why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

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Re: why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

Postby headhonchoII » 18 Apr 2012, 11:54

Here is what I posted on the related scooter thread last year.

From the environmental protecion department, New Taipei City, the chart is useful to get an idea of the cause of various pollutants. As expected NOx and CO emissions are mostly from vehicles. NOx is a proxy for ozone, ozone is seriously bad for your health at ground level. It does not show PM <2.5. Only from this year are Taiwan and China going to report PM <2.5. These are the particles that create that fine haze you will see in the Winter months on the West coast of Taiwan. .
http://www.epd-en.ntpc.gov.tw/_file/187 ... 352/D.html

Effects of ozone on health, this is what you breath in during the Summer months at any major intersection in the country.
http://www.policyalmanac.org/environmen ... zone.shtml

Scooters and motorcycles bettter for the environment.....wrong! (as mentioned earlier most do not have catalytic converters)http://www.latimes.com/news/la-hy-throttle11-2008jun11,0,6054455.story
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And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin' chasin' down a hoodoo there
Chasin' down a hoodoo there.
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Re: why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

Postby headhonchoII » 18 Apr 2012, 12:11

It's not possible for Taiwan to be self sufficient all the time, it is a small island with 22 million people packed together. If it tried to grow all it's own food one or multiple typhoons could result in hyperinflation and starvation. One typhoon has the potential to wipe out crops over half the island. Drought could do the same. Plant disease, human pathogen epidemics, animal pathogen epidemics, multi year cycles of drought...they happen all the time. I vote this GIT as your ALL TIME worst idea :cool: .

Taiwan grows plenty of food for it's size already, if neccessary they could increase the agricultural output fairly quickly. You can pretty much stick a banana or papaya tree or a digua root anywhere and it will grow! But it isn't neccessary or productive or even a smart idea. The payback in financial and risk management terms starts to drop quickly the closer Taiwan gets to 'self sufficiency', which is a meaningless word in the medium to long term.

I'm not normally one to argue for unfettered free trade. But it's undoubtedly true that a farmer in the US or Thailand can make more productive use out of his Taiwan built smartphone, laptop and internet router and Taiwanese can make more use out of the cheaper rice in return due to their inherent advantages of overseas ricer farms enjoying massive land banks and industrial scale farming.
Until energy sources get multiple times more expensive than now (and I don't see that happening with abundant natural gas, coal and nuclear supplies) then there is no real argument for self sufficieny as a nation.
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Re: why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

Postby lostinasia » 18 Apr 2012, 12:34

End universal suffrage. Put certain conditions on being allowed to vote

But the rules would be vulnerable to abuse: those in power would be able to manipulate the definition of who's stupid and who isn't.

Don't forget the special team of volunteers to fit every pig in the country with little wings and jet engines. 好可愛喔!

"好可愛" gives me an idea for deciding who votes: at age of majority, give people a choice - a collection of cute Hello Kitty dolls, some taike equivalent (betel nut & cigarettes? free blue flipflops for life?), or the right to vote - pick one. That may improve things.

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Re: why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

Postby headhonchoII » 18 Apr 2012, 12:39

I think the 1 vote - 1 bian dang system works just fine :wink: .
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And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin' chasin' down a hoodoo there
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Re: why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 18 Apr 2012, 12:42

HH: Of course there's an argument. There are two arguments, in fact. One is to do with the fact that as I keep mentioning, people don't really pay what they really should at the supermarket. Governments all around the world heavily subsidise agriculture, especially for export. You're seriously telling me that the apple grown in New Zealand really costs the same as the banana grown here? You're seriously telling me that it makes sense to be eating tomatoes in the middle of winter, or to be eating foreign beef? If I engaged in this kind of creative accounting on a tax return, I'd get fingered for fraud.

The second reason is to do with national security. We saw all sorts of grief in the third world in the past few years when the prices of staple crops went through the roof. A country can be brought to its knees in such a manner.

Again, you're assuming a zero sum game between industry and agriculture, whilst ignoring the fact that the state meddles massively already in subsidies for all sorts of industries, including agriculture. Normally, you do talk about how crazy the world's economic system is, yet you're not acknowledging it here in one of the most fundamental situations there is.
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why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

Postby headhonchoII » 18 Apr 2012, 12:50

We have to look at what people consume that keeps them alive. Apples and such are not a big deal, if people want to eat imported luxury crops let them. Nobody is being forced to eat imported apples.

If you are talking about going to self sufficiency in rice it is not a good idea economically. It's a waste of effort and resources and it is going to cost people more to feed themselves and at the same time you will still exposed to economic uncertainty every typhoon season or every time the reservoirs run low on water. Peoples incomes will shrink drastically , this is going to have knock on effects.

