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A Different Paradigm – Episode 034

Mao’s revolution brought in a vicious communist government that eventually killed upwards of 65 million people over the course of time between 1928 and 1987. However, there’s a decided difference between China’s communist government and the people of this country struggling not just for economic freedom, but political freedom as well.

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Off The Grid Radio
Ep 029
Released: February 11, 2011

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, as the announcer says, once again, welcome to Off the Grid News – the radio version of our show here at offthegridnews.com. I’m Brian Brawdy along, as always, with Mr. Bill Heid. Bill, you’ve been on a little bit of an adventure of late. I should have started out by saying ‘ni hao.’ I wanted to say welcome back. One of the things that I’ve told folks when they say “what’s it like working with Bill Heid?” What’s it like hanging out with him and the like? One of the things that I’ve often mentioned is that you get up earlier than I do, you stay up later than I do and you’re constantly looking for those products and services and ideas that really are a solution to common folks’ headaches that a scientific bent. You really do look for a solution from science to a lot of the different things that ails us. I said to folks in your absence, over the last couple of weeks, it’s no different – given where you traveled to – that you really do travel the globe to find the best products, the best manufacturers. But it all comes down to finding the best solutions from science and I mean that because it’s in fact the truth. So welcome back. Nice to have you here.

Bill: Thank you very much, Brian. It’s good to be here with you, as always.

Brian: Thank you very much.

Bill: It’s a beautiful day here in sunny Thompson, Illinois, as always. And it’s great to be back in such a small city compared to where I’ve been. As you’re alluding to, I have returned from China, which was an amazing, eye-opening experience for me. To return to a place as unpopulated as Thomson, as wide open spaces, it’s refreshing in some sense and very different in another sense. The last place I was at was in Shanghai before we flew out. As you know, you’ve been to Shanghai – you go to Shanghai and you go into some of these tall buildings – one of the world’s tallest buildings are in Shanghai and looked out and it looked like about five New Yorks, as I looked out. I came back from that to this quiet little place we call home.

Brian: It’s a little different here. Speaking of our own forbidden city, we’re able to walk to get over here to the studio. One of the things that always strikes me about Shanghai is that you don’t walk; you’re moved. You’re not an individual, it’s like an amoeba. When people start moving down the sidewalk, your arms are pinned – it’s a mash pit all the time.

Bill: It’s like that little adage about a monk – you know, saying it’s a river? You’ve probably heard that joke – life’s a river – life’s a river there. It really is. Like our Mississippi, it moves slowly but surely, and it moves as one. That’s one of the things we can talk about a little bit later about their culture. It’s an interesting culture. It’s a very, very different culture than ours, as many people know. But to see it face to face – close and up front, as they say – I felt like Marco Polo at times. I felt embarrassed at times. Embarrassed because I had pictured something very, very different in my mind.

Brian: What was your favorite place? I know you went to a bunch of different places, and we’re going to get to that throughout this special edition of our show. What was one of your favorite places? You started in Beijing, did you?

Bill: We started off … what we can do is flow through the trip a little bit and then we can do some interaction with some of the things that happened along the trip. The reason we went is because we get our solar panels from China. Of course we do the assembly here for the carts and everything else, but the solar panels themselves come from China. A lot of people will give you some heat and say “why don’t you buy those in the USA?” You know? What I’m wondering right now is whether Barack Obama – you do some research for me, Brian – I want to know whether Barack Obama bought solar panels made in the United States or whether he bought solar panels made in China.

Brian: Alright. I’m on the keyboard right now.

