Inspiring words for Martin Luther King Day

Today we celebrate the memory of one of our greatest Americans, Martin Luther King, Jr. I wonder if any of our politicians will stand up and say “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white because probably there are at least a few hundred million people in China who are smarter, better-educated, and harder-working than you and private companies would much rather hire any of them.”


  1. Trevis Rothwell

    January 16, 2012 @ 12:53 pm


    For positive change to come about in the United States, I don’t really expect reform through the educational system or any other bureaucratic avenue. If someone wants to improve, they need to make it happen themselves. To become better-educated, there are many resources available, many of them free of charge through the web.

    Any ideas for what someone could do to mold themselves into a more hard-working individual?

  2. Neil Katin

    January 16, 2012 @ 2:26 pm


    Oops, there goes Phil’s presidential bid…

  3. FB

    January 16, 2012 @ 6:17 pm


    Those few hundred million Chinese are also hungrier, willing to work for less, and willing to do whatever it takes to steal jobs from Americans. The question is, does the communist system breed innovative, creative people?

  4. Anonymous

    January 16, 2012 @ 7:23 pm


    i just scanned Apple’s report on Supplier Responsibility 2012 – with some dismay at how Apple’s standards for passed-along water quality are whatever the “applicable national & local laws & regulations” will bear …

    So I think I’ll just pass along what a friend with a big world-view sent today …

    “Power, properly understood, is the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political, or economic changes. In this sense power is not only desirable but necessary in order to implement the demands of love and justice. One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

    — Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. FB

    January 17, 2012 @ 2:42 am


    Give’em a break. Apple has made a start. With this self-induced attempt at holding themselves and their contractors accountable, they have taken the lead, and the transparency will force everyone to do better. The glass is half full. I choose to believe they are doing this for more than just marketing purposes.

    “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice”

    Even the King had to start somewhere…

  6. Mark Lin

    January 17, 2012 @ 10:51 am


    “…there are at least a few hundred million people in China who are smarter, better-educated, and harder-working than you and private companies would much rather hire any of them.”

    A recurrent theme in Phil’s posts is the looming economic ascension of China.

    But let’s consider: where do many of the best young Chinese choose to go to get their college and graduate level education? Why, the United States! The NYT has a series of articles on this phenomenon over the past year (enter “chinese students american colleges” on the NYT website search, specifying Past 12 Months). Yes, US colleges are actively recruiting Chinese students since these students will pay full tuition and thus help pay for the educational infrastructure that US citizens are increasingly unwilling to shell out for. On the flip side, the demand among Chinese students for a US college / grad school education is really strong.

    In my job I see this every day as the EE program I help run is composed of about 35% Chinese students, 20% Korean students, 15% Indian students, 15% Eastern European students, with the remaining 15% consisting of Japanese, EU European, and US national students. I chair the admissions committee to our graduate program, and the clear majority of our applicants are Chinese nationals, with an increasing number applying with US college bachelor’s degrees.

    In my own direct experience, the Chinese consider the US grade school and high school system a joke. However, for now they consider the US research-based university system a jewel in the crown, by far the best in the world — something China is aggressively seeking to emulate. Which is why I really don’t understand the current fashionable trend in the US, and in this forum, to brand US universities a failure and call for educational reforms that will reduce US universities to nothing more than a four year continuation of a lackluster US high school.

  7. philg

    January 17, 2012 @ 11:14 am


    Thanks for the perspective, Mark. I’m not a China-phobe by the way (I don’t agree with FB, above, for example that people in one country “steal jobs” from people in another country). There is no reason that China, South Korean, and India can’t all simultaneously grow very nicely. Similarly, the U.S. could presumably resume its growth trajectory if we could make ourselves more attractive as a place to do business (see for my ideas in this area (China is mentioned only once in that essay)).

  8. FB

    January 17, 2012 @ 12:02 pm


    “Chinese… willing to do whatever it takes to steal jobs from Americans” could be interpreted as China-phobic, or it could be framed in the context of competition, i.e. baseball.. stealing 2nd base. I personally do not hold a grudge against anyone competing lawfully. If we as Americans do not step up to bat, that’s our problem.

  9. Ethlite

    January 17, 2012 @ 3:23 pm


    Private companies may prefer to hire Chinese students, but they would never put them in positions of power. Being white male is still your best bet for achieving real wealth and that’s not likely to change any time soon in this country.

  10. philg

    January 17, 2012 @ 3:50 pm


    Ethlite: It does seem to be rare for a Fortune 500 company to hire a 21-year-old Chinese-born college graduate as CEO. I’m not sure that this should encourage a 21-year-old white male to relax and coast by with mediocre grades (the way that King Bush II (born 1946) and John Kerry (born 1943) were able to do at Yale) is hard to grasp. A few things may have changed in 50 years…

  11. Ethlite

    January 17, 2012 @ 4:42 pm


    I am a 40 years old asian female who started working at a fruit themed computer company back in 2000. Three years ago I hired a kid out of University of Tennessee, who is now making ~$145k a year, or $10k less than what I make, doing the same job (iOS programming). I also found out that another co-worker was making $30k more than I was, with less experience, so I decided to leave and start my own business.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love being asian and female, even at 40. It’s great in many ways, but breaking into upper management in corporate America is not one of them.

  12. Ethlite

    January 17, 2012 @ 4:43 pm


    … in case it’s not obvious, both of my coworkers are white guys. 🙂

  13. jay c

    January 17, 2012 @ 8:15 pm



    There is a compression point for engineering salaries. After rapid salary growth I am hitting that point now (mid 30’s white guy). Did you demand an immediate raise from the pomaceous fruit company, and got turned down before you decided to start your own company? Certainly, having a white mother with a background traceable to 1600s Massachusetts does appear to help to achieve real wealth and power (just ask the current president) but are you sure the salary discrepancy in your company was because you are an Asian female and not due to salary compression?

  14. Quagmire

    January 23, 2012 @ 3:41 pm


    The NY Times has a nice article out on how skilled and hardworking the Chinese are:

    “A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
    “The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.””

    “Companies like Apple “say the challenge in setting up U.S. plants is finding a technical work force,” said Martin Schmidt, associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In particular, companies say they need engineers with more than high school, but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree. Americans at that skill level are hard to find, executives contend. “They’re good jobs, but the country doesn’t have enough to feed the demand,” Mr. Schmidt said.”

    Looks like we are hopelessly behind. Our first step should be to ask our employers whether we can live at work. We may start being competitive.

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