Tue, Jan 10, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: More on the `rice bomber'

By Tony Weir

Your editorial ("A perversion of justice," Jan. 6, page 8) displays a very simplistic view of right and wrong -- as well as some circular logic. Yang Ju-men (楊儒門) was certainly misguided and his actions were unequivocally criminal; of course his methods could not be "endorsed by any reasonable individual."

However, as many people have pointed out over the centuries, ordinary people don't resort to such things without extraordinary provocation -- any animal backed into a corner tends to get violent, and humans are no exception.

The Taiwan High Court decision was the decision of wise men. The law is not a definition of right and wrong but simply an instrument of social control. Many countries have had -- and still have -- laws which are immoral or have the opposite of the intended effect.

History is full of people who have opposed these laws and were called cranks, criminals, "tired old Marxists" and worse at the time. Yet their efforts have made society a better place.

I am surprised that your editorial writer would be so dismissive of such people, given Taiwan's not-so-distant history of oppression.

As for the WTO, this organization was set up primarily by rich nations to benefit rich nations, and has already done immense harm to those nations not in the clique. This is a great shame, because globalization is not inherently bad -- some products are better produced in some locations than others.

In the case of Taiwan, she is being compelled to buy foreign rice, which is unnecessary and also inferior to the local product.

And if anyone has ever seen a Taiwanese farmer who is "consumed by greed" and "dependent on government subsidies to keep themselves in the manner to which they are accustomed," perhaps this newspaper could publish a photograph of that farmer's sprawling mansions and numerous cars alongside, for example, a picture of the chairman of the Riceland Foods co-operative (which receives a yearly average of more than US$50 million in US government subsidies).

WTO membership has done little to help Taiwan's exporters while flooding the country with pointless imported stuff -- SUVs are another good example. They may be a good idea in the US but are dangerous, polluting and a waste of fuel and space in a country as cramped as Taiwan.

The sad part about Yang's case is that he saw the problems but believed violence was his only option. He was wrong.

For those Taiwanese who do not wish to further line the pockets of rich foreigners and would prefer to see their own society prosper, the solution is simple: Don't buy this stuff.

Buy Taiwanese rice and vegetables -- they taste better. Buy Japanese small cars instead of SUVs -- they're much easier to handle, more fuel-efficient and nobody will make jokes about what men with big cars might be compensating for.

Applying some simple consumer common sense will ensure that world trade agreements make globalization a good thing rather than a profiteering racket.

Tony Weir


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