set to be followed (or not).

China should be spending like a Keynesian.

Throughout the post second world war period, America’s economy played the role of a shock absorber to the global economy by being the spender of the last resort. Now, with the government and private American in debt, it is up to the savers of foreign currency reserve to spend.  (i put China in the title because they are the largest holder of foreign reserves.) These savers has been buying huge stockpiles of American debt partly for the purpose of keeping  their currency cheap to encourage Americans to buy their export. Its time to spend what they have saved by cashing in their American debt to buy American export.

Buying American Export will kill 2 birds with one stone. Since many savers are developing countries where there are many opportunities to gain productivity (and living standard) by investing and spending. The productivity gain alone can easily pay for the initial investment, result in few or no debt in the long run. This is lest true for developed countries that are already sitting on the technological frontier, and are thus at the inefficient end of diminishing return scale.

Buying American, will mean that the American government wont have to embrace the Keynesian option of trying to raise even more debt to spend their way of a recession, again. It will selectively boost America’s most competitive industry while reducing American debt and spread confident all around.

Why is there no sign of this happening? A lot of this has to do with the other rational for the build up of foreign reserves by the savers. Namely, to accumulate enough dollar to counter any excessive devaluation of their currency. In current crisis, the savers are even less likely to spend their savings, without which the savers would be vulnerable to currency fluctuation.

End game. In order for the savers to be comfortable enough to spend their savings, two things need to happen. (1)  a coordinated spending plan with the participation of all major dollar holders and (2) a guarantee to bail out in case of excessive currency devaluation by stronger and more independent IMF would be needed.

related stuff to read.
On liquidity crunch – “Baby-Sitting the Economy.”
On “The Causes and Consequences of the Economic Collapse

UPDATE 090403: G-20 Leaders To Give $1 Trillion To IMF, World Bank

G-20 participants announced a tripling of loans available to the International Monetary Fund, to $750 billion, a $250 billion expansion in a special IMF fund to help members\’ foreign exchange reserves, and $250 billion to the IMF to support trade. They also agreed to sell IMF-held gold to poor countries.

Thats an okey amount of money, but the point is that they prove that they are willing to use IMF and WB and they are willing to put resources into it. However whether this will be enough to get the savers to start spending will depend a lot on how exactly this money will be use, and who will have power over it. I personally knows too little about the inner working of the IMF and WB to offer any insight.

UPDATE 090405: World Wad
A world currency is another way to reduce currency shocks, naturally. SDR, if its rely upon more. SDR has a chance to become a predecessor to a new world currency, just like ECU is to Euro. Lets hope so.

Discourse on American hegemony and Asia-Pacific geopolitics.

After America, by Ian Buruma.

Every so often, a grand thesis captures the world’s imagination, at least until it is swept away by events or by a newer, more plausible thesis. The latest one to do so, in policy think tanks, universities, foreign ministries, corporate boardrooms, editorial offices, and international conference centers, is that America’s time of global dominance is finished, and that new powers, such as China, India, and Russia, are poised to take over. It’s an idea that has had as much currency within the United States as elsewhere.

All great empires set too much store by predictions of their imminent demise. Perhaps, as the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy suggested in his poem “Waiting for the Barbarians,” empires need the sense of peril to give them a reason to go on. Why spend so much money and effort if not to keep the barbarians at bay?

Read the rest.

After reading four long pages of Ian Buruma, one thing is certain – The discourse on the relevant issues has not change at all since the time I was an international relation graduate student in the year 2003.

A good read if you are not familiar with these issues, if you are, don’t bother.