Posts Tagged ‘rich’

More Re: Honesty

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

(“Whenever one speaks, trustworthiness comes first; lying and pretending to know, how can one do such things? 凡出言,信為先;詐與妄,奚可焉。” Di Zi Gui, p.20.)

Today I read in this article that Asian countries, while enamored with China’s economic power and peaceable overtures, are nonetheless repelled by China’s “opaque domestic politics and LACK OF BUSINESS ETHICS (capitals mine).” According to the article, today’s prevalent Asian view of China and Chinese conduct is this:

…it is everything goes—precisely because, yes, everything goes—no good credit checking system, no well-placed fear of violating good norms, one can get away with cheating, et cetera.

Good grief! For a country that has for millennia prided itself on being “the Land of Courtesy and Integrity,” is this not utterly shameful? What happened to the legendary Chinese businessman’s reputation for honesty? What happened to the traditional Chinese practice of trustworthiness, of xin 信?!

Well, it is the sad, sad story of a proud, upstanding culture, having sunk into degeneracy during the twentieth century. It is the sad, sad story of a brilliant thousands-year old code of ethics wrongly blamed for the backwardness of its adherents, the Chinese under the imperial dynasties, who would actually have been far more backward had it not been for exactly this code of ethics. In probably the greatest erroneous verdict in human history, this marvelous code has been rejected and wrongly condemned by its very beneficiaries, the Chinese themselves. It is time that this code of ethics, much of it expressed in succinct form by Di Zi Gui, be re-embraced by the very descendants of those who have created it in millennia past.

Yes, today’s Chinese must return to these ethics if China is to regain its stature and the high respect rightfully accorded China by other countries during centuries past.

Feng Xin-ming


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Why Honesty Leads to Success and Happiness in Life – 5

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

(“Whenever one speaks, trustworthiness(xin )comes first; lying and pretending to know, how can one do such things? 凡出言,信為先;詐與妄,奚可焉。” Di Zi Gui, p.20 )

Of course, in traditional China, back in the old days, it was of utmost importance to educated people that they were honest and trustworthy. “Without trustworthiness a person has no standing (人無信不立).” Promises were considered things a Good Man must keep: “A promise from a Good Man is worth a thousand ounces of gold (君子一諾千金).” There were many moving stories of people in traditional China who made big sacrifices to carry out their promises.

Of course, honesty and keeping promises was legendary among traditional Chinese merchants and businessmen back in the old days. One mutual salute (they didn’t shake hands back then) and the deal was as good as gold. That trustworthiness and integrity had been one big factor why Chinese businessmen had been so successful in Southeast Asia.

Yes, when a country is rich and powerful, as China has been back in the old days, its people tend to be honest and trustworthy. Of course, that’s because the people being honest is a major factor, perhaps even the decisive factor, in enabling the country to be rich in the first place.

Feng Xin-ming


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Why Honesty Leads to Success and Happiness in Life – 3

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

edited Nov. 22, 2007

(”Whenever one speaks, trustworthiness(xin )comes first; lying and pretending to know, how can one do such things? 凡出言,信為先;詐與妄,奚可焉。” Di Zi Gui, p.20 )

Some people ask, you keep talking about honesty leading to success and happiness, but don’t you get fleeced and stabbed in the back if you are too honest? Ah yes! Isn’t the honest person the one who is poor? Doesn’t it take some deviousness, if not outright deceit, to become rich and successful?

No, no, being honest doesn’t mean that one will get fleeced. Being honest doesn’t mean one doesn’t perform due diligence and checking things out before one buys something. And how does one check things out? It’s easy in countries with a free market: you just go out and do some shopping around! Get some bids! There’s an old Chinese saying: not to fear that you do not know the merchandise, just compare merchandise with merchandise (不怕不識貨,只要貨比貨). Once you do some comparison shopping, you will know whether something is worth it or not.

And being honest doesn’t mean you tell everyone in the world your trade secrets and your weaknesses. Being honest means you don’t lie to people, but doesn’t mean you can’t keep secrets. How can a person be trustworthy if he can’t even safeguard some secrets? So, what do you do when someone asks you about something you don’t want to tell them and still be honest with them? Simple, be honest, and tell them, “Sorry, but that’s confidential.” Or, “Sorry, but I can’t tell you.” Just be honest and tell them the truth; don’t be afraid that will offend them, but be sure to be polite and apologize; people will respect you for your honesty even if they are miffed at your refusal. At least you have been polite and you have apologized! They surely should understand, and if they are so mean-minded that they take offense, they are probably not upright people anyways and therefore not worthwhile dealing with. There’s no need to be “devious,” nor is there need to be deceitful and lie. In a country where people rely on the free market, such honesty is valued as a sign of reliability, as a sign that the person is “good to deal with.”

