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Web Comic

Well, I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb so I no longer have any opinions about politics. However, I am working on a web comic. If you’re interested, here it is: Fast Tall Grow Up

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Haven’t really written much of anything in a while, so here’s what I’ve been doing:

1. I’ve been teaching again at an international school in the Bay Area. Overall, pretty fun with a bunch of students from all around the world. There has been no violence or conflict between Mainland students with their Taiwanese or Japanese counterparts as their common love for alcohol is stronger than any political differences that they do have.

2. I’m getting my masters degree in economics on Saturday. I went from failing my final class to a high-B in a single day. Good times.

3. Currently looking for a place to live, but damn, the Bay Area is so expensive.

4. Pre-ordered Elemental: War of Magic. My most expensive purchase so far this year, but hopefully I’ll be able to get into the beta and check it out. It’s one of them strategy-RPG games that I love so much. And it’s set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, which is always good. High fantasy has sucked since Lord of the Rings came out.

5. Stopped playing Tribal Wars. I realized that it caused me more suffering than fun. No more.

6. My car got stolen but then it was found. Good times.

7. Europa Barbarorum II is still not out, but they have a new preview today.

8. Chinese news reported that a North Korean shot a bunch of Chinese folk. That might be a sign that they’re getting ready to condemn their ally… maybe.

9. Finished a research project about Choice of Residence for Chinese in the Bay Area. Maybe I’ll talk about that stuff here since it is related to Chinese and stuff…

10. That’s pretty much it, but 10 is such a nice number.

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Another anniversary date has come and gone (at least in China). The media frenzy in the west with its coverage of human rights in China will slowly fade away and become forgotten for another year.  The thousands of protesters in Hong Kong will go back to working, eating, fucking, and sleeping, their candlelight commemoration of the massacre brought up only in casual conversations and uploaded pictures on the MSN Spaces. Tiananmen Square will become just another place for tourists to visit, to pose in front of the martyrs and gawk at Mao’s decaying body.

Peace be with those who died and those who suffered. It is important to remember what happened this day, at least for one day a year. To expect more would be unrealistic. To want less would be cruel. Let us harbour no hatred in our hearts, nor should we forgive those who do not ask for forgiveness. And then, tomorrow will be another day.

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So I was listening to NPR as usual and they were interviewing this guy, I think he was some kind of Democrat politician, who was talking about the bailout plan. He said that government spending is more effective in stimulating the economy than tax cuts since parts of those tax cuts would be saved.

The biggest problem that I have with Democrat politicians (and actually most politicians in general) is that they ignore the basic fact that savings is what drives the economy. If you looked at the savings rate for countries, there is a direct parallel between the savings rate and the growth rate. People in Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, and post-reform PRC had really high savings rate  of around 30-40% and they experienced very high growth rates. Then you looked over at sub-Saharan Africa and their savings rate was somewhere around 15% and they all had very low growth rates.

The argument that was made by Keynes is that when people save money, they’re not spending. When people are not spending, revenue for firms go down. When revenue goes down, firms hire less people, which leads to less jobs, and less income for the people. As a result, when people save money, they  actually hurt themselves because their income decreases. Thus the term ‘Paradox of Thrift’ was coined.

Note: This is not just a liberal term. Bush, right after 9/11, told people to go shopping based on the idea that savings is bad. Even when Republican politicians propose tax cuts, they do so not to promote savings, but to promote higher consumption.

So what happens when people save money? Do they just stick it under their mattress and forget about it? Probably not, except in the case of Japan in the 90s when people were ‘hoarding’ (not saving) money due to poor confidence in t he banking system.

Instead, savings goes into financial institutions, bonds, financial assets, and stuff like that, but for simplicity sake, lets just look at banks. People put money in the banks. What happens to that money? Do banks really just sit on all that cash and not lend it out as a bunch of people were saying before? Well, during the time when people were saying there was a ‘credit crunch’, interest rates were actually decreasing, which means that banks were trying to loan money out. If a bunch of people were demanding credit and were unable to get it, the interest rate should have increased. Which it didn’t (and just to dispose of another myth, while the Federal Reserve can influence the interest rate by printing or destroying money, it doesn’t exert control over it).

