January 3, 2008

Chinese Pity

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:

"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

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