|Another interesting story from Changsha...
Candy's uncle invited Candy, and two of our other friends to his family's apartment for a dinner one night. The apartment was beautiful and elegant and extravagant. For China, Candy's immediate family must rank pretty high socioeconomically, but they live pretty ordinarily. Her uncle, on the other hand, lives it up. He is involved in construction in a city that is developing at an incredible rate, and the opportunity for wealth in these times is huge.
He is the most perfect case-study of the problems of rapid economic development that I can imagine.
Firstly, he is only high school educated. He worked construction jobs since high school, and it seems just happened to be in the right place at the right time and landed an insiders job into the booming Changsha construction industry. He also has very strong ties with the government, as do most people who work in construction. Whenever government mixes with investment, there is corruption...so this includes almost all business in China. And with a one party system and no solid law to hold anyone accountable, China's corruption is huge. Staggering. I can't imagine and there is no figure because there could be no way to understand or grasp the hugeness of it. It is so huge that everyone knows about it. Everyone knows the government is corrupt. It's common knowledge...as common and accepted as the weather forecast each day.
I will talk more about corruption later...to continue....
So Uncle is very rich and became rich very very suddenly. Then he moved his young son and his wife far away from their old home to a brand new apartment in the city. Here he was drawn into the glamour and addiction of the wealthy life...because wherever there is money there are people trying to sell things for outrageous prices. Soo...long story short...
-New wealth and dreams of prosperity
-Temptations of the rich
-Son has trouble at school
And that is the end. Actually there is no more analysis than that. It is the classical case, now happening all over China. Money can be deadly to families if not understoof and used correctly. Truly, wealth is not most important. In China, in a booming city like Changsha...it seems to overwhelm the entire population. Just like the American dream of wealth and riches did for many Americans, but here is another example of the destructive power wealth and money can have. Gordon Gecko was wrong. Greed is not good.
I blame rapid development. Slow down China...
Develop laws and schools and society networks and slow down the transition...give your workers a little more spending cash. Of course...the problem is that this is much easier said than done.
The most interesting part of my time in China is that I have seen so much and observed so much but truly it is only a small slice of the pie. Sometimes, I would argue that a small slice is more accurate and straightforward than trying to understand the whole pie as a whole...especially in the case of China. However, I believe that China is walking a thin line between chaos and order, and that the "development" has come at a high social cost.
Of course I hope I am wrong and I hope China becomes the shining star and the new top world power and beackon of hope for the world, because the Chinese people deserve it after all they have been through, but I just don't understand how it could ever happen... I am not so nationalistic. I don't say this because I think I am an American and I am better than everyone else. For me, the U.S. has no need to compete with anyone. Instead we as a people should really focus on bettering ourselves because we still have a long way to go here at home.
But as one human from one place looking and trying to understand another...regardless of nationalism...I think it will be very interesting to see where China goes in the coming years and how much true progress is truly made, and how accurate my limited observations and conclusions have been. Ah, so much to think about...so much to ponder. My brain hurts.
There's a case-study on the effects of rapid mass development for you. Hope you enjoyed it!