Idealism is Sometimes Flawed

A new comment appeared on my Blog linked to another Blog, A Modern Lei Feng, which is also about China but seems to focus mostly on what happens in modern Beijing.

I followed that link back to see whom or what had left tracks to my Blog, which I often do.

I only read the one post that complained about my Blog, so I cannot pass judgment on the rest of the content.

What I discovered was interesting—an opinion that disagreed with an opinion I wrote in Changing Names.

I clicked the “About” link to discover who the Blog master was behind A Modern Lei Feng and learned that he was a “young guy” living in Beijing who knows a little something about China and is willing to freelance on that topic but not for free.

Since I couldn’t find a name, I will call him “Lei Feng”.

I asked my father-in-law, who lived in Shanghai when the Japanese invaded China, what “A Modern Lei Feng” might mean.

My father-in-law, who is Chinese, doesn’t speak English fluently, but he did what he could to translate what “Lei Feng” might mean.

He said there were many translations but this one might refer to a young solder in the PLO that Mao praised to the nation in the 1960s. This soldier’s name was Lei Feng. Mao said everyone must learn from him because he is an excellent role model.

It seems that Lei Feng helped everyone else for free instead of helping himself.

The modern Lei Feng said in his post, “I’m no tech genius, but I’d imagine it wouldn’t be that hard to add the character to a word processor and input program, especially considering the government sent out a circular last year to strictly recognize such names, though it appears this one was left off the list.”

My response, Since I took a class in HTML, program my Websites, and know a professional programmer who made his money (he is retired now) programming for the U.S. defense department and commercial airlines, I know a little bit about what it takes to update software and it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

The programming part would probably be easier than implementing it. The difficulty comes when one program is replaced with another. To do that often means shutting down security systems, loading in the new program and rebooting the computer then turning the security back on.  Then, as sometimes happens, the new program might cause the system to crash, and I’m talking about one computer.

In China, we are talking about several hundred million computers, which might operate on different systems. Each system would need another program and a different update.

Besides government computer systems, which may not all be linked since China’s government is decentralized more than most foreigners know, there are more than four hundred million personal computers linked to the internet in China.

I suspect that the decision not to go back and add the Chinese character for this family name that represents 200 people was due to the scope of the project to fix the error and the time it would take.

If it was easy and cheap, why not do it?

However, the issue isn’t over yet. If enough people in China Blog about this and express opinions that the government should make the change, it might still happen, although I doubt it.

China’s central government doesn’t care much about what foreigners think, but they do listen carefully to the people even if they do not always do what “most” of the people want.

In China, small groups do not have as much power as a majority of the population does.

Why there shouldn’t be anAmerican with Disabilities Act”

As for the Americans with Disabilities Act, I used that as an example to show how expensive it is to cater to a small segment of the population at the tax payers’ expense.

Lei Feng mentions that new buildings in Beijing offer ease of access to people with disabilities.

That’s understandable.

In recent years, most Chinese cities were rebuilt and many new cities mushroomed across China. 

During the construction phase, it isn’t that expensive to add a ramp or a wider door but it is labor intensive and expensive to go back and fix something like that after construction ends just as fixing that Chinese language computer program for a nation of 1.3 billion might be too expensive and fraught with problems.

Although I agree with Thomas Paine about Social Security and a few other limited social safety nets that help people survive during hard times, America has a HUGE deficit threatening the nation’s economy and any expensive, unnecessary program should be examined carefully and cut or shrunk.

Idealistically, doing all we can as a nation to help as many people as possible is a good thing but realistically idealism doesn’t always work.

Lei Feng also quoted a phrase from The Declaration of Independence to support his opinion. He said, that there was a promise in the U.S. Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equally” and that we all have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

In fact, the United States Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American Colonies were at war with Great Britain. That is all it was.

The (first) law of the United States was the Articles of Confederation. This document was so weak that in May 1787, a Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia to present a new Constitution that was sent to the States for ratification later that year, which is the law of the U.S. today—not the Declaration of Independence.

Nowhere in the Constitution of the United States does that document say that the government and the taxpayers are responsible to pay for the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” of other citizens who cannot afford to pay for his or her dreams or easy access to cross a street in a wheelchair.

Adding more ramps to make it easier for people in wheel chairs to cross intersections might be a nice thing to do, and I wonder of Lei Feng would like to chip in and donate enough money to build a few and help reduce the U.S. deficit.

I’m sorry to say, I cannot afford to do that. My taxes are too high.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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