My Recent Encounters with Chinese Capitalism

Coming off an 18 hour trip to Shanghai, we were met by an energetic
and intelligent young student, who accompanied us to our hotel. The
cab driver told the student he knew right where the hotel was. Since
we had stayed there several times, Blanche recognized that he was
taking us on a very circuitous route in order to check up his bill.
The student later told us that his accent revealed that he was not in
any of Shanghai. As a result, the driver regarded him as a foreigner
to, someone whom he could legitimately take advantage of.

We arrived at the hotel, only to be told that the room, we had
reserved was not available for us; but that we could spend the night
in an unrenovated room, then move into our room the next day. I
didn’t care about the quality of the room. We were just going to lay
down and go to bed; however, the hotel did the same thing to us the
last time. In addition, I didn’t look forward to unpacking bunch of
stuff and having to repack the next morning.

The young staff explained various motivations for our treatment.
Because management receives bonuses for filling the hotel up to
capacity, overbooking increases their chance of collecting the
bonuses. We were also told that most of the booking is done by the
web and the company does not shut off booking when the reservations
overflow.

After a long argument with the manager, he gave us a more lucid
explanation. He said that many people want to stay at the hotel, and
that we were not important enough to be of any concern for him. He
was right. We aren’t important. And his concern is increasing his
income.

The minor inconveniences and ripoffs that we experience are nothing
compared to what most of the world experiences. They do, however,
illustrate the nastiness embedded in the capitalist mode of
production. As a trained economists, long tutored in the ideology of
capitalism maximizing utils, I am amused by my educational experience.

2 comments so far

  1. mark hansen on

    a few days ago a friend of mine said that “caplitalism is not christian.” big surprise. i told him it is totaly amoral. which of course anyone who has dealt with it for any length of time should know well.

  2. Rich on

    I think amoral is a bit confused. Capitalism as a social order definitely has values and morals, they just do not relate to a christian paternalism or similar “charity” or “selfless” based institutional foundation. Private property is no doubt a moral consideration, and this is the basis of any sort of capitalist social system. I think this is an important distinction, for if we wish to consider and seek change in what is “right and wrong” we must understand what that means currently.


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