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An Immigrant’s Tale


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?

About the Author: Stuart W. Mirsky is a Queens-based writer and columnist for several local papers. He is the author of the historical novel "The King of Vinland's Saga," about Vikings and Indians in eleventh-century North America, and "A Raft on the River," the true story of a 15-year-old girl's escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II.


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A friend of mine came to this country from China back in the eighties. China had little opportunity for people like him he tells me, especially after Chairman Mao had destroyed the country. To get anywhere you had to know people and pay them off. Everything, he adds, was corrupt and there was no freedom. America looked better and so he emigrated, married and raised a family here.

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