Saturday, April 07, 2012

Harvesting the Periphery

Readers will recall that at the end of 2010 Taiwan created new municipalities in Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Taichung in which the metropolitan areas swallowed the counties that surrounded them.

This took place because those counties were being shorted in the perennial struggle for flows of development money from the central government, which lavishes funds on Taipei city.

An additional factor here is that local governments are deeply in debt. Probably because their administration is a mess, the big municipal governments would say.

A couple of weeks ago we got a bill for over NT$1288 for water and garbage collection. This was done by the address: every house in our neighborhood -- us with 4 people, neighbors with 11, old lady up the street who lives alone -- got billed exactly the same amount. The bill was sent to everyone in the new Taichung municipality who used to live in what had been Taichung county but which had been annexed. There was naturally no vote held on whether or not we would be annexed to Taichung city -- in that respect it is rather like the KMT's attitude toward Taiwan and China.

The bill was for water and garbage collection for the previous year. Everyone who was using underground water, like us, from a private water source, had to pay even though we have been faithfully paying our private water supplier. Yes, that's right, we are paying twice for the water and no, it makes no sense whatsoever since we now have to pay for water we never received. But I can be content knowing that big manufacturers have subsidized water and they are making plenty of money and that's really what's important, right?

For those on government water, if you used the government water company's water, you had to present proof with the bill that you had paid by attaching the previous year's bills. This was despite the fact that all the clerk had to do was scan the bill against your address to see whether you had paid. The purpose of requiring extra paper gives every appearance of being to extract extra money from people who had lost/trashed their receipts, or were too lazy to find them. Fortunately my obsessive wife keeps all our stuff going back seven years against just this sort of bureaucratic extortion.

Meanwhile, the city government has stopped paying subsidies to many low income families since the merger because, it claims, it is still combining the systems and can't find them. How much do you want to bet they all got water bills?
Daily Links:
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


ampontan said...

Excellent article. That's actually worse than Japan, and the Japanese are starting to fight back (electorally at least).

I also have to tell you that though I'm not all that interested in photo blogs, I enjoy your photos. That's a great picture on this post, and I always take the time to look at your bike trip pics. Makes me want to visit Taiwan!

Michael Turton said...

Thanks! You'd be welcome!


Anonymous said...

Disgusting... why does the KMT do this? When the issue is China, I expect the KMT to be irrational, but why are they completely uncaring and incompetent on domestic matters?!