Owning up to one's crimes vital

Updated: 2011-08-09 07:46

(China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Owning up to one's crimes vital

A person should pay with money his/her debts and with life a murder he/she has committed, so goes an old Chinese saying. It is one of the oldest axioms in human history, too. But some Western countries think the axiom is not compatible with modern society, says an article in Beijing Evening News. Excerpts:

To avoid defaulting on the country's debts, Democrats and Republicans in the United States reached an agreement to raise the government's debt ceiling hours before the deadline was to expire on Aug 2.

More than $1 trillion of the over $3 trillion that China owns in foreign exchange reserves are in US Treasuries. In other words, China has lent more than $1 trillion to the US.

The US government owes $9.7 trillion of its $14.3-trillion debt to investors. If US Congress hadn't raised that debt ceiling by Aug 2, the world's largest economy would have defaulted on its debts and sent the world economy into a greater tizzy.

The US first set a debt ceiling in 1917. Since then it has come close to defaulting three times, the first in 1933, and the other two in 1979 and 1995, which can be regarded as technical defaults.

In the last 50 years, on average the US has raised its debt ceiling every eight months. Former US president Ronald Reagan raised it 18 times and George W. Bush seven times. The US Congress last raised the debt ceiling in February. Why the fuss this time? The answer is simple: the Republicans wanted to make it difficult for US President Barack Obama to seek re-election.

Although most people believed that the Democrats and Republicans would reach a compromise in the end, the farce the two parties played out showed the real face of the so-called most responsible country.

But raising the debt ceiling alone cannot solve the huge government deficit problem. The higher the US' debts, the more difficult it would be to repay. Hence, the US could actually default on its debts in the future. It is possible, too, that it could go bankrupt.

Just like some banks in Wall Street said, the US as a country is "too big to fail" both on the economic and the strategic fronts. Some European countries such as Greece could find it hard to repay their debts, but the US wields both hard and soft powers to make things work the way it wants. And it's likely that in the future, it could use its soft power to support its argument of not repaying its debts.

This is where murder comes in. Some Western countries say one cannot and should not pay with one's life for committing a murder. On July 22, the world was shocked by the killings in Norway. According to reports, the perpetrator of the heinous crime that killed 91 people, Anders Behring Breivik, faces charges for committing "crimes against humanity", and could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in jail. That Breivik doesn't face death has left not only many Chinese, but also many Norwegians stunned.

The crisis the West faces both on the economic and political fronts seems closely related to the change in the old axiom. That's why some Western countries don't consider it important to pay their debts - and that's why their arguments about universal values such as justice and democracy sound hollow.

(China Daily 08/09/2011 page9)