China has been through a wrenching series of changes and experiments. (1) It is not for me, or for others in America, to tell China what its economic system should be. What works best for China will be a system rooted in China itself-in Chinese customs and traditions and ways of doing things. (2) The proof of any system lies in its results: in the extent to which it provides for the people more of what those people want. What the people of China want will not be in all respects the same as what the people of the United States would want. But in some respects it will be the same. The bottom lines test of any economic system is whether it works. (3) An economic system that works is one that creates incentives to produce, and provides a fair distribution of what is produced. What incentives will work, what distribution is seen to be “fair”---these are questions that different cultures may answer differently, and that even the same culture may answer differently in different periods of history or at different stages of its development.
Among the great nations, the United States’ economic system is the most successful in history in producing prosperity. The Chinese system is the most successful in history in producing equality. (4)The challenge we both face is to avoid forcing people to make a hard choice between a system at one extreme which provides equality but would perpetuate poverty and one at the other extreme which provides prosperity but would ignore poverty. Poverty is too high a price to pay for either equality or prosperity. China’s challenge is to support the principle of equality without destroying the productivity of the people. America’s challenge is to provide prosperity which gives all an opportunity to escape from poverty. (5) Our systems are profoundly different, but in long view our goal of a better life for all our people is the same.
There is a difference between science and technology. Science is a method of answering theoretical questions; technology is a method of solving practical problems. (1) Science has to do with discovering the facts and relationships between observable phenomena in nature and with establishing theories that serve to organize these facts and relationships. Technology has to do with tools, techniques, and procedures for implementing the findings of science.
Another distinction between science and technology has to do with the progress in each. Progress in science excludes the human factor. (2) Scientists, who seek to comprehend the universe and know the truth with the highest degree of accuracy and certainty, cannot pay attention to their own or other people’s likes or dislikes, or to popular ideas about the fitness of things. What scientists discover may shock or anger people---as did Darvin’s theory of evolution. But even an unpleasant truth is more than likely to be useful; besides, we have the option of refusing to believe it! (3) But hardly so with technology; we do not have the option of refusing to hear the sonic boom produced by a supersonic aircraft flying overhead; we do not have the option of refusing to breathe polluted air. (4) The legitimate purpose of technology is to serve people---people in general, not merely some people; and future generation, not merely those who presently wish to gain advantage for themselves.
We are all familiar with the abuses of technology. (5) Many people blame technology itself for widespread pollution, and even social decay---so much so that the promise of technology is obscured. That promise is a cleaner and healthier world. If wise applications of science and technology do not lead to a better world, what else will?