Sun, Mar 16, 2014 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Labor participation gap

Currently, Taiwan’s unemployment hovers at about 4 percent. That is amazingly low from a European perspective. However, the figure stands in somewhat strange contrast to the nation’s labor-force participation rate.

The latter statistic is rarely quoted: People tend to look at this figure only when there is something misleading about the unemployment number.

France’s participation rate was just 56 percent in 2012. This means, in effect, that the social consequences of unemployment in France are much worse than people might assume from the unemployment statistics alone.

As is common throughout Europe today, many people are not working who do not count as “unemployed” — including students over the age of 15 and retirees, but also people who are jobless for various reasons who are not counted as unemployed in its technical definition.

Meanwhile, in Asia, there are some contrasting examples of very high participation rates: Thailand was at 72 percent, Lao at 78 percent and Cambodia 83 percent in 2012.

Those are countries where, really, anyone who is able-bodied can find work, even amid widespread poverty and political instability.

However, Taiwan, with its 4 percent unemployment rate, had a 58.52 percent labor-force participation rate as of January, scarcely better than France.

Although the nation has large numbers of retirees and university students, these categories cannot entirely explain the gap between the 4 percent unemployment rate and the under-59 percent participation rate.

Evidently, many people here are jobless, but are not counted as unemployed.

Eisel Mazard

Taitung

Marine merger misguided

The government’s announcement that it would merge the marine corps into the army has sparked enormous debate and controversy online and on TV news, as well as in current affairs shows. The issue has drawn much attention and been extensively discussed by experts, veterans and TV hosts.

While neighboring countries are reinforcing and increasing the budget for their marine forces, what is our government doing?

The marines are not asking for any privileges: We are only asking for an equal opportunity to contribute and devote ourselves to the defense and security of our nation.

We are “loyal forever” (Semper Fidelis) to our country, but how hardhearted is our mother country that it even thinks of abandoning us?

To the majority of marine veterans, the merger with the army is equal to the dissolution of the marines. Why? Some specialties of the marine corps cannot simply be replaced or substituted by the army.

It is not that the total combat capacities of the marines are superior to the army’s, but the missions we carry out, as well as our way of training, are almost completely different from each other. Amphibious tanks, like the AAVP-7, have no counterpart or even similar sector in the army. Veteran marines cannot help but keep wondering what will happen to these precious and costly national assets.

In particular, the heritage and morale of marine traditions are invisible weapons. They just cannot be replaced or substituted by anything or anyone else.

As a marine veteran, I sincerely request our government to reconsider and reassess the decision to merge the marine corps with the army.

Mark Tsai

Ashfield, Australia

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