FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US Needs to be More Like China

Say what you will about “authoritarian capitalism” (the term British historian Timothy Garten Ash uses to describe China’s economy), but when Chinese corporate executives disgrace themselves beyond any hope of redemption, they know what to do.  They commit suicide.  How cool is that?

In 2007, Zhang Shuhong was CEO of Lee Der Industrial, the company that produced the millions of Mattel toys that had to be recalled due to lead in the paint.  Intentionally adding lead to paint?done to produce more vibrant colors?is illegal (banned since 1978) because it can cause serious damage to children, even when ingested in tiny amounts.  Zhang couldn’t live with the shame.  So he hanged himself.

Needless to say, had this occurred in the U.S., it would have gone down muchdifferently.

For openers, the CEO would’ve tried to pin the blame on someone else?an associate or supervisor, or better yet, the production crews themselves.  If it were a union shop, he would accuse the Executive Board of having created an “adversarial environment.”  If a non-union shop, he’d blame outside contractors.  If it were jobbed out, he’d blame the vendors.  In any event, the company  would hire a phalanx of lawyers and instruct them to stall for as long as humanly possible.

The CEO would criticize consumer protection laws for being too confusing; he would sue the laboratory in charge of analyzing the paint; he would ominously hint that “sabotage” couldn’t be ruled out; he would be televised donating $100,000 to UNICEF; and his company would invent the American Foundation for Human Enrichment, a bogus organization ostensibly dedicated to the manufacture of educational toys.

Eventually, the CEO would resign.  He would collect a golden parachute of $10 million, claim to be the alcoholic product of a dysfunctional hillbilly family, check himself into rehab, become a Christian, write a book, appear on talk shows and, two years later, be hired by another company as a “consultant.”  The thought of taking his own life would never occur to him.

Chinese executives have the right idea about shame.  As tragic as suicide is, there is a certain elegance and clarity of purpose to the gesture.  Committing suicide is to acknowledge that clinging greedily to one’s last gasping breath isn’t necessarily the noblest act imaginable.

China also has a fascinating approach to executions.  In 2009, following a tainted baby formula scandal that killed six children and sickened an estimated 300,000 more, the Chinese government executed the dairy farmer and milk salesman who were implicated in the contamination.  No messing around with legalistic red-tape or stalling tactics.  For the good of society, the responsible parties were summarily put to death.

Not to come off as too Old Testament, but wouldn’t that work here as well?  For instance, wouldn’t it have had a salutary effect on society if, following the Wall Street meltdown (and prior to the subsequent $1 trillion bailout), we had taken, say, a half-dozen greedy investment bankers, lined them up against a wall, and shot them?  Does anyone really think these guys would have come away unscathed had in happened in China?

We lose more than 35,000 people each year to traffic accidents alone.  Again, not to sound bloodthirsty or vengeful, but as a means of satisfying society’s demand for simple, unambiguous justice, putting down a half-dozen deserving Wall Street bankers doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright, is the author of “It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”. He served 9 terms as president of AWPPW Local 672. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

 

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail