There is much ado in the news about China’s Wen Jiabao, the supposed People’s Premier, accumulating a massive fortune, for both himself and his extended family, while serving within the highest ranks of China’s government.
According to New York Times reporting:
Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.
No one is surprised by this, right? I mean, when in history has there ever been an authoritarian, non-transparent government where its leaders — and often…well, usually…okay, you’re right, always…those close to the leaders — did not become fabulously wealthy as a result of their position within the government?
We all know the quote, Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so it is not news that Jiabao, or any other Chinese government senior leader, and their families and friends, have profited because of their positions.
And you know what else isn’t news? The fact that China has blocked all internet access to the New York Times, as well as to other major news outlets, such as the BBC, that are reporting on the story.
Without a doubt, Western-style democracies are far from perfect; and, without a doubt, many politicians and government officials within these supposed transparent governments have amassed huge, unknowable, amounts of cash because of their positions. Still, at least we who live in countries governed by democracies, with our right to vote and with our freedom of speech, have a semblance of a notion that we can contain the corruption. Whether it’s true or not is debatable, but having a semblance of a notion is better than having none at all.