Feng Xin-ming


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Cardinal Obligation 6: Between Buyer and Seller

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Finally, the Cardinal Relation between buyer and seller, a sixth Cardinal Relation invented by me - is it also a relationship of mutual help? With all the talk about the “hidden persuaders,” how “big corporations manipulate us to buy their products,” and how “big business” manipulate the market to make us overpay, sometimes it is hard to see how the relation between buyer and seller can be one of mutual help. Socialist ideology and much traditional ideology from around the world, especially the poorer countries, say that buying and selling are somehow inherently dirty as the profit motive (hence “greed”) is involved, and that sellers are morally suspect as they are always looking to “take advantage of the customer” and take the “poor sucker” for all he has. Such is the cynical worldview of the “dog-eat-dog world.”

Sadly, there is still much currency to this type of thinking, especially in the more socialist and poorer parts of the world. No, the honest, non-cheating profit motive is not the same as the dishonest, cheating “greed.” The honest, non-cheating profit motive means striving to help one’s customers better than everyone else, or more than everyone else, or striving to help more customers than everyone else. Those laudable and honorable strivings are the only real ways to make more profit honestly. Of course, collecting on payments due is part of the honest profit motive, and is absolutely necessary to ensure justice and to ensure that the provision of the valuable and useful product or service under consideration is sustainable. It is absolutely honorable, therefore, for a buyer to demand and collect on payments due him, otherwise he will not be able to continue producing his product or service, it will become unsustainable, and soon noone else will be able to enjoy his product or service. He is only being responsible to other consumers and would-be consumers of his product or service to strive to make it sustainable. As for taking advantage of one’s customers in price, quantity, or quality, that is the surest path to ruin for a seller, because there is only a one-time profit and there will be a real dearth of customers as his putrid reputation becomes known.

Buying and selling is truly mutual help on the grandest scale. As I have written back on March 4:

“An extraterrestrial visitor will find the massive and intricate amount of mutual help in human society simply amazing. Millions upon millions of people go to their jobs at set hours and perform their tasks more or less to order, day after day, providing goods and services to help other people. These producers then go regularly to yet other people, like the grocer, the hairdresser, the doctor, and so forth, and receive help in the form of needed goods and services, just so much and no more, with little or no fighting, scrambling, or whining. Everything is very orderly, yet there is no one controlling or directing all this traffic!”

Indeed, advance in the level of wealth and modernization of a society can be seen as nothing other than increase in the quantity and complexity of the mutual help in a society. Every new product or service is just another type of mutual help being brought into being: whereas before we have no life-saving treatment for say, appendicitis, and appendicitis is a sure death sentence, with modernization and medical advance in a society a new type of mutual help is born, the persons called surgeon, surgical nurse, anaesthesiologist, operating room architects, builders, maintainers, janitors, and so forth, who can come together to help people by providing them with the service called an appendenctomy, come into being.

Should it be any wonder that, where there is prevalent recognition of buying and selling as being honorable and respectable, where sellers and buyers are usually honest and usually don’t cheat, the society is relatively rich, and where the opposite is prevalent, the society is poor? It is not an accident; it is cause and effect.

In the old days, when China has been one of the richest, if not the richest, country in the world, the attitude prevalent in society has been that one must be honest, must not be greedy, and must not cheat. In the past, Chinese businessmen have had a sterling reputation for honesty, fairness, and being true to their word. In fact, an article in Readers’ Digest that I’ve read during the sixties talks about how the secret to success of the overseas Chinese businessmen in Southeast Asia, besides an amazing work ethic, is their legendary integrity. Alas, that kind of integrity is not much in evidence in the thinking prevalent among people in China these days, thanks to the half century of socialist ideology there.

For the sad situation in the prevalent attitude and thinking among Chinese people nowadays, special responsibility must also be laid on the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” of 1966 to 1971, and the “Campaign to Critize Lin Biao and Confucius” immediately after, from 1971 to 1976. Those ten years of ideological “ethnic cleansing” have thoroughly rid China of its traditional culture, traditional morality, traditional integrity, and traditional courtesy, in a word, rid China of its moorings.

Feng Xin-ming


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