Chinese Follies Are All Too Familiar

US exhibited capitalist lapses once upon a time
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2007 9:28 PM CDT
Chinese Follies Are All Too Familiar
Charles Dickens   (Archive Photos)

Before Americans get on their high horse about China’s recent lapses into substandard products—not to mention those fake Harry Potter translations—they should look long and hard at their own history, the Boston Globe suggests. In the 19th century, it was the US that was considered the nation that cut corners. It’s a normal, if not necessarily forgivable, phase Stephen Mihm calls “adolescent capitalism.”

Our commercial forbearers exported pork contaminated with cholera, knocked off products like foreign wines and otherwise flouted regulators. In a prequel to the Potter scandal, Charles Dickens was shocked to find counterfeit versions of his novels in US bookstores. Mihm says China will probably shape up eventually, under international pressure and a desire to renew trust—the same forces America eventually faced. (Read more Charles Dickens stories.)

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