Vegas Lights vs. Chinese Might

April 30, 2011

By Amina Waheed
Since being in Vegas, a lot of locals have expressed their anger at Obama’s comment in New Hampshire last year, urging Americans not to waste money in Vegas. “When times are tough, you tighten your belts,” he said, “You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices.” 
Las Vegas residents’ frustration that the President would call out their city specifically, especially since it thrives on our blown cash, is understandable. For the most part, however, Obama’s save-your-nickels-and-dimes speech was a critical call to countrymen in a land inundated in over 14 trillion dollars in debt. And it’s only growing by the second.
Rolling through Las Vegas Boulevard the other night, I watched as shiny lights invited people in for a drink and cashed in on their hopes that they’d finally win big. I couldn’t help but think, “No wonder China is kicking our ass.” China has already beat Japan as the second largest economy, and according to the IMF’s latest bombshell, China’s economy will surpass the US’ in 2016. Whether or not you believe the “Age of America” D-Day is only five years away, one thing is for certain: soon enough the ultimate debt-collectors will be pulling in to our consumer-driven shores to reclaim their over $1 trillion paycheck
China’s economic success is not a big secret. It’s not heavily dependent on an inexplicably complicated derivative formula, but rather on an age-old financial remedy called frugality, with the motto: “save, save, save.” The Chinese save more than 30% of their earned income. This is in stark contrast to their American counterparts, who barely save 0.9% on average. Although, there have been reports that elements of US consumerism have entered China’s stratosphere, China’s way behind our retail-hungry culture, and hence, way ahead of us in building a healthy, surplus -based economy rather than one decaying in deficit. 
Perhaps hating on Vegas’ casino-tourism industry specifically may not be the answer, especially when the big corporate fish on Wall Street are still waiting to be battered and fried. However, gambling with our future by continuing to live beyond our means and blowing what assets we do have left, would be facetious, if not self-destructive. 
If we want to move back up the global market and save the American dream, we need to bust out our piggy banks and save up.