Capitalism is all in the execution
IN THE wake of tainted pet food and toothpaste scandals, China has sentenced to death the former head of its food and drug safety agency, proving that spreading capitalism around the world is a little trickier than first thought.
Let me repeat: China is going to Tony Soprano-ize the government hack who was in charge of food and drug safety when a little antifreeze was found in toothpaste and some dogs and cats died after eating pet chow tainted with the lamination chemical melamine. Man, that's some government accountability they got going on there in China. (And White House aide Scooter Libby thought he had it tough as a criminally convicted government servant in America.)
Now, you might say that killing public officials who screw up in office is a bit harsh, but think about it ... the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might think twice about approving the next hot diet drug if he thought his head might literally end up on the chopping block if the drug proved too dangerous.
Remember Fen-Phen? That was a hot, new diet drug that the FDA allowed to be sold in the 1990s, but had the slight side effect of ending the lives of hundreds of people who took it. They died from strokes and heart attacks, but, brother, they looked GOOD! Needless to say, David Kessler, the head of the FDA at the time when Fen-Phen was on the market, was not sentenced to death. He was harshly sentenced to becoming the dean of Yale medical school. That'll teach him.
BUT THE Chinese apparently take a more pragmatic approach to dealing with public officials who do dumb things. A Chinese court recently put two officials in prison for letting a blind contractor build a bridge that later collapsed and injured 12 people. In this country the bureaucrats might have been congratulated for not limiting their hiring to only "sighted people."
The reason tainted food and drugs are coming out of China is that the country is new to capitalism. Former communist or totalitarian countries mistakenly think capitalism is the art of making money at any cost. If antifreeze is cheaper than the usual stuff that goes into toothpaste, so be it. And who knows, maybe antifreeze has better whitening qualities than Crest Whitestrips. But capitalism isn't about making money at ANY cost, it's about making money at ALMOST ANY cost. And it's that distinction that has made America the world's the leading producer of product-liability lawyers.
China eventually will learn that, as the pen is mightier than the sword, a special independent prosecutor and a class-action lawsuit are mightier than the firing squad. And much more fun. Why shoot some corrupt millionaire fat cat when you can send him to prison AND take all of his money? Nevertheless, I suspect China's NEXT food and drug czar (pity the fool) will personally test all products leaving the country, especially the dog food and toothpaste.
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