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.

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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?

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Stuart W. Mirsky, a former New York City official and longtime Republican activist, is the author of several books, including a historical novel about Vikings and Indians in eleventh-century North America (“The King of Vinland's Saga”); a Holocaust memoir about a young Jewish girl trapped in eastern Poland at the height of World War II (“A Raft on the River”), and a work of contemporary moral philosophy (“Choice and Action”) exploring the linguistic and logical underpinnings of our ethical beliefs.