Saturday, April 25, 2015

390. Paul Krugman, Benjamin Franklin and Old-Time Economics

In his New York Times Op-Ed Article That Old-Time Economics, April 17, 2015, Paul Krugman pointed out,  "In recent years, however, innovative economic ideas, far from helping to provide a solution, have been part of the problem. We would have been far better off if we had stuck to that old-time macroeconomics, which is looking better than ever." I agree with his opinion. To learn from history is always a good way to solve today's issues.

Paul Krugman's opinion reminds me of the article, Benjamin Franklin and China by Dr. Dave Wang. In this article, Dr. Wang examined Franklin's study of Chinese economic theory.  According to Dr. Wang,  at some point between 1765 and 1774, Franklin studied Chinese economic theory. Franklin wrote the following to convey a pamphlet on economic theories by George Whatley, his friend; "It was an excellent saying of a certain Chinese Emperor, I wil, if possible, have no Idlesin my Dominions’ for if there be one Man idle, some other Man must suffer Cold andHunger. We take this Emperor’s Meaning to be, that the Labor due to the Public, by each Individual, not being perform’d by the Indolent, and necessary to furnish his Subsistence, must naturally fal to the share of others, who must thereby sufer.”

From Franklin's autobiography we learn that Franklin practiced the Chinese emperor’s theory at his home. In his own home he “kept no idle Servants”.  In October 1786, Franklin showed his position “against accumulation of debts as a practice adverse to the economy and cited the high interest in China as a salutary means of discouraging borrowing.” He stated that interest was 3 percent per month, for 10 months in China, or 30 per cent per ann., which promoted industry, kept down the price of land, & made freehold more common.”

From Dr. Dave Wang’s article we have learned that Franklin’s examination of Chinese economics was so broad that even by today’s standard his study was more extensive than certain so-called experts specializing in Chinese economics. Franklin tried to gather economic information from China as detailed as he could. He recorded in his notebook, a silversmith’s and his apprentice’s salary in a month, and a medical doctor’s income for his visit to his patients. Interestingly enough, Franklin even examined the “Fee paid on a Gift from the King.” His study of silk economy also gives readers a very deep impression. After examining the silk economy in China, Franklin pointed out the perspective for silk economy in Pennsylvania. "That Part of the Imperial Revenue in China paid in Silk, amounts to above 955,000Ib. Troy, and perhaps this is not the twentieth Part of the Produce of that Empire. One Million of Trees disposed into Mulberry Walks, in Pennsylvania, would in a few Years, enable a yearly Remittance to Great-Britain of a Million Sterling, and no Ways interfere with the other necessary Branches of Labour in the Community."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

389. Nicholas Kristof and John Adams Wisdom

In his Op-Ed article, Starving for Wisdom, The New York Times, April 16, 2015, Mr. Nicholas Kristof quoted John Adams, " “I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History and Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.” (John Adam's letter to Abigail in 1780).

Mr. Kristof called for educators to pay more attention to humanity. I totally agree with his opinion.

To his strong arguments what I want to add is that John Adam's wisdom was beyond the humanity. Adams wanted moral education to the younger generation. In Dr. Dave Wang's paper, CONFUCIUSIN THE AMERICAN FOUNDING:  THE FOUNDERS’EFFORTS TO USE CONFUCIAN MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN THEIR ENDEAVOR TO CREATE NEWVIRTUE FOR THE NEW NATION (Virginia Review of Asian Studies, vol. 16 (2014), readers will find John Adam's efforts to advance virtue.

For John Adams, the purpose of government is to allow the pursuit of happiness. Such happiness lies not merely in “ease, comfort, [and] security,” but also characteristics such as virtue, humility, industry, and goodwill. Adams confidently declares “Confucius… agreed in this” goal of happiness through virtue. Adams also realized that virtue ennobled individual character and lifted the entire society. Adams’ statement conveys the significance of virtue for a good government and the significance of Confucius's moral philosophy in Adams’ own efforts to bring up “the minds of the people.” John Adam showed his high regard for Confucian virtues and believed that any good Americans should possess these traits. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Adams criticized the English theologian and natural philosopher Joseph Priestley for ignoring Confucius in his writing: "Priestley ought to have given us a sketch of the religion and morals of Zoroaster, of Sanchoniathon, of Confucius, and all the founders of religions before Christ, whose superiority would, from such a comparison, have appeared the more transcendent."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

388. The American and Chinese Futures Totally Intertwined

In today's The New York Times, April; 15, 2015, famous Thomas L. Friedman told his readers, "the American and Chinese economies and futures today are now totally intertwined."  As a history lover, I am no longer interested in today situation. However, today is developed from yesterday. Readers of this blog and Dr. Dave Wang's works on the founders and China have realized that the new Americans and ancient Chinese have been intertwined since the beginning of this country.