Bill: You can look through that as I’m talking. The reason we buy them there is because we really do like to give the best value and we find good manufacturing, good partners there and – passing our quality test – we find China to be the absolute best place to make them. I think, unfortunately, I have a lot of friends in unions and so forth so I’m sorry to say this to my friends in the Teamsters and so forth, but if we made solar panels here in the United States – you hear “green jobs, green jobs, we’re going to have green jobs …” If you tried to make a solar panel here, with the same labor that they use over there – and this is not slave labor, people need to realize that we’ll talk about the factories that we toured, where we make our stuff – this is not slave labor. This is a private company in basically a free market, running an ad in a local paper, asking for help and then paying them. They get paid, at this point in their economic life, they get paid less than our workers are paid. My estimation, if we had to have Teamsters make solar panels in this country, the ones that would cost you $500 would cost you $2000 or $3000 – if GM or someone had to make them. You had these layers of bureaucracy and unionized labor building them. It doesn’t mean union guys aren’t hard workers, I know they are. I hire union carpenters. I know that we’ve got good workers here. But at this point, we couldn’t afford to sell … you couldn’t afford a cell phone, you couldn’t afford a smartphone, you couldn’t afford a plasma TV. You couldn’t afford any of these things if they were built right here in the USA, just because our labor costs are so high. So that’s the background to why we’re there and why we have them built there. We’re not trying to take jobs away. As a matter of fact, I think in our little town, we’re the ones that are adding green energy jobs. We’ve added about 20 green jobs – we don’t necessarily use the word green, but sustainable energy jobs, because we bring these panels in and then we do a manufacturing process on them to make our particular unit, as you know. That actually is a value-added job, so we’re taking Chinese products and actually making jobs in the USA with these products.

Brian: And not just in our industry, but when you stop and think about – I come from the outdoor adventure gear industry – try to buy a tent, a sleeping bag; try to buy a backpack that …

Bill: Look at the label.

Brian: Absolutely. Look at the label that hasn’t come from China.

Bill: And the quality. Brian got – remember years and years ago, we used to snoot up at if something said “made in Japan” – when I was a little boy, people would say “that’s a transistor radio and a piece of junk.” Then those folks got really good at manufacturing and then we couldn’t even afford goods from Japan any more. Then China came in to play and start their growth and their perspective is very similar to Japan’s. They’re a country on the move and they’re a country that’s changing very rapidly.

Brian: And it really is. As you had mentioned earlier, I had been there about four years ago. I imagine just in the time since I’ve been there, it was a tremendous change from the things that you saw. We’re going to talk a good bit about it. I was there just prior to the Olympics so they were busy getting everything ready – all the highways, all the roads, all the hotels – everything they could to welcome the world to the Olympic games. But you were telling me before the show this morning, they’re busy working on something else right about now as well.

Bill: They’re very busy there. One of the things, to just square off on and let you know, you look out onto these cities and what’s a small city, as you know, is a million people, in China. You go out into the sticks – I was in rural areas where there were people farming rice, I was in Beijing. I was in cities that they would consider small – about a million people. But what’s striking is the construction cranes everywhere. I’ve never seen so many cranes as in Beijing and Shanghai. They’re building, building, building, building. Even in these little rural towns of a million and sometimes little rural villages where there’s not – they’re just building. The construction industry is alive and well there. For now. I don’t know what the future’s going to bring, but I know that’s what’s taking place now. So we went to check out our manufacturing facility, work with our good partners there, talk with them, have a sit down and discuss business. And actually inspect the place because we wanted to be sure we were working with a place where people were being treated with dignity, where it was a clean environment … we were delighted with what we found. Delighted.

Brian: Very good. I know here we’re going to go ahead and run to a quick commercial break, but when we get back, we’re going to hear a little more about your adventures. I also want to remind folks that you’re going to be able to see some pictures of Bill’s excellent adventure. We’re going to put some pictures up on the website as well. I will also say that if you have a chance to log on to offthegridnews.com, I can tell you, as you’ve probably witnessed, we’ve got a lot of new things going on there as well. We’re going to go ahead and run to a quick commercial break. When we come back, Mr. Bill Heid and his adventures in China.

[0:09:47 – 0:14:04 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back once again to Off the Grid News. Speaking of a different paradigm – Bill, as you said, China was different than you thought it was going to be. Or it’s different than you had imagined it. Before we get to that, I want to tell you that our producer Jeremy just tossed it to me that Evergreen Solar out of Massachusetts, I think I’m reading, is where the White House purchased – yes, Evergreen Solar out of Massachusetts is where  the White House purchased their solar panels. I haven’t had a chance, Bill, to go in a whole lot deeper as to where Evergreen gets them from, but I think your point is still well taken.

