Holla, ye pampered Jades of Asia:
What, can ye draw but twenty miles a day?
Many people know about the way East Asia's economic boom got jump-started by billions of dollars pouring in for the Korean and Vietnam wars. It's not something you're likely to read about in The New York Times or Fortune or even the Economist, much less Asahi Shimbun or the South China Morning Post or the Far Eastern Economic Review, much less the Straits Times. You will hear about it if you talk - candidly - with the officials at the World Bank, though.

Nobody knows how much of East Asia's economic boom is fueled by drug profits. Nobody know how deeply East Asian business and government have been corrupted by drug profits - though I recall one Japanese economist who said of the South-east Asians that they were ``hugely corrupt - just like us!'' It is known that there is a regional division of labor which Adam Smith, bless his gentle 18th-century heart, would have found ``technically sweet.'' Possession carries the death penalty in Malaysia and Singpaore; it does not in Thailand and Burma and Laos. Poppies are grown and processed in those countries; money is laundered in Malaysia and Singapore, a far more pleasant occupation, with a much higher rate of return.

Those who remember history, and so are doomed to see it repeated, know that the editorials in business magazines about East Asian capitalism inevitably leading to democracy, are 180-proof Marxist historical materialism. To paraphrase our most flagrantly corrupt president in living memory, ``We are all Marxists now.'' Except Marx, of course.