Southeast Asia

We spent the last nine days in Southeast Asia, in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. If you want the play by play version of our trip, head on over to the Gotham Gal’s blog where she does that and has has done for every trip we’ve taken over the last fifteen years.

As an aside, if you ever want travel tips to many destinations around the world just Google for the city and add to the end of the search query and there’s a good chance you will find a host of blog posts that she has written about that location.

But I digress.

Throughout our trip in Southeast Asia over the last nine days, I was struck by the palpable feeling of economic growth and entrepreneurship. It felt like a region that is pulling itself out out of poverty by it’s bootstraps.

There is a long way to go for sure. Annual per capita GDP in Vietnam is roughly $7000US, that number is roughly $6000US in Laos, and roughly $4000US in Cambodia.

But there is a vitality everywhere you go. People are on the go. Construction projects abound. Commerce is everywhere. People have phones and motor scooters.

Most of all you see children and young adults. This is a region that lost much of my generation to war and genocide. But they are regenerating their families and societies. In Vietnam, 50% of the population is under 30. In Cambodia, 70% are under 22.

The people are nice. They welcome the tourists and understand the economic support it brings to their cities and country.

So I’m very optimistic about these countries. They are on the move. It was exciting to see that.

#Blogging On The Road

Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    “In Cambodia, 70% are under 22.” can that be right? seems an impossible statistic for a human population.———–off topic. finally caught up with the new Pixel phones today. not convinced that they that are much of a step up from the originals. the new XL screen seems somehow ‘faux’ compared to Samsung’s edge to edge offerings. nice software package though, but still not really open source in the real sense.

      1. ShanaC

        how many send remittances back? And where are they going?

  2. William Mougayar

    Curious why Vietnam has advanced faster than Cambodia.

    1. jason wright

      geography? Vietnam has a land border with China, and is a coastal country (many ports) adjacent to the main international shipping lane of the region, while Cambodia is tucked away in a ‘bite’ and has a limited coastline.

    2. Girish Mehta

      The Khmer Rouge (from 1975-1979) might have something to do with it.The per capita GDP numbers are much lower than what is stated above.Per capita GDP – Vietnam is $2,186, Cambodia is $1,270 and Laos is $2353.…At a PPP level they are closer to numbers in the blog post, but still lower for Vietnam and Cambodia.

      1. jason wright

        i tend to rely on this data set;…after all, if you’re planning to meddle in a country’s affairs it’s best to have an accurate understanding of it before you start.

        1. Girish Mehta

          The PPP data is similar in both the data sets.…Or better still, don’t meddle in another country’s affairs.

          1. jason wright

            “…don’t meddle in another country’s affairs.” – precisely.whichever lobbyist it is that has Trump’s ear on Iran needs to be neutralised immediately. clearly Trump has no clue about the history of international relations before 1979. Twit, and the explanation of his misunderstanding about Twitter i assume. the DC consensus is pushing for yet another petroleum war.

          2. pointsnfigures

            Depends, but on the whole you are correct. The South Koreans are happy we did.

          3. PhilipSugar

            But here is the question we can never answer: Where would they be if we didn’t?You can say they would be like North Korea, but you certainly can’t be sure.It’s a really hard question.One part of me says: Make people stand up and fight, they can’t just flee.The other says: How can I stand back and watch this happen.No good answer.But I do know we get it wrong many times like Vietnam. And sometimes there is no good answer like Iraq or Afghanistan.

      2. William Mougayar

        Yup. Good data points. Thanks

    3. pointsnfigures

      One reason is manufacturing moved out of China to Vietnam, cheaper labor costs.

  3. JimHirshfield

    Ok, but how’s the food and beer?

    1. pointsnfigures

      From Gotham Gal’s blog, the food looks pretty darned good in a lot of cases. From my personal experience, the food in Asia was great-and unique. Best marinated and grilled duck satay I ever had was in Singapore. It was so good it ruined satay for me. Don’t want to eat it anywhere else.

  4. Farhan Abbasi

    This might be obvious to many, but to those wondering why Cambodia has such a young population, and why it hasn’t grown as fast as Vietnam, look up Khmer Rouge.

  5. Chimpwithcans

    While developing countries often have a lot of activity and be on the move, that does not always mean that they have direction. Interested to know more about the government and leadership in this region. Any exposure to policy / governance as it relates to entrepreneurs over there Fred?

  6. Tom Labus

    Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer. So insightful for events past and current.

    1. disqus

      Vietnam has a know how in textiles and garment, food processing they export they also have crude oil but very important since the 1990s the state control policy has relaxed. Cambodia on the other end is inhibited by endemic corruption, limited human resources, high income inequality, poor job prospects and poor education.

    2. JLM

      .It is worth noting that the author won a Pulitzer. When a guy wins a Pulitzer, his earlier works end up being more highly scrutinized. I have read 4 of his books. They are easy reads.I don’t find them to be particularly insightful until one remembers that there is almost no history written from the perspective of those in Vietnam who were either not aligned with the Americans or the Communists.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Girish Mehta

        Have you read Nelson DeMille’s Up Country ? I read it ages ago,but remember it as a good, fun read…thriller. Not heavy reading, entertaining.@Tom Labus – you might like Up Country. Set in Vietnam. Not on the insightful scale, but entertaining.…p.s. DeMille was a platoon leader in the Vietnam War.

        1. Tom Labus

          Thanks @girishmehta:disqus

        2. JLM

          .I was sitting at a table with a guy wearing a 1st Cav Div hat at an event in Austin 20 years ago. De Mille had served as a plt ldr in the Cav. De Mille noted the guys hat. We struck up a convo.Of course, somebody had to say about the 1st Cav — yellow patch, with black stripe, horse’s head — “The horse they never rode, the river they never crossed, the yellow of their backs.”Soldiers are so dopey sometimes.He also wrote the General’s Daughter with the same protagonist.I bet I have read 200 non-fiction accounts of the Vietnam War. I like the ones written by men in the lowest possible positions. It was a complex set of experiences — about 50 different wars all over the same decade. Such a stupid war, in retrospect.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Girish Mehta

            Yup, he repeats two of his protagonists – John Corey and Paul Brenner in his books. I have read every Nelson DeMille until about 4-5 years back. Enjoy his earlier ones like Gold Coast, Up Country, Plum Island, Gate House, The Lion’s Game.I read “Up Country” while on a beautiful private beach on Pangkor Laut island and finished it in two days, and its a long read.

          2. JLM

            .There is nothing like a beach book. I used to save my beach bag for Pat Conroy novels and, now, Daniel Silva.I admit to starting to re-read good books from 30 years ago. I have never read Conroy’s Beach Music without crying.I knew Conroy through the introduction of a common lawyer we shared in Charleston.He went to the Citadel and his father was a Marine aviator Colonel. My Dad was a Cmd Sgt Major who got a battlefield commission in WWII. We had a lot to talk about.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. Girish Mehta

            I bought Beach Music based on what you said…reading it now, and its really good. Thanks !

          4. JLM

            .If you can read Beach Music without crying then you are a better man than I am.Book report.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. Tom Labus

        In interviews he talks about how long this story line bounced around in him. Also, the struggle to find the right voice for the novel. Sometimes it takes a novelist to help us understand history.

        1. JLM

          .I know the truth of this. I am a published author (short stories only thus far) and every story starts as a flash of lightning and a story illuminated by that lightning.It can take months to figure out the first paragraph, the narrative hook to lead to the rest of the story which is impatiently waiting.It takes 5 years to find one’s writing voice. When I first read that, I scoffed. Five years later, I do not.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Tom Labus

            His interview with Charlie Rose is very good. I remember reading some of your early efforts.

          2. JLM

            .Yes, I saw it.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. ShanaC

      thank you for the book recommendations.

  7. JamesHRH

    I think I have posted this before, but legendary investor Jim Rogers said:’ In 1807, a financier should have moved to London, to capitalize on the century of Europe. In 1907, the move was to New York, to capitalize on the century of America.’In 2007, he moved his family including 2 young daughters, to Singapore (because Shanghai was too polluted).

    1. pointsnfigures

      Singapore is nice. Good financial community there.

  8. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:The percentage of youth under a certain age and an absence of the Baby Boomer generation is striking and alarming. Who is actually teaching them?We will visit the age groups to view what this is saying about Southeast Asia.

    1. ShanaC

      that’s an ongoing problem, and figuring out what all of these people are going to do for jobs over their lifetime is going to be interesting. If tons of young people, especially young men, can’t find work, (or safe work) you tend to get political revolutions.

      1. creative group

        ShanaC:Vietnam is considered the new Banking center of Southeast Asia. It appears very forward moving. Hope your view of Revolution doesn’t come to fruition. What would the Revolution vacuum aim in that region. Repressive Radical Muslims?Would view Revolution more ripe in the west. A perfect storm of blind support of what appears like a Dictatorship and not a Democracy.

  9. curtissumpter

    70% under 22? Jesus.That’s amazing.

  10. bob

    interesting…just back from tunisia andfelt the same entrepreneurial emergence there. just published Startup Owner’s Manual this month in Vietnam, of all places…and Global Enterpreneurship Network now has a full time president and operation in Thailand. One the way….

  11. PhilipSugar

    I need to make that trip. Places I haven’t been. I was glad she made that log/blog of the travels. It is so interesting to see the different “feel” of different places.Interesting that I had people from all over in my office last week and they have that same interesting wow this place “feels” so different than mine.

  12. JLM

    .I have had an interest in that part of the world from my early 20’s.The reason why the Vietnamese are so much more productive is because of their exposure to American know how during that unfortunate episode of the 1960s-70s. Even then, they were hard workers (not as hard as the South Koreans, but hard) and there was a well-educated, but small leadership.The south was substantially Catholic as a result of the French influence and the flight south by the Catholics during the partition of Vietnam in the 1950s. The Catholic schools were excellent.The port at Cam Ranh Bay (one of the greatest natural anchorages on the planet) and the airport at Tan Son Nhut are construction wonders as well as the ambitious road building projects during that time frame.When the NVA conquered the south, they engaged in a wholesale purge of their VC brethren. It is, after all, a brutal communist country to this day. Everyone with a degree was either purged or fled.Cambodia has lagged behind because of decades of brutality beginning with the Khmer Rouge who oversaw the slaughter of 25% of the population. Even in SE Asia, Cambodia is known as a place to “be from” rather than a place to go.Your numbers on GDP per capita are way off. Look at the World Bank or CIA numbers which show: Vietnam GDP per capita $2186, Laos $2353, Cambodia $1270.The average wage of a Hanoi or Saigon worker is about $145/month. It is a very poor and backward country as it relates to personal income. You spent more for dinner last night than the average Vietnamese worker makes in a month.None of these countries (including China) will ever reach their potential until the system of government becomes democratic.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Girish Mehta

      At the Paris peace conference of 1919 Woodrow Wilson put forth the 14 principles of settlement, one of which was the right for self-determination. While the conference was ongoing, there was a dishwasher at a Paris hotel who repeatedly petitioned to meet Wilson but was ignored. That dishwasher’s name – Ho Chi Minh.In September 1945, when Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam’s independence, the first sentence of Vietnam’s declaration of independence read – “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. Sound familiar ?After the declaration of independence, Ho Chi Minh petitioned Truman to support Vietnamese independence. Attached is a copy of Ho Chi Minh’s telegram to President Truman in 1946. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…There is reason to suggest that Ho Chi Minh admired America in his early days.Counter-factuals are tricky, but you have to wonder if things could have played out differently later.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        JLM is on record relating what the Viet Minh did to get rid of the Japanese in Viet Nam in late 1945 (yes, after the US had dropped the two A-bombs on Japan and gotten an unconditional surrender on the deck of the US battleship Missouri) and saying that “Pretty much everything after that was a mistake.” Darned good summary.I’ve posted here lots of stuff about what the US did in Viet Nam from 1946, backing the return of the French, the partition, the planned 1956 elections, …, and then the big LBJ, Dean Rusk, Walt Whitman Rostow, Robert McNamara, etc. screaming about Moscow, Peking, and Hanoi being an Axis 2.0 like Berlin, Tokyo, and Rome.Of course, LBJ and his buddies were fools on a grand scale, worse than nearly all in history and in fiction back to King Lear, etc. Nixon? Even worse.In rock solid, totally clear and simple terms, the Saigon government the US supported from the fall of the French to exit of the US had one great talent — totally pissing off nearly everyone in SVN outside of Saigon and a lot of people in Saigon.As a result, the Viet Cong and the NVA could operate freely all over SVN, including in Saigon, without the Saigon government or even the US knowing anything about it.For whatever the details, no doubt often bloody, the VC and NVA COULD operate all over SVN, and the Saigon government forces and the US could NOT. In blunt terms, the VC and NVA did occupy essentially the land in SVN, and the Saigon government and the US could hold at best a few military bases, indeed, ones that made great targets for rockets and mortar shots from a few miles outside the bases. The US side could come in with troops, tanks, boats, airplanes, artillery, etc. and take ground but they couldn’t hold it. And the US forces were unable to stop the supplies coming south from the north. One would guess that the US could have built an effective wall from the DMZ west into Cambodia, but they didn’t.In the end, the only thing that mattered to the US was the theory of the threat of Axis 2.0. The evidence in support of that theory was just, only, exactly only, that Ho had some free meals in Moscow and Peking.The idea that Ho wanted to be a VN nationalist was thrown away.Much of the reason was US arrogance, that the US could and should run around the world, especially on the boundaries of the USSR and China, and dictate to secondary, submissive, subordinate, obsequious little countries. Well, Ho didn’t want that, not from the French, the Japanese, Moscow, Peking, or the US.For the threat of Axis 2.0, the US had a really easy way out: Sit with Ho and emphasize that the US and Ho wanted the same thing, exactly the same thing, for VN — independence. The US didn’t want VN a puppet of the French, Japanese, USSR, China, or even the US.Then explain that the US wanted to be the best friends of VN and to this end had brought the US checkbook for major water resource and hydro power projects, modern roads, bridges, tunnels, and ports, excellent schools and universities, hospitals, medical care, public health, economic growth, trade, tourism, etc.That would have done it. We would have bought off Ho for tiny fractions of a penny on the millions of what we did spend and lose. We could have bought off Ho for chump change compared to just a few days of what it cost to have B-52s flying from Guam, for the F-100s and F-4s,, for the helicopters, etc.Instead, the US insisted on supporting total losers in Saigon.Maybe the US has learned its lesson.

      2. ShanaC

        that’s a terrible thought about America and our problems. *sigh*

      3. JLM

        .The story is even weirder than that.One of the first Americans into Vietnam after the Viet Minh drove the Japs out, was Wm Colby — the guy who would be the head of the CIA during much of the Vietnam War.Colby was a Lt on a Jedburgh team who parachuted in to help set up the government of Vietnam.At Yalta, the Allies agreed that every Allied nation could have back the colonies they controlled before the war. This impacted French Indochina and North Africa, the Middle East.Ho Chi Minh made the scholarly argument that the French had abandoned French Indochina before the start of hostilities when they withdrew their army, army officers, NCOs to European France.He argues that this was tantamount to abandoning French Indochina, thereby making them a freed colony, a sovereign nation.His argument was further buttressed by the recognition that the French did not defend their former colony and did not participate in the eventual defeat and expulsion of the Japs.It was Yalta which doomed Vietnam.I think it is safe to say that lawyers could have easily have sided with Ho. There was every reason to believe that he was a nationalist and that given a fair chance at independence from France, he would have adopted a more western view of things.When the French returned, the Viet Minh (which was already in existence due to their resistance to the Japs) were ready for a fight. Ho had only one possible supplier of arms — Communists like the Russians and the Chinese. Some might say he became a Communist by default.The French, other than the Legion, fought poorly against what was a classic guerrilla army. This expertise is what inculcated the VC in the south after the partition of Vietnam and the fake elections.If this happened today, there is every reason to believe that Ho would have won the lawsuit establishing sovereignty.Having said all of that, Ho was a murderous bastard and promoted unspeakable horrors in both his country and the south.Oddly enough, Ho’s nationalistic fervor when compared to the conduct of the American Revolution by Geo Washington, shows GW to have been an extraordinary revolutionary, treating British POWs in a humanitarian manner while the Brits were literally killing American POWs.From the beginning, it was a chain of missteps which could have been broken at any time by a thoughtful bit of consideration.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Chimpwithcans

          That’s truly incredible…. the simple twists of fate make it sound like a Dylan song. Are you going to write a history book sometime JLM? Vietnam may be a good place to start.

          1. JLM

            .The problem is every time I think I know enough to form an opinion on something, I read another great book and recognize how little I really know.We keep re-inventing and re-writing our history through a constantly changing lens.I am old enough to have lived through some of our most interesting history and I am amazed at the revisionist things I read about things I experienced first hand. As an example, the Viernam War riots — now, those were riots.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. Chimpwithcans

            Maybe that gives you an opportunity – write one book with your version of events, then a re-write everyone has to buy to get the latest iteration a few years later 😉 – I am being silly, but I think it’s an interesting idea only to focus on that one riot you experienced – sounds like a story.

