Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On the Blogs today...

A couple of things on blogs I'd like to point to today. First, Taoyuan Nights, has an analysis of the idiotic voucher plan in Let’s hand out free money, and other stupid ideas. I was going to blog on this, but his is so much better. Don't miss his distinction between taxpayers and voters. All I can say is that thank heaven our financial system is being run by elite experts with years of training at the best universities in the world, otherwise we'd probably be having a global financial crisis or something.

Meanwhile, Melinda Liu on the Newsweek blog China Calling has an excellent rundown of the Chen Yunlin protests and everyone's fear of where we might be heading with the recent spate of arrests. A taste:

These events have left a society long used to fragmentation - where most academics, analysts and media organisations are on one side or the other of the political divide – still reeling at the increase in political tension under President Ma: “Chen Shui-bian was a very divisive figure,” says Frank Muyard of the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China. “People hoped Ma would be more conciliatory – they saw him as a gentle, well-educated, nice person who would help Taiwan come together and do something for reconciliation. But he hasn’t done that. Now many people see him as partisan, too eager to please China – they don’t trust him to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty.”

For the mainland government, which has reported the opening of cross-strait links with great fanfare as a ‘win-win’ situation for both sides, there’s a clear degree of satisfaction in seeing Chen Shui-bian under arrest. Beijing despised him for his background in Taiwan’s pro-independence movement of the 1970s and 80s. “Chen Shui-bian in handcuffs” was the banner headline in the popular nationalist tabloid newspaper the Global Times on Wednesday. And for months China’s state-run media has revelled in reporting every detail of the various allegations of corruption against Mr Chen, his wife and associates (in marked contrast to the minimal amount of detail it gave in the corruption case of another Chen, former Communist Party Secretary of Shanghai Chen Liangyu, who was jailed for eighteen years in April.)

Ma Ying-jeou’s popularity with China’s leaders, on the other hand, is clearly at an all-time high: as well as agreeing to direct links and the One China principle, he has also relaxed restrictions which prevented Taiwanese companies from investing more than 40% of their assets in the mainland, further boosting economic ties. Yet recent events suggest his actions may also risk provoking a deeper anti-mainland backlash, at the very moment when physical links between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits have become closer than ever.

Hopefully we'll have a formal article from Newsweek on these issues.


Anonymous said...

On those red envelopes...er..free bian dang...er... vouchers (sorry I forgot which vote buying scheme we were discussing here)...

These are the rebate checks of Taiwan. They don't work.

I think my in-laws provide a very good insight into the real problem that these vouchers don't address.

Like many Taiwanese, my in-laws were small entrepreneurs in the 1970's and 80's until the market dried up and they didn't have the education or know-how to adjust and kind of dried up to sit on the land. They have been living in a large concrete house with the factory area in the rear. Once the patriarch died and the scheming over the property started, the children, aged 30-50 all retired and counted on living off the windfall from the property sales. The state of the current housing market allowed them to take out a massive loan against the hyper-inflated "estimated" value of their property, but the reality of the saturated market has made the prospect of them recieving anywhere close to the amount of the loan an impossibility.

In the mean time, while my inlaws wait for a buyer who will be willing to pay hyper-inflated prices for property, my inlaws are using their new debt to finance the lifestyle they feel they deserve based on their imagined peer group or imagined identity.

Ahhh...the Joneses or Lins, Chens or whatever... As some selected groups have managed to leverage their political and social ties for fortune and the consumerist displays of "success", all the other hangers-on, like my in-laws, feel they deserve the name-brands, Starbucks, and material displays of success to fit their imagined self image as high class too and not feel they need to be degraded by anyone else. Face!

So the in-laws spend their debt and don't look back. Borrowing against a bubble to have the LCD TVs, computers, phones, BMWs and other trinkets Ma wants everyone to spend their debt on too. My father in law is wearing the Emperer's new clothes when he visits his buddies at the temple and it is just sickening to worry about.

Good Luck!

I told my wife already that we can not afford to spend our retirement savings on bailing her family out of debt.

Anonymous said...

Taiwanese crack media teams have raised the issue, completely from the standpoint of journalistic objectivity, that Chen's family will be receiving the vouchers.... (and that's bad). After all, Chen and his family members have not been convicted of a crime and have yet to finish their testimony. Furthermore, Ma's children are living in the United States and will be eligible to receive vouchers. WTF?