I think the current system is fine , retain a certain amount of indigenous agriculture and also trade with other nations, do not put all your eggs in the one basket.
I can remember the fourth of July runnin' through the backwood bare.
And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin' chasin' down a hoodoo there
Chasin' down a hoodoo there.
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Re: why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

Postby finley » 18 Apr 2012, 12:52

How to deal with stupid people breeding?

I think the simplest way would be to spread memes about the social desirability of contraception and the personal benefits of using it (in a way that would appeal to stupid people). Then hand out contraceptives like candy.
Maybe a better question would be: how to prevent the kids of stupid people becoming as stupid as their parents? After all, it's not really their fault that their parents are mouth-breathers. Not easy, but an interesting challenge.

I just have a massive problem with democracy being two wolves (and stupid wolves at that) and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. Your idea about referenda open only to people who know what they're talking about is a good one, but wouldn't that kind of amount to the same thing, and be open to the same criticism as my proposal?

The nature of the question matters. At election time, people are asked "do you want this bunch of incompetent layabouts running the country, or this bunch of venal crooks?". There's no logical "best" solution, so your level of education (or your ability to make sound judgements) is irrelevant. In a gov't consultation, people are asked to detail a nuanced opinion. Stupid people self-filter, because they are (by definition) unable to express a coherent thought. Your method might have prevented the election of George Bush the Dumber, but not the election of Hitler.

George McDonald Fraser remarked once that his favourite Prime Minister (can't remember who) was one who had openly admitted to having spent one year in office and achieved absolutely nothing in that time!

Yeah, I've heard that one. Like it!

Nothing except that it would mean lower incomes and higher unemployment as the economy entered a long period of negative growth.

Depends what you mean by "growth". The definition is usually circular: growth=higher consumption, and consumption is a measure of growth. Yet quality of life does not, in fact, depend on consumption/growth. General western experience since 1950 has proved that conclusively. It depends on more nebulous things like security, availability of services (health care, education), legal rights (property rights, freedom of speech) and quality of the environment. The maintenance of those things could (in theory) involve very little consumption.

Taiwan would have to go through a shock like Cuba did in the 1990s to shift to agriculture again. Incomes would decline because Taiwan is not competitive in the sector. Countries get rich when people leave the land and move to industrializing cities and then (maybe) become members of a globalized service oriented knowledge economy. They become poor when people have to move back to the land.

You're assuming that: 1) agriculture is an industry like any other, that excludes everything else from the land it occupies and 2) people who "move back to the land" are "nothing but" farmers. As GiT said, it's not a zero-sum game. Farm work happens in bursts, which means people could work on the land (if they wanted to) and on a primary career. A "distributed city", which I've argued for elsewhere, would use any given area for several different functions, massively decreasing the total human footprint. Greater efficiency in employment, production, and energy use would inevitably make people richer, not poorer. Farmers appear "poor" in pre-industrial societies because they are aggressively excluded from the rest of the economy, yet they must spend the same (large) sums of money on inefficient service provision as anyone else, not to mention expensive chemicals and machinery which they are told will "improve productivity". But yes, I agree there would be a rather precarious transition period, especially if not managed well.

I also thought it more logical that small scooters should be less polluting than cars, just based on their their lower fuel consumption. However, from my experience as a pedestrian and cyclist in Taiwan, I think the 3-4 times more polluting than cars statement sounds about right.

I did say "all else being equal". As you and others have said, scooters don't have an EMS or catalytic converter, and enforcement of scooter emissions is non-existent, so all else isn't equal. The government could simply legislate for very low tailpipe emissions (comparable to cars) or fuel mileage (say, 100km/l equivalent). There would be no need to explicitly ban anything: the only machines able to meet the standard without great expense would be the electric ones.

It's not possible for Taiwan to be self sufficient all the time, it is a small island with 22 million people packed together.

You're right that self-sufficiency for the sake of it is not economically sound. Certain things are better grown in Taiwan, certain things elsewhere. However, as GiT said, it's a national security issue. Taiwan should be capable of self-sufficiency. Taiwan's advantage is that it has a huge range of microclimates, so the possible crop diversity is quite incredible. Likewise with energy: Taiwan's large nuclear capacity is extremely vulnerable, whereas massively-distributed solar and wind (for example) would be very, very hard to bomb out of existence.
If it tried to grow all it's own food one or multiple typhoons could result in hyperinflation and starvation. One typhoon has the potential to wipe out crops over half the island. Drought could do the same. Plant disease, human pathogen epidemics, animal pathogen epidemics, multi year cycles of drought...they happen all the time.

