Saturday, May 11, 2013

some thoughts on China, intellectual property and Motherhood 101

First, dear reader, let's get up to speed on some international politics:
America has it on pretty  very good authority that China steals intellectual property (stuff like trade secrets for making tablets and software and movie content) from American businesses.  You see, China can produce stuff cheap, but they have crappy ideas, while America produces really cool ideas for stuff, yet can't produce things at Walmart prices, so there's a lot of interchange between our two countries.  Plus, American businesses can't resist the GINORMOUS consumer base in one of the world's largest countries--a largely untapped consumer base, so they want to do business with China, but they can't afford for China to keep stealing their great ideas and selling them and keeping the profit for themselves.  Need more details?  The NY Times sums it up nicely. 

Here's a transcript from NPR's report last week:

"There are certainly some companies that are seeing [intellectual property theft] as part of a strategy for becoming more competitive internationally, taking innovation from somewhere else and incorporating it in their products," says Robert Hormats, the U.S. undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment.
"We want to make the Chinese know that we regard this as a threat to our most innovative companies, and are very serious about insisting that they stop it. Because if this lasts too long, a lot of innovation is gone from American companies," Hormats says.
In March, President Obama's national security adviser, Tom Donilon, warned of "serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber-intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale," and he called on China to "take serious steps" to investigate and halt such activities.

Mmmkay...America's telling China to stop it...
A few days later, Obama made that same request in an introductory phone call to China's new president, Xi Jinping. Later that month, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew raised the cybersecurity issue during a visit in Beijing. He was followed in April by Secretary of State John Kerry and the chairman of the joint chiefs, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey.
Undersecretary Hormats also visited the Chinese capital. His message reinforced what other senior U.S. officials were saying: The United States is running out of patience and wants China to end its cyber-espionage now.

Stop it because we are tired of it.  Yeah, I can TOTALLY see China responding to this request.  NOT!

"Having a prolonged dialogue is not our goal," Hormats says. "A dialogue that leads to results, that's our goal."
If the cyber-espionage continues, Hormats says, the Obama administration will consider possible punitive actions.

In other words, America's all "We're sick of asking you to stop, so just stop.  Stop or else."

Which brings me to why more women, specifically mothers, should be leading our nation.  All of the guys in charge of America right now are saying "China, STOP THAT.  Stop it or ... or else."

Or else what?  China's all, "Or else you're telling mom?  Or else you're not playing in my super-sized playground anymore?  Or else you're WHAT?"

It's Motherhood 101, people.  All good moms know you don't say, "Stop that or else."  You have to have an "or else."

Here's the thing, President Obama and Co., as a mom I can't say, "Stop that or else."  My kids would laugh me out of the Momvan if I did.  The effective threat has some beef backing up the command.  Like this:

(FYI, Mr. President?  You gotta say this in your "big" voice.)

In the first case, "Stop that or else," my kids keep fighting because they know my words are empty threats and I'm floundering to come up with an appropriate response.  And?  I'm probably too scared or lazy or distracted to follow through, so what's stopping them from doing what they want anyway?

In the second case, "STOP FIGHTING OR YOU WILL NOT WATCH TV or PLAY THE WII FOR TWO DAYS," my kids cease their bad behavior immediately because a) they know I control all the remotes and b) they love the remotes and would hate to lose access and c) the short-term joy of fighting does not trump the joy of gaming or watching Sponge Bob.  I laugh at the Obama administration's response to China.  What the heck is a "dialogue that leads to results?" 

When kids are naughty, you lay the smack down with consequences.  America's got to say, "Stop your blatant thievery or we will restrict trade with you."
Even better:  "Stop your blatant thievery of our country's entrepreneurial and innovative ideas by June 1 and have an action plan for dealing with those caught in the act or we will cease all trade with you by said date.  And we'll prevent Bieber/Rhianna/Eminem/Swift/Kesha/Gaga from performing because we're the $*(%%@%% USA and we can do that."

And then?  You have to follow through.  Sure, it might hurt a little bit at first...all the angry shoppers leaving Dollar General without their cheap Made in China electronics ...  I know what it's like to stand firm.  It's hard to take away the screens from my kids because they whine and pitch a nutty and irritate me for a few hours while I keep the remotes locked down.  But I do stand firm and eventually everyone learns how to get along because it's mutually beneficial.  The kids find something else to do besides play Madden 13 or watch Sponge Bob, and in doing so they develop their creativity and interpersonal skills.   If you implement an actual consequence, like trade restrictions, China recognizes that they need the American consumer much more than we need them, so they have to play nice on the economic playground.  They need us to come play more than we need to go play with them because there's nothing essential (like food or medicine) coming out of China that the American consumer HAS to have, so our consumers suffer a small inconvenience compared to the loss of China's exports which totaled $425,643.6 billion in 2012.  China needs America's brilliant ideas more than America needs China's electronic equipment, toys, games, sporting goods or footwear (seriously people, those are some of America's largest imports from China--no kidding).  And China's economy needs that $425,643.6 billion from us, too.

Good moms don't repeat the request or message a dozen times--or send in a dozen statesmen or ambassadors to repeat the message for them.  They attach an appropriate "or else" and resolve the issue.  Motherhood 101--it's effective, it's simple, and you can even use it to resolve international political problems! 


  1. Funny stuff. I don't think Obama will listen to you though.

  2. You are spot on. It's not like he needs to worry about winning a new election. If he thinks this is important, he needs to make the tough call and DO something!
    That Bieber one would hurt, man. :)

  3. My son hits the brakes quite quickly for potential lost WII time.

    And definitely there is no sense trying to persuade China to change behavior until we have the appropriate consequence and are ready to go forth with it.

  4. I have often felt this way about world politics. Give a good mom the reins and things will get fixed pronto.
    Unfortunately, most parents now adays feel that discipline will hurt fragile egos and the whining and moaning will get on their nerves so the kids get their own way too many times.

  5. Love this! Moms should totally run all countries... we already rule! ;) But seriously, comparing Obama to a mom is completely... brilliant. Devious and brilliant. And shows he has NO backbone. Consider the GMO labeling issue: promises in his election campaign to label, and after he gets in all the ex-Monsanto employees suddenly on his payroll and he's done a 180. Clearly no backbone. Or moral fibre. Why aren't you in the White House? (Because you're too smart for that!)

  6. That's right! Green Girl for President!!

  7. P.S. You changed your banner! That means it's officially SPRING!

  8. you said it, America loves cheap junk and should try to appreciate quality first!

  9. I type this on cheap electronic crap lol!

  10. I don't know anything at all about china and trade...but I think it may have something to do with union demands they don't have In China?

  11. Preach on, Sister!! It doesn't have to be "punishment" (say, a spanking = military force) -- just dock the allowance or take away a privilege. Or at my house, there would be some push-ups given for the offense.

    Sadly, while I read this, I can't help but think that there are too many whiners in this country who would be all, "But it's my RIGHT to buy cheap crap from China!" and "How dare the President try to take away my RIGHTS!" I can see the problem side of it all. I hate politics.


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