Does Everyone Have Multiple Personality Disorder?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 23, 2012
Summary: Opposition parties have a duty to oversee the government. But while
overseeing others, one also has a duty to be logically consistent. One
may not oppose everything indiscriminately. One may not contradict
oneself from one day to the next. Think back to US beef imports, ECFA,
gasoline and electricity rate hikes, and capital gains taxes. The DPP has
opposed everything from beginning to end. It has pointed the finger at
others, while remaining blind to the contradictions in its own position.
The DPP has "Multiple Personality Disorder."
Full Text below:
Opposition parties have a duty to oversee the government. But while overseeing others, one also has a duty to be logically consistent. One may not oppose everything indiscriminately. One may not contradict oneself from one day to the next. Think back to US beef imports, ECFA, gasoline and electricity rate hikes, and capital gains taxes. The DPP has opposed everything from beginning to end. It has pointed the finger at others, while remaining blind to the contradictions in its own position. The DPP has "Multiple Personality Disorder."
Take ECFA and FTAs. On the one hand, the DPP condemns ECFA. It argues that ECFA is not as effective as the Ma administration says it is. On the other hand, it advocates FTAs with the US and Europe. But ECFA is an FTA. It