Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sometimes, Wealth is Only Money.

Can’t buy me taste.

The following essay was posted on Facebook yesterday by a former colleague. It’s an interesting on-the-ground report from Nanjing on the wealth disparity and social decorum schizophrenia epidemic on the Mainland these days. Thanks, Brent.
There is a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in China....

Sinophiles regale the rich and famous here although few actually spend time on the ground nor have lived here for any extended period of time.

I would caveat the 'class disparity' with more of a 'wealth disparity' instead...

Case in point: I currently live in Nanjing, which is a tier 2 city. Tier's notwithstanding, there are 7 million people here, roughly 12 LV shops, 10 Gucci shops, an equal number of Hermes, Prada, Cartier and other luxury fashion addition, there is a Bentley dealer, Lamborghini dealer (that has an adjoining door to Subway sandwiches) and of course all the other luxury/exotic car brands.

Sales of all are brisk and since being here for the past three years, the foot traffic and purchases haven't slowed down in the least bit moreover, they've increased.

The first year I was here, I lived in a mid-range apartment high-rise. After constantly arguing with the tenants and management office about people keeping their scooters in the hallway, storing excess items including food disposal in the hallways, leaving trash and cigarette butts in the halls and elevators and walking their dogs in the hall and stairwells and not cleaning it up, I gave in and moved to a luxury high-rise. It is important to note that my building is in the top three most exclusive buildings in Nanjing and I made the move only to (hopefully) leave the barbarian hordes.

The parking garage rivals any in La Jolla, Monaco, Upper East Side of NYC or South Beach with 11 Land Rover Evoques, AMG Mercedes, 7 Series BMW's, several Bentleys and one guy that has matching Ferrari's for him and his girlfriend….Incidentally, there is a PLA General that lives here and has two Mercedes G-Wagons which retail for US$350,000 and a Brabus 500. Reportedly, he made over US$800 million on infrastructure projects (read: stole or kick backed).

However, my elevator lobby still boasts excess storage of junk (literally) with empty baby formula cans, broken chairs, cat litter boxes (uncleaned) and about half the floors have scooters or bikes outside the front doors as well as plastic shoe collections (that's another story entirely).

People walk their dogs in the hallways and front lobby letting them use the floors as their deposit areas. Men (and women too) spit on the floor and also drop fruit peelings and sunflower seeds everywhere.

And my all time favorite, is the babies without diapers - the parents or grandparents teach them to s*** by holding their legs apart over the floor or a wastebasket and whistling. Many times, just leaving it for the cleaning staff to attend to. Or, if I'm lucky, someone will step in it 

This is not an isolated incident. Far from it. Friends of mine in other cities including Beijing and Shanghai also complain about this behavior.

One of my Facebook connections and former colleagues regularly posts items about the AsiaOnePercent and this posting is meant to be in direct contrast to that....

So for those of you outside China looking in and marveling over the 'economic miracle', it's only money.


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