The Leader of a Nation Should Be Preoccupied with Economic Growth
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 26, 2010
Executive Summary: Tsai Ing-wen said "President Ma's head is filled only with thoughts of economic growth and increased GDP." This is truly flabbergasting. The Cold War is over. Ideology is in retreat. Globalization has transformed economic and trade relations, The key to national governance is now economic governance. Economic growth and increased GDP are the key indicators of sound economic governance. If the president's head is indeed "filled only with thoughts of economic development and increased GDP," so what? What is wrong with that?
Full Text below:
Cross-Strait issues have vanished from the five cities election campaigns without a trace. Even economic issues seem to have faded from the agenda. Fortunately at the eleventh hour, DPP leaders have seen fit to remind everyone they have not forgotten it. At a campaign rally Tsai Ing-wen told the crowd that even though many people remain in dire economic straits, the KMT chose to hold a carnival style parade. She said "President Ma's head is filled only with thoughts of economic growth and increased GDP."
President Ma responded to Tsai Ing-wen's criticism. He said that without economic growth, how can one equalize the distribution of wealth? How can one extricate people from their economic plight? Whether political parties should hold carnival style parades depends on whom you ask. But to condemn the leader of a nation for being concerned about the state of the economy, and to characterize his concern as some sort of delusion or sin, is truly incomprehensible. Whether President Ma's head is in fact "filled only with thoughts of economic growth and increased GDP" is another matter. But ensuring economic growth is the key to governing a nation. If a president is preoccupied with the economy, we can hardly say that is wrong.
Chen Shui-bian governed for eight years. He drained all vitality out of the economy. As a result industries withered on the vine. Many young and middle-aged workers remain unemployed. The DPP can hardly shirk responsibility. After assuming office the Ma administration removed political and economic shackles. As a result Taiwan's economy has gradually climbed out of the financial crisis. This year Taiwan's growth rate will be close to 10%, establishing a record 20 year high. Per capita income is expected to reach 19,000 USD, breaking through the barrier of the past decade. Unemployment has fallen below 5%. Therefore although "many people remain in dire economic straits," one can hardly wipe away the economic achievements of the Ma administration in one fell swoop.
When the Democratic Progressive Party was in office, how many times did it say it was determined to "revitalize the economy?" When Chen Shui-bian took office in 2000 and established the Economic Development Council, he vowed to "revitalize the economy." What followed instead was "My daughter has now been married," "I have now become a grandfather," "My son Chih-chung has now married," and so on, and so forth. Chen Shui-bian solemnly declared at least 28 times that "The most important task during my term of office will be economic revitalization." This means that Chen Shui-bian also knew that economic growth was the key to national governance. But selfishness and corruption during his eight years of misrule saw the economy go from bad to worse. Only in his private vaults did the piles of money grown higher and higher.
Chen Shui-bian paid empty lip service to economic revitalization. Tsai Ing-wen has yet to utter a single word of apology. Ma Ying-jeou has dramatically improved the nation's economy. Yet she accuses him of ignoring the feelings of the poor. Tsai Ing-wen's political compass appears to be broken. Perhaps someone should provide her with one that works. Lest we forget, when the DPP was in office, it set a record for the highest suicide rate in Taiwan's history, not to mention a wave of young and middle-aged unemployment. This makes Tsai Ing-wen's accusations against Ma Ying-jeou even more incredible.
The problem can be seen from two perspectives. First, the factual perspective. No sooner had the Ma administration taken office, than the financial tsunami struck. As a result the economy failed to improve "immediately." But as we can see today, it did improve "steadily." By contrast, the DPP is playing the "good governance" card. If it is referring to its economic performance during its eight years in office, it can't begin to compare with the Ma administration. Secondly, the social perspective. Although the DPP has expressed concern for disadvantaged members of society, it has not in fact promoted economic growth or increased our GDP. This means its effusive expressions of concern are nothing more than hypocritical and empty talk. The DPP expects to dispense economic subsidies even as it neglects economic growth. No economic system can do what the DPP expects. For example, the DPP canceled relief for the elderly in Taoyuan County, but then placed the blame on Chu Li-lun. What did the DPP do, but shoot itself in the foot?
Tsai Ing-wen opposed ECFA. Therefore she issued a statement opposing economics first and export-oriented policies. Today she is apparently even more opposed to concern for economic growth and increased GDP. This is truly flabbergasting. The Cold War is over. Ideology is in retreat. Globalization has transformed economic and trade relations, The key to national governance is now economic governance. Economic growth and increased GDP are the key indicators of sound economic governance. Tsai Ing-wen snickered, "President Ma's head is filled only with thoughts of economic growth." Perhaps the people should ask Tsai the same question. "What is your head filled with?" If economic growth is unimportant, what is?
Chen Shui-bian once said that "Even if I revitalize the economy, that does not mean I will get reelected." But will ruining the economy get one reelected? Besides, if one is incapable of revitalizing the economy, what is one capable of doing? And if one is incapable of implemeting the necessary supporting policies, how can one do a good job of revitalizing the economy? The DPP ruled for eight years. It failed to implement the necessary supporting policies. As a result, the economy went from bad to worse.
"Economic growth" is not an isolated concept. As far as Taiwan is concerned, cross-Strait relations and the domestic investment environment must be improved before one can improve the economy. Therefore if a national leader's "head is filled only with thoughts of economic growth and increased GDP," he must as a matter of course successfully implement the necessary supporting policies. If the president's head is indeed "filled only with thoughts of economic development and increased GDP," so what? What is wrong with that?
2010.11.26 02:56 am