A Buffalo in a China Shop

East vs. West and Responsibility

It's gotten increasingly obvious to much of the world that the U.S. is a waning empire and China is a rising empire. The U.S., of course, has a (somewhat tarnished these days) reputation for being a shining bastion of fairness, equality, freedom, and all that is good, and we Americans have been instilled with the usual fear and suspicion about China's totalitarian ways.

But what is the real difference between Tiananmen Square and that of Kent State? Well, certainly one of size and scope but how different are we really? China enforces sterilization and limits on having children, and Americans are horrified. But when the world is bursting at the seams with people and that country, in particular, has to feed 1.3 billion mouths, doesn't it seem more responsible to have a policy of reproductive restraint than, say, our own executive policy of voluntary abstinence?

So I was struck this week by the confluence of two events. The first is George W. Bush's interference in a jury- and court-mandated sentence for Scooter Libbey. Even some members of Bush's own party were outraged. To those of us who would like to get to the bottom of how Bush's administration, notably his vice president, went about outing a CIA agent to stifle her husband's dissent, this is as blatant an obstruction of justice as we ever saw from even Richard Nixon.

At the same time, this week, China executed a recent former director of its food and drug agency for corruption. He approved fake medications for cash.

Taking bribes like that could never happen in this country (snicker snicker snicker) but you can bet if it did, at very worst, the official would be fired. And when the smoke cleared he'd wind up with a high-paying job working for one of the drug companies he was beholden to. And given a golden parachute.

I am not in favor of capital punishment and I am certainly not an advocate of any government that enforces totalitarianism, whether China or us.

But somewhere there has to be a happy medium. At least China's government does try to take responsibility for some of its problems. On the other hand, if we executed every one of our corrupt government officials, there'd be very few politicians left at the federal level. But just think of all the surplus money that could be used for national health insurance. Where's my green tea? No, not the one with the melamine in it.

Posted: Thu - July 12, 2007 at 02:11 PM