Bill: If they are charging $3000 a piece because they’re American made, then I suppose that … Tim Geitner prints up some money and hands it over to Evergreen. If they bought it from China, good for them, but let’s tell the world that we bought them from China if we did, instead of trying to play some kind of hide and seek game with it. Let’s just be up front. It’s OK to do this. Chinese goods won’t always be this cheap. At some point, as I had mentioned to you during the break, they have a burgeoning middle class. Their wages are rising so this is not something that’s going to last forever and people need to know that. The next generation or two of Americans, probably after I’m long gone, will start to see some things even out and you’ll start to see – that might mean a little reduction in our standard of living but you might start to see with shipping costs and so forth, you might start to see some manufacturing come back, because you’re going to see those folks who are making lower wages start to earn more wages. Believe me, here’s how we landed in Beijing, so I can tell you that as soon as we landed, we got in the airport, and we took off. We had a hard time even getting out on the open road. Do you know why? Because everyone’s driving a car. These people don’t have rickshaws folks, or even bicycles. They have Dodges; they have Fords; they have a lot of German cars over there too. I don’t know how we fare in that market. I know GM and some other folks are trying to engage that market because it’s so big. It’s full of cars from all over the world. It seems like there’s a lot of Volkswagens, a lot of Mercedes, a lot of German cars – Chinese like those German cars for some reason. And a lot of traffic. So it took us a long time just to get out on the highway, just to head to this city where we were going to go to the first solar show. The government in that province was putting on a solar show. I think the town was Dixou??. They were putting a show on there. Dave, our engineer – you know Dave quite well – he went with me, and we went to this show. The funny thing about the show was, this place was so far out in the sticks – and it’s a little town, there’s only a million people. I think the government had wanted it to be an international show. They had advertised it. There was a few people there from England. But people actually came up and took pictures of me and Dave and wanted our pictures taken with them, because had they ever seen someone from the Western world? I don’t know. One of my hosts – when some person came up and was talking, he thought that I was in a TV show – is there a show called Prison Break? So I told my wife that – they think I’m in this TV show “Prison Break” – that I’m one of the actors from the show. I’ve never watched that show so I have no idea. But we felt like celebrities because people are taking pictures. That’s being out in the sticks. We’re a long ways a way. And in this little town, Brian – this is a long way away – it took us five hours by car to get to this little place. In this little town, no one spoke English. No one spoke English. Bonnie, our guide – Bonnie’s one of our reps for the wind business that we’re starting to get into, we’re going to have some wind power – we went to her factory as well as visit this show. She even spoke broken English – she was a wonderful hostess and treated us unimaginably well – her English was suspect at times. She was apologetic for that. The Chinese are very humble people and they want to do the best job they can. It was kind of cute how we went back and forth trying to communicate what we wanted. And our Visa card – so folks, listen, here’s another little tip if you go to China – if you call American Express, Visa, MasterCard, they’ll tell you that your card will work there. But guess what? It doesn’t. Because you need …

Brian: Bill – a credit card company lying to you? Alright, Jeremy, cut – we’re going to make this our breaking news. [laughs]

Bill: Well here’s how it works. In China, you don’t sign for anything. You don’t sign at the end of – you know, when you’re done with your supper – you enter your six or seven digit code and that’s your security code. Everyone’s got a password. So what’s your password for your Visa card? You don’t have one, do you?

Brian: No.

Bill: You don’t have a password. You sign your name “Brian Brawdy.”

Brian: Right. What do they ask us for now? I think if there’s a question they ask you for your zip code or something like that.

Bill: Oh, there might be a question like that, but you have a special password. When you start getting out into the sticks, away from Beijing, away from Shanghai, your credit card won’t work. So, if you go to China, you take plenty of cash because you’re going to need it – especially now that the dollar doesn’t go very far, but you’re going to need it. The first night we pulled in, that was our entrance into this whole thing, is that we were totally disoriented. We had got in a traffic – in a Beijing traffic jam. You heard a little bit about Beijing traffic jams – Dave and I were in a Beijing traffic jam. What’s unusual about their traffic jams is they are full of trucks, cars, everything you can think of. Big trucks with stuff going everywhere, coal trucks – we talked about coal before, coal consumption being an emerging trend – I think that’s one of the things that the articles had said in Northern Beijing where they were trying to bring coal down, back and forth, with trucks. Just trying to fire all these electrical plants to keep up with all of the growth. They can’t keep up with all the growth. Consequently, you’ve got a huge traffic jam, and not just cars, but industrial trucks of all shapes and sizes, and it’s chaos. There’s people walking back and forth between the trucks selling you apples and newspapers and everything. It’s like a carnival. And it’s smoggy. Can you imagine all these trucks – all these diesel trucks? They don’t have the emissions regulations that we have, so you can imagine sitting in traffic at that time. I was thinking about my wife and she would have been saying “I don’t like this. This smells …”

Brian: You’re on your own. Just in case she happens to be listening, I don’t think your wife’s voice sounds like that. You’re on your own, Heid.

