The Post-American World

Henry Ford. Motor City. Cadillac. The drive-thru window. “Happy motoring,” as J.H. Kunstler likes to say. They will always have their roots in America, but today it is official — China is their new home.

12.7 million cars and trucks will be sold in China in 2009, says a report today from J.D. Power and Associates. That’s an incredible 44% growth from 2008 and — perhaps more notably — far larger than the 10.3 million sales forecast for the US.

It’s not entirely America’s fault… of course, the U.S. is mired in the Great Recession while China is booming (bubbling, if you ask some). China’s got about a billion more people over there too, which might help. But it’s time to face the music: The future of the auto industry — and many others — is in China. We represent its aging past.

Along the same lines, US patent filings fell in 2009 for the first time in 13 years, says a preliminary report from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Filings fell 2.3% this year, the first downturn since 1996. The really interesting part: In 2009, the United States issued 6.3% more patents to inventors and businesses in foreign nations.

So where is the new focus of the US? Where are we devoting our resources? Here’s the scoop straight from USA Today… if you think you might throw up, stop reading:

“The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA Today analysis of federal salary data.

“Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession’s first 18 months — and that’s before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

“Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

“The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.

“When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.”

At college, your editor took a few law classes (it was a phase). We remember a phrase judges threw around a lot, especially in situations of gross injustice or patent obscenity: As they would say, this “shocks the conscience.”