Citizens Against Government Waste Unveils “Chinese Professor” Ad On National Debt

James Fallows thinks calls this “the first spot from this campaign season you can imagine people actually remembering a decade from now,” and I think he’s right. It has overtones of the Daisy ad, combined with Apple’s 1984 Macintosh Super Bowl ad. Most depressing of all, it isn’t entirely implausible:

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    This ad makes no sense on so many levels that I don’t know where to start.

    But I suppose xenophobia doesn’t require any pretense to reason.

  2. I guess I’m missing the xenophobia

  3. Alex Knapp says:

    I guess I’m missing the xenophobia

    Seriously?

    The last two lines? The portraits of Mao (largely absent from modern China)? The sinister final look and laugh at the camera?

  4. Robert in SF says:

    If this is supposed to reflect the current socio-economic environment, they why are they referencing a recession? We aren’t in a recession and haven’t been for some time.

    Also, it mentions changes to health care, but that bill was deficit neutral, if not going to lower the deficit over time.

    As well, what government take overs of private industries? I see the emphasis on Wall Street in the video, but I don’t know what takeover they are referencing. Perhaps people feel regulation of industry is somehow a takeover? If they mean financial reform, that certainly hasn’t hurt the investment banks financial performance.

    So other than borrowing from the Chinese, what else is relevant and factual about this ad?

    And yet, no mention of our great fall resulting from the massive spending to support 2 foreign wars, one of which was started under pretty much false pretenses….but for that I am speaking off the top of my head.

  5. John P says:

    I’d have to agree with Alex here. I don’t quite see how owing a country money equals working for them…or as the commercial implies serving them.

    And if that is how things work in 2030 will we serve the Chinese, the Japanese, the UK, or Oil Exporters: http://www.ustreas.gov/tic/mfh.txt

    Actually, I’m down with any of the above as long as I’m not serving the Luxembourgeans…they’re all so smug with their novelty-sized Duchy.

    Also, if debt makes you a slave and the Japanese are drowning in debt, which they continue to buy up through the issuing of bonds are they then slaves to themselves? http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-10-21/japan-insurers-to-buy-20-year-debt-flattening-curve-rbs-says.html

  6. James says:

    (xenophobia) Large word, Small World 🙂

    De nial is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead …
    Types of Denial – Denial of fact – See also – References
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial – Cached – Similar

    The S. Korean ship sinking is not a Mirage.

    James “Flat lands of (Texas). Large State

  7. john personna says:

    I think it’s a pretty good ad.

  8. sam says:

    A little OT, but since Doug mentioned it. The thing that always struck me about that 1984 Mac ad was, given how things turned out, the poor bastards sitting the audience were actually Mac users in thrall to the single source that was Apple. It was Windows and the PC that lead to an explosion of new companies selling video cars and sound cards and motherboards, and so on. And it was the PC world that led the way into opensource and has allowed me to send you this on a system running Linux, an OS for which I paid only $5.99. Go back and look at it and imagine Steve Jobs in glasses…

  9. Peter says:

    This ad is a farce. “Those craaazy americans had universal healthcare and government takeover of industry, not like us here in China with our poster of Chairman Mao”

    ABSURD. BEYOND MISLEADING. FARCICAL. You should be ashamed to even watch this.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    This ad reminds me of all that talk back in the 80s and 90s about how the Japanese were the rising behemoth who were going to take over the world economy…well, we see how well that prediction turned out…nothing like the Yellow Peril, I guess…although the Mao portrait is such a nice touch…

  11. Tano says:

    Really, the Chinese government laughing at the Americans for taking over industries?

    The Chinese government laughing at the dumb Americans who tried to spend their way out of a recession (yo Doug, you have any idea how the Chinese responded to this latest global financial crisis?)

    Yes, it is a very professionally done ad, and it is visually and dramatically striking. But its content is utter nonsense.

