They're calling it the "Great Firewall of China": The world's most populous country is blocking residents' access to social networking sites and blogs that might remind the world of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on Thursday.
The Great Firewall. Both catchy and apt.
But what do you call the wall of silence in the United States?
For now, let's just call it the "media."
You may not know it if all your news comes through the "mainstream" media filter -- but our secretary of the Treasury was openly laughed at in China recently.
According to international media, Timothy Geithner was speaking to students at Peking University when he was asked if Chinese investments in the United States were safe.
When he asserted that they were, the students laughed.
Folks, this is huge. The American government is relying on China to subsidize our trillions in deficit spending.
And our bankers just laughed in our face.
How is that not news?
Nor are the media telling you -- at least loudly enough or often enough -- how much debt each American household has incurred in recent years through current government spending and obligations to future retirees:
How's $546,668 per household sound?
That's what your family owes in government debt and future liabilities.
"We have a huge implicit mortgage on every household in America," former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker told USA Today , "except, unlike a real mortgage, it's not backed up by a house."
In other words, the only collateral on the debt this generation is piling up is the sweat equity of future generations.
That is, if our banker doesn't stop laughing long enough to stop the flow of loans.
According to USA Today , which broke through the silence with a startling summary of U.S. indebtedness this past weekend, "The government took on $6.8 trillion in new obligations in 2008, pushing the total owed to $63.8 trillion."
Another way to look at it: When you see newlyweds in the Sunday paper, those bright young, hopeful faces are already saddled with half a million in debt before they say "I do."
And they don't have the option of saying "I don't." This is a legacy of indentured servitude we are leaving to our children.
Meanwhile, China truly is questioning continuing to invest in all this. And there are rumblings that China and others may soon want to use something other than the dollar as the world's reserve currency. That would cost the U.S., both economically and in prestige.
U.S. living standards and national security are at stake -- and with U.S. debt only growing, serious trouble is on the horizon.
When Chinese students seem to understand that more than our own national media, something is drastically wrong.