Bill: Yeah, I’m on my own on that one. Listen, she would have said “this is smoggy,” because it was smoggy. At that point, when we just got off the plane and we’re on this vehicle, we were wondering “what is this place?” We get in late, Dave and I, and they’re feeling like they need to get us into bed because it’s 10 o’clock at night. They want to get us dropped off. They want to be gracious hosts so they take us to a place to eat. This is real Chinese food, this isn’t like Chinatown or any place local with Chinese food. This is places where they’re bringing out fish heads. The order of the day is eel and fish and stuff.

Brian: My first bowl of soup there, I had a turtle paw. I put the spoon in and an actual turtle’s paw came up on my spoon.

Bill: Was it good?

Brian: I didn’t eat the paw but the soup was good.

Bill: The food – one of the things we can talk about after we break here is – one of the things we were surprised at, the food does not look good. They want you to pick these things out from – almost like a most wanted list – you look at these pictures or you look at the actual things they have made up and it looks terrible. But I’ll tell you how it tastes when we come back.

Brian: Sounds good. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to run to a quick commercial break. Come on back. Off the Grid News – here about how Bill ate when he was in China. And of course, Mr. Dave Fink, how great he looks on camera, when we come back.

[0:22:37 – 0:26:54 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back, once again, to Off the Grid Radio – the radio version of offthegrid.com. I’m here, as always, with Mr. Bill Heid. You know, when I was there, I stayed at a Daoist monstary for a while, so I was really out in the sticks. You talk about – everything was lit by natural sunlight. But what I found interesting is that the only place – you’ll laugh when I tell you this – one of the toilets – never guess who it was made by. I mean, out in the middle of nowhere, in China, I walk in to one of the bathrooms in one of their little shops – never guess the name on the porcelain.

Bill: You’re stealing my thunder because one of the things I was going to mention is that when I went from hotel to hotel, Dave and I thought “what are we exporting to China?”

Brian: Oh, you know what it is already then?

Bill: It’s toilets. Everywhere I went there were American toilets. But what’s the …

Brian: American Standard.

Bill: I found American Standard and I found Kohler. I got to the point where I was starting to …

Brian: Oh, Kohler, you were in the nicer places.

Bill: I was looking for toilets because that was the only American … and the nice thing about … well, anyway …

Brian: I think I saw one clock that had Timex on it. That made me think a little bit “at least there’s one word that I recognize,” and then the rest was – when they had toilets, most of the times, as you know, they’re just holes in the ground.

Bill: Out in the country, let’s be candid about what things are. Out in the country, when you go to use the restroom, as we would say – basically there’s a hole in the ground. Sometimes there’s a little place that shows you where to put your feet so that you can line up. It’s different. Again, the lovely and talented Mrs. Heid would have not gotten used to that one either. That’s a step. That’s in the sticks and that’s the only place where I really found that. In any of the cities, I found it just like the States. Just like staying in Belize, staying in anywhere that I’ve ever been.

Brian: OK, back to the other end of the food chain. We were talking about the meals you had before we went to commercial break. I said the greatest gig in the world would have to be a butcher in China, because the food I ate – they didn’t take the bones out. I can just picture whatever that animal was, they take a cleaver – Bam! Bam! Bam! Scrape it right into the pot. You get what you get. Great gig, being a butcher in Beijing.

Bill: Well, the butchers that we had – I’m not sure about their education – but as I mentioned, the very first night we got there we were taken to a restaurant and the food looked terrible. They were just about ready to close because it was late. When we got there, they wanted to leave but they said we’ll serve these two – you know, mutants. So they let us in – us and our driver, and Bonnie our hostess from the wind factory – then they all watched us eat. We picked some things. Nothing looked good to me. I picked a couple of things and I got it, and the food was extraordinary. It was spicy the way I like it. I didn’t ask a lot of questions – they handed me chopsticks, everybody laughed at us and it was sport for everybody to watch.

