]]]]]]]]]]]]]     A BUSINESSMAN'S LETTER TO HIS SON      [[[[[[[[[[[[[ 
                   Uploaded by Freeman 48018FONE             (9/19/88)

Dear Mike,

	Last month, I met with 5 men from the Chinese Second Auto Works,
at the TRW plant in Lebanon, Tennessee.  The guys at TRW told us that
they were licensing the Reds to build their old style truck
steering gears.  And since we'd built all the function test stands
in the place, we were expected to build these also.  "And besides,
things were changing in China and these are new times."  So we
really couldn't decline without getting everyone in a real bind.
	So Frank and I went down there to meet them.  There was one
episode that explained it all very clearly ... but it was almost like
out of the Twilight Zone.
	It got real weird when Mr. Song looked at me and asked, "Would
you have gone into business if you knew that the penalty for failure
was 5 years in jail?  Or perhaps, 20 years in jail?  Or perhaps, you
and your partners would have been lined up against a wall and
	"Sure, now that you have been successfully in operation for 20
years, you might feel different, but would you have even started under
those conditions back then??"
	The answer was just as simple as could be, "HELL NO!!!  ANYONE
	You see, it had all started earlier that day, during a lull in
the technical discussions.  I decided to show them that we were hard
working, dedicated engineers, not just some big company bureaucrats. 
I told them of how TESTEK had started.  How we had risked everything
we had to start this company:  All of our savings, the second
mortgage on the house, working 6 and 7 days a week, long into the
nights, ... The full dedication and full commitment from the guys
and their wives.  And I concluded with the statement that since
times were changing in China, that some day one of them might go
into business, They shouldn't hesitate to contact me, since I could
at least tell them some of the things not to do.  This time, no one
even cracked a smile.
	Latter we broke for dinner.  We were to meet in 2 hours at a
restaurant in Nashville.  When we were all seated, I proposed a
toast.  "To all the new things taking place in China."  One of the
guys whose parents were medical doctors in Beijeng, turned to me and
said, "Though many things are changing, much remains the same."  
That sounded cryptic enough but rather than play 20 questions, I asked
him, "What are you thinking?" 
	"Well, for instance," he says, "It is common knowledge among the
people that the Barber earns more than the Surgeon." 
	I had to have him repeat that twice.  I couldn't believe what I
heard him saying.  Was it because of the Communist Ideal, that a man
gets his true reward by doing good for his fellow man and his
community and that is supposed to be sufficient for him?  I asked
him that.
	"He looked perplexed and said, "Oh no, you don't understand. 
The Barber can free-lance, the surgeon is gets his pay from the
	That is when Mr. Song gets in the act with his question.  But
he was simply challenging my earlier remarks:  That we had risked
everything in started our company.  His position was that we had really
risked NOTHING when we had started TESTEK.  We could always have
gone out and gotten other work, even if we had had to move to a
different state or even a different country.  
	"My God, says I, "How would anyone ever take a risk??  But look,
what if you went to your boss and told him you had an idea to for a
machine that would make steering gears so much better and yet more
cheaply, that the world would beat a path to your door.  What would
he say to you ?"
	So he says, "That is a good question Mr. Foner.  What would you
say, if someone came to you with such a question?
	"That's easy, says I.  I would say, "Let's get some of the
engineers and review that idea.  If looks good, we'll test out some
of the key concepts and maybe we'll even try a proto)type.  That is
what any manager would do.  Then we'd go after the capital .... "
	That is when he interrupts me.  "Well, he says, That is true
here in America.  But in China, the boss would behave in this
fashion:  He'll ask these questions first,
     "How do you know that your idea will work.  Can you be certain. 
After all you have never tried it before.  Can you guarantee that
your gears would in fact be better than the others all ready on
trucks.  And even if your idea could be made to work, what
guarantees do you have that the rest of the world would be
willing to pay "hard currency" for this Idea of yours??" 
     "Would you be willing to risk a jail sentence if it fails? 
Would you be willing to risk a jail sentence if it doesn't meet
all your expectations.  If the project is put into production and the rest 
of the world doesn't buy it, are you willing to risk a firing 
	Aw, come on.  How can your operation feel so omnipotent that
errors are not allowed.  Who the hell told you guys you were
prefect?? Or even that you had to be perfect?  
	Song looks at me with a sad look, like a man would when he is
trying to explain something obvious. 
	"No Mr. Foner, you are looking at the system wrong.  We have been
taught that Communism is scientifically the best, the most exact and 
that we plan our economy and our industry with great precision.  Not
like the Capitalists who risk and ruin peoples futures and lives in
foolish ventures.  We have to know exactly what we are doing before
we start.  You see, if we fail then the fault is either in the
system or in the individuals involved.  And the system is never
	Hey, I says, I don't care how you explain it.  With the risks
that high, it is a wonder that you guys would ever build anything
	Got it, I says, "IT'S CALLED RISK AVOIDANCE!!!"
	Son, I have the feeling these guys would make better capitalists
that any of us, if they ever get the chance.  I really do.
	But I have to get some other stuff done before tomorrow.  So I'll
cut it off here.  I will write you more "haimisha" (Yiddish for
home-like) stuff later.
	I really liked the hat... pity my head never got to your size. 
I guess this is another area where the son surpasses the pop. 
Besides being bigger and stronger and gutsyier and better looking,
that is. (Not as rich, though.  So I still have you there.)


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