  12. I agree it is a well produced add, however…

    I have to concur that the idea that the Chinese will take us over in some capacity to have xenophobic connotations. There are those who see the Chinese as a looming threat. For example, I have a lot of military grad students who talk that way. And then there is the coming remake of “Red Dawn” with the Maoist Chinese as the enemy.

    Moreover, I am unclear (as some noted above) why the Chinese would be making fun of universal healthcare and state ownership of business (especially while a giant painting of Mao looks on).

  13. Neil Hudelson says:

    Well produced ad. Effective.

    But not more memorable than demon sheep.

  14. Juneau: says:

    Xenophobia, Nonsense, Yellow Peril. If you say so. But, most importantly of all… effective. And by the way, it’s not Xenophobia if the fear is legitimate. And no – not the fear of America being overcome by the Chinese Communists; the fear of giving an economic and military rival enormous leverage because they are floating a huge chunk of our debt. Thanks to Obama and the fools who are have been in charge of congress. But only for a few more days, thankfully.

  15. Two things:

    1. The amount of the overall debt owned by the Chinese is exaggerated in these discussion.

    2. “Thanks to Obama and the fools who are have been in charge of congress”—Not to defend recent spending, but in the interest of accuracy: borrowing from the Chinese is hardly something that started with the Obama administration.

  16. DC Loser says:

    @Juneau – tell me again under which administration was TARP passed?

  17. anjin-san says:

    > And by the way, it’s not Xenophobia if the fear is legitimate

    Yes, but you seem to be afraid of pretty much everything. It makes you a legitimate coward, but it does not make xenophobia legitimate.

  18. Steve Plunk says:

    TARP worked, the stimulus didn’t. Who was responsible for each? Playing the TARP card doesn’t work anymore.

    The ad points to overspending and irresponsible government here at home. The Chinese own enough of our debt to worry some respectable people so I wouldn’t downplay it too much. Sure we sold bonds to the Chinese before but at these levels? That’s the thing, we are in new territory as far as the size of our debt.

    With trillion dollar deficits we should be worried about further government spending and this ad makes it clear.

  19. john personna says:

    TARP worked, the stimulus didn’t. Who was responsible for each? Playing the TARP card doesn’t work anymore.

    I know you are not alone in thinking this Steve. I know there are many who would like you to keep believing. But let me tell you a related story. One day last week Joe Scarborough also mentioned that TARP worked, made money. The next day he heard the report that Freddie and Fannie has lost another $350B or whatever, and he said “unbelievable.”

    The thing to understand, the thing that politicians don’t really want you to understand, is that those two stories go together. TARP worked, in part, because Freddie and Fannie were made to buy bad mortgage backed securities off the TARP banks. Then the banks reported profits and Freddie and Fannie reported losses.

    Seriously. That’s the way TARP “worked,” with back-door money coming around from us taxpayers to make it work.

    Neither party really wants to come clean with the ugly truth because there are still way too many trillions in play, and both parties are still using them to quietly prop up the big banks and bank-like entities.

  20. john personna says:

    Should be:

    “TARP worked, in part, because Freddie and Fannie were made to buy over-pay for bad mortgage backed securities off the TARP banks.”

  21. sam says:

    @Plunk

    “TARP worked, the stimulus didn’t. ”

    I think that when right-wing zealots write about the stimulus not working they should, as a matter of law, be forced to write, “two-thirds of the stimulus did not work,” since one-third of the stimulus was tax cuts — nd it is an article of faith among those folks that tax cuts always and without exception work for whatever purpose they are fashioned.

  22. Juneau: says:

    @ Steven Taylor

    but in the interest of accuracy: borrowing from the Chinese is hardly something that started with the Obama administration.

    And, as in most things, its not the practice which is the problem, it is the magnitude. Just like the deficit and national debt. You say that the amount is over rated in thee discussions – overrated how? You do not feel that the Chinese own too much of our paper? Or you don’t feel that this condition gives them leverage? Or, what?

