Friday, April 27, 2012

Where’s the sense of national pride?

President Ma's inauguration, May 20, 2008
Cutting costs is one thing. Slashing budgets on symbols of national pride, while spending billions on celebrations for the ROC centennial, is something else 

With the much-vaunted Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) evidently failing to deliver on the government’s promise to improve the economy, and with inflationary concerns on the rise, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has decided to reduce costs. This makes sense, but there is a problem: These cuts are targeting the key symbols of nationhood. 

Nearly four years into Ma’s first term and less than a month before he embarks on his second, the state of Taiwan’s economy is rather underwhelming — especially for an administration that never misses an opportunity to accuse its predecessor of mishandling that very sector. The TAIEX is tumbling, salaries are stagnant, exports (even to China) are down and GDP growth has been sliced so often it might as well be salami. 

The only thing that has gone up during that period is the cost of living, a trend that is about to be exacerbated by major hikes in energy prices. 

As a responsible government that cares for the welfare of its people, the Ma administration has announced that the May 20 presidential inauguration ceremonies will cost no more than NT$6 million (US$200,000), 85 percent less than the cost of the inauguration in 2008 and 91 percent less than former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) inauguration in 2004. Among other things, a fireworks display and a party will be canceled, leaving pretty much just a banquet. 

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

1 comment:

Michael Fagan said...

I'm going to have to get myself a new copy of Daniel Defoe's story...

"Taiwanese and everybody else who cherishes democratic ideals deserve fireworks and a party on May 20, one that is worthy of the occasion."

Or how about a party at the end of March to remember the democratic sanctioning of the theft of the Wangs property? You can have fireworks for that too.

Let's be clear: if there is something to be cherished in democracy then it is only the abeyance of war, as per the inversion of Clauswitz's famous dictum - politics is war by other means.

Distilled to its ideal form, democracy is majoritarian predatory power unleashed from the necessary conditions of freedom: the negative rights of individuals. Indeed, although the hinderllectuals will still squawk for the observance of "human rights" from their citatory towers, these "rights" can necessarily be no more than contingent privileges that may be revoked at any moment under any old two-bit "public interest" trick.

The difference between totalitarian government and unlimited government is only a subtle one and this is why the DPP are finished. Aside from the abeyance of war, there is nothing to celebrate in democracy itself, and anyone who presumes to vote otherwise is no better than a cannibal clamouring for a spoonful of "social jusice".