Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rich and Poor

China's economy continues to rise. But not everyone is ascending.

From Forbes:

Image from

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) -- At China’s newest Gucci store, in Shijiazhuang, snakeskin purses sell for the equivalent of $4,390, about twice the city’s per capita annual income. Next door at Brooks Brothers, button-down shirts go for $190.

“Shijiazhuang is becoming very well off,” Brooks Brothers saleswoman Wang Weixia, 24, says of the provincial capital, 291 kilometers (181 miles) southwest of Beijing. “A few years ago it was poor and backwards.”

Five floors up in the food court of the First Under Heaven mall, a lamb kebab griller surnamed Li has a different view. “The people here got rich by cheating others,” says Li, who earns 50 yuan ($7.30) a day and declined to give his full name.

The scene in Shijiazhuang is replayed across China, where a 30-year economic boom has lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty at the price of yawning income gaps. China’s Communists came to power 60 years ago today, promising a utopian society run for the benefit of peasants and workers. Instead, it was ideological foes in neighboring Taiwan and South Korea that delivered economic gains more widely and equitably.

The growing wealth gap is a top concern for President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, who are dealing with rising protests from workers and farmers angry at corruption and the perception that some people are getting rich at the expense of many. Hu and Wen today took part in celebrations in Beijing marking the anniversary.

In a Sept. 10 speech to the World Economic Forum in the city of Dalian, Wen said China must “narrow the gap in income distribution.”

Read On
A rich man discarding trash onto the street. A relocated farmers picking up the refuse. Migrants huddled on street corners holding up signs saying 水电 (water electricity) looking for work. Little old ladies lugging massive carts of trash or recycled goods in bicycle lanes.

Although I've left China, these kinds of images are still burned onto my brain.

Having lived in a booming interior city of China, I've seen the income gap this article talks about first-hand. You see these scene play out walking down nearly every street in Xi'an.

China's growth is a great thing. It is making life better for millions upon millions of people. I hope that China's new-found wealth can trickle down to those not at the top rungs though. It can and has, but as the article goes on to say:
204 million people in China lived on $1.25 a day or less as of 2005, a 2008 World Bank study showed.

Expenses for health care and education, once provided at no cost for many workers, are pushing more people into poverty, said Dorothy Solinger, a professor at the University of California at Irvine who studies China’s urban poor.

“There isn’t a sense of upward mobility,” Solinger says. “There is a perpetuation of underclass.”

I'm not sure what the best way to curb income inequality is. More progressive taxes? I don't know. Whatever the solution may be, I hope that China's ever-widening gap can get under control. There are just too many people in China, and America for that matter, that are just barely getting by.


Anonymous said...

My head was just reeling with comments as I was reading this. A great topic and one which illustrates how people need to start looking outside of political ideologies and truly see what is happening across the globe.

There are so many Chinese living off of $2 a day and what did I get to witness this past week? A businessman from Qingdao betting $300,000 per hand at a Baccarat table for 8 hours. No exaggeration, no typo, he was wagering a mansion every 30 seconds and ended up winning $10 millions dollars. Not a bad days pay. We use the term whale in the casino industry to describe the phenomenally wealthy who gamble at these levels. The whales used to come from a variety of countries, not anymore. Almost every single one of our whales is from China now. I swear if you wanna gauge the balance of wealth in the world, you just need to spend a few months watching the high limit pit at Caesars. There are 4 seperate salons setup for the high rollers and while the whale was hammering away, there were about 8 other high action players wagering anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 per hand. What did they all have in common? They were Chinese.

The gap between the rich and poor has gotten obscene all over the planet and is downright criminal in China, a nation whose whole friggin 'theme' is based on a fair distribution of wealth. Whats the saying? Its better that a few get rich now so that more may follow. Haha, how adorable, anyone who believes that isn't a student of human nature or human history. Trickle down economic theory is a sham and doesn't work for one reason... human greed.

We stayed at the Westin in Beijing and right across the street a new mall had opened. We went in and the place was filled with shops that had names such as Gucci, Bally, Rolex, etc... Didn't see any stores that catered to the working class. What else didn't we see.... any people. This new mall was practically void of foot traffic. It was a private playground for Beijing's super rich. Where is that money trickling down to when everyone is not able to participate?