  23. anjin-san says:

    > TARP worked

    Funny, all we have heard from the right the last 2 years is that the government can’t do anything right, having the government in the marketplace always makes things worse, government is the problem, not the solution and so on, and so on…

  24. Juneau: says:

    @ sam

    I think that when right-wing zealots write about the stimulus not working they should, as a matter of law, be forced to write, “two-thirds of the stimulus did not work,” since one-third of the stimulus was tax cuts — nd it is an article of faith among those folks that tax cuts always and without exception work for whatever purpose they are fashioned.

    Hey fool – back again with more “wisdom” I see. Regardless of what measurement you insist on using to show whether or not tax cuts are effective in putting more money in people’s pockets – and therefore the economy – there is no question that Keynesian economics is a bust. The stimulus was an implementation of this failed policy.

    Obama blew it; he knows it, economists know it, Europe knows it, and the electorate knows it.

  25. Juneau: says:

    @ anjin

    Yes, but you seem to be afraid of pretty much everything. It makes you a legitimate coward, but it does not make xenophobia legitimate.

    You too funny…

  26. An Interested Party says:

    A pity that such a skillfully done ad makes no sense…

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/10/the-phenomenal-chinese-professor-ad/64982/

    “And if you know anything about the Chinese economy, the actual analytical content here is hilariously wrong. The ad has the Chinese official saying that America collapsed because, in the midst of a recession, it relied on (a) government stimulus spending, (b) big changes in its health care systems, and (c) public intervention in major industries — all of which of course, have been crucial parts of China’s (successful) anti-recession policy.

    Now, if these skills could only be applied to helping the public understand real budget and economic tradeoffs once the election is over.”

  27. sam says:

    Comes Juneau the Simple with his ear for political dopery in full cauliflower. Really, does this kid get to leave the house without a note pinned to his shirt?

  28. Juneau: says:

    @ sam

    Comes Juneau the Simple with his ear for political dopery in full cauliflower. Really, does this kid get to leave the house without a note pinned to his shirt?

    That’s the way , sam. If you don’t have the mental agility to take on someone up front, you can always resort to confronting them obliquely. I’ll bet you were one of those awkward kids in school who passed notes to the teacher rather than address your own problems. The result is the shallow-thinking adult displayed before us who’s psyche rebels when faced with anything that may resurrect those uncomfortable confirmations of inadequacy.

    Here’s a hint sam; critical thinking does not mean using juvenile insults as a “response” to every idea that requires analysis. I’ll be happy to school you some more whenever you feel your ego is up to it. Just let me know…

  29. anjin-san says:

    > I’ll be happy to school you some more

    The scary thing is that Juneau no doubt believes himself to actually be schooling people here. Unless he is aware that the schooling in question is in coma induction via mind numbing dullness, this sort of self-delusion is the sort of thing that makes Sarah Palin a credible politic force in modern America.

  30. Juneau: says:

    @ sanjin

    this sort of self-delusion is the sort of thing that makes Sarah Palin a credible politic force in modern America.

    Yeah, if you could just eliminate all of the stupid people then your ideology would reign supreme. It’s not that it doesn’t work , its that the vast majority of people are too stupid to understand it. In contrast, the Yale and Harvard crowd is doing just splendidly in running the country into the ground as a hobby.

    Some day – if we can get the liberals out of teaching and we get back to learning rather than social engineering – then maybe educated will once again equal capable. Until then, anjin, just keep holding yourself up as a shining example of the wonders of the modern liberal education – prone to abandon common sense in favor of some unproven theory you read in a book. O perhaps better yet, put forward by some credentialed professor who’s never run a company or created a product o service.

    In the end, once you get rid of all the stupid people, then you won’t even have to be concerned that your lame crap of an ideology is useless in the real world. Because the other really important thing that liberals learn is that the secret to keeping failure hidden is to hide the results from what you call the “stupid” people. Can you say “3 million jobs created or saved?”

    Keep smokin’ that superiority complex. Who knows, maybe you’ll get high enough to carry you through the inevitable bad news you’re going to get in the mid-terms. And you can thank all of the “stupid” people for that.