As Krugman pointed out in the column linked in our previous post, below, we’ve been down this road before. Americans are suddenly worried about being overtaken by the surging Chinese; just as 30 years ago they fretted over the surging Japanese.
In 1993, when the Japanese miracle was a fait accompli, the Simpsons worked it into their famous Citizen-Kane-referencing “Rosebud” episode. Mr Burns is allowed glimpses of his own youth, as he toured the proto-atomic plant founded by his grandfather:
[Mr. Burns is reminiscing about his grandfather’s old Atom Smashing Plant]
Burns’ Grandfather: Come on, men! Smash those atoms! You there, turn out your pockets.
[Two goons seize a waifish worker and turn out his pockets]
Burns’ Grandfather: Aha – atoms! One, two, three, four… SIX of them! Take him away!
Waif: You can’t treat the working man this way! One of these days we’ll form a union, and get the fair and equitable treatment we deserve! Then we’ll go too far, and become corrupt and shiftless, and the Japanese will eat us alive!
Burns’ Grandfather: The Japanese? Those sandal-wearing goldfish tenders? Ha ha! Bosh! Flimshaw!
Mr. Burns: Oh, if only we’d listened to that young man, instead of walling him up in the abandoned coke oven.
Of course, it’s a lot funnier with animation and goofy voices.