Brian: Oh please tell me you have a picture of Dave with chopsticks?

Bill: Dave got to the place where even when he had a fork, he would refuse to use the fork and he would stay in character as best he could – as the grand dragon of China. He did well. He liked the food and I liked the food. We were just really pleased. No matter where we went, we had good food. And they have these great big – there’s so much variety to their meals – and the meals are part of a social fabric that we don’t really talk about here. Their meals are a bonding exercise, so whether they’re familial at home or whether they’re with clients, it’s about sharing time, sharing – it’s fellowship, to use a Christian metaphor – and that’s what they want to do. They want to get to know you. They want to spend time with you. And there’s absolutely no substitute for that. It’s not just business, business, business. Even though they’re very much business people, they want to eat with you and they want to treat you right. I was very pleased with what we received on the hospitality side.

Brian: Absolutely. And one of the things of late, in the last six months, that’s bugged me a little bit – everyone will be giving President Obama a hard time about bowing. For those people, and maybe even some of our listeners that think when you bow it’s a sign of weakness, I can tell you some of the martial arts masters – and I mean guys I wouldn’t spar with if you paid me a billion dollars – they bow. I’ve never met a more respectful, more compassionate, nicer group of folks than when I would move in and around through the Chinese countryside. Everyone bows. They are as respectful as anyone I’ve ever met.

Bill: People are respectful and I think – we’ll veer off for a second – part of President Obama’s bowing is he does want to have the vision of his father and his father was an anti-Colonialist so he does have a bent against … he thinks there’s some repair work that needs to be done. You can like that or you can hate that, people see that as a sign of weakness. That’s a whole other show, whether you should bow. But it certainly doesn’t reveal you to be weak in Chinese culture if you bow.

Brian: Not at all.

Bill: It’s just the opposite. Everyone bows and everyone shakes hands and everyone is gracious. If nothing else, I came back – one of the things I had in my head a lot of those times is I think in terms  of Christian precepts and I though “am I as kind, as generous, as good of a host as these people are to me?” And the answer, unfortunately, probably – and this is a self-indictment, Brian – the answer’s probably not. These people go over the top. And every time I would say something, there would always be a little grin. Do you know what they would always say, almost uniformly? My pleasure.

Brian: Very cool.

Bill: My pleasure. There was a twinkle in their eye when they would say that. They would just go over the top. I’m not a big hitter – you know me, I don’t live in a mansion, I’m not President Obama or a senator. They’re not putting on the Ritz for somebody that’s got a lot of money. This is the behavior that I received in the countryside. This was the behavior that I received in the city, from taxi drivers, from almost everybody that I ran into. Might have been a few exceptions, but not many.

Brian: You know I found – because I spent some time there at a Daoist monastery studying – although it’s a Sanskrit term, there is a very similar term – the Namaste term – which means “I worship that portion in you, where you and God are one.” I found the Chinese people where I were that, as you say, they’re very polite. “My pleasure, what else can I do?” They have a unique – and again, people, not the government, because I think a lot of people go “well, the Chinese government, and the American government …” I didn’t meet many government officials while I was there. But people, like you and me, and our counterparts in China – they really have that sense of being able to appreciate the divinity in all that they see. That’s what they recognize, whether you’re a total stranger or something else, they recognize that commonality that is – some would call it the Holy Spirit, the Divinity, the spark – whatever it is. That was the sense that I took from the monastery.

Bill: Exactly. And they’re a little bit of a closed culture. When we were done with the show, going through all of the solar show, we spent some time back in Beijing. We took the high speed train. They have these trains that go 200 miles an hour. They even have a train that goes 350 miles an hour. Unbelievable. They have ultra-modern, high speed trains. We took this back. A five hour trip by car, two hours on high speed train. So we went from the city where the show was, back to Beijing. The next day we went around to look at the city. That was another eye-opening event. We had a host. We had a fine young Christian man there who took us around and showed us the Forbidden City and later the Wall. Amazed by the people themselves. I’ll give you the example of what he told us on the way to the Forbidden City – or no, on the way to the Great Wall. I’m getting a little ahead of myself. But he said something that resonated with your comment on the Chinese people. They really believed in a unified – they put their heavy weight on the One, rather than the diversity of – that’s why maybe Communism worked so well for them, at least worked as something they bought, because they are in to the One. Communism in a sense, from that metaphysical sense, isn’t anything new there. That’s kind of an old thing. And Mao came in with the barrel of the gun, as they say, and institutionalized that and didn’t allow anybody to do anything. We had some experiences with cops there. You mentioned you never really ran into too many cops or military people. We had some experiences there with cops, and I want to tell you what happened because you know what happens here if you take a picture of a police officer or a bridge or a big building, I’m going to tell you what happens in China if you take a picture of a military policeman or a police officer or a building.

