Yesterday, China executed Zheng Xiaoyu, who had been the director of its State Food and Drug Administration, for taking bribes of $850,000 in exchange for approving untested drugs, some of them fake. One antibiotic he approved is reported to have killed ten people.
Zheng was sentenced in May, and the end came quickly. You have to admit, there's something refreshing about the punishment and the swiftness. No hand-ringing about the immorality of the death penalty, no endless judicial wrangling, no last-minute presidential pardon, no wrist-slapping, no re-assignment to a lower-ranking position, no mealy-mouthed PR release about "pursuing other interests," no blame-pinning on subordinates.
The punishment was intended to send a message: China is desperately concerned about the credibility of its domestic manufacturing - on which its meteoric economic largely depends - and it can't let a greedy functionary ruin the party.
Well, over here in the U.S. of A we've got plenty to worry about as well. We've got people at the FDA who get paid by drug companies, too, and those regulators approve drugs (like Vioxx) that kill people. Except we don't call them bribes, we call them "consulting fees."
And then there's our global reputation, It's in tatters, and that's because we've done far worse than killing a few dogs with bad pet food, or pumping some anti-freeze into cheap toothpaste. We're responsible for ruining a country and killing more than 70,000 civilians.
I say that if we adopted the Chinese approach to accountability, the U.S. and the world would be in much better shape. Not to mention our pets and our gums.