Mark Palermo

Let China Sleep

He Was Our S.O.B.
Long Ago Saturday Nights at the Circle 9
The Dark Side of Vaccinations
Wine: Where Ignorance and Pretension Find their Loudest Voice
A 1976 Journey in Search of Self
The Machinery of Mass Dreams
The Outlaw Georgie Bush
Sex Offender Registries Out of Control
Extreme Makeover for Airheads
The Fault Lies not in the Stars, but in Ourselves
Reconsidering George Carlin
If You Think Liberals Are Jerks...
She Couldn't Do Her Chores
Remembering Viktor Frankl
One Day on the Farm-1977
A Fresh Look at Meat
How the Real World Works: A Lesson
30 Bucks for the Human Touch
1929 All Over Again
An Old Man's War, A Young Man's Fight
More Things in Heaven and Earth...
Our Dumbed-down Public Discourse
Bread, But No Roses
Earth's the Right Place for Love
Read This Before Enlisting
Poison Is Good for You: The Fluoridation Scam
Ron Paul:He Makes Too Much Sense
War Is a Racket
Brazil's National Orgasm Day
Calling all Liberals!
Why I Don't Get Flu Shots
What is Community?
Haverhillicus Homocrisicum
If You Wanna Be a Junkie, Why?
Do We Know His Family?
Scam: Youth Sports
A Subsidy for the Human Touch?
How Not to Be Boring
If the Bread and Roses Strike Were NOW
America's Problem with the Body
Columbus Day? or Renaissance Day?
Depleted Uranium Weapons
Mitt Romney: A Clintonian Republican
A Checklist for Conservatives
On Torture and Torturers
Pimp of the Nation
Romney is a Jerk
Hypocrisy and its Champions
The Dumb Society
The Men's Taverns of Yesteryear
On Dittoheads!
Let China Sleep
2004 McDebates
Animal Rights Page
US Wealth Distribution Chart
Public Grief, Private Lives


            My wife and I found ourselves stuck in traffic in the southeast expressway tunnel- a familiar scenario. And I thought of a song by Peggy Lee called “Is That All There Is?” Yes, the Zaikin Bridge looks nice when lit up at night, but the Big Dig was waste of time and money. Radio talkmeister Jerry Williams warned about it in the late 1980’s. Today it stands as a monument to kickbacks and corporate welfare, a grotesque 15 billion dollar reminder of Boston’s substandard public transportation system.

Have you been on the T lately? A uniquely unpleasant experience indeed. They should rename it “the Four D’s” – depressing, dirty, disgusting and dangerous. Not to mention overcrowded and obsolete.

I n China last month, I rode on a magnetic levitation train which takes passengers from downtown Shanghai to the airport, a distance of about 25 miles in 7 minutes. It’s cheap and clean. It goes 300 miles an hour and the ride is so smooth that seat belts are not needed. And I thought what if, instead of the preposterous Big Dig, we had invested in a system of maglev trains? Imagine getting from the Merrimack Valley to Boston in seven minutes. Or New York in 45 minutes. Or Montreal in an hour.

Everybody hates heavy traffic. Everybody hates pollution. But so far the government’s answer to gridlock is widening roads, which only encourages people to move further away from the cities and create even more gridlock. People say a train like that would be a great idea, maybe someday there’ll be one. In Shanghai, to their credit, they said, “Let’s build one.” Final cost was 1.2 billion dollars.



Much has been made China’s “One Child Policy.” Urban planners and social engineers here like to point to China as an example of how developing countries can control their populations. But the policy should be renamed   “Forced Abortion Policy.” Let’s say a married couple has a child and the wife gets pregnant again. How does the couple “bump up” against the system?

A Chinese tour guide explained to it me. Every neighborhood has a “Neighborhood Committee” composed of people, mostly pensioners, who have nothing better to do that ingratiate themselves with authorities. And so if a mother appears a few months pregnant, a neighborhood committee member reports it. The police then pay her a visit, just to verify that she has made arrangements for the abortion. If the couple refuses, the child can neither go to school nor get a social security card.

Since there is no safety net for elders, the Chinese want children so that somebody will take care of them in their old age, which means they want boys, not girls. Girls tend to be either aborted, or put up for adoption to foreigners, which produces yet another problem. Now there are too many young men arriving in the cities.  They want wives, but there are no women for them, and this means trouble. Drug addiction and crime are getting started in the big cities.

This is the dark shadowy side of China, of course. And while every country has a shadow side including ours, there is much of value too. Their everyday life is characterized by cheerfulness, safe streets, a strong work ethic, reverence for nature, and respect for elders.

Napoleon once said, “Let China sleep, for when she awakens she will rule the world.” I hope he was wrong.


September 2004