Brian: Very good. Come back after the break. If you’re going to China and you’re taking your camera, these are some tips you’re going to want to need. Offthegridnews.com.

[0:36:27 – 0:40:46 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back, once again, to Offthegridnews.com. Before we went to break, Bill, you were going to tell us that when you’re there, as opposed to when you’re here in this country, and you’re taking videotape or pictures of bridges or buildings or military personnel, or police officers, it’s a little different. What did you find to be the case in China?

Bill: Again, to re-emphasize the way it is here if you take a picture of a building or a bridge or someplace – maybe they’re strategic things. I know cops don’t like getting their pictures taken here. I was shocked and amazed to find out, when you take a picture – this is the brutal Chinese regime – when you take a picture of a policeman there, or a military officer, or whoever’s in charge there with their uniform on – nothing happens.

Brian: [laughs]

Bill: I was taken aback. I had mentioned this to one of my hosts. I said if you take a picture of a police officer here, you could get beat up; you could get arrested – not here, but in America. He looked and he cocked his head to the side and he said “really?” I said wait, there’s more – do you know who George Washington is? And guess what? They know who George Washington is. They go to school, they learn. Again, these people are trained people. Do they have it perfect? No. Is the government perfect there? Heavens, no. It’s still some degree of a communist country. Their trajectory is towards freedom, everywhere I went. But I said do you know who George Washington is? Father of your country, father of freedom, right? I said, do you know what the government school textbooks say about him – many of them? That he was a bad man. Do you know what they did? They cocked their heads and say “really?” I said to them, if you have a constitution – and I’m talking to communists, ostensibly – they’re not really communists but we call it Communist China so their citizens would be communist, right? Not really, but that’s the title given. I said if you’re driving through some states and you have a certain bumper sticker on that might have a political candidate – I was thinking of Ron Paul or someone like that – and you’ve got a constitution and the police officer sees the constitution in your car, you might have yourself in for a world of trouble because they’re going to consider you a trouble maker. Do you know what he said? “Really?” Later, I found out these guys were blogging on their sites – they don’t have Facebook because that’s part of the oppressive regime that, to some degree, still exists there – but they have blogs. They’re blogging about these things that I’m telling them. They can’t believe it. They can’t believe the differences. They’re’ supposed to be in the oppressive – and I’m sure that there’s oppression going on, but at the same time, I’m trying to compare and contrast and I’m sitting there talking to them and I’m looking at the way their country is going. It’s going towards freedom. In my opinion, the communist government, to some degree – maybe to a great degree – has lost control of the country. That is to say, the economic aspects of this thing – they’ve opened up the door and I think it would be very, very difficult to shut it, because they’ve got a huge middle class now. They’ve got people who are free. Now, will political freedom follow in that? Inevitably, I believe it will. I said to one person at Tiananmen Square – how long do you think that picture of Chairman Mao will be up there? And he said “five years? Twenty, maybe?” They don’t know what to do with Mao. They know what he did and they’re still kind of a cult of Mao followers. They know what he did. He murdered – some places say 65 million people. But they’re willing to move on from that. I’m told by these business owners that each president, each leader, after Mao, has given more freedom. So they see this in a bigger – you mentioned what you’ve learned training with them – they see this thing as a really big picture thing. They’re not existentialists in the way that we are – I want it now. They’re prepared to wait whatever it takes for the freedom. They see trajectory going in the right way. Everywhere I went, Brian, there were little shops. There were little places whether they were selling apples on the corner, the little girl selling the lemonade. People write in and say “that’s not true.” You know what? There’s a lot of regulations in this country and maybe they’re designed to help people, but really, if you look over there, you can buy anything you want up and down the streets. What I’m trying to say is the free market is alive and well, over against a highly regulated economy, which makes it very difficult to do business.

