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To think the sun is setting on the West

(49 Posts)
GlobalGill Fri 22-Mar-13 12:52:31

Sorry to be depressing but I am beginning to think the West is in terminal decline. The debt can't be repaid and unless something unforeseen happens the situation is only going to get worse in the UK.

I see the growing influence of China. Asia is buzzing, China is growing rapidly it has the money, it's the creditor and it has the power.

Should be be advising our children to bear this in mind as they choose future careers and what to study at University etc? Everyone seems to have their heads buried in the sand about this or am I way off the mark? Should we be telling our children to pack their bags and look to live and work in Asia as they'll be little future for them in the US or UK?

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Fri 22-Mar-13 12:56:47


civilisations rise and fall. It has happened throughout history.

I think that the west is in a far worse financial mess than the governments are letting on!

Look to china and africa. Oil has been found in kenya, uganda, southern sudan and ghana. Natural gas in tanzinia. Kenya-gold, rare earth, titanium, coal...

Resources are wealth and power.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Fri 22-Mar-13 12:58:44


AuntieStella Fri 22-Mar-13 13:00:59

The rise of China has been quietly going on since the 1990s. They own large amounts of the means of production in Africa and elsewhere.

The EU and US have definitely run out of money, and whatever colour government tries rearranging deck chairs, it's not going to be salvageable - in the sense that it's not going to go back to the illusion-bubble of wealth of the early 00s.

Bridgetbidet Fri 22-Mar-13 13:01:39

I think everywhere is finished. Apart from a very small global elite I think the population of the entire world has a much lower standard of living to look forward to. I think people are burying their heads about that, I certainly don't expect my grandchildren to have access to decent, free at the point of use healthcare or education.

But I don't think the answer to that will be to go to Asia, I don't think the mass populace in China or India will have it either. I think the standard of living will simply decrease in the West for the masses but not rise elsewhere.

GlobalGill Fri 22-Mar-13 13:10:59

Bridget surely it's better to stand with the creditors than the debtors though? Learning Mandarin - ideally from a young age - may not be realistic for many but could prove to be a real differentiator in the future. Spending time in China whilst at University etc...It feels defeatist to me to sit in the UK and think that you're just going to see inevitable rot set in (if that's what you believe will happen).

Bridgetbidet Fri 22-Mar-13 13:18:29

The only reason why that would be worthwhile is if you genuinely believe that for the majority of Chinese people life is going to get significantly better and the standard of living will outstrip the West.

This doesn't show any particular sign of happening, the wealth gap in China is growing massively. To me it doesn't seem that the wealth is going from the mass of the population in the West to the masses in the East - it's just going up towards the elite whichever country you're in.

I suppose that you can learn Chinese or spend time there. But there is no particular guarantee that this will make you part of China's elite who have the money.

Look at immigrants to this country, the vast, vast majority live perfectly ordinary lives and often they are likely to be amongst the poorest. There is no reason why immigrants from the west to China should be any different. And unless the standards of living for ordinary people improve drastically you would go to all that effort and it probably wouldn't improve your standard of living at all.

Meglet Fri 22-Mar-13 13:23:49

IIRC China have had a housing bubble crash too. I don't think they're quite as secure as they once were.

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 13:28:16

Interesting points here. If you look back to the USA in the 19th Century they were not a rich country, there were wars and fighting on the streets and now most have what you'd call a decent standard of living, it's not a third world country at any rate.

As someone said upthread civilsations rise and fall; China was once a powerful and important nation. Why is it inconceivable that over a period of time (maybe 50 years) life for the average Chinese person just gets better and better?

As for learning Chinese not making you part of China's elite that have the money...What about a UK RG graduate, for example, whose parents exposed him or her to Mandarin as a toddler and the child kept it up from their teens & then spent time whilst at Uni in China etc, perhaps a semester which effectively consolidated 16 years of learning from a native tutor? I think a law graduate, an agriculture graduate etc that can speak fluent Mandarin might find, if they were smart about it, that they had more than a dead end job and yes, did in time become part of an 'elite' of sorts if they decided that's what they really wanted.

What I am interested in is is the Uk really washed up?

wordfactory Fri 22-Mar-13 13:29:51

I think the West may never regain its economic status. We might regain some ground selling stuff to the BRIC countries and then to Africa, as their stars rise...I think there will be some serious wonga to be made there, but for the elite few.

Callisto Fri 22-Mar-13 13:31:52

I wouldn't write the western world off just yet. China is an economic powerhouse, but we are already seeing the return of manufacturing to the EU because it is becoming so expensive in China. People there are expecting higher wages, they are being forced to address the environmental impact, and the vast majority still live in terrible poverty. Western exports, especially luxury, are increasing and more and more Chinese are being sent to school in the US and UK. They are all learning English for a reason.

