Last Thursday, Tucker Carlson interviewed a onetime McKinsey principal, retired managing partner Peter Walker, who came on to respond to a previous monologue in which the TV talker called out McKinsey and other elements of the global consulting class for holding too rosy a view of the consequences of China being integrated into the World Trade Organization.
I post not to suggest that McKinsey and the rest of the business gurus are complicit in gutting Main Street. Rather, I direct attention to the conversation, which, given the potential for generating a lot of talk-television heat, was civil.
[Tucker Carlson]: Mr. Walker, thank you so much for coming on. I want to start with the pandemic because that's what we were talking about in the first place. And I'm telling you — I'm quoting you here. We were praising China's response and I said, when people look back at what was done with the magnitude of the quarantine in China, they are going to get high praise. Credible reports suggest that Chinese authorities locked people in their apartments and left them to die. We know they snatched people off the street and threw them into police vans and that's where they went. That's a quarantine that you think they deserve high praise for. Why?I'm not sure what's more frightening, the Chinese response or Mr Walker's dispassionate explanation of it. Confucian values with Communist characteristics, or something.
[Peter Walker]: I think [,Tucker,] if you just look at the results, there will always be questions about what the numbers are but I think the harsh action that they took given the scale of China and a number of big cities was exactly what they needed to do to be able to prevent the outbreak from going any further. The reality is that outbreak hasn't gone much beyond Wuhan. Their lack of disclosure and lack of transparency, they should be faulted for that and accountable for that.
[Tucker Carlson]: Okay. What would you say to the families of those who died, starve to death alone in their apartments are people wondering where their relatives went after they were bundled into Chinese police vans. How would you square their grief with the praise that you just heaped on the quarantine?
[Peter Walker]: At the end of the day you just have to look at the total picture. It's like when Cuomo gets on every night and Trump gets on every night. Everyone's heart goes out to every individual that died and that's part of the suffering that comes with the disease. It's heartbreaking, every single one of them is. But they had to do it otherwise, if you can imagine the scale of China, if that blew out in large numbers to other cities the numbers will be off the charts.
One of the things and researching my book which became very clear to me, the Chinese people, I said you have a lot of things going, why are you doing the things the way you do? One of the things you discover about the Chinese society, it's a collective society. So, very different from the individualistic society of the U.S. so in China, literally the way they would look at it is there were probably 80 million people where they live. We locked up 1 million and so 79 million people are materially better off in terms of the quality of life, standard of living and everything else. It was only about 1.5% that we locked up and that's how they think about it. Do I agree with that? No. I don't agree with it. That difference between collectivism and common good is a huge disconnect with the U.S. We regard and always have been proud of every human life is sacred and therefore any unjustice or injustice is something we ought to be railing against and they are just not wired that way.That might work for now, but when those remaining 79 million people start wondering why they're not working as consumers in the United States and elsewhere around the world start disengaging from their Chinese supply chains, what will happen?