The United States and China "almost take for granted the ties that bind them today: the $600 billion in annual bilateral trade; the 275,000 Chinese studying in America, and the 25,000 Americans studying in China; the fact that China is now America’s largest agricultural market and the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt; and the fact that last year Chinese investment in the United States for the first time exceeded American investment in China." See Thomas L. Friedman's op-ed article, What's Up With You.

Indeed, this was unthinkable for the founders of this country when they opened the trade with China 228 years ago. The founders understood well it was essential for the new nation's survival to establish commercial relations with China. That's why so many founders involved in the pioneering sail of the Empress of China in 1784, immediately in the wake of signing the Treaty of Paris.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

387. Benjamin Franklin and a Modern American Patriot

Mr. Stephan A. Schwartz (Distinguished Consulting Faculty, Saybrook University and Editor ) is correct when he pointed out that  "No founder had as detailed a plan, or worked more diligently to create the kind of country he had in mind than Benjamin Franklin."

Franklin created many valuable things for the United States. They are well-known and I don't have to make a long list here. It is well-known that he was a founder of the first hospital and worked hard to find food plants from other parts of the world and had them transplanted in north America. However, more importantly, Franklin set up a moral example for Americans to follow. In his life time, he tirelessly advanced his own virtue and urged others to do the same. In order allow others to enjoy virtue principles of Confucius, he published some works of the great philosopher in 1737. More impressively, he claimed that Confucius was his example for moral purification.

On Franklin's drive to improve his virtue and Confucian moral philosophy, you can read Dr. Dave Wang' article, Benjamin Franklin and Chinese Civilization through this link.

Monday, April 13, 2015

386. Kites and Link to Chinese Cutlure

Mr. Adam Tamburin, who can be reached  at 615-726-5986 and on Twitter @tamburintweets, reported a very interesting story on April, 12, 2015. According to his article, Vanderbilt students use kites to offer link to Chinese culture, the Vanderbilt students who organized the kite-flying event said the playtime offered the children, who are of Chinese descent, a link to their native culture.

It is very interesting. Indeed, Kite served as the link between China and the colonial North America in 1752, fourteen years before the United States was founded. In June that year in Philadelphia,  Benjamin Franklin flied a kite with the help of his son, William. This was the famous Franklin's kite experiment. The experiment then became the legend of the United States.

Almost everyone knows it. However, not everyone knows that fact that Kite was invented in China.
From Dr. Dave Wang's research, readers have learned that Benjamin Franklin borrowed many technologies from China and used them to improve his own inventions.

Friday, April 10, 2015

385. Did Americans See Chinese Products Forty Years Ago?

The News Article, Pearl River, Chinese Emporium in Manhattan, Will Close at Year-End, in The New York Times Business Section (April 8, 2015), reveals that many people haven't realized the existence of Chinese products in the early United States. The manager of the store told Hiroko Tabuchi, the writer of the news article, "Forty years ago, people didn't see Chinese products from China. Now you see it everywhere." (p.B2).

Actually, as early as 200 years ago the Americans saw and used Chinese products all the time since the colonial era. The Chinese products were brought in through the trade, started by founders of the United States. 

Everybody knows that now China is one of the United States' largest trading partners. The Unites States imports from China reached $446.65 billion in 2014. No one dares to say that it is a small number. However, certain time in history, number was not significant compared with the significance of the event. The opening up of the China trade by the founders of the United States was one of the examples of showing that number was not that important. Comparing with the 2014 trade number, the trade number between China and the United States in 1784 was too small to mention.

I made a presentation on George Washington and China Trade in Salem several years ago. A lady approached me and asked "what was the number of the trade with China in Washington administration after my presentation. I told her that the number was not very big. However, the number was not that important for starting American direct trade with China at the historical conjuncture. The trade between China and the United States kept the new born nation from economic chaos.  As for more information on the US trade with China and its impact on the United States in the eighteenth century, please read Dr. Dave Wang's article, "With China We Trade,"  with this link.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

384. Benjamin Franklin was America's first Confucian

In his book, The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 3: Soldier, Scientist, and Politician, 1748-1757, Volume 3 (Google eBook), the late Professor, J. A. Leo Lemay stated, "Just as, from his knowledge of Chinese history and culture, and especially from his publication of the Morals of Confucius in the
Pennsylvania Gazette of 7 and 21 March 1737/8, one could argue that Franklin was America's first Confucian and Sinologist. " (p. 586)

I think that his argument is reasonable based on Franklin's efforts to enhance his and others' virtue through Confucian moral philosophy. I want to point out here is that other founders, including Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, also quoted Confucian principles in their papers.
Jefferson included in his own personal book a poem of Prince Wei, recommended by Confucius as an example for leaders of a nation. For more information, one can read Dr. Dave Wang's paper, "Confucius in American Founding, " Virginia Review of Asian Studies. Volume 16, 2014.