On the other hand, there is no way the Earth can support 7 million people living first world lives. Over-population and climate change are far more of a worry than China/India/Brazil etc. Personally, I think as a race we are pretty well doomed but for environmental reasons rather than economic ones.

wordfactory Fri 22-Mar-13 13:32:33

Hamish crossed with you.

I think the West can still supply certain goods, services and expertise to BRIC and Africa. W e have an advantage here in that we've had the time and experience to refine our skills and efficiencies IYSWIM.

But this will only provide sustenance for the few...

Callisto Fri 22-Mar-13 13:34:46

The UK is not necessarily washed up. But it will take a re-vamp of education and some excellent leadership which I doubt will happen. I can't see anyone in any of the parties who has the guts and vision to make Britain great again. sad

wordfactory Fri 22-Mar-13 13:40:03

callisto I don't think that will happen.

The government, like most of the population, seem to be in utter denial about what is happening. Middle class complacancy is rife.

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 13:46:53

Callisto where is the money coming from? I am not economist but I can't see how we can ever be as wealthy as we once were. It feels like that ship has sailed. I fear that one day all the UK and US's chickens will come home to roost (if that's the right expression).

No one seems to be hungry enough in the UK they do seem comparatively complacent and Asia's star does seem to be in the ascendant as some have said.

LittleAbruzzenBear Fri 22-Mar-13 13:53:38

Hamish and * word* you are both right. I don't think any political party wants or knows how to do anything about it. So sad when we were once a nation of great engineers. I watched something on tv last year about no interest in engineering degrees in the UK. Many students study engineering in Italy, lots of them are women too. When did our students suddenly decide to take up media studies?! Shipping jobs out of the UK didn't help. People (Daily Fail fans) in the UK moan about the benefits culture, but there aren't the jobs for these people that used to exist and the high street is in decline too.

quoteunquote Fri 22-Mar-13 13:54:08

Well if we want to be in the game , we need a USE (United states of Europe) asap,

unfortunately we appear to be to stupid to realise we have more in common with each other than we have differences,

So we (Europeans) over the next few years, will be giving the biggest demonstration of "cutting off your nose to spite your face" ever.

LittleAbruzzenBear Fri 22-Mar-13 13:54:13

word, flipping ipad!

LittleAbruzzenBear Fri 22-Mar-13 13:56:45

quote you are also correct. Without harmony in Europe there isn't any hope.

Callisto Fri 22-Mar-13 13:58:01

confused Is this at my 1st post? If so, as manufacturing exports increase there will be more money in the coffers and more people employed. I think there are an awful lot of people in the UK who would rather winge about how shite life is than do something about it though. The US can't be written off. It is still a huge manufacturing nation with a positive outlook and vast amounts of talent. If they can go green and wean themselves off oil then they will be in great shape for the rest of the century. Obviously this is very simplistic!

wordfactory Fri 22-Mar-13 13:59:05

There is no public appetite for the types of changes we need to make, even if we had the money to do it.

Read any MN thread about childhood/education. Post after post decrying homework as the devil's own sperm. Parents worrying about pressure. Teachers worrying about elitism. Mothers beating their breasts wanting their DC to be happy... as if happiness were somehow the antithisis of hard graft, or difficulty or boredom.

My friends from developing countries find these attitudes risible.

lottieandmia Fri 22-Mar-13 13:59:51

All the new, 'designer' private schools like the one in New York that was on radio 4 recently teach the children mandarin from 4.

wordfactory Fri 22-Mar-13 14:03:10

As for the states, DH and I travel there regularly for work and leisure and one thing that always strikes me is the sheer size of the home economy.

American fruit being shipped around the country in American made trucks to be eaten by other Americans.
American families jumping in their American cars to stay in American holiday resorts where they'll BBQ American burgers and drink American beer.

lottieandmia Fri 22-Mar-13 14:06:00

I have family living in the US who say most Americans don't have a passport.

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 14:07:37

Absolutely, Word. I fear we need to introduce our children to 'hard graft' I am afraid because if they are strangers to it life may be very unpleasant & difficult for them in the future. I am all for education but my friends, those who are not from the UK, are doubly or triply encouraging and focussed when it comes to ensuring their children do well at school.

Agree Callisto that the US can't be written off, it's still a very wealthy country but agree with the OP that this isn't likely to last for the next 100 years and beyond. The debt just gets greater and greater and more and more money seems to be printed.

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