  13. sigmaalgebra

    Obviously Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia are doing really well at something the US has failed badly at since 1950 — having children.From the grim, horrible, some of the worst in all of human history, circumstances in those three countries, circumstances heavily due to the US, Dean Rusk, LBJ, Nixon, etc. bloody nonsense, those countries are growing. Great congratulations to them.Then here in the US, we are so advanced, sophisticated, have such much more important things to do that we are quite literally going extinct. Bummer. And our GDP growth rate has for decades been near the bottom of the list. Bummer again.Of course, SE Asia is doing without the NYT, WaPo, MSM spewing out a continuous stream of absolutely totally brain-dead, irrational, destructive, demented, delusional, faked-up nonsense, all the insanity they can cough up to report.There is some good news today: Apparently from some detections in August, we now know that two neutron stars 130 million light years away, after circling each other for maybe 11 billion years, that is, well over half the time since the big bang, merged and threw out gravitational waves and light from essentially all energy levels from radio waves to gamma waves, maybe also gold and platinum (a theory is that such events are a, maybe the, major sources of those two elements). So, in August we detected the gravitational waves and all the electromagnetic waves.One big reason for the detections was that we now have, in Germany, a third laser interferometer gravitational wave detector (LIGO) so could triangulate on the gravitational wave source and, thus, aim the detectors for the corresponding electromagnetic wave radiation.It looks like the US economy is stuck-o on some big money sources that have bought off both the Republicans and Democrats to maintain a status quo those sources like but a status quo otherwise basically killing, literally, our country. So, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Chucky Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi are totally dependent on that money and won’t give it up.E.g., supposedly part of his job as Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan is expected to raise about $30 million a year in donations for campaigns for Republican candidates. For McConnell, similar, e.g., the big bucks he aimed at candidate Luther Strange in the Georgia race.Gee, for just $30 million a year, we throttle our economic growth to the tune of missed economic growth of trillions a year, have a deathly GDP growth rate, have birth rate so low we are going extinct, are boarding up our stores and factories and sending the jobs overseas, have 94 million people out of our labor force, from ignorant, irrational anxiety, guilt-ridden, quasi-religious, moonbeam, nonsense have been shooting our energy supplies in the gut, are running big Federal deficits, can’t figure out what to do about health care except sabotage our existing system hoping to get to “single payer”, etc. All that destruction from some $30 million a year, chump change, that Trump and hundreds of other Americans could cover from their own checkbooks. Bummer.Gee, now we want to have a civil war! Wouldn’t a civil war be just SO much fun! So, the status quo people — who have bought off Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and Chucky Schumer — are eager to find any way at all to get rid of Trump. Their leading hopes include converting both the House and Senate to a Democrat majority and bringing a bill of impeachment, for, maybe, that reported extra scoop of ice cream, having a bunch of psychologists claim that Trump is “unfit” to be POTUS, by spewing out fake-news, groundless accusations, gossip, nasty remarks Goebbels style (“If you tell a lie often enough then people will believe and even you will come to believe it” — IIRC) propaganda, use of the 25th amendment, etc. Ah, a really fun US civil war!If we want to destroy the US, then we can, and we are showing that we know very well just how.I know; I know; I know: We have so much better things to do than form families; our women have so many much better things to do, including for the growth of the US economy (which long has not been growing) than to become good mothers; a modern US woman will have a “career” and otherwise adopt and hire a nanny. Marriages will be “open” and come and go like the weather. Ah, the land of milk and honey for divorce lawyers, clinical psychologists, drug pushers, etc.Then, since we refuse to have enough children — thank you Communist saboteur of the US family Betty Friedan — we violate our immigration laws, have open borders, and import many millions of people as a new version of slave labor, people who have cultures that mean that they have little hope of assimilating or being successful in the US for several generations. So, we stand to have social problems, e.g., as outlined at AVC a few days ago about the struggles of teaching computer science or anything in many of the NYC public schools. Bummer.Great congrats to SE Asia. Here in the US, we need to wake up or be gone with the wind.

    1. JLM

      .Two of those countries are savage Communist dictatorships and the other is a clueless kingdom on the heels of a savage Communist dictatorship.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Their economies are growing, and ours hasn’t been.They are having babies, and we are killing ours in the womb.They have dictatorships — lots of countries long have and still do — Turkey, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and more.Those three SE Asian countries are “Communist”: That might mean that they read some Karl Marx. Or it might mean that they are part of some Inspector Clouseau’s “Old take over the world ploy”, that is, an Axis 2.0 made up of Russia, China, and some small countries like the WWII Axis of Germany, Japan, and Italy.Somehow I don’t see those three countries in SE Asia as a significant part of a threat to “take over the world”. Dean Rusk did; so did LBJ and Nixon; so did the JFK, LBJ “wise men”, etc. I didn’t. They were badly wrong, and I wrote Congress with that at the time and was right.IMHO, SE Asia is welcome to read Marx if they want; I believe that it’s silly stuff, but I see it as no threat to us. Stalin and Mao were threats; Marx was not. Stalin and Mao were powerful and brutal; Marx was weak and silly.There are some well-known, quite obvious explanations for the rise of Stalin and Mao; I don’t see Marx as a serious part of those explanations.One could argue, I would argue, that currently the US democracy has been blocked by a coalition of (1) special interests giving campaign funds, etc. to Members of Congress, especially funds to be controlled by the leaders of Congress and (2) the MSM, nearly all centered in NYC and controlled by just a few people (Coulter had a recent column on that).Trump cannot be bought and has been trying to get us back to democracy, but the special interests and their money and the leaders of Congress and the MSM have proven to be serious obstacles.It appears that Trump will have to do some serious campaigning for November, 2018 and get some more friends in Congress. Basically Trump without a lot of arm twisting, mud wrestling, etc. can’t much depend on our democracy now because mostly we don’t have one and instead have been taken over by the special interests. So, Trump is having to rebuild our democracy in 2018 and, no doubt, will again in 2020. Democracy? Heck, we can’t even enforce our immigration laws. Trump has an advantage in those elections: So far with the records of Pelosi, Schumer, Hildebeast, Governor Moonbeam, Mayor Dead Fish, etc. the Democrats will have a tough time electing even one dog catcher.I did mention one of the high points of the US that SE Asia can’t match — what we did with LIGO and the detection of two neutron stars coming together.