So people put money into banks. The banks do not just sit on it since the way that banks make money is by loaning it out. If people are pulling out of the stock market (which is why it tanked so much in the past few months), then they have to put it somewhere. Lets assume that they’re putting it into their savings account just for continuity sake. Now the banks are overflowing with money and they want to loan it out. Who do they loan it out to? Well obviously to people that they think would be able to pay it back. Now this is not always the case, which is what led to a few bank collapses, but the majority of the banks in America are still solvent, which means that most of the loans made were good.

So who borrows money? Well, sometimes its by people who want to buy a new yacht, but usually, its businesses that want to invest so that they can increase production and efficiency in the future. Higher investments means higher productivity. On the micro level, this can be seen as an outward shift in supply, which leads to lower prices and higher quantity. Multiply that supply-demand chart by 300 million and you got increased production due to higher capital to labor level and as a result are able to reach a higher income level (Solow growth model). Everybody is richer, everyone has more, and everyone is materially better off. Now those people who are seeking spiritual enlightenment are left wanting, but everyone else should be happier.

At least this is what the people who say that the Paradox of Thrift is all screwed up. Next time, I’ll counter the argument that the Paradox of Thrift is totally wrong and that spending AND saving can both lead to growth.

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A Wake-Up Call to Guangdong

So here’s another article related to the current rise in grain prices. This time, it talks specifically about my beloved ancestral home’s province – Guangdong.

Sadly, I don’t have much time to write today, so I’ll just leave with that link.

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So if you have Chinese friends on your MSN messaging account, you would probably notice a lot of these (heart) CHINA things next to their names. And if you’re in China with a cell phone you’re probably getting messages at 2:00am at night telling you to boycott Carrefour.

I’m not going to rant about how idiotic all this is, but instead talk about why it happens.

It’s helplessness. For example, when a couple planes crashed into a couple buildings in New York on 9/11/2001, there was suddenly all this anger and fear in America. First, people started to buy camouflage clothing, canned foods, jugs of water, and flags. Lots of flags. Everywhere. On cars, in front of your houses, turned into a dress or shirt or tattoo or whatever. It was ridiculous. I didn’t want to put one up because it was so damn stupid and I was angry that they stopped playing Rage Against the Machine on the radio. But the reason why they did all this stuff is because they were helpless. We can’t go next door, pull out a terrorist, and shoot them in public. Sure, you can find some people who were or looked like Muslim and shoot them (which is what happened in Fremont), but in general people felt like they couldn’t do anything. So they donated blood, bought flags, and sang ‘God Bless America’. And oh we were so united during those days with everyone being nice to each other and waving their flags. But oh how quickly did it die off and people went back to their daily lives.

So I have this to say to all the westerners who would criticize the Chinese for being brainwashed nationalistic fools and all the Chinese who are patting themselves on the back for being united and sticking it to the west: What is happening now is nothing special. It should be expected of any country with any sense of nationalism to respond to foreign attacks with a display of patriotism to comfort themselves with the knowledge that they’re good citizens.

As for boycotting Carrefour, well it’s just plain idiotic. All of the product in Carrefour are made in China. All the workers in Carrefour are Chinese. Almost everything you buy from any foreign store, including most of those ‘foreign’ products which are made in China, shipped out, and then imported back in, ARE MADE IN CHINA. Except my camera. It’s assembled in China but it’s parts are made in Indonesia.

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A couple hours playing football in the parking lot behind Microsoft and many hours of Starcraft with my co-workers using our work computers sure does make one forget about all the troubles in the world for a while. I mean when you’re trying to avoid security guards while running a post or got a trillion Hyrdralisks coming down your throat, you got more pressing issues to worry about than Tibet, the Olympics, or who’s gonna be the next Democratic presidential candidate.

I guess this is what they mean when they say Chinese people need enough food to eat before they can worry about human rights. You know, like I had to worry about getting killed by a Zerg rush before I can think about problems in the world and the Chinese peasants have to worry about their next meal before they worry about lacking the right to vote…

…ok, so it’s a poor comparison. It’s a slow day, give me a break. Now if there were car bombings and bird flu in Argentina, then I would have something else to write about.

Oh, but does anyone know where Zhao Ziyang’s memorial shrine is? I kinda want to stop by for a look look.

 

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