Tea Party unwelcome
The Tea Party movement has arrived in Taiwan. Although its actual strength remains shrouded in mystery, its frequency in the English-language media has markedly increased recently, with three letters in the Taipei Times just this month (June 8, 14 and 17).
Its message is hilariously simplistic: The free market is good, the government is bad. The worst thing, of course, are those nefarious taxes. So before the outraged Taiwanese populace reverts to revolutionary mode and starts stealing tea boxes from local supermarkets to dump them into Taiwan’s polluted rivers and seas, let me remind them that mixing black and white results in gray, and that, in the real world, governments and the rules they impose are a necessity for civilized societies to exist — and to run governments, you need taxes.
So the question really should be what is a reasonable level of taxation, and how should those taxes be spent?
The answer to this really depends. A few years ago, I lived in Denmark, where most citizens vote for governments that tax them at around 50 percent of their income because they know they get a good deal for it. Denmark is one of the best countries to live in because it is run by an extremely efficient and competent government.
On the other hand, I am sure Zimbabwe’s citizens are quite unhappy to pay just 5 percent taxes to keep President Robert Mugabe’s government in power. So it really depends: Governments can spend taxes wisely and effectively, or not.
In today’s interconnected world, we will need more and better rules and regulations to deal with globalized problems such as public health and environmental and food security, to name just a few. At a recent conference during Taipei Medical University’s 50th anniversary, the theme of how to establish global rules to handle these interconnected problems in a framework of global governance was fervently discussed.
Stephen Schneider, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recently stated during his lecture at National Taiwan University that we urgently need some sort of competent global governance, because without reasonable and mutually agreed upon rules and taxes, such as taxes on greenhouse gases, our world will go down the drain in an anarchistic mess of governments squabbling over ever-decreasing resources and a deteriorating environment.
Absence of government rules and taxes means anarchy. Therefore, I advise all Tea Partiers to permanently move to a country like Somalia where they can enjoy the benefits of a society without governmental oversight, instead of publishing obdurate nonsense postulating an anti-government revolution in Taiwan, one of the better-run countries in the world, although still with many problems pending good governmental regulation, not least in the areas of public health and the environment.
Future of Taipei’s airports
I have two suggestions to make about Taipei’s airport situation, which was discussed in a recent editorial (“Taipei doesn’t need two airports,” June 18, page 8). First, have the government take over the old Taoyuan Air Force Base (AFB), which currently belongs to the Navy and turn it into a domestic airport for Taiwan and the base for all international flights between Taiwan and China. Having a tramway between Taoyuan International Airport and Taoyuan AFB along with a new MRT line will speed the way for travelers.
Second, turn Taipei Songshan Airport into a metropolitan park. Songshan Airport is dangerous for aircraft due to the mountainous terrain in the area and an annoyance because of the noise it creates for the city.
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