Fri, Aug 27, 2004 - Page 8 News List


Activists don't all think alike

Julian Baggini's tirade for ethical consumerism sounds well reasoned, but in fact isn't (Ethical consumerism isn't fashionable, Aug. 22, page 9).

Baggini's arguments fall apart when he presumes that the anti-globalization movement speaks with one voice, one vision. In fact, the anti-globalization crowd represents a multiplicity of perspectives from every walk of life, from every corner of the world. Attempts like Baggini's to reduce the complexity into fast food soundbites does an injustice, not to the activists, but to the over-arching need to find solutions.

Michael Straus

San Francisco, California

Population control is myopic

The recent policy of the Bureau of Health Promotion (Marry early, have kids, begs bureau, Aug. 17, page 2) to boost the birth rate by encouraging early marriage and pregnancy is myopic. Supporting an aging population brings challenges, and the government does need to strategize in advance. However, to propose raising the birth rate as the solution is regressive and unimaginative.

The quality of life in Taiwan is adversely affected by its population density, which is second only to Bangladesh. Before adding more children to the nation, those who love children might like to see a more kid-friendly Taiwan, so that the majority of children here have more to look forward to than a concrete jungle of dim, yardless pre-schools and cram schools, or dark Internet cafes. Even its high per capita income cannot make a Taipei where children can open their front doors and have a place to safely ride a bicycle or play a game of catch; where traffic jams and exhaust fumes are the exception, and where one can easily find a spot to park a motorcycle, or even a car.

Quality of life, much of which can be directly related to overpopulation, is continually cited as one of the main reason for emigration by overseas Taiwanese. Even when economic dreams abroad do not materialize, many families choose to stay overseas while the father of a family returns to Taiwan for work. Education is another reason for this migration pattern, but having a safe, pleasant environment for a family with a tree or some grass in sight is another.

The positive energy of Taiwan shines through its blemishes, but the nation should continue its environmental improvements of the past decade. A dip in population should be seen as a "growing pain" that would cause a few years of difficulties, but render great benefits for coming centuries.

Donovan Ramage

Hsinchu, Taiwan

Down with Downer

Australia's national interest is to maintain relations with the Chinese people, not it's oppressors. (Mark Chen slams `unfit' Aussie minister Downer, Aug. 21, page 4).

Trade based on the needs of two nations are of enormous importance to the long-term interests of any nation. But the principles of developed nations, such as freedom and democracy, are also important.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer should take a lesson from their most reliable ally, the US: While maintaining trade relations with China, the US does not support its oppressive policies, be it domestic (such as the regime's trampling of human rights), or foreign (its threats against Taiwan). There is no need for the Australians to suck up to Chinese Communist Party dictators. The characters of a man, a people, a nation come to light by how they deal with a dilemma. If Downer can't say anything constructive about Taiwan's geopolitical situation, he should just shut up.

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