Tom Purcell

Sheesh, China, you sure know how to kick a country when it's on its way down.

I speak of recent reports that your state-sponsored computer whizzes have allegedly been using their skills to steal intellectual property from American businesses.

I admit that I am envious of your pluck — how you're so full of pep and vinegar in your desire to compete and grow.

America was like that once.

Sure, we were never communists at heart like you. We believed in freedom. We believed government should mostly stay out of our way so that individuals could freely pursue life, liberty and happiness.

Our approach worked mighty well. We were always blessed with natural resources, which we exploited mightily in our early years.

We were blessed with millions of proud immigrants who came to our country to improve their lot and give their children educational and professional opportunities that they never had.

Our work ethic was incredible. Hard work begat wealth production, which fed investment into innovative new ideas that further expanded growth and opportunity.

We have had many ups and downs — recessions and a depression and such — but, for the most part, we enjoyed one heck of a run. We have been the world's largest economy since the late 19th century.

We are flattered, then, that you see such value in our methods and ideas that you are allegedly stealing them.

One industrial espionage expert told CNN that hungry, emerging economies see advantage in borrowing technology innovations, engineering designs and other intellectual property — ideas that took private companies in advanced countries lots of years and billions of dollars to develop.

Though industrial espionage has been around a long time, the fact is that the Internet has opened up unprecedented opportunities for skilled adversaries to penetrate company systems and hide in the background undetected, so they can swipe all kinds of proprietary information.

As I said, China, I admire your pluck — but are you sure you want to go to all this trouble to spy on us?

First of all, if American companies invent a new product, they're probably going to hire people in your country to build it for them — what with energy costs, health-care mandates and rules and regulations being so burdensome in our country.

Secondly, China, you're second only to the U.S. in patent filings — and growing fast. Our young people would rather become personal injury lawyers than engineers. It's just a matter of time before your engineers overtake ours in new ideas.


Tom Purcell

Tom Purcell, author of "Comical Sense: A Lone Conservative Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" and "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood," is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist syndicated nationally by Cagle Cartoons. Visit him on the web at www.TomPurcell.com