There’s an interesting piece in the Shanghai Daily today about the habits of China’s rich, who, instead of learning from the moral paragon that is Warren Buffett, are spending more money on themselves. Says the report:
In sharp contrast with their attitude towards money, a Chinese real estate business man was reported to have had hundreds of thousands of yuan flown to Chongqing city just to make his car “safer.”
The anonymous man paid a company in Chongqing 700,000 yuan (US$86,419) to make his car bullet proof. Added to that, the car’s window glass was changed so that it could endure half-an-hour’s beating with a hammer without cracking.
Its tires could continue for a further 50 kilometers after being shot out by a gun and changes were made so that even if a bomb exploded under the car passengers would still be safe.
According to the story carried by the Shanghai Securities News, the Chongqing company has sealed four similar deals with Chinese business men.
In addition, at least another 10 wealthy people have expressed an interest in purchasing similar cars.
It seems many of China’s rich people are feeling insecure. They are scared of being robbed, kidnapped or even killed.
The article reads like an admonishment to the rich: tsk tsk, look at you, hoarding all your wealth … Why can’t you be more like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett? It’s better to give to charity than to not give to charity, but it says something about a society when high-profile charity (or “celebrity charity,” a la Angelina Jolie) becomes the foremost way in which people think about the distribution — and redistribution — of wealth in society.
Last night before sleeping, we read this article about the people who make wigs for the World Cup fans in Yiwu, Zhejiang. How many of us would work more than 11 hours a day in the same place in the hopes that we could make over 1,000 RMB that month? Or how about the folks out in Chongqing that repackage old clothes and shoes and sell them as new? Certainly we’re not condoning the latter, but these are slices of life and show us how the other half live. A report we just read says that Britons will be more selfish by 2025 than ever before in recent memory. We suppose it’s good that people maintain interest in these moral questions of altruism, philanthropy, etc. But at what point does this mean giving governments more slack than they deserve? Let’s put this question another way: Is there a better way for the Chinese state to manage the economy, if by “better” we mean lessening or mitigating the strains caused by socioeconomic inequality? Or is this as good as it gets?