A simple trade blockade by China would have exactly the same effect. The impact of drought, diseases, etc. can be allowed for and mitigated in a resilient design. Broadscale monocultures and animals in cramped, unsanitary conditions are particularly susceptible. Diversity and better land use would prevent local disease outbreaks becoming epidemics.
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why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

Postby headhonchoII » 18 Apr 2012, 13:02

Taiwan is too small to be self sufficient, it is far too risky an endeavour. Partially self sufficient is the ideal, then if you are forced to go to self sufficiency you have the capability to try to do that, it still doesn't guarantee that you could because Taiwan is small and crowded and needs to import energy and if China blockaded Taiwan there is a limit to what can be done with local resources, eventually there will be capitulation or starvation. I know what my bet is on. Anyway I think the likelihood of this scenario happening is extremely remote.
Taiwan could invest massively in distributed solar and wind, but it could not power cities, only the countryside, therefore Taiwan will still not be self sufficient and resistant to central power supplies being destroyed. The cities need steady energy sources to function.

Taiwan is not a survivalist camp in Utah somewhere.
I can remember the fourth of July runnin' through the backwood bare.
And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin' chasin' down a hoodoo there
Chasin' down a hoodoo there.
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Re: why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 18 Apr 2012, 14:15

finley wrote:
How to deal with stupid people breeding?

I think the simplest way would be to spread memes about the social desirability of contraception and the personal benefits of using it (in a way that would appeal to stupid people). Then hand out contraceptives like candy.
Maybe a better question would be: how to prevent the kids of stupid people becoming as stupid as their parents? After all, it's not really their fault that their parents are mouth-breathers. Not easy, but an interesting challenge.

The education system (which is the primary organisation that deals with this) seems to be fairly poor at achieving any of these things.

I just have a massive problem with democracy being two wolves (and stupid wolves at that) and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. Your idea about referenda open only to people who know what they're talking about is a good one, but wouldn't that kind of amount to the same thing, and be open to the same criticism as my proposal?

The nature of the question matters. At election time, people are asked "do you want this bunch of incompetent layabouts running the country, or this bunch of venal crooks?". There's no logical "best" solution, so your level of education (or your ability to make sound judgements) is irrelevant. In a gov't consultation, people are asked to detail a nuanced opinion. Stupid people self-filter, because they are (by definition) unable to express a coherent thought. Your method might have prevented the election of George Bush the Dumber, but not the election of Hitler.


Your idea of referenda and/or government consultation seem like a better idea then.

It keeps screwing up the quote function. There's an extra quote tag I can't delete.

HH: I'll leave the agriculture stuff mostly to finley as he seems to be dealing with it better.
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Re: why does everyone think taiwan is poor?

Postby finley » 18 Apr 2012, 16:48

Your idea of referenda and/or government consultation seem like a better idea then.

While cogitating randomly at 7-11 over coffee and ice-cream, it occurred to me that your solution would work very well if the politicians themselves were subjected to the exact same screening process. The election decision would then become a real decision (because the candidates wouldn't be blithering idiots or would-be dictators), and you would need some smarts to decide the optimal outcome and vote accordingly.

But yeah - I agree the right to vote should be earned in some way. The important thing is that nobody is permanently disenfranchised (the right to vote should not be dangled out of reach), because such people become malcontents. The main point of democracy is to give the appearance of participation and inclusivity ... even if it's just an illusion.

Taiwan is too small to be self sufficient, it is far too risky an endeavour.

I would say no more risky than outsourcing all your food and energy supplies to foreign powers who (at best) don't care whether you live or die, and will happily switch allegiances if China starts breathing fire. Elimination of food-trading markets would be suboptimal, but Taiwan has more than enough space to provide all its own food and energy needs. Getting back to the original topic, I think this sums up the attitude of many people here:
Taiwan is small and crowded and needs to import energy and if China blockaded Taiwan there is a limit to what can be done with local resources, eventually there will be capitulation or starvation.

Taiwanese people have a very low opinion of their country, when in fact it's bubbling over with potential. It's just lack of imagination that keeps the lid firmly nailed down. Sure, Taiwan is crowded, but not overcrowded. It seems overcrowded because space and resources are used thoughtlessly and without any national plan. It doesn't need to import energy: it chooses to. You could, for example, power 20 million electric scooters with less than 100km2 of low-cost (8% efficient) PV panels - in other words, with no wasted land area at all, since that could easily fit on rooftops. Japan - already quite efficient - have had to slash their power consumption by ~40%, with no "soft landing", and are doing just fine. Taiwan could do the same if it wanted. These things will have to be done sooner or later to take Taiwan to the next level of economic performance - to kick it out of it's "we're still poor" mindset.
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