When I was at university doing a Master’s degree in International History, it never failed to amaze me that some of my fellow students would end up at places like the Brookings Institute in Washington. Brookings is considered to be one of America’s oldest think tanks and, to be honest, I really didn’t get the impression that a lot of those students I am referring to could actually think. What that personal exposure did do was add weight to my view that we should be wary of the so-called “experts”. In the ‘New York Times’ today there is an article that says that “Washington will lose its No. 1 China hand.”(1) This “China hand”, this “expert” is none other than, the Treasury Secretary, Henry M Paulson. Do you remember Henry, he is the guy who gave his mates at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley big chunks of the $700 billion taxpayers money that constituted the first bailout. Of course, the government came back for another $800 billion telling the American public that the first $700 was for “something else”. Well, damn right it was for “something else” and that includes Paulson giving his mates wads of cash no questions asked. Yes Henry knows how to look after his own. However, “China expert”? Now, where does that expertise come from?
Well, all we are told is that Mr Paulson acquired this expertise while working at Goldman Sachs and that he cultivated Chinese leaders for five years, we also know that he has visited China on more than fifty occasions. Now, all this suggests is that he has spoken to Chinese leaders through an interpreter and it does not really tell us if he got what he wanted or if the Chinese got what they wanted. Still, Mr Paulson does tell us that China will play a part in his life after he leaves the Treasury, although he draws the line at learning Mandarin, saying that he has a bad ear for languages.(2) “Bad ear for languages”, the simple fact is, learning Mandarin requires more intelligence than getting a hold of someone elses money and giving it to your mates. It is not an intelligence that I would attribute to Mr Paulson. Moreover, one wonders what part China will play in his life after he leaves the Treasury, and it might be that should any of you “China experts” decide to embark on a Yangzte cruise in the next couple of years, you might just bump into the guy who gave away billions of your dollars.
Finally, Paulson and many of the other “experts” working in the service of the various establishments, generally, don’t know very much and, indeed, that is the problem. It is the main reason why the planet is in such a mess. The world is not as complicated as they tell you it is and their actions are much simpler to understand than they would like you to believe and if we make that little effort to understandt them, we will be all too aware of the stupidity and selfishness that motivates them. However, the evidence would seem to suggest that most of us are unwilling to make that modicum of effort that is required.
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