Helping Your Local Government

I saw a post on Chinese blogger Hecaitou’s Twitter account today that I think bears translating and thinking about a bit. Quoting a comment he saw somewhere else on the net (he didn’t cite the source beyond saying a “netizen” said it), he wrote:

Doing one hundred good things for a leader is not as good as doing one bad thing together with a leader.

Admittedly, it’s a bit obvious, but this really is the problem with corruption: it propagates itself out of necessity. Even if a corrupt official has a change of heart, they’re obligated to continue supporting and promoting their former accomplices to keep them quiet (unless they’re willing to spend time in prison). And even a good man will have an easy time convincing himself there are reasons he needs to stay out of prison even if he does owe a debt to society — after all, who else will support his family and mistresses?

There needs to be some kind of incentive — a general amnesty, rewards, something drastic — to entice corrupt officials to actually change their ways. Harsher punishments are useless without real judicial oversight or the rule of law, so the government either needs to implement that (ha!) or find a way to make not being corrupt profitable.

In the meantime, you might as well hold off on any favors you were thinking of going for your local government officials. Think about committing some crimes with them instead. Or do one better than I have, and suggest a practical solution to official corruption in the comments.


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  1. King Tubby

    Custer. A playfull piece….yes. However, ask yourself why is competition for govt jobs so fiercely contested in the PRC. And it certainly ain’t the base salaries on offer.

  2. How much of a problem is corruption in China?

  3. I think you are on the right track in abstract with a general amnesty, which grandfathers certain historic methods of doing business, but will no longer be tolerated. The issues here, and maybe one of the real underlining causes for the Cultural Revolution, maybe fairness and the settling of accounts.

    To grandfather officials to profit from bad behavior–which deters many–affects many generations; the children et al of the corrupt profit while the children et al of their victims continue to suffer. I don’t think it is in the Chinese DNA to let this situation become de jure status quo.

  4. King Tubby

    I hate the idea of manifest destiny, but any time you have to use high school students to inviligate/supervise civil servant exams, you know you have a serious societal problem. Anyone with half a brain already has the link, so I won’t bother.

    I look forward to Kai’s response to my response on CS about discarding grand-parents in boarding homes.

    Kai, do you want the stats on what my country spends on aged care. Free doctors visits, free glasses, taxis fares paid, rent subsidies, plus a lot of other stuff. My mother’s last few days in hospital could buy you an apartment in Beijing.

    I look forward to the day when your parents DIE and you have to come up with the costs.
    Have fun, Pal.
    No, I suspect that you would hope that they kick the bucket real fast, no cost incurred to you.

    • King Tubby,

      Took me awhile to figure out what you were talking about. CS still represents Counter-Strike for me.

      I just posted my response on chinaSMACK. In short, I think you missed my point, especially if you found it offensive. The whole point behind the example was to show how questionable Yin’s original comment was.

      To indulge in your aside, though, I was thinking more of America and the point was not about money spent but about how integrated or marginalized the elderly are within mainstream society. On this count, I think it is a pretty well-known sociological comparison that the elderly hold a higher place in the family and social fabric of Chinese/Asian civil society than many Western countries that have gone through the expansion of the nuclear family concept. Of course, there is elderly neglect and marginalization in China as well.

      I understand you may have interpreted “looks after” as “financially provide for” and I’ll accept responsibility for not being clearer.

      I don’t want your parents to die or for you to be burdened with the costs. I don’t know why you’re making assumptions about the safety nets my parents have. I don’t know why you suspect I hope my parents die quickly for my own convenience. Maybe you’re angry at my suggestion that Western society may be not compare favorably to Chinese society on one benchmark of civil society. I ask that you consider the point I’m making as a response to what Yin said.

      I think the notion that Western society may not look after its elderly as well as another society got a bigger rise out of you than the notion of Chinese society having “historically, culturally, and socially failed” relative to another society. That’s understandable. You identify with one more than the other. One is personal and worth defending. The other not.

      • King Tubby

        Kia. Thanks for your reply. Western society is not US society. It is West Europeon, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian societal organisations. And we pay big taxes today for family emergencies and care tomorrow.

        When we phone for an ambulance , it had better turn tres quickly….someone its always responsible and must explain themselves, and if they fail their duty statement, they are buffing their cv. RESPONSIBILITY.

        But this also opens up the whole question of what consitutes civil society and mutual responsibility, a discussion which l look forward to encountering in some near future op ed piece.

        I should go all troll on this one, but it is too important for cheap thrills (against my better nature…bugger.)

        • Hey King Tubby,

          Yes, you’re of course right that US society is not Western society. My mistake. My point of objection still remains and it isn’t about how much taxes each society pays for elderly consumption but about the place of the elderly in society. Sorry I wasn’t clearer and led to this tangent.

          Do avoid trolling. ;)

  5. lolz

    This is kinda true.

    When not wasting my time posting on blogs I have done tons of good things for my boss. But it wasn’t until we went to strip joints together (and me buying him several lap dances) during a business trip that he started to actively promote me in front of my peers :)