Wednesday, May 14, 2008

China, Bangladesh and our rotten intellectuals

The Chinese government is making overtures to third world countries: it has proffered a blank check to Bangladesh for development.

Does that mean we're going to lean in China's direction, giving up our hated democracy and imitating good government and high growth?

No way!

For to restore sanity to this nation, the intellectuals have to be bought, and currently America and Europe are willing and able to pay then far more than China can.

And not just in terms of cash.

In terms of prestige, America Universities confer more of that intangible asset than the Chinese currently can (though that should change in a few decades). A degree from the University of Chicago or Columbia University has more cachet than one from Beijing University.

And the days when Moscow could confer prestige on an academic career are long gone: China has no universal ideology to offer.

How much money would it take to re-corrupt our intellectuals? It has to be a sizeable amount, with the most important having to be paid in millions of dollars to compensate for the loss of prestige of a western career. Lower down the pecking order, the price should drop substantially, with the teachers in the science subjects commanding the lowest premium.

But China can do it: it has the money.

There is, of course, a third alternative: neither Chinese, nor western.

And that is to live with dignity and self-respect: two words that never go with the word 'intellectual'.

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