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An Immigrant’s Tale



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But how can we afford to nationalize the health industry, I ask him – never mind the question of better or worse care that may result. If it’s America’s debt load that really has him worried, how can we do what the Obama administration wants without putting ourselves further into hock to China?

I should have stayed in China, he answers despondently, that’s where the growth is now, that’s where the future is.

But don’t they have rich people there, too? Isn’t China now basically a capitalist country?

There aren’t so many rich people there, he says, not yet.

You mean we have more here? He nods in agreement. Then aren’t you really complaining that there are too many well-off people here, that they’re too visible while in China there aren’t enough to notice yet? Isn’t the real problem troubling you that America’s been too successful? You see the well-off all around, wherever you look. But in China, because the country isn’t yet where America is, you wouldn’t feel deprived because there are so many others with more than you have! But doesn’t that also mean your opportunities here are really greater because wealth is so much more widely spread, so much more available?

Consider this, I tell him. Sure, you’re a salaried worker but look at what you’re making. Look at your investment portfolio. Maybe you’re not in the hundred million a year category and maybe you’ll never be but does that really matter? You’re not starving or in want. And it’s all because of what you’ve been able to do for yourself since coming here. If you take money away from the giant earners do you become like them or do you just hope to make them more like you?

Why shouldn’t they be more like me, he asks.

Because when you left China, I remind him, wasn’t it because you wanted to be more like them?

Stuart W. Mirsky

About the Author: Stuart W. Mirsky is a former New York City official who last served as assistant commissioner for operations in the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene before retiring in 2002. He is one of the original founders of the Rockaway Republicans, one of the most active Republican groups in southern Queens, and is the author of a number of books, including “The King of Vinland's Saga,” a historical novel of the Norse in North America, “A Raft on the River,” a memoir of Holocaust survival, and “Choice and Action,” a work of contemporary philosophy addressing the implications of relativism and nihilism for our moral beliefs.


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