Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tough sentences China milk scandal OK with me


The tough punishments were the government’s latest effort to deal with a scandal that erupted in September, triggering a global recall of Chinese-made dairy products, shaking consumer confidence and devastating the nation’s fast-growing dairy industry.

But parents of some of the victims protested Thursday afternoon outside the courthouse in Shijiazhuang, where Sanlu is based, saying they were dissatisfied with the verdict.

“I feel sorry for them, but they are just scapegoats,” said Liu Donglin, 28, who said his 21-month-old son suffered from kidney stones after drinking tainted milk formula. “The ones who should take the responsibility are the government, like the quality supervision bureau and the Health Ministry. I spent nearly $3,000 taking care of my son and the government only compensated me with $300.”

Read about the sentences in the article, but I want to address this opinion of one of the victims, and also the lawyer for one of the defendants.

No: I disagree. They are not just scapegoats. The people who sold the chemicals to the dairies knowing they were being used to dangerously taint the milk, the milk producers who added the chemical, and the milk processors who found out about this and did nothing are ALL GUILTY and all the first line of culpability.

It is called personal responsibility. If you cannot trust fellow citizens who make money producing food, especially milk for the most helpless, you cannot trust anyone and hence you have no morality or society. Thus they are not scapegoats: they are the primary perpetrators who shirked and violated personal corporate and individual responsibility, all to make money.

The government is not your wet nurse nanny goat to "protect the public" if they are then going easy on those whom the public needs protecting against.

Having said that, I think the government should learn from this how to enhance their own honesty and quality control. All governments, including the great United States, needs to learn that, and I certainly would not be so harsh on the Chinese government who has to learn like everyone else the human cost of neglect and corruption.

Also having said that I think that kindness and compensation needs to be shown toward those who are victimized. How about giving them shares in the companies who offended? Or make the companies sell some assets and give the money to those who were harmed?

China government has a lot of leeway in trying new things. I would suggest a victim crime act where companies who harm their consumers have to compensate the consumers under government supervision, using devices such as selling assets and going out of business and giving the money to those harmed, or staying in business and sharing the profits with those who were harmed (such as giving them shares in the company or setting up trust funds for the children with profits), and other financial instruments. Try to avoid the government hand out slippery slope when it was an industry and personal failure: make those who failed correct themselves and then use their assets and profits to compensate. Hundreds of thousands children harmed? I think there should now be hundreds of thousands new shareholders in the corrected offending companies.