A Thomson Reuters Foundation article published in the Taipei Times (“Can nations prosper by putting well-being before GDP?” Jan. 6, page 7) presented an idea that I quite like, and which might reveal the hardcore liberal, latitudinarian that I am — I have never voted for a single Republican.
I have commented on this in the past, praising Bhutan’s move in the 1970s toward a well-being, happiness-oriented society and economy. With Bhutan’s focus on psychological well-being, health, education, the nature and management of time, cultural diversity, effective governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and living standards, all I can say is: “Here, here!”
My question here is: Can Taiwan be a leader in this undertaking and its goals?
Taiwan has been ranked as the happiest country in East Asia and the 25th-happiest in the world, according to last year’s World Happiness Report; the nation has only become happier in the past few years.
There have also been local surveys examining happiness levels in Taiwan, so the movement is alive in the nation, and I have a feeling that many Taiwanese are indeed thinking of just what these metrics mean as they look at their lives and how they can be more content.
The bottom line is that this is something that people everywhere want — and the whole idea of GDP as a strict measure of everything that is best in a society is being looked down upon more.
With that said, we might turn to an opinion piece by Walter Lohman that was published on the same day (“Accentuate the positive going into the new year,” page 6).
In this piece Lohman takes exactly the wrong view, and celebrates all that is great about ultra-free markets.
Taiwan, he says, “values markets over state planning, free flow of goods and services over protectionism. This is generally the same in Washington.”
To be sure it is, and ever since the Washington Consensus foisted on the world the worst ideas about economic development and planning, the idea of endless privatization, deregulation, slashing government support and forbidding austerity measures has resulted not only in a seethingly hostile anti-globalization, anti-liberal markets response, but also in economic inequality and wealth concentration in the top percentiles of the ultra-wealthy.
Such ideas have for years been largely denounced.
Now admittedly, as the first piece said: “A focus on sustained economic growth has helped raise hundreds of millions of Asians out of poverty,” and this will always be important.
Nobody is dismissing the idea of economic prosperity outright, and this model has added to happiness levels everywhere, but this economic planning, in the best sense, very much requires state planning.
So, Taiwan, it is in your hands. Can you make your people happier, more content, comfortable, satisfied with their nation and its governors, and veritably elated with their neighbors and all the people that visit the nation?
Let us hope this is true, and Taiwan can branch away from a draconian, rigid look at economics — the “management of the home,” not “make every penny possible and to hell with anyone that disagrees.”
To achieve economic success and related levels of contentment we must “take into account concepts like well-being so that we ensure our economic system is truly aligned with societal goals,” as Gemma Corrigan, lead, sustainable markets at the World Economic Forum, said in the first article.
David Pendery is an associate professor at National Taipei University of Business.
South China Sea exercises in July by two United States Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers reminds that Taiwan’s history since mid-1950, and as a free nation, is intertwined with that of the aircraft carrier. Eventually Taiwan will host aircraft carriers, either those built under its democratic government or those imposed on its territory by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). By September 1944, a lack of sufficient carrier airpower and land-based airpower persuaded US Army and Navy leaders to forgo an invasion to wrest Taiwan from Japanese control, thereby sparing Taiwanese considerable wartime destruction. But two
This year, India and Taiwan can look back on 25 years of so-called unofficial ties. This provides an occasion to ponder over how they can deepen collaboration and strengthen their relations. This reflection must be free from excitement and agitation caused by the ongoing China-US great power jostling as well as China’s aggressive actions against many of its neighbors, including India. It must be based on long-term trends in bilateral engagement. To begin with, India and Taiwan, thus far, have had relations constituted by various activities, but what needs to be thought about now is whether they can transform their ties
The US Navy’s aircraft carrier battle groups are the most dramatic symbol of Washington’s military and geopolitical power. They were critical to winning World War II in the Pacific and have since been deployed in the Indo-Pacific region to communicate resolve against potential adversaries of the US. The presence or absence of the US Seventh Fleet — the configuration of US Navy ships and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region built around the carriers — generally determines whether war or peace prevails in the region. In the immediate post-war period, Washington’s strategic planners in the administration of then-US president Harry Truman shockingly
On Thursday last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a barnstorming speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, titled “Communist China and the Free World’s Future.” The speech set out in no uncertain terms the insoluble ideological divide between a totalitarian, communist China and the democratic, free-market values of the US. It was also a full-throated call to arms for all nations of the free world to rally behind the US and defeat China. Pompeo elaborated on a clear distinction between China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in an attempt to recalibrate the