Coral reefs threatened
Thanks to the Taipei Times for publishing a front page article on Kenting’s coral (‘Disappearing coral reefs of Kenting,’ Sept. 12, page 1.)
Local divers have long lamented the changes in southern Taiwan’s underwater environment, with the most pronounced effects of overfishing and coral destruction topping their list of complaints.
The call for establishing a nature conservation area is surprising as Wanlitong coast and the Houbihu peninsula are already dotted with signs that warn of large fines for illegal fishing, water activities and the collection of coral from beach areas.
The main problem is enforcement, and until the local government steps up to the challenge of patrolling the area, continued damage will be done.
It is also important to distinguish between the different water activities and their impact: jet skis pollute the area by direct emissions; small sea craft rake the fragile coral with anchors and hoards of novice snorkelers tramp over the coral along the coastlines as unscrupulous tour groups try to make a quick buck.
Scuba divers on the other hand are for the most part trained to respect the aquatic environment with a “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but bubbles,” mentality.
Though annual typhoons that sweep across the nation play a large part in the destruction of reefs near the surface, this is a natural process and corals can recover if the strains of human activity allow it to. So let us allow nature to take it’s course by devoting adequate marine conservation resources to protecting Kenting’s most precious resource.
Beware demand destruction
China’s leaders want to increase the level of personal discretionary spending to boost the consumption ratio in China’s GDP, a worthy goal. In the US, personal spending once reached 70 percent of GDP, a shockingly high percentage and a trend that will surely never return due to the ongoing destruction of the US dollar.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s leaders, politicians and judges — many of whom only claim to be Taiwanese — make a celebratory ritual out of stealing from the poor and laughing all the way to the bank while pretending to have competent ideas about improving Taiwan’s economy or returning the “ill gotten assets” to Taiwan’s treasury where they belong.
It is simple math, really. With the Post Office savings rate a little over 1 percent, and the inflation index, or CPI, at around 3 percent, Taiwanese who have been saving for decades are now finding that their wealth is dwindling during their retirement years while they watch their household expenses rise as they get older and require more personal care.
At the same time, certain Taiwanese special interest groups benefit from a government-guaranteed 18 percent interest rate on their savings, higher than any other investment return in the world. I was delighted when former candidate Democratic Progressive Party chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said she would abandon this unjust practice during her presidential campaign.
This special interest rate is absorbed into Taiwan’s national debt — which of course relies on our children’s as yet unearned wages to repay. It is quite an unfair system, even if you are one of the lucky few. In an environment where a workers’ savings are diminishing over time relative to inflation, it is hard to imagine that consumers will go running out on shopping sprees.