Story 25 - The Hydrology of Poyang Hu.
Tony turned to Jacky once more with a hand stretched out. "Will you join our club?"
Jacky just smiled and nodded.
"Does anyone have anything else to add?" Jacky asked moments later after to poured himself another cup of tea.
Heather stood up.
"We have explored the poisoned rivers that flow into the lake, called America," she said. "But we have not explored the effects of the poison on the lake itself, nor what needs to be done to clean it up."
She came forward and looked at Jacky. "I am qualified to speak on that subject," she said to him. "This is probably the main reason why I am here in China."
She began to tell her story, how her husband, a university graduate, became a process engineer in the steel industry. She said they had purchased a house. "The layoffs started when the U.S. steel industry was being shut down," she said, "under the free trade and globalization mantra, by which the jobs were exported to other countries. This was an industry wide shutdown that left no hope for the laid off workers for finding a job again. My husband was rehired only once, to oversee the demolition of the very same plant that had provided his employment before. After that, a deep depression set in from which he didn't recover. He became irritable, even nasty at times."
She told Jacky that out of sheer desperation, she and her husband moved to his father's farm. "That only made things worse," she said. "The farming industry was likewise being shut down under the same mantra. The farmers couldn't compete with the cheap labor operations in foreign countries, and the ravishing of the cartels and the commodity traders, which together controlled the price. The price the farmers received, often didn't cover the cost of production, much less the cost of operating irrigation systems during dry weather, or the cost of proper fertilizer and pesticides. The resulting crop failures led to bankruptcies. Many farmer were loosing their land and everything else they had build up over a lifetime."
She told us that in order to prevent evictions, some farmers had banded together and bought guns and ammunitions. "But who would they shoot at?" She said that her husband became cruelly abusive under the growing pressure. She said that the whole situation became too scary for her, and more and more intolerable, emotionally, until she couldn't stand it any longer and walked away. She said that her whole marriage had been poisoned by the poisoned lake called America.
Heather told Jacky that the shutdown crisis in the steel industry and in farming was only the beginning. "America shut down its employment in industry after industry, in textiles, shoe-making, electronics, automotive, even aviation."
She told Jacky that America had dreams once of colonizing the moon. "We had the capability," she said. "Now, we can't even go to the moon anymore. We have shut down the industries that had made this once possible. We also had dreams once of providing humanity with a vast, clean, and efficient energy resource by harvesting nuclear fusion, but we have shut this dream down, too. We have cut down the research funding so drastically that there is virtually nothing left of that dream now."
She told Jacky that all of this insane destruction is going on while humanity should expand its technological development to prepare itself for the coming ice age for which vast new technologies need to be created, especially energy technologies. "Instead, we rush headlong into the opposite direction," she added.
She told Jacky that the U.S. still maintains its universities, nominally. "But what careers do they prepare our people for, if the only national ambition we have left as a nation, is to create wars around the world. The only major high-tech development that is still being pursued in America," she said, "is for military applications. We use airplanes costing hundreds of millions a piece to drop hundred-thousand dollar bombs onto people who we don't like, in countries that are so poor that most of the population is forced to live on an income of less than fifty dollars a month, who can't shoot back. Some heroes we are! That's as deep as we have sunk as a people. That, Jacky, is what we've got left of the American dream."