On my way to Sydney Airport, I found myself sitting right beside a cab driver — who was probably close to 50 years of age — eager to convince me that he was an honest driver. “Pick any way you want, I go”, he said in outrageously fast but broken English. “I have map. You check. I go.” I almost smiled as he seemed to fit the old Western stereotype of Chinese people.

And as with most Cantonese speakers whom I have met, he seemed to shout when he spoke. I told him that I did not mind any route as long as I would get to the airport on time. Regardless of my indifference, he continued to convince me of his honesty up to the point that I wished I had taken the train instead.

It was unnecessary for him to convince me of his honesty. I know my way around enough and that makes his assertion irrelevant. I depended on his action, not his words.

I typically have a short fuse when it comes to loud and insistence individuals. I find them obnoxious and I will try to get away from them as soon as I can. But I was about to get late and I did not want to pay extra for another cab to the airport.

So, I remained polite to the obnoxious driver throughout the journey.

I am glad that I was polite because the second half of the ride was interesting.

I asked him where he was originally from, hoping that he would stop trying to convince me of his honesty. Given his mangled English, I hazarded ”Mainland China?”

He blew his top off. He insisted that he was from Hong Kong.

He has been in Sydney for 23 years. I asked why he migrated. He said he did not want to live under communism. Ah, at least he was redeeming himself; he appeared less obnoxious to me now. Just as I hid my initial discomfort of him from him, I hid my approval of him from him. I did not offer my view regarding communism and capitalism.

Hong Kong of course was a British colony before it was handed to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. More than that, it was a symbol of free market capitalism under liberal environment. Many were apprehensive of the future of Hong Kong beyond 1997. While the apprehension was justified, Hong Kong today continues to be the beckon of free market capitalism in the world.

He did not use the relevant terms as precise as he should. He was associating corruption with communism and a clean government with capitalism. The truth is that corruption is a problem in a capitalist society as well. Really, he was comparing the Australian government with the PRC government.

I played the devil advocate. I said the PRC government these days is only communist in name only but in truth, capitalism is making its round there. It is not free market capitalism but it is state capitalism. It is capitalism nonetheless and increasingly so.

To which he replied, “In communism, government officials are rich but the people are poor; in capitalism, government officials are poor but the people are rich.”

Looking at history, that is definitely true. That is the result of application of communist policy. There is more opportunity for government corruption in a centralized economy compared to a market-based economy, with all else the same.

We were approaching the international terminal. I got off and said to myself, I want to blog about this.

And yes, he was honest.

One Response to “[2299] Of a cab driver’s opinion of communism”

  1. on 14 Jan 2011 at 12:14 Bobby

    Perhaps communism isn’t so bad.
    In China, they executed a businessman for a 100k bribe.
    Over in Malaysia, they make that businessman Mentri Besar of NS.

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