383. 探索中华文明对早期美国的影响 史密森学者推介王小良 Dr. Dave Wang 研究成果

【侨报记者管黎明4月1日纽约报道】在皇后区图书馆Laurelton分馆担任馆长的王小良博士多年来所做的有关中华文明对美国开国元勋影响的开创性研究正受到越来越多人的关注。不久前,在史密森博物馆任职40多年、并曾在战后参与麦克阿瑟将军驻日工作团队的著名学者魏尔敦·迪伦(Wilton Dillon)出版专著《史密森的故事:黄金年代之1964-1984》(Smithsonian Stories: Chronicle of a Golden Age, 1964-1984, published by Transaction Publishers, 2015),在书中,他专门劈出章节介绍了王小良的研究成果,以此诠释中国文化对早期美国社会和美国建国之父们的深远影响。

 迪伦在书中指出了王小良研究的意义和影响。他表示,“王小良的研究打开了探索中国文化对我们开国元勋以及北美殖民地影响的新的大门。” 他同时也在书中透露,为了让国会领导人了解这一研究的重要性,他将王小良的论文复印多份,然后亲自送给了来自宾州的民主党参议员Harris Wofford和来自南达克塔州的共和党参议员Larry Pressle。

迪伦相信,研究一个国家对另一个国家的文化影响,尤其是接受文化影响的能力,可以好创造更好的外交。他书中特别介绍了王小良的论文《中国是如何帮助美国文化形成的?美国开国元勋与中华文明》。这篇论文最初发表于《弗吉尼亚亚洲研究评论》。(How China Helped to Shape American Culture: The Founding Fathers and Chinese Civilization',Virginia Review of Asian Studies (2010))。他表示,王小良博士的论文告诉我们,孔子哲学,茶叶,陶瓷,墙纸,大黄,大豆,房屋供暖,运河,造船,理性的思维,火箭的研究和应用,以及可替代医药,所有这些都是来自中国的文化贡献。“王博士也告诉我们,在法国和印第安人的战争期间,在中国长城的启发下,富兰克林建立了一条木长城,以保护费城。托马斯·杰斐逊的建筑设计也汲取了中国建筑的元素。王小良的研究还表明,除开国元勋托马斯·潘恩(Thomas Paine),本杰明·拉失(Benjamin Rush)外,中国文化还影响了殖民地的其他许多知名人士, 诸如John Bartram、Jedidiah Morse等等。


  在迪伦的著作之外,王小良的研究也正在被其他的国际知名学者在他们的著述中引用。美国艺术科学院院士、曾被克林顿任命为美国驻联合国科教文组织代表并且集教育家、外交家、历史学家为一体的著名学者 Patrick Mendis 在他的力作《和平之争:中国梦和美国的宿命如何创建新的太平洋秩序》(Peaceful War: How the Chinese Dream and the American Destiny Create a New Pacific World Order (2013))中,也广泛引用和吸收了王小良的研究成果。他引用了王小良的多篇论文,包括《本杰明·富兰克林与中国》和《托马斯· 杰斐逊对中华文明积极因素的汲取》(Thomas Jefferson’s Incorporating Positive Elements from Chinese Civilization)等。

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

382. Dr. Dave Wang and His Pioneering Research

We'd like to call to your attention the pioneering research and writings of History Education Hawaii director, Dr. Dave Wang. His research has opened fresh eyes to something long neglected in the founding of the United States of America: the influence of Chinese civilization on the American Founders.

From his blog-post, dated June 28, 2012:
It seems a historical irony that China, the ancient and far away empire, also had an impact on the founding of the United States. Military support from France was one of the key factors in the colonists’ victory in the American Revolutionary War. One reason the French royal court fought the British in North America was to prevent a British from monopoly of trade with China. 

We invite you to visit his blog site The U. S .Founders and China 美国开国元勋与中 today and everyday.

History Education Hawaii, Inc., an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit corporation serving the history learning community of the state of Hawaii. HEH promotes study, research, effective learning practices and innovative history teaching techniques, partnering with educational institutions, facilitates professional programs for history-buffs, educators, teacher-candidates, historians, historic preservationists, foundations, museums and the government, military and business communities. History Education Hawaii is allied with the National Council for History Education.( Joining our mailing list by contacting us at