Pluralism will take time
I totally agree with Cho Keng-yu’s point (“Traditional views on sexuality stifle rights,” June 12, page 8) that there would be no need for homosexuals to “come out” if our society accepted different sexual orientations. Cho mentions that many heterosexuals wonder why homosexuals bother to come out at all. Indeed, the action of “coming out” might suggest that homosexuals are different, which is contrary to the fact that homosexuals are the same as everyone else. Since homosexuals highlight that they should not be considered abnormal and should have the same rights as heterosexuals, they do not need to “come out,” as this only gives the public the chance to label them as a “special group.”
However, while this argument has its merits we should not forget that we have long been living in a heterosexual-centric society. Our values are deeply influenced by heterosexual ideology, which explains why some people might consider homosexuals special or abnormal. If we lived in a society that was gender-plural right from the start, we would not consider the coming out of homosexuals to be strange, for it would be just as normal as heterosexuals declaring that they were going to marry.
The most important question is not whether it is necessary for homosexuals to come out, but whether our society is or will be able to accept different sexual orientations and acknowledge gender pluralism. It is still difficult for our society to accept homosexuals, bisexuals or transsexuals. Homosexual marriage has not been legalized and the existence of people of different sexual orientations is still invisible. Our society still has a long way to go before it is ready for gender pluralism.
Environmental tax inequality
Things go wrong when the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
The lack of policy integration is all too evident in the discussion surrounding Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan’s (李鴻源) call for higher energy prices to rein in pollution through energy consumption. Although making some valid points, even a recent op-ed piece (“Government must come clean about power price,” June 16, page 8) missed two crucial points.
First, environmental taxes cannot be successfully implemented in societies with great economic inequality. Any tax increase on a product is a regressive tax, meaning it hits poor people much harder than rich people.
Whenever governments try to raise energy prices to reduce consumption in poor countries like Nigeria or Venezuela, riots ensue because poor people cannot afford such increases. However, when such taxes are introduced in countries with more equitable incomes, such as Denmark, they are more accepted because most people can not only afford them, but also have money to spare to buy more energy-efficient devices. Therefore, economic equality and environmental taxes are inextricably linked — a crucial point too often missed in this debate.
It is all too evident that the poorer people and even the middle class in Taiwan have had little part in the economic growth of the past decade. Most people will consequently resist any more cuts to their incomes. Therefore, the government must address economic inequality through progressive instead of regressive tax measures (“Hon Hai boss proposes taxing the rich,” June 7, page 1).