I've had this reaction on each of my previous return trips to America over the last 18 months: the abundance! The affluence! The choice!

I walked into a high-end Whole Foods grocery store in Washington this morning -- and after a few minutes, had to walk out again.

The burnished fruits and vegetables. The forty varieties of bread. The souvenir-looking cuts of meat. The wines and cheeses. (The beers!!) Emotionally it was too much.I realized that my wife and I spend a significant amount of time each day in China thinking about how to get stuff -- food, clothes, supplies. I know that America is on the verge of disastrous recession and that China is dynamic power of tomorrow, etc etc. But, my lord, life can be good here. (And where are the men pulling carts full of coal or scrap paper down the street, as if they were human beasts of burden?)

By tomorrow I won't notice any more.