Ant, Meet Sledgehammer

Ant, Meet Sledgehammer

Jack Ma should have kept his mouth shut. The often flamboyant billionaire was reportedly warned by at least two people close to him to "soften" the tone of a now infamous October address in Shanghai, where China's most recognizable tech tycoon chided the country's regulatory apparatus for stifling growth and accused the banking sector of adopting a "pawnshop" mentality. Beijing chafed at Ma's remarks which, predictably, were viewed not as constructive criticism, but as insubordination. Two wee
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11 thoughts on “Ant, Meet Sledgehammer

  1. Sort of reminds me of the telecommunications breakup (AT&T ) years ago that spawned the Baby Bells….Maybe even the obliteration attempts of the Teamsters Union can qualify as a parallel ? We are there again in the US .Wait and see.!!

    1. Belt & Road is not new. There’s been voluminous analysis conducted of Belt & Road over the past several years, and while there are legitimate concerns, you should be wary of “just look it up on Wikipedia” and you should be especially wary of western-centric takes on it. They’re usually biased.

      Here’s a better idea: If you want to know about Belt & Road, don’t “just look it up on Wikipedia.” Dedicate an entire weekend to reading about it. Or better yet, spend a month on it.

      I’m not trying to be abrasive, but I always try to push back on the extremely pernicious tendency in America to take analytical shortcuts on complex issues.

      I understand that everyone has limited bandwidth, and doesn’t spend 19 hours/day writing and reading like I do. I would not recommend my regimen to most people.

      However, you cannot have an informed opinion on something without dedicating a serious amount of time to understanding it.

      That doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion, but as much as everyone in America wants to persist in the fantasy that there are short cuts to knowledge acquisition, there aren’t.

      So, when I see things like the comment above, I just want to encourage folks (including the commenter) to try to understand that when you say things like that, it comes across as lamentable to people who are steeped in the discussion.

      With all due respect, the comment above is like saying: “America is also involved in something called the ‘IMF.’ Just Google ‘IMF” to see how far and wide America is spreading its tentacles.”

      Or: “Pepsi is also involved in making something called ‘Fritos.’ Just go to Wikipedia and look up ‘Fritos’ to see how far Pepsi is spreading its tentacles.”

      The point is: You want to make sure you’re not inadvertently suggesting to the world that something which is not exactly “news” is “news” to you.

      I realize this comment is couched in condescending terms, but what I’ve discovered over the past half-decade is that using condescension is in many cases the best way to compel readers to go out and read, learn, and study.

      For instance, on two occasions last year, subscribers who became angry with me for being condescending with them subsequently emailed me to tell me that although they still didn’t appreciate my tone, the irritation that I sparked with them prompted them to go out and spend some actual, real time reading about the topics.

      One of them came back to the site and resubscribed. The other one was still too irritated with me to do so. But both said they were better informed as a result of my arrogance.

      That, to me, is a win.

      Because while one of those people still apparently doesn’t like me, he/she is a more informed citizen.

      1. Incidentally, I’m sure Wikipedia is a good jumping off point for most folks when it comes to something like Belt & Road, as there’s usually a list of sources at the bottom. Not all of them are great for every subject, but some of them are usually pretty good, and in many cases they’ll link to government documents. Obviously you can’t just take China’s word for it on most things, but it’s not like Belt & Road doesn’t actually intend to accomplish what the official goals say it’s aimed at accomplishing. And not all of those goals are pernicious.

        1. Thanks H, for speaking your mind. Even though you’ve never upbraided me, your comments along these lines here and elsewhere have several times sent me out to read more on a topic. And more than once, your commentary (and that extra reading) has helped make (or save) me money on my investments. Happy to be a paying subscriber finally, after four years or so of reading you.

          1. I mean, I don’t know everything, and that’s kind of the whole point: Every, single time I read something, whether it’s a book or just a short article, I’m reminded of how little I actually know despite the fact that knowledge acquisition is pretty much my only hobby in life. Sometimes, it’s a bit disconcerting, because I realize that despite my best efforts, I’m destined to die without knowing very much in the grand scheme of things. haha

        2. I had a professor lecture me on ego once, that changed my view of fair debates. He said ego was an assessment of one’s own capability. So if a person has a high capability should an ego to match be appropriate? He explained further, but is not important for the moment. If you are talking down to ignorance is this bad? Ignorance is BTW easily correctable, stupidity is not easily correctable.

          I say those who protest being talked down to are being stupid. Not an easily correctable condition that deserves pity. I will suggest for the guy who signed up again a gift of a 50% off year would be appropriate, hopefully your readers could help pitch in.

  2. It is the discovery of knowledge and the discovery of how to pursue knowledge that can be so up-lifting.
    H, please hold your course to the bitter end (as in difficult, not as in “unpleasant”).
    It is crazy how much enjoyment you have provided to your readers, well, at least this one, during this very difficult year of covid.

  3. I suspect Belt and Road winds up being a Geopolitical Masterpiece which is why the US is attempting to play it down… A predecessor attempt at forming the ‘Bricks ‘ was a failure a few years prior so Belt and Road is another attempt , although refined and redefined with a different game plan…

    1. Or Belt & Road could just end up being a 21st century version of the Marshall Plan, the World Bank, the IMF, the Global Agreement on Trade & Tariffs, and the EU — except smaller and with less buy-in from fewer countries. Shame on us.

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