Brian: It’s so discouraging at times because obviously you and I are not equating that our country is anything like a Communist China. I remember one time, Bill, being out in the outback of Denali in Alaska, thinking this is one of the last really free places left and there are more rules and regulations … when the bus passes, you can’t just stop your mountain bike. You have to have one foot on the ground so that the rangers think that you’re bicycle’s stopped. I’m like “where am I, Manhattan?” I come all the way to Alaska and you have to tell me that it isn’t considered dismounting my bike unless my foot is on the ground? It’s just disappointing, at times, when you compare freedoms of different parts of the world.

Bill: It is disappointing and I think we’ve got – the word communist – let me tell you about, and we’ve only got so much time here … I’ll tell you about the last – then we can talk about some political things as we end – but I’ll tell you about the last night we spent in Shanghai. Our guide, Wayne, who was another great host, took us to this little place where Mao started the People’s National Congress in 1949. What’s interesting is they have these little brown signs, like you see a reservoir for fishing “the lake is this way.” They have a little brown sign in Shanghai that says “Mao’s National Congress Headquarters” where the whole thing started “this way.” I was thinking this is going to be really interesting, because this is in a beautiful city. Shanghai’s a place I’d move, by the way. It’s just a fabulous place. We get down there and I’m expecting to see this really austere dark thing – do you know what the whole thing is? They’ve refurbed the whole thing. It’s two blocks, it’s all shops, full of European clothes. There’s a Haagen Dazs ice cream store that looked like the Ritz Carlton. There’s $13 German beers. I’m sitting here thinking this is the most amazing thing in Mao’s home turf where the People’s Congress started, you’ve got capitalism reigning victorious, though they’re still calling it communism. People have got to get that through their heads, because these Chinese people are competing with you. They’re competing with us, our kids – and do you know what their diabolical formula is, Brian? Hard work. It’s not just low labor, because some of these jobs require a lot of skill that they’re doing, especially some of those things like we’re doing at the solar plant and the wind plant. They’re skilled jobs, they’re not just some guy’s got a little cart and he’s taking it from point A to point B. There’s a little bit of that.

Brian: And they study.

Bill: They work and they study. Folks, your children – whoever’s listening to this – they’ve got to hit the books harder, because these people are willing to get up early, as you said earlier about me, thank you very much for saying that – but they get up early and they stay late, and they’re humble about it. They’re not arrogant or brash. They want to know how they can help. They want to know how they can do business. It’s such an interesting formula for success. I don’t know how long it’s going to last. I don’t know where it’s going to end up, if the military goes this way or that. But I’ll never in my whole life forget sitting down there, drinking a $13 beer … do you know what we were doing at the same time we were there? Our guest had a smartphone – I was showing him with Google Earth my cabin – from where Mao started the whole thing, drinking a German beer, and watching all of these middle class Chinese people enjoy their evening. Are there some police officers around? Yeah. Are they nice? Yeah. We got along just great with all of them. Dave’s even got some really nice stories to tell about how the police officers were helping him getting into cars and stuff, worried about whether he’d fit in a taxi, helping him in and all this stuff. A most remarkable thing.

Brian: And you know, you hope when you see things like that, Bill, that it’ll speak to being able to get along between the two people – the two countries – because it’s not always about governments or even political parties. But regular folks – where the rubber meets the road as you and I always say – great, great people in China.

Bill: That’s exactly my point. We don’t have much time here but we’ll finish with that. We’re not talking about our government, we’re not talking about their government. We’re talking about the people in two countries – folks, we don’t want to go to war with these guys. We want to do business with them. We want to enjoy them. They’re people we want to work with the best we can. Certainly we will here at Solutions from Science, to the best of our ability. We’ve got great partners there.

Brian: Great partners who supply us with great products so that we can turn around and make sure that the people that turn to us from Solutions from Science, are getting the absolute best that you can find. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to have to run. As always, thank you so very much for listening to Off the Grid Radio. On behalf of Mr. Bill Heid, Dave who you heard of – our engineer, Jeremy our executive producer, and everyone here at Off the Grid Radio – it really is a pleasure hanging out with you. Please make sure to email us your questions, your comments, your critiques at [email protected]. Of course you can find us on Facebook – Facebook.com/solutionsfromscience. And follow us on [email protected] Thank you so very much. We know your time is valuable. It’s been an honor spending an hour of it with you.

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