Monday, October 22, 2012

China and the Fuerdai

Many Chinese had heard rumors for half a year. A Ferrari had crashed on a snow slicked Beijing ring road early in the morning in March and the sports car had split up into two separate pieces
 The crash allegedly involved  a well known member of the "fuerdai," the rich second generation that seems to believe they are entitled to fast sports cars, multiple women and a world that resembles that of Western rich kids.
The truth finally emerged last night into a  China, where worries about political corruption have become very important to not just 38%, of the people, as in an earlier poll, but to 55%  of Chinese citizens in a recent poll. Details are in today's Wall Street Journal.
The event occurred in March, three days after Bo Xilai, the disgraced, former mayor of Chongqing, was placed under arrest. The crash involved two Tibetan women who were stuffed into the car . One Tibetan woman is still alive. The car's driver was the 23-year-old son of Pres. Hu Jin Tao's closest adviser, Ling Jihua. His son, Ling Gu, was speeding along at 4 AM and died in the wreck.

The Beijing Evening News the next day wrote about the story, mentioning no names. It was then completely hushed up.  Hu Jin Tao had apparently been trying to have Ling Jihua placed on the all-important politburo that runs the Chinese Communist Party. After a time, Ling Jihua was demoted from an important party position and disappeared from sight, although he still has his important connection to Hu Jin Tao.
In the midst of a peaceful transition from one set of communist leaders to another (after 10 years in power), the behavior of Bo Xilai, a princeling, has been described as an anomaly,  something that was not "zheng chang," (a normal part of Chinese life). The revelations about Ling Gu shows it to be an everpresent part of Chinese life that could not have been exposed at a worst time.In America we don't seem to be upset that rich people run our country, but the Chinese people seem to be disturbed by the concept.We will have to see what impact this will have on a country that didn't need another example of bu ping dang (inequality)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Armstrong/Edwards Award Created

Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns today jointly announced the creation of the Armstrong/Edwards award for creative communication. "Since Lance Armstrong and John Edwards have set the standard for obfuscation in the new America, we believe an award that honors them is important," said Willie Sutton, a company spokesman.
Sutton also announced that Congressmen and investment bankers would not be eligible to receive the prize because they are considered "professionals."
Bernie Madoff, responded from prison, saying, "it's about time that people recognized the new American reality, instead of getting all upset and judgmental."
The companies also said neither presidential candidate was eligible to compete for what will surely be a prestigious award.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lance Armstrong and the American Dream

The revelation that Lance Armstrong was the ringleader of the doping ring that was the United States Postal Service cycling team is distressing. The number of witnesses against him, who by speaking out had their own records tarnished, removes any doubt about his lying, duplicity, and  lack of concern for those who had placed him on a pedestal.
I've mentioned before the work of 19th century British political philosopher, Walter Bagehot, who said you can tell a lot about a nation by whom it admires. In this case though, it isn't a country's values that have been found missing. Instead it was the need of many of us to find a determined cancer survivor who represented the best of us.
While this isn't new in a country that elected Warren G Harding and George W. Bush president it is truly scary for someone like me who believed in the American dream. We had to learn that our bankers were criminals, that our legislators were owned by the rich and that everything in Washington is up for sale.
National figures told me every time I gave an exam, 70% of the college students I taught had already cheated in their academic careers. When I was in college the only organized cheating existed in certain fraternities whose members wanted to get into medical school.
My ridiculous belief in the marriage of Elizabeth and John Edwards had already taught me it's easy to be a fool. Day after day, we learn how many of our public figures have feet of clay.
In the old days we had Joe McCarthy, Billy Sol Estes, and other charlatans. Many Americans seem to have the genes of Phineas T Barnum in their makeup. But now it seems worse. I have close friends I completely trust, but I'm reluctant to trust outside that group. Perhaps it's best to have limited expectations of others, but that wasn't the way I wanted to live, and still don't.
At the start of the last century kids reacted to the Black Sox scandal by saying, "say it ain't so Joe." That was in a more innocent, trusting country. That doesn't happen in the new America. We expect it to be true.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Huawei, China, and Espionage

People frequently believe things that are untrue or represent their own personal interests, no matter the facts.
For example, I love and believe in Syracuse football despite the scores of games over the last few years.
In the same vein General Electric, which is building a jet aircraft for China, says the proprietary technology will not go to the military but only be used on a passenger plane. This shows either an alarming naïveté or General Electric's ability to lie when it's in its best interest.
The government and the military take anything they want in proprietary technology. By forcing American companies to take a Chinese partner in order to sell products in the Middle Kingdom, it's assured that technology will end up in the hands of the Chinese government.
Now we have the results of a House investigation, which shows how Huawei and ZTE could use their telecommunications equipment sold in America to steal secrets. I was laughing when I read a Huawei spokesman call these fears "baseless."
Hey, wake up and smell the Long Jing tea.
I am not a Sinophobe. My wife was born in Nanjing and half of my very closest friends are Chinese citizens. I really like the Chinese people. I think China's the future. But I also think a friend of China has to tell the truth about what happens there.