Shameless Officials, Poor People
|Alice Poon||Mar 6, 2009|
Here is my translation of the essay:-
"America is not immune to the problem of a rich-poor gap. The media has previously delved into the question why no ‘rich-hating’ mentality exists in American society. The answer is that most Americans lead an honest, decent and dignified life and the rich among them are generous philanthropists, whose living standards are not extravagant and do not deviate much from those of ordinary people.
The answer may not be entirely true, though. Indeed, I’ve come across cases where certain rich guys or certain sports celebrities eating hamburgers and French fries on the spectators’ stand; if they have a lodge, it’s usually owned by their company and is shared by other employees. However, America does not lack its share of 'heartless rich' either. Haven’t we heard that the Wall Street big shots are brazenly taking home huge bonuses while on the receiving end of taxpayers’ bailout money, and have been called ‘shameful’ by President Obama?
But then even the least moral of rich Americans have few choices when it comes to hedonistic pleasure haunts – the most they can do is to indulge themselves for a while in places like Dubai, and they have to go there and return stealthily too. China is a whole different story – the nation is rich but its people poor; the officials are on their high pedestals but the people are downtrodden; the richer the rich get, the more profligate they become and the more they like to flaunt their riches. According to known statistics, the destination of first choice for public officials’ overseas visits is Las Vegas, the second is New York. Alas, in my twenty years in America, the only time I got to visit Las Vegas was when I had to accompany some mainland friends there.
A recent New York Times report says that the financial tsunami caused Hong Kong’s jewelry business sales to drop by 10 percent, while during the Chinese New Year holidays, the number of mainland jewelry-buying tourists to Hong Kong jumped 50 percent year-on-year in that period. Wen Jiabao’s wife, who is a guru in the nation’s jewelry business, must be so pleased. And then there are those 'patriotic red hearts' who must be really emotionally charged: a great nation has risen – it is ready to 'buy out' Wall Street and be the world’s locomotive to pull the global economy out of the financial crisis!
Yet, who are those people who can afford to buy jewelry and go to Taiwan and the United States in a group to buy real estate? One ought to know that currently one in seven peasant workers is out of a job, and the total private assets owned by the 800 million peasants only amount to 4 percent of all of the nation’s privately owned assets. On the other hand, the assets owned by the 20,000 odd billionaires take up 12 percent of all private assets in the nation. Those with personal assets of over 10 million yuans, over 90 percent are with civil service backgrounds. No wonder those wishing to buy their way into the civil service are stampeding the gate. The Shenzhen Public Security Bureau deputy chief post has a 20 million-yuan price tag. Can you imagine how much corrupt money the guy has to scrape from that post in order to pay himself back the principle plus interest? In Hunan province Chenzhou district, there is even a published price list for these posts: a county committee secretary costs 2 million; a deputy secretary 600,000; a county mayor 1,200,000; a deputy mayor 500,000; a political law committee secretary 600,000; a disciplinary committee secretary 500,000 …..
Since the market for civil service posts is so hot, the number of new posts created keeps rising. According to China Youth Daily, presently there is one civil servant for every 25 citizens. Economist Yu Guangyuan was right on the mark when he said, 'The larger the power institution gets, the more widespread the money-power exchange becomes.'
If the officials want the people to be poor, the people cannot be but poor. There is a folk song that testifies to this: ‘When the stars in the sky are abundant, the moon is not bright; when the bumps on the ground are plenty, the road is not smooth; when the river is filled with fish, the water is not clear; when officials are many, the ones to suffer are the people.'"