I was playing Mahjong recently with an elderly Chinaman, the parlor air is thick with smoke and heavy from incents. If one has never frequented a Mahjong parlor then it is impossible to fully understand Chinese culture. Much overhyped attention has been placed on their booming economy, significance, and threat it poses on the Western way of life. Communisms threat has been inflated ever since the Cold War and it is used as an effective fear mongering technique. This fear once united a nation, but the danger was indeed on our doorstep. However, current Chinese culture is unlike the communism of old. The reason its economy is growing is because it has been emulating the West and Europe ever since the fall of the Maoist regime. The state controls all, state is all mantra left the country poor, starving, bird-less and broke. However, as one brutal regime fell another is taking its place, capitalism. Capitalism is the new Mao in China and anyone fearing our nations downfall has little to no understanding of economics and the benefits of competition for all consumers. It is easy to look to cities such as Shanghai and Beijing and assume the entire country is one large industrial complex, but the vast majority of its nations members do not live in cities, do not consume vast amounts of goods and live what most Americans call an impoverished life. Most Chinese are peaceful farmers living off the land. They are respectful, thoughtful, considerate and compassionate people. It is true that its younger generation is more capable of rebellion, but isnt this true of all younger generations, is that not a natural progression of human behavior. And they are rebelling, however, their form of rebellion is to emulate the capitalistic western world, to become more like us, not less. The people of China did not choose communism and they indeed have an emperor, but at least they have one who is able to get things done, who wants to improve the lives of his people and develop a country from poor and starving to less poor and full. Much ado is made about Chinas increased consumption, but their economy is only so large because its populous is. Per capita, the nations consumption still compares to the third world. Will China become a superpower, yes, will its economy continue to grow, yes, will its defense budget rise, yes, should this happen, of course. The people of China have every right to begin worshipping money freedom of religion is not only for Americans. The nation has been able to compete in the industrialized world because of their abundance of human capital, natural resources, a labor-intensive workforce and lax pollution controls. If the world has anything to fear from China it is only its future effects on the global environment, but China is still only emulating the West in this regard as well. Industrial revolutions are the birth beds of capitalism. Chinas former emperor waged a war against nature and killed every sparrow in the country, he called them pests, many millions of Chinese died from starvation under his reign and the country knows it must protect the environment, work with nature and conserve its natural resources. If there is one thing to fear it is a global economy that will not factor in the costs of externalities. It is not simple to do, true, but it must be attempted for the health of our nation and our planets future. There is a cost associated with polluting the air, burning fossil fuels and destroying our rain forests. The cost of pollution will be paid and that price continues to rise. Back to Mahjong, the sound of traditional Chinese music echoes across the parlor, the low mumbled tones of countless conversations waft through the dim room as old friends, and new acquaintances, discuss life. These men and women do not talk about the latest episode of a television program, they do not show each other videos or pictures on their cell phones, they are not texting or talking to someone not in the room. They are present. My new friend asks me if Wisdom is more important than Morality. Most Chinese assume all Americans are intelligent, just not moral. He knows I went to college, a rarity in their country, and he asks why Americans killed the Native Americans, why we start wars with other countries, why we feel the need to invade places that do not pose any real threat to us. I attempt to explain that America is selfish, that it wants to protect its resources in the Middle-East, how former presidents tried to make terrorism threat to America as a whole, I try to tell the old man about revenge, justice, how the U.S. feels the need to spread democracy throughout the oil-rich world. Democracy is how Americans convince themselves they are free, since choosing from one of two choices every four years makes us freer and better than other countries. It is a term we throw around when we want to make non-democratic nations appear inferior. Arab spring will surely bring out the bright summers sun. Associating democracy with quality of life is difficult to argue against in this country. Politicians, even the president, have little influence over global affairs and the economy when compared to corporate giants, especially when given divisions in the House and Congress. These giants have even succeeded in granting themselves the ability to donate unlimited funds to their candidates, there is no greater example of the truer power of capitalism over democracy. The old man asks me again why Americans are so violent, Chinese officials were quick to give U.S. murder statistics per capita to show how dangerous and violent Americans are, unfortunately this propaganda is rarely exaggerated. It is true they regulate the internet, we consider this a crime, but their internet is currently larger than ours, imagine that, there are more Chinese sites than English ones, in a country where many of its members still do not have electricity or running water. Do Americans truly believe their country does not regulate its internet; that were free to post whatever we want? Really, you can? Okay go to your account and post I hate America I am becoming a radical fundamentalist death to America I have just joined Al-Qaida I have learned how to turn fertilizer into chemical weapons and I am going to blow up Pennsylvania Avenue. Sure, were free, just post that and see how long your liberties remain intact. Most Americans place too much importance on the bottom line and it does not make sense. It is, understandably, hard not to think greed is good today. Greed is constantly being shoved down our throats; it is all over television, the news, media and politics. Currently, nearly half of this country is considering voting for a man who made a fortune consuming things that were not his. We have become so near-sighted and focused on the importance and value of dollars that almost half of us have nearly lost sight of reality. A certain candidate makes a living by taking over companies, breaking contracts, destroying pensions and amassing small fortunes into larger ones. The great profiteers of Americas past used to make money by creating jobs and innovating industries. Ensuring an employee was a shareholder made the success of the two eternally linked. Some men and women have lost entire life savings because of candidates like Romney. My stock options in P&H, the construction giant that made mining equipment and cranes, were nullified when the company went bankrupt. I was assured that even if the company filed for Chapter 11, the company would still make good on its shareholders options, at least in part, because of their vast assets, continued demand for construction equipment, the value of their large property holdings and supply chain. But, the company did not go to bankruptcy court ten years ago it went Chapter 13 Bought. How a company can be purchased without acquiring its shareholders stock, the little pieces of paper that say you are a part owner, is beyond my knowledge of legal law. However, it is not beyond my studies of ethics. The stock was devalued to pennies, P&H terminated, and new management brought in. However, the factories were still open, the assembly lines running and the same employees working there. Everything remained the same except that the old stock was now worthless, its product was identical, built in the same plant and on the same floor by the same men and women, now, they have a different logo and letterhead. As Americas infrastructure and manufacturing industries decay please mind the story of my close friend who remained at the company after the takeover. He worked as a foreman and made a good living, has two teenage children and been employed there for twenty-five years. It has been fifteen years since the takeover and he has devoted his life to his job and family. But he has recently been let go, not because of poor performance or corporate downsizing, but because after fifteen years he would begin receiving more benefits, the corporation, like many these days, looked around for a more highly qualified replacement willing to work for less. High turnover rates are costing companies billions of dollars and it is because long-term employees are undervalued. An accountant looked at a spreadsheet and found a way to save the company a few dollars today, not adding common sense to his calculations, the true cost of instability is difficult to determine but it is not external. This is the case all around our country. Most people are aware of the budget crisis at the state level, pension funds are drying up and there is little incentive for the youth of this nation to enter manufacturing. Why build stability when the roof may come crashing down in a decade or two? Why give up part of my paycheck so the baby bombers can retire comfortably, why should I let them drink the well dry? I am exaggerating of course, Americas well is still unbelievably full, the problem is we are polluting it, we are poisoning it with shady business practices by a society lacking in scruples and morals. Capitalism used to be about creating jobs, keeping your employees employed, capitalism was about a free market utopia, where all men were created equal, under Dollar, and free to search for their fortune and marry whatever money he wants. A free market society ensured that what was good for employees was also good for employers; a market society not needing regulation is a complete and utter idealist concept, very similar to Stalins socialism. Problems arise because corporations are not altruistic, transparent or long run conscious. Big problems arise when those corporations gain power and influence over politics. Greed is not good for America; greed is destroying this country. I want to believe most Americans are inherently good and moral. I assume most of us know it is better to build than destroy. Most of us do not want to see fortunes being amassed via corporate takeovers, the destruction and downfall of our middle class, manufacturing industry and the elimination and depreciation of blue-collar jobs. My friend with the two children had a job and life he took pride in. However, now he is unemployed and one illness away from having to decide between losing his house or denying medicine to his child. This is reality for millions of Americans and it cannot be over-emphasized. He should feel no shame, but, when the corrupt man prospers and the righteous are rained upon, it is hard to abdicate doing right in a corrupt capitalistic system. Capitalism is not flawed in theory, as was socialism and communism, but it needs regulation. Corporations are intrinsically motivated to realize profits in the short-run; they do not build schools, roads or invest in the future wellbeing of our nation. They use our crumbling roads and bridges but they never pay to fix them. It may be in our American nature to take things that do not belong to us, ever since manifest destiny but those days must come to pass. The United States must care for and protect its children from a diminishing education system and falling bridges, its workforce from corrupt employers. Politicians must not be in big businesss pocket and what is legal must not prevail over what is right. Big business spends billions trying to convince us that what is good for them is also good for America, but the economy is not American, the economy is global and will not help your sick child. I do not care if Romney is reformed or not technically a crook; any sane person can tell by his devious grin that he the boy who used to flick boogers at classmates. The man honestly does not remember cutting off the long locks of a classmate in high school. Honestly? Look in his eyes as he grins that devious grin and tell me it is not the look of a man who has a secret stash of nuts somewhere and wont share them with anyone, ever, a man who got rich without making a dime. This is the case and the problem with deregulation, the derivatives market, trading on speculation, and investing in companies that make profit instead of products, companies that believe todays bottom line is more important than tomorrow. If America wants to build for the future it must not falsely assume that what is best for our economy is what is best for Americans. The recent downgrade of the largest banks are indicative that their rampant speculative trading and lack of capital investments in infrastructure has shown the world that profiting off instability is not at the heart of capitalism nor is it economically viable. We cannot plan and invest in tomorrow if we are destroying our foundation today. We can mine the land; let us just make sure our children have a place to stand. Let us not confuse corporations that exist only in theory, companies only on paper, with actual businesses. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a company, but taking one over to exploit its workers and steal from its shareholders, now that should be illegal. In a free country where possessing some forms of organic plant material will get you locked up for good and when bad men like Mitt are gaining in the polls, it does not always seem so free. I do not care how much religion one finds, once a booger flicker, always a booger flicker. As I ponder Native Americans, Iraqis and Romney in the Mahjong parlor a sad look washes from my forehead and down my face. I turn to the old Chinaman and say, Well I guess in the West, we are taught brave, courageous men fight for what they believe in and here in the East, those that fight are just considered violent. Oh yeah, and morality definitely more important than wisdom.