    2. ShanaC

      I don’t see Betty Friedan as a saboteur. She also doesn’t strike me as a communist -if anything, having read “The Feminine Mystique” multiple times, she’s VERY critical of certain British and western european communist aesthetic & psychological theory derived from certain points of general aesthetic theory via Critical Theory and Lacan (Freudian-Marxist). She spends a ridiculous amount of time talking about how the creation of the passivity of the 1950s stymies innovation and selling- that the post war boom was driven by hidden demand stymied by the war, not by innovation per say, as opposed to the 1920s (and even a bit in the 1930s) where women as newer consumers due to them having (more) fiscal independence helped drive innovation.I grew up in a community that in some ways is pre-Betty Friedan (up until very recently, and not absolutely otherwise). To be blunt, you see elements of this in person – 2 income households where the woman is an independent earner as opposed to part time job/volunteer work from boredom drives demand/innovation. They also tend to have more stable kids who earn more, which isn’t that surprising if you look at data from the Lanham Act of 1940 (Chris M. Herbst, “Universal Child Care, Maternal Employment, and Children’s Long-Run Outcomes: Evidence from the US Lanham Act of 1940,” Journal of Labor Economics 35, no. 2 (April 2017): 519-564. ) and studies about type of time spent parenting alongside maternal employment (eg: Hsin, A. & Felfe, C. Demography (2014) 51: 1867.… or https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.go… ). The big issue is when should a mother return to work, since apparently any negative effects of full time employment and cognitive development occur in the first year (and seem to be positive effects if the mother returns full time after that)If you take public policy data seriously, that Lanham Act data is critical – because I can say that the reason the people my age who want to have kids delay is almost 100% due to the monetary cost (especially in relationship to college debt, and in some cases graduate school debt). Reasonable child care costs more than a college degree per year in many cases, plus child care with inflexible, crazy job schedules, irrespective of income, is basically non-existent. (Just-in-time scheduling –… creates similar problems to lawyers making hours when it comes to child care) If reasonable child care policies (particularly universal care), non-local public school funding*, & shared time parental leave policies (oh, and better education cost policies, college debt overhang shouldn’t prevent family formation) were put into place, people could and almost definitely would start families sooner, and probably would have more kids.Why – unless your kid works on your family farm circa 1900, they’re a cost to your family income. Having kids is to some degree a luxury, and increasingly, not a middle class reachable luxury.*It would make housing prices cheaper, since effectively there’s competition to move to good school districts/near a good school since we’ve decided that property taxes with ultra-local control is the best way to fund public schools (except in NYC as far as I can tell, where the money that would have gone to property taxes are changed into basically mandatory PTA donations that fund the same things hat would have been funded in a suburb with a good school via property taxes). Schools would become more equal, making the reason why a particular house holds value related much more closely to the land, architecture, and features of the house, rather than a quality that has nothing to do with the house. If housing prices are cheaper, there is less of a need for both parents to work full time/extra-hours – so family formation and childcare would be easier.

      1. creative group

        ShanaC:We may differ in application of the information you cited but one fact we will not overlook is that your view will be marginalized by the same actors who will only tolerate Stedford Wife’s and women who accept misogynistic treatment by Neanderthal thinking men.The regular opposition of women who don’t pull the company line or political view are labeled communist, socialist, difficult to work for, etc. Kirstjen Nielsen being nominated for DHS Director is latest. We covered both right and left with same definitions applied by men.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        Well, to discuss Friedan, we have to get into gender roles. You did. So, it must be okay today!I’m going to swap places and let you have all the details and references while I keep it simple:What I know about Friedan is heavily from Friedan’sThe Feminine Mystique, “Chapter 1: The Problem that Has No Name”long at…but now withdrawn due to something about copyright.There, with my reading, Friedan is a spoiled, ungrateful, frustrated, bored marriage wrecking, bad mother, total pain in back side, unproductive, Long Island housewife.So, she was living in about the best case of high luxury in the land of milk and honey in all of history and in response having some really big problem, one that had no name.Darned right it had no name: Her problem was that she didn’t have to wash diapers by hand until soft and snow white, hang them on a clothesline to dry, for the washing, bring water in a bucket from a hand pump outside, heat the water on a wood burning stove, for the wood, use an ax to split it, sew clothes with a needle and thread, sweep the house with a straw broom, in the winter, take herself and her children outside through the snow to the outhouse, use a wood burning fireplace and home woven blankets to stay warm, each evening cook dinner, feed the family, wash the dishes, help her husband get cleaned up after hot, heavy, hazardous work on, say, the railroad, help him get out of his dirty work clothes and take a warm bath (she carried and heated the water and then disposed of the bathwater), etc., all while pregnant with her next child and being happy and smiling and very grateful for having such a good husband, a house, and a family and being proud of her contributions.Apparently women in SE Asia now are doing all that and much more.So, Friedan was telling US women that their life, by a very wide margin the very best in all of history, was really bad. So, she sabotaged US marriages.Along with some of the other feminists, by telling women they didn’t want to be mommies but did want to abort their babies, killed more humans than any of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot and maybe all of them combined.Did I mention, she sabotaged the US family?Brilliant, totally brilliant, and brilliantly effective Communist sabotage of the US.Communist?Well, I hate to pass out the accusation that Friedan was a Communist, but that is from my memory from when I looked into her.Okay, okay, I’ve too often spent too much time chasing down Google rat holes, but, this once, okay, I’ll try quickly with Google searchBetty Friedan communist Then, presto, bingo, the first result athttp://www.writing.upenn.ed…isDavid Horowitz “Betty Friedan’s secret Communist past”, Salon January 18, 1999.withWhy has this feminist icon continued to cover up her years as a party activist? What is it with progressives? Why do they feel the need to lie so relentlessly about who they are? Recently Rigoberta Mench ‘s autobiography was exposed as a complete hoax. Now it’s Betty Friedan’s turn to be revealed as a feminist fibber.In a new book, “Betty Friedan and the Making of the Feminine Mystique”, Smith College professor Daniel Horowitz (no relation) establishes beyond doubt that the woman who has always presented herself as a typical suburban housewife until she began work on her groundbreaking book was in fact nothing of the kind. In fact, under her maiden name, Betty Goldstein, she was a political activist and professional propagandist for the Communist left for a quarter of a century before the publication of “The Feminist Mystique” launched the modern women’s movement.Professor Horowitz documents that Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America’s Cold War fifth column and for a time even the lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects in Berkeley’s radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer. Her famous description of America’s suburban family household as “a comfortable concentration camp” in “The Feminine Mystique” therefore had more to do with her Marxist hatred for America than with any of her actual experience as a housewife or mother. (Her husband, Carl, also a leftist, once complained that his wife “was in the world during the whole marriage,” had a full-time maid and “seldom was a wife and a mother”).It is fascinating that Friedan not only felt the need to lie about her real views and life experience then, but still feels the need to lie about them now.Although Horowitz, the author of the new biography, is a sympathetic leftist, Friedan refused to cooperate with him once she realized he was going to tell the truth about her life as Betty Goldstein. After he published an initial article about Friedan’s youthful work as a “labor journalist,” Friedan maligned him, saying to an American University audience, “Some historian recently wrote some attack on me in which he claimed that I was only pretending to be a suburban housewife, that I was supposed to be an agent.”This was particularly unkind because Friedan’s professor-biographer is such a fellow-traveler himself that he bends over backwards throughout the book to sanitize the true dimensions of Friedan’s past. Thus he describes one character in the book, Steve Nelson, as “the legendary radical, veteran of the Spanish Civil War and Bay Area party official.” In fact, Nelson was an obscure radical but an important apparatchik (later notorious for his espionage activities in the Berkeley Radiation Lab) who was in Spain as a Party commissar to enforce the Stalinist line.Professor Horowitz also bends over backwards, and at length, to defend Friedan’s lying as a response to “McCarthyism.” When she makes the ridiculous accusation that he is going to use “innuendoes” to describe her past as a justification for refusing to grant him permission to quote from her unpublished papers, he is all-too understanding. The word “innuendoes,” he explains, was often used by people “scarred by McCarthyism.”Reading this reminded me of a C-Span “BookNotes” program on which Brian Lamb asked the president of the American Historical Association, Eric Foner, about his father, Jack. Foner claimed that Jack Foner was a man “with a social conscience” who made his living through public lectures and who, along with his brothers Phil and Moe, was persecuted during the McCarthy era. When Lamb asked Foner why they were persecuted, Foner responded that his father had supported the loyalist side in the Spanish Civil War. But no one was actually persecuted for siding with the Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War. The Foner brothers, on the other hand, were fairly famous Communists, one a Communist Party labor historian and another a Communist Party union organizer and leader. It is a fact that, on orders from Moscow, Communist-controlled unions in the CIO opposed the Marshall Plan’s effort to rebuild Western Europe. The Marshall Plan, it should be recalled, was in part designed to prevent Stalin’s empire from absorbing Western Europe as it had its satellites in the east. That’s why socialists like Walter Reuther purged the reds from the CIO and also why Communists like Foner’s uncle came under FBI scrutiny — i.e., why they were “persecuted” in the McCarthy era. That Communists, like the Foners, lied at the time was understandable. They had something to hide. But why are their children lying to this day? And why are people like Friedan lying long after they have anything to fear from McCarthy committees and the like?Surely no one seriously believes that people who reveal their Communist pasts these days have anything to fear from the American government. Angela Davis, for example, was once the Communist Party’s candidate for vice president and served the Soviet empire until its very last gasp. Her punishment for this is to have been appointed one of only seven “President’s Professors” at the state-run University of California, and to be officially invited at exorbitant fees by college administrations all across the country to give ceremonial speeches on public occasions.Folk singer Pete Seeger, who has been a party puppet his entire life, is a celebrated entertainer and was honored recently at the Kennedy Center with a Freedom Medal by the president himself. In the midst of the Vietnam War, Jane Fonda incited American troops to defect in a broadcast she made from the enemy’s capital over Radio Hanoi. She then returned to the United States to win an Academy Award and eventually become the wife of one of America’s most powerful media moguls, where she oversaw a 24-episode CNN special purporting to be a history of the Cold War. Bernadine Dohrn, leader of America’s first political terrorist cult, who once officially declared war on “Amerika,” and who has never conceded even minimal regret for her crimes nor hinted at the slightest revision of her views, has just been appointed to a Justice Department commission on children. The idea that America punishes those who betray her is laughable, as is the idea that leftists have anything to fear from their government if they tell the truth. So why the continuing lies? The reason is this: The truth is too embarrassing. Imagine what it would be like for Betty Friedan (the name actually is Friedman) to admit that as a Jew she opposed America’s entry into the war against Hitler because Stalin told her that it was just an inter-imperialist fracas? Imagine what it would be like for America’s premier feminist to acknowledge that well into her 30s she thought Stalin was the Father of the Peoples, and that the United States was an evil empire, and that her interest in women’s liberation was just a subtext of her real desire to create a Soviet America. No, those kinds of revelations don’t help a person who is concerned about her public image.Which is why it probably has seemed better just to lie about this all these years. The problem, however, is that lying can’t be contained. It begets other lies, and eventually becomes a whole way of life, as President Clinton could tell you. One of the lies that the denial of one’s Communist past begets is an exaggerated view of McCarthyism. Fear of McCarthyism becomes an excuse that explains everything. That McCarthyism was some gigantic “reign of terror” (to use Carl Bernstein’s sappy analogy), as though thousands lost their freedom and hundreds their lives while the country itself remained paralyzed with fear for a decade is simply not true. McCarthy’s personal reign lasted but a year a half, until Democrats took control of his committee. Being an accused Communist on an American college campus in the ’50s, moreover, was only marginally more damaging to one’s career opportunities than the accusation of being a member of the Christian Right would be on today’s politically correct campus, dominated as it now is by the tenured left. Bad enough, but reign of terror, no.The example of Betty Friedan should be a wake-up call to the rest of us to insist that people be candid about their politics and about calling things by their right names. Otherwise, we are going to continue being inundated with books from the academy with ludicrous claims like this: “In response to McCarthyism and to the impact of mass media, suburbs, and prosperity, a wave of conformity swept across much of the nation. Containment referred not only to American policy toward the U.S.S.R. but also to what happened to aspirations at home. The results for women were especially unfortunate. Even though increasing numbers of them entered the work force, the Cold War linked anti-communism and the dampening of women’s ambitions.” If you believe that, there is a bridge I have to sell you. On the other hand, at least according to Friedan’s biographer, that’s exactly what Friedan has sold American feminists: “With ‘The Feminine Mystique,’ Friedan began a long tradition among American feminists of seeing compulsory domesticity as the main consequence of 1950s McCarthyism.” Well, perhaps it’s not American feminists Friedan has sold this bizarre version of reality to, so much as American Communists posing as feminists and unsuspecting young women whose only understanding of this past will come from their tenured leftist professors. So, sounds like a Communist to me.That she liked Marx, etc. doesn’t bother me at all. In Viet Nam, instead of the Saigon bunch, as the lesser of two weevils, I was for Ho Chi Minh, and he called himself a communist and maybe read some Marx and tried to collectivize agriculture. I believe that Marx was silly, a fool, and dangerous only to the people who tried to follow his economic nonsense. I have to suspect that following Marx, Ho did a lot of damage to Viet Nam.Yes, significantly and dangerously, including to the US, Stalin and Mao were trying “the old take over the world ploy”. So, we had to push back, and we did.But to me Ho was not to any extent that was significant and dangerous to the US or even any of Viet Nam’s neighbors a puppet of Moscow or Peking trying “the old take over the world ploy”.So, that Ho was a “communist” was to me a problem for him and Viet Nam and no one else. So, fine with me.But Friedan? She looked like an agent of the Soviet Union out to sabotage the US. That maybe she read Marx I don’t care; that she was an enemy of the US I do care.So, she had a maid! No wonder she was bored and, thus, had a “problem”. Of course the problem had “no name”: This was about the first time in history that any women but royals were bored.US women have been able to do well as wives and mothers. IIRC, from 1800 to 1850, the US population of European descent, not counting immigration, multiplied by a factor of 4. We’re talking a lot of women really busy.Gee, from 1800 to 1850 those women were good as wives and mothers without gas or electric stoves, microwave ovens, frozen Swanson microwave dinners, refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines for clothes, clothes dryers, hair dryers, and air conditioners, off the rack clothing of permanent press cloth, winter central heat, unlimited, running hot and cold high quality city water, indoor flush toilets, vacuum cleaners, no-paint vinyl siding, easy-clean vinyl kitchen floors, no paint, vinyl white picket fences, gasoline powered lawn mowers, paved driveway and paved city streets, an SUV, with A/C, to get the frozen Swanson microwave dinners, etc.Gee, they didn’t even have McDonald’s carry out or pizza, KFC, or Chinese carryout delivered!Gee, now that all US women want carryout dinners delivered, we need to import more illegals to work as a new version of slave labor at carryout restaurants! Then all the US women can be much more like Scarlett O’Hara!But, now, the birth rate is so low the people of Western European descent are going extinct. The feminist women have found so many, many, many, many really, really, really, important things to do, so, busy, busy, busy, busy, so much more important things to do than being good as parents, mothers, and wives. Okay.Darwin remains a busy guy and here is on the case. Thus, in only a few more generations, all the women of Western European descent will have as their top priorities in life, from before they even start playing with dolls, being really good as parents, mothers, and wives in good homes and marriages. Nearly all women without those priorities will be gone.Darwin has out his pruning shears and is eliminating nearly all the weak, sick, or dead limbs on the tree.Then the problem with no name will no longer be a problem at all.And the women? Sweet, darling, adorable, precious, squeezably soft, attentive, affectionate, loving, communicative, loyal, encouraging, sympathetic, empathetic, caring, respectful, responsive, happy, smiling, fulfilled, proud, busy, productive, and, well, with Darwin on the case, drop dead gorgeous!And, not bored!As we learned from @JLM, no doubt a really big surprise to the feminists, our generation didn’t invent sex, love, marriage, parenting, or motherhood. Instead, going way back, the successful people saw the profound wisdom in “We gather together to join this man and this woman with the bonds of holy matrimony ….” Right — “joined” with “bonds”, two people becoming one couple, and no more of this independent, autonomous, self-sufficient, “I want my OWN life”, problem that has no name feminism.Darwin’s been there before: Children don’t fall far from the tree. So, women who don’t have children won’t have weak, sick, or dead limbs on the tree. Women who were unhappy having children will have children who won’t be happy as parents or spouses and, thus, will be weak, sick, or dead limbs on the tree. Net, the women who are really happy being good at being parents, mothers, and wives and creating a strong limbs on the tree will do just that. Darwin will win again.So, how come in the past women had the population growing so quickly? Sure: Bluntly put, most of the women didn’t have much choice. Marriage was by far the best alternative, and in marriage the babies just came — somehow the stork found the home. “Blessed events!”Well, now feminist women believe that they have some alternatives. They do. They can pursue a “career” and be weak, sick, or dead limbs on the tree.So, sure, for women of Western European descent, Darwin is now in the process of making some of the fastest changes in the gene pool in all of human history.You brought up education: Horse feathers. Can do just fine, thank you, with a one room school house, with one good teacher, with some good books and, now, good Internet access for video clips and PDF files.E.g., a friend from NYC was going to a public school, got sick with the flu, and was at home for two weeks, and his mother was shocked to discover that he couldn’t read. So, at the end of the two weeks, he could — she taught him. Do the same for writing and arithmetic (gee, the 3Rs!) and a few other, simpler lessons, and then presto, bingo, have accomplished everything needed and commonly done in K-6. For 7-12, can do that similarly quickly and have the kids ready for Master’s work by age 18.There’s a huge advantage to such home or small scale schooling: The fraction of the time the child is with a loving or caring adult is greatly increased and, really, that’s the crucial core of at least K-8 education, that is, and here is the list of needed topics in development:emotional, verbal, psychological, social, creative, artistic, empathetic, moral, ethical, religious, athletic, academic, mechanical, rational, quantitative, scientific, technical, romantic, entrepreneurial, etc. Schools are just awful at such development. Uh, kids are supposed to learn mostly from their parents.A mother can do well, too, with a little guidance that, in total, saves 80+% of current public K-12 expenses. In fact, nearly all of K-12 is just really expensive baby sitting. The kids would be better off at home with their mothers or in a small, local group of mothers who share the work.Or, I’ve learned a lot of good stuff; next to none of it was from sitting at a school desk. There’s some stuff I didn’t learn in K-12, and none of that was available from sitting at a school desk.K-12 is mostly time-wasting, make-work, junk-think, busy-work, significantly destructive, outrageously expensive, baby-sitting nonsense. Too often college isn’t much better.

        1. ShanaC

          So as soon as you said David Horowitz I stopped reading.The reason is he was an orthodox jewish man from brooklyn who’s marriage and his children’s marriages and (if necessary, divorces), the kosher food he ate , ect. are dependent on if the US government respects Jewish Courts ability to make decisions on Jewish legal decisions, including what constitutes a jewish marriage, what’s kosher, ect.Meanwhile he runs around about Shariah law “taking over” in the US. If he got his way, the system by which he decides what’s ok to eat would fall apart, since the status of Jewish legal courts and religious rules in the US is EXACTLY THE SAME as Shariah in the US. I just can’t see a world where he seriously would want he seriously would want his grandchildren to be unmarriagable because they’d be declared mamzerim due to his multiple marriages and divorces. As it is, even general practice about egg donation, adoption, ect, tries to follow the orthodox rulings he grew up with and spent most of his life observing, things he cares about as a parent of a child who eventually died of a genetic disease. I don’t take anything he says seriously, and see what he says as a way to make money by causing people who have a tendency to agree with him to froth at the mouth.Furthermore, instead of critiquing a book with terms like “leftist” without reading the entire thing why not actually read the book.BTW, I am from LONG ISLAND. I’ve met spoiled housewives from there. She’s not that.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Good grief! There’s something called “inside baseball” for some hidden, obscure, unfathomable, Byzantine complexity! This is the first I heard that inside baseball also applies to parts of the NY Jewish community!But her “The Problem That Has No Name” does appear to be from her writing; I read it; I concluded from that that she was a very spoiled, angry, marriage hating housewife. Okay, apparently she really was from Long Island, too, as I claimed. But, maybe with her maid, she wasn’t actually a “housewife” except the only evidence I have for her having a maid is from the “inside baseball” part so maybe she was a housewife!From some women I have talked to off and on over the years, Friedan was ranked as a leading feminist, and from all I can tell feminists stand to have on average way under 2 children each so are to be seen by Darwin as weak, sick, or dead limbs on the tree and to be gone from the gene pool surprisingly quickly!From you, Horowitz sounds like a total nut job, wack-o. To me, his name sounds Polish, but that might mean he was Jewish or Roman Catholic, but, and I don’t know, maybe the name is Polish but only Polish-Jewish. I’m no good at baseball, hardly ever played it, never since K-6, quite literally don’t really know the rules, not even the basic ones, and certainly am no good at “inside baseball”. Polish or not, he sounds like he has been drinking from some of the wells in the deserts of the Mideast, maybe near Mosul, Iraq, wherever that is.But, baseball, Horowitz, etc., aside, from the low birth rates and high divorce rates, US marriages and families are sick-o, sick enough to be on the way out’a here, as in D.E.A.D. and gone, gone with the wind.Just from Friedan’s first chapter, if I were young again, knew what I know now about women, and was with a young women who said anything good about Friedan, then I wouldn’t pass GO, wouldn’t collect $100, would take a high priority interrupt back to a low memory virtual = real exceptional condition handler, do a fast 180 degree turn, and break warp speed going the other way. And I’d strongly advise any man to do the same or risk a life of loneliness, emptiness, and/or serious emotional, psychological, social, medical, legal, and financial problems and genes out’a the gene pool. For anything about a family, IMHO that first chapter of Friedan is radioactive, toxic, sewage, ugly death on paper.If she wasn’t a genuine spoiled Long Island housewife, then Long Island needs to slide into the Atlantic and end up at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge about 3 miles down!Here I am standing on rock solid ground: This stuff about the present low birth rate and high divorce rate, in the famous words, some of the few where he was right, of G. H. W. Bush “this will not stand” is totally true. Darwin is strongly on the case and won’t be fooled.I’m not pissed off. I’ve been pissed off. Now I’m way past pissed off. I didn’t know what feminism was. I believed our marriage vows. But I learned what feminism is, got a crash course, and the advanced course, and made A+ grades.It all started on a pretty college campus on a park bench in a nice setting along a small river on a nice spring evening; she said “Women don’t have to just be cared for. Women can do things, too. I want a career.” Later she wanted to be “equal”. Well, much later, with that stuff and more, she had thrown away nearly all of her life and a big chunk of mine and confessed “This equality stuff got me into a whole lot of trouble”. She was right and not long afterward dead. Darwin had his way with her — her genes are OUT’A the gene pool, and no descendant of hers will be a feminist. And when she took her genes out’a the gene pool, she took mine out also. Bummer.If I write Girls 101 for Dummies — Boys I will, in the strongest terms I can, advise any boy/man to stay far away from any female with any hint of feminism, to break warp speed going the other direction. Instead, he should want a sweet old-fashioned girl who is really eager to be really good as a wife and mother. Else do NOT get married.A feminist might make a good lawyer, CPA, etc., but no way a good wife and mother. If I’ll leave any marks on this world, that point should be one of the most important of them.Actually, I don’t have to leave that mark or worry: Darwin will win this one no matter what I do.

  14. pointsnfigures

    If those countries embrace the free enterprise system eschewing crony capitalism and designate property rights to individuals, they will be forces to be reckoned with, and I mean that in a good way.

  15. Paul Sanwald

    I really, really miss the street food in vietnam. some of the best meals I’ve ever had were sitting on those small plastic chairs on the street eating whatever everyone else was. I think maybe the single best meal I’ve ever had was in front of the chinese market in Ho Chi Minh.

  16. sah

    Funny, I was recently travelling around Asia and felt the same thing. Everywhere I look, I see vibrant cities, lots of public projects and brand new infrastructure (including excellent public transportation). Meanwhile, American infrastructure is in a pathetic state. We are quickly falling behind.

  17. sfrancis

    matches my experience in that region of the world from 4 years ago – glad to hear that the there is a continuing sense of optimism!

  18. Nikhil Kapur

    “The people are nice.”========================Totally agree. I came to SEA 3 years ago and this is the single biggest reason of me staying on. Activity is high paced in most emerging markets, and I have seen many already, but there is something about the people that just makes you stay put. There is no denying the massive opportunity in SEA regardless.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Which SEA country are you in? I had been to Malaysia and found the people nice too. Food as well.

      1. Nikhil Kapur

        Based in Singapore but spend a lot of time in Indonesia/Thailand 🙂