Former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh (
The group of demonstrators following Shih also say that Taiwan's economy is getting worse by the day, and that the people's living conditions are unbearable.
So are Taiwanese really in as much pain as the protesters say?
In order to find out the answer, we need to start off with an objective measure. The misery index created by Harvard economist Robert Barro is widely referred to by theorists and decision makers, and quantifies the quality of life of the "average" citizen.
The index combines unemployment and inflation -- as the two largest evils that threaten our economic wellbeing -- into one measure. The higher the misery index, the worse the people's overall living conditions.
To avoid long-term fluctuations that might bias the outcome, I use the most recent annual data to calculate the index. According to last year's official data, Taiwan's unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, and the inflation rate was 2.3 percent -- so Taiwan's misery index for last year was just 6.4 percent.
Are Shih and his followers right to be outraged by a misery index of 6.4 percent? To determine this, it is necessary to put Taiwan's indices side by side with those of other countries.
Brazil, Russia, India and China -- the "BRIC" economies -- are the leading examples of the world's late-developing or newly developed countries. A report by Goldman Sachs forecasts that, absent significant external shocks, the BRICs could be larger than the G6 nations in less than 40 years.
Based on official data for last year, the misery indices for the BRIC countries were: Brazil, 16.7 percent; Russia, 20.3 percent; India, 13.1 percent; and China, 13.4 percent. The last of these figures is quite rubbery, of course, as China's unemployment figures are based on urban surveys that do not account for rural joblessness. The real rate of unemployment could be as high as 20 percent.
So Taiwanese people can rest easy -- the people living in Brazil, Russia, India and China are a lot more miserable.
Since Taiwan is no longer a developing economy, we might want to compare its economic performance to that of the leading industrialized nations.
Take the largest economy in Europe, Germany. Surprisingly, the misery index of Germany, a fully developed economy, stood at 13.7 percent last year. Taiwan is out in front here.
What about the most powerful economy in the world, the US? The misery index of the US last year was 8.3 percent, and its index last month was 8.52 percent. Compared with Taiwan's 6.4 percent misery index, Taiwanese people again should be happier than US citizens.
What about regional comparisons? South Korea and Taiwan have similar trade and economic structures: Both countries are export dependent and approaching the global production frontier in technological terms. South Korea's misery index last year was 6.5 percent. It seems Taiwan is just a little less miserable than South Korea.
So are Taiwanese really in pain?
By and large, the people should not be in pain, but some certainly believe that they are.
Who has been trying to hypnotize these people? Why do they want to hypnotize them?
These anomalies require more research to resolve.
Darson Chiu is an associate research fellow at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation