Friday, September 9, 2011

So Cheap, Yet So Valuable

The super-rich, as has been made painfully clear, have gotten an increasingly large vice grip on the levers of power in the United States. We don't need to even bother going over that. That gets made clear through enough text generated daily to spew out of your screen because the Internet ran out of room.

But the United States isn't the only country with a rich-people problem.

Take China. China has internal morale problems of its own, coming from being the police state so many people like to accuse America of being. Ai Weiwei, prohibited from giving interviews due to the conditions of his "parole" or whatever, did an end-run around the conditions and wrote an article instead, published by Newsweek and reposted here by the Daily Beast. As the Guardian notes, the piece comes on the heels of China planning to give itself the power to detain people for six months without informing their families.

Weiwei's article, predictably, was censored in China, but the censoring was done very lazily. When the local edition of the magazine- which included the article- arrived in China, local officials just tore out the page with the article, which happened to be the last page. In doing so, they forgot the part where Weiwei's article was advertised on the cover. And they forgot to censor the online article, which was quickly seized upon by readers.

In the face of such a living arrangement, the super-rich in China have one thing on all their shopping lists: passports. They want to take their money somewhere else where they can be left alone to do their thing, maybe have a second kid, and, notably, hang on to their money, something they feel is at risk of being lost to corruption and land-lease programs.

And most commonly, they figure the United States meets that description, as well as Canada, Australia and, less expectedly, Mexico.

There is one thing they may be overlooking, however: another factor for leaving China, according to ABC News, is the uneasiness of being in a country with as wide a gap between rich and poor as China. Being rich in such an environment means being resented. Being rich means having a target on your back. And the United States, with its own gap between rich and poor increasing and the accompanying resentment less constrained, may turn out to make that problem worse.

But even if they're worried about that, they clearly consider it a price worth paying.

And with a perspective completely unlike that of American super-rich, it'll be, if nothing else, intriguing to see how the relationship between the two groups plays out.

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