Its not just China, our CEO made $98 million last year. How did that trickle down? Pay raises were frozen, 401k match was eliminated, and budgets were slashed due to the 'economy'. We look at the numbers everyday, trust me, a lot of corporations are using the economy as an excuse to send more money to the top. Seems more like trickle up economics. For his $98 million dollars we honestly cannot figure out what our CEO does other than send out a weekly e-mail update and mandate that Fox news is always playing in our employee cafeteria. You listen to these people (most with barely a high school education) after their lunch break screaming about Communism, Unions, and economic theories and you just feel pity that they have no clue how easily they are being manipulated.

Communism and Capitalism? Words. State owned vs Privately owned? The state isn't some lifeless entity, its people, there is no friggin difference! What is the difference between a party member running a state owned business and raking in millions while his employees barely get by and an American CEO doing the same thing? I can't see one!

Whats the answer and whats really causing such inequality? I don't know either, but it seems to have been happening since the beginning of time and its a shame that the gap is actually widening.

Tao Dao Man said...

when i see articles that quote forbes, bloomberg, world bank, imf, wto, etc. i always have to consider the source, and remember that they also have their own agenda. perception becomes reality during hard times. communism is a system that has failed the masses. now unregulated capitalism has failed the masses. imo; a new experiment will come about. a [soc/cap] socialist- capitalist system. chimerica is here to stay. we are now in an energy resource drive, through proxy wars, and financial chaos. a truly new era is coming.

Mark said...

Hopfrog, I love your posts that draw upon your experiences in Vegas. I can just see the Chinese guys you're talking about. It's amazing how the highest of high rollers are now all mainland Chinese.

Your comments on Fox News viewing communism/union haters are hilarious. Watching a couple minutes of Fox News here and there is something I've thoroughly enjoyed about being back in the US (I'm a bit masochistic at times, I suppose).

I used the term "trickle down" rather facetiously. It's true; China's wealth is spreading around. But the term "trickle down," which is so loaded in Reaganomics, probably isn't the best way to describe a nation getting rich.

Communism... capitalism... it really doesn't seem that pertinent anymore. To me, it seems a couple of the -isms we should be most worried about are oligarchism and cronyism.

What a weird and screwed up place the Earth cab be.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, its mainlanders who are the whales now. It used to be a lot of Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Europe, UAB, showing up as whale accounts. The rooms were filled again today with 100% mainlanders. Whats surprising to me is that it isn't Shanghai but rather Beijing which is the most common address for these whales (Shandong province cities in particular). I guess maybe the Shanghainese probably spend more time in Macau is why though.

Yeah man I actually love watching Fox news, its incredibly entertaining, and frightening at the same time. Gives you a thrill that fact based news cannot match. If your not watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann, let me strongly recommend going to the website and looking at some recent episodes, particularly involving Glenn Beck. Keith can be a bit childish at times but he does a great job of keeping Fox honest.

Agree with your isms... I couldn't come up with some terminology to quite express what I was getting at in thinking outside of political ideologies and those nail it.

Just got Win in China, will post some thoughts soon.

Mark said...

I've seen Countdown before. Olberman can be a bit too much like O'Reilly and self-righteous at times, but I still like him (although I think I still prefer him from the mid-90s Sports Centers).

One thing that is striking me upon my return is how much football is on TV. Now there are Thursday and Friday night games in addition to all day Saturday and Sunday and Monday night games. It's pretty intense. I'm loving college football though. Am looking forward to some big games next weekend (particularly Florida at LSU... night games at Tiger Stadium are SICK).

Anonymous said...

Your not the only one looking forward to that game. I am a UF alum and know how tough that stadium is. I'm actually taking two personal days off from work to see that game (from home though :(

The only thing that kills me about football lately is that they have tried to speed up the game with recent rules changes, however, you'll notice the games are still scheduled for the same block of time. SO whats really happening? They are using more of that time for advertising. Even the crappy games that no one is really watching feel like the Super Bowl with the constant ads. You really gotta be flipping back and forth constantly between games and sometimes you end up flipping back and forth between ads. Also, all the on screen advertising with "this superimposed first down marker is brought to you by xyz". Even starting lineups have an ad flash before they list the lineups. Its one of the things I can't stand about America... all the time and money spend on marketing and advertising. Its getting to be overkill and starting to kill my enthusiasm for watching football, and I've been a huge football fan all my life. By the way, your Jayhawks, have made us a bunch of money this year!

Mark said...

Although I'm a Big XII man with KU, SEC football is nuts. My younger brother and I have this obsession with the huge crowds and loud stadiums of the SEC.

This game had a lot to do with it - I vaguely remember it whereas it was a life-changing experience for my brother. Not necessarily good memories for you, Hopfrog. But I think you'll appreciate the scene.

My favorite part is when Cedric Donaldson picks off the pass in the 4th quarter. That stadium must've been shaking, literally.

My bro and I are obsessed with Tiger Stadium and LSU and want to make it down there in the next couple years for a live game. Next weekend would be the PERFECT time to go (a top 5 matchup, a generally unappreciated LSU, Tebow's first game back, etc. etc.)

I'd love to see games at Ol' Miss, Florida, and Georgia as well.

This highlight is absolute bedlam too - It's from a couple weeks ago. I saw it live. I love the "Sandstorm" that everyone is getting down to. So sick.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean on KU, Hopfrog. Are people betting on KU and then they're not covering the spread? Is that how Vegas makes money on sports betting. I'm a little bit ignorant of how the logistics of that stuff works.

Mark said...

I'll put hyper links on those YouTube links actually:

LSU - UF, '97

USC - Ol' Miss, '09

Mark said...

Oh yeah, and when I say I saw the USC-Ol Miss game live, I, of course, mean live on TV. Not in person. Would've loved to see that game in person though.

Anonymous said...

Yeah SEC football is nuts. Actually I like watching those highlights, even though it does bring back painful memories, I also like reminiscing about some of our great teams and players.

Saw many a game at the Swamp, what an experience. LSU at night is legendary, 31 wins in a row. Gonna be a classic. By far the toughest arena in sports to play in. I think they have actually registered on the richter scale a few times.

Screw Vegas, I'm talking about me and my co-workers when I say "we're making money on Kansas"!! We're making money by betting ON KU! Kansas didn't cover last week, the only week we didn't bet them. Other than that, they have covered every game this year. Most Vegas employees don't actually root for the casinos to win... hehe... well, only just enough to allow us to cash our checks.

Mark said...

Here's a YouTube link on "the earthquake game." Unbelievable stuff.

If Tebow can pull out a victory in Tiger Stadium while suffering from post-concussive symptoms, he's the greatest college football player ever. You can already say, with good reason, that he is. That would just solidify it no matter what happens the rest of the season. And I can say that as a Tebow hater (Phil 4:13, playing the virginity card, etc.)

That's awesome you're making money on Kansas. Todd Reesing is up there with Gale Sayers and John Riggins as the greatest Jayhawks in history. The best thing about Reesing is that he is a crazy party guy. I've heard some stories about Reesing that are off-the-wall. Maybe a lot of guys party like he does, but... you can email me for what I'm talking about if you're interested. I don't really want to write rumors like this on a blog that could get picked up in a search engine.

What are your best memories of the Swamp, Hopfrog? Favorite players? I imagine there were some great games in the 90s when Spurrier was there. I never liked Florida then, but loved the creativity Spurrier used to show. He was ahead of his time.

Also, does the swamp have night games? It seems to me, off the top of my head, that they don't and that they're pretty much all 3:30EST kick offs. Swamp at night would be intimidating!!!

David said...

Hopfrog, this is Mark's brother. He told me I should check out the comments on this post...

As much as I've enjoyed this conversation, and as much as I have an innate appreciation for anyone who savors college football (and takes days off from work to go behind enemy lines!), I wanted to chime in about this comment:

"The only thing that kills me about football lately is that they have tried to speed up the game with recent rules changes, however, you'll notice the games are still scheduled for the same block of time. SO whats really happening? They are using more of that time for advertising."

Now, there may indeed be slightly more commercials nowadays during college football, and the use of sponsorships for everything -- from the red zone to the end zone to the injury report to the starting lineups -- has indeed gotten a bit obnoxious.

But the rule changes weren't a simple money grab. That the clock now runs after an out of bounds as soon as the ball is spotted (save the last two minutes of a half), for example, is a reaction to the evolution of college football. More than freeing up advertising time, the rule changes are designed to counteract the spread offense -- namely, that there are way, way more passes thrown in today's college game than ever before, and thus way, way more incompletions and touchdowns (and clock stoppages).

The advent and proliferation of the modern spread -- which is even making its way to the SEC -- although the purest, most refined and most aesthetically pleasing versions can still be found in the Big 12 -- has made games longer. Without these rule changes, there would be many games that would stretch on to four hours, easy. And while I personally would be OK with that, most probably wouldn't.

The Kansas vs Oklahoma game last season, for instance, took an even four hours to play despite the rule changes. There were 95 combined pass attempts and 76 combined points. And that's not totally unheard of anymore. Without rule changes, that game would have taken literally four-and-a-half or five hours.

So that is why games are still slotted for the same amount of time: While there are rules in place to speed things up, there are still more incompletions, still more touchdowns, than ever before. Thus, even with the changes, the games take about three-and-a-half hours to play.

So while there may be more shameless advertising within games today, the commercial breaks are still nowhere near as outlandish as the NFL, and your Super Bowl comparison isn't fair.

Anyway, have fun in Baton Rouge. I would say a prayer for Tebow for you, but the state of Florida is surely already on it.

Oh, and Geaux Tigers!!!

Anonymous said...

Ouch, I just got owned. If a blog starts up called David's Football Blog, sign me up as a subscriber. You know your stuff man and that was a great read! David, agreed on the stated reasons for the rules change and I'm probably going too conspiracy theory and a bit overboard when I say that ad revenue was a big reason, and yes, that was an exaggeration and unfair with regards to the Super Bowl comparison. But I honestly feel I am watching way more advertising than before, it may be a byproduct of a legitimately needed rule change, but its there. I'm still not 100% sure that ad revenues aren't playing some part, but yes, guilty as charged, I overplayed my hand on it.

As a Gator I understand all the Tebow haters, I would be jealous too if my team didn't have the greatest college player ever on it. Everytime his name comes up on Gameday the crowd boos... I mean come on, its only a guy who spends his offseason helping to rehabilitate prisoners and aid the poor in the Phillipines... and he gets booed? Playing the virginity card? Come on man, he never brought that issue up and it never came up for the last 3 years. A reporter asked him about it this year and he gave an honest answer. Calling unobjective hater on that one!

There are a lot of night games at the Swamp and they are nuts, not as nuts as Death Valley I will admit. Some of my favorite memories:

I entered UF the same year that Emmitt Smith did. For three years it was Emmitt left, Emmitt right, Emmitt up the middle and Florida with no hardware. After his junior year Spurrier basically told Emmitt he was welcome to stay but that a new system, Fun n' Gun, was getting put in regardless and Emmitt elected to leave. I was there at the Swamp for Spurrier's first game, I remember distinctly watching those first 3 long passes connect by Shane Matthews (who had just thrown up in the bathroom before the game from nerves) and immediately turned to my friends and said we are witnessing history, Gator football has changed forever. There was a bar just down the road from the stadium and at halftime the whole student side would run down and slam Kamikazes.. It was called Kamikaze halftime, the place was packed, everyone slammed shots for 10 minutes and then hauled tail back to the stadium for the second half... Man I got a ton of stories.

Spread just came out today for the LSU game... Florida -9... thats nuts! No one should ever be favored by that much over an undefeated LSU team in a night game at Death Valley.

Anonymous said...

Just gotta revisit the rules change a bit.

I still admit to blowing it out of proportion, but after doing a bit more research, there are a lot of people out there who also feel ad revenues could be a factor.

Coach Brooks (from Kentucky) explained the 2 new rules and how it should shorten the game. Then he added...."more time for commercials".

The Wizard of Odds, a Vegas legend who is hired by Casinos to mathematically determine the advantage and true odds of any new game did a study of it on his blog

The offical reasoning came strictly due to the Big 12 as you said, but how many other conference's games are drowned in commercials because of it? Big 10 games are a misery now, and while the SEC has gotten a little more pass happy, you can't even come close to comparing it to the Big 12.. there is a lot of ground and pound in the SEC still. The more I contemplate it, thats a helluva lot of ad revenue justified over the length of games coming out of one major conference and a couple of minor ones that are also pass happy. I don't know, more I think about it, I'm not buying the NCAA's explanation hook, line, and sinker.

Mark said...

Alright, I'm a Tebow-hater. Surely it has to do with his success. But the guy is an easy target for hatred. You have to admit that!

free said...

Yeah its right. China's economy is rising but not everyone is being affected by the change in their economy. Those people who are rich and powerful the one directly being affected, not the common people. We can only say that a country is successfully over thrown its economic crisis is when everyone in the country has, and will feel the change in their economy.