Today's comic moment came when the local media announced that longtime democracy opponent and party-state politician Ma Ying-jeou was being awarded the Eisenhower Medal for contributions to peace....
The award, presented by the organization founded in 1956 by then-US president Dwight D. Eisenhower, recognizes Ma’s East China Sea peace initiative that seeks to resolve territorial disputes in the area through peacefulYes, Ma won this award for a policy which has had no effect on the region and which no one pays attention to. It reminded me of that hallucinatory moment from last year when Jason Hu's Taichung, then 17th in islandwide polls of competent governorship among the 21 cities and counties, won the intelligent city award. Obviously these award givers make no effort to gather any data on what is actually going on. Sheer laziness, since it is obviously not difficult to gather critical data on the President of Taiwan (D'oh!). But it is sad and sick that longtime stalwarts of the authoritarian KMT win awards, while the people who fought them get so little. A Chen Ding-nan or a Chen Chu is a hundred times the human being that Ma Ying-jeou is.
Who is Ma really? An excellent critique of Ma the One Percent president appeared in the TT today, with data on things this blog has been talking about for several years, including dramatic changes in the wealth structure under Ma:
The income gap between the nation’s richest 5 percent and the nation’s poorest 5 percent has increased from 60.4 times to 85.2 times since the Ma administration came to power. At its highest, it reached as high as 96.8 times. The income gap shrunk for the first time in 2012, probably because about 300,000 military personnel and public school teachers once again were required to pay taxes, while the income of the middle class increased. That means that the narrowing income gap was in fact a statistical illusion.The Ma Administration's economic actions are just making the rich richer and the poor poorer; that's what Ma was elected to do. A piece from a while back observed:
Moreover, the richest 5 percent own more than a quarter of the nation’s wealth, while the lower 50 percent of the public own less than one-fifth of the nation’s wealth. According to Ministry of Finance tax data from 2011, many households with an annual income of more than NT$2 million — some of almost NT$10 million — did not have to pay any tax at all, showing that the nation’s tax system is seriously flawed.
In Taiwan, not only are capital gains from securities transaction exempt from taxes, there are also a series of tax exemptions for high-tech businesses. What is worse is the integrated income tax system — especially now that the income tax on profit-seeking enterprises exists in name only — which means that 80 percent of the NT$100 billion in annual tax deductions that is set off against aggregate income goes into the pockets of the stock owners who earn more than NT$1 million (US$3.4 billion) a year.We're heading for many years of social unrest, out-migration, and increased independence activism, because of these policies that are creating two Taiwans, of have and have-nots.
Add to this the amendments to the Income Tax Act (所得稅法), with the interest on stocks provided for the purpose of formation of, contribution to, or participation in public trusts, which used to be taxed at 40 percent, being halved to 20 percent. These factors have turned Taiwan into a tax haven for the wealthy.
For instance, in 2010, Taiwan’s tax burden was a low 11.9 percent — even lower than Singapore’s 13.4 percent, a country known for its low tax rates. However, 71 percent of the national aggregate income tax came from households that derive about 50 percent of their income from salaries. As such, there is no way the hardworking middle class will ever enjoy the benefits of Taiwan’s so-called “light taxes.”
And that will not be very peaceful.
- Special: Taiwan expat Evan Centanni has world famous website on world's trouble spots.
- Commonwealth Mag with the city and county chief ratings.
- Useful: Twitter handles for China Scholars, the Twitterati 100. From the awesome Jon Sullivan.
Sean Lien has reorganized that spectacularly silly ad in which he asked people what they'd do if they had his money (Youtube link).. Parody! At the same time Lien he touts the fact that he has money in this ad, he's been downplaying his fortune in his asset disclosures.
- Sub Standard: Lauren Dickey scribes a laugher of an article over at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) saying that subs for Taiwan would be a bad idea. Brian Benedictus shows why the piece is so bad.
- VeloNews on the KOM challenge
- Taiwan, the bicycle kingdom
- My Several Worlds daily paper is out!
- FocusTaiwan News, only a quarter of Americans think Taiwan worth defending.
- Keep Taiwan Free rally in New York: report
- Japan should add Taiwan to its security umbrella: Retired Adm
- EVENT: Daniel Pearl Music Day: Sept 27, 2-9:30, Taipei Hakka Cultural Park (Facebook)
[Taiwan] 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!