"Chinese pity comes from their belief that we are a country in decline. More than a few Chinese friends have quoted to me the proverb fu bu guo san dai (wealth doesn't make it past three generations) as they wonder how we became so ill-disciplined, distracted and dissolute. The fury surrounding Monica-gate seemed an incomprehensible waste of time to a nation whose emperors were supplied with thousands of concubines. Chinese are equally astonished that Americans are allowing themselves to drown in debt and under-fund public schools while the media focus on fights over feeding tubes, displays of the Ten Commandments and how to eat as much as we can without getting fat."
-- James McGregor, a journalist-turned-businessman based in China, and a former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, writing in The Washington Post, July 31, 2005
January 3, 2008
This is one of two quotations at the beginning of Tom Friedman's book, The World is Flat (Chapter 8) that I thought is an excellent commentary on the state of American politics today: