China's capitalistic missteps are ablaze in the headlines lately. Tales such as those about poisonous toothpaste
and counterfeit Harry Potter books
strike fear into our hearts that our most favored nation may be going too far when embracing the very capitalist ideals that we have been trying to instill in them since the cold war. China has been painted as a nation of unscrupulous money grabbers, eager to make a quick buck without concern for any consequences. However, let's not be too quick to judge, lest we forget our own past. China's brash brand of capitalism is merely a normal step along the way of a developing capitalist economy -- a step that the US also went through in the 19th century
. It wasn't long ago that American businesses ran amuck without regulation. Candy was found to contain arsenic, custard laced with lead, and as made famous by Upton Sinclair, lard contained traces of the occasional human. Back then, counterfeiters were notorious, giving rise to the term "snake-oil salesmen." There is a silver lining to this story, of course. Just as the US was able to grow out of this adolescent stage of capitalism, so will China, but, kids will be kids, and they need to get a few bumps and bruises along the way before they learn their lesson and change.