In It To Win It

Trip Start Feb 24, 2006
Trip End Mar 04, 2006

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Flag of China  ,
Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In Guangzhou, China, a night in a five star hotel costs 50 US dollars. A shoeshine on the street is 25 cents; a short taxi ride that could get you killed is 5 bucks.

The hotel laundered a shirt, socks and underwear for about 3 bucks - for a dollar more I could have it back in four hours. I checked the 'Folded' box and what I got was my clean blue shirt packaged like a new shirt at Costco. Next time I'll check the 'Hanged' box and we'll see what happens.

There are bicycles running the streets that we would toss in a landfill. Motor scooters, same deal. Taxis so hammered the paint job is the only thing holding them together. Abandoned buildings, enormous piles of bricks.

And new construction everywhere. When you're the low-cost spread, everybody wants you. The government encourages the people to become entrepreneurs, to craft their own destiny. And they're at it 24/7.

I'd love to see this place again in 10 years.

The government would also like you to pay your taxes. In fact, Uncle Mao has an interesting incentive in this area.

At lunch, Yang Kai pays the tab with cash. The waitress immediately gives him several large lottery tickets before going over to the cash register to make change.

Yang Kai takes the coupon and starts scratching at a lotto patch with his thumbnail. "Ach," he mutters, "lost again." But his roll isn't over - if he hangs on to the ticket, he's eligible for a big weekly lottery. Kai carefully puts the scratcher in his wallet for safekeeping.

The government has turned the Chinese love of wagering against them. In certain cash heavy businesses (like restaurants), the taxing authorities lose out because they may not learn about all transactions - unscrupulous business owners might under-report the day's take.

Thank God this never happens in America.

Multiply this ethical lapse times a hundred million small businesses and you're talking major bucks. The result is Uncle Mao's lottery. The lottery tickets encourage patrons to ask for receipts and business owners keep their dealings square. Everyone wins, right?
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