…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
“A dangerous tendency has shown itself of late among many of our personnel – an unwillingness to share the joys and hardships of the masses, a concern for personal fame and gain. This is very bad. One way of overcoming it is to simplify our organisations in the course of our campaign to increase production and practice to increase economy and to transfer cadres to lower levels so that a considerable number will return to productive work.” [Mr Mao On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People (1957)]
Despite years of diligently battling contradictions, this particular dangerous tendency is not abating. Per capita annual income in China is about US$2,425 but “According to the Hurun Report, as cited by Bloomberg, the 70 richest delegates in China’s National People’s Congress have a combined net worth of 565.8 billion yuan or $89.8 billion. That’s more than 10 times the combined net worths of all the members of US Congress, the Supreme Court and the President. (Their collective riches are only $7.5 billion.) What’s more, China’s politicians are getting richer more rapidly. Last year, their combined wealth grew by $11.5 billion, or about 15%.”
The Wall Street Journal of 28th February, 2012 further ponders “whether this skyrocketing ‘princeling’ wealth will touch off social unrest or real protests. Many Western China watchers point out that as long as the overall economy keep growing and generating jobs, China won’t erupt in class warfare. What’s more, government officials are currently making a huge show of cracking down on corruption, and they maintain tight control over communications and the media.
Yet China seems to support an old adage: In the U.S. people get rich to get into politics. In other countries, they get into politics to get rich.”
It would seem that on that score, Australia has more in common with China than with America. Unfortunately, our politicians could not follow Mao’s directive “to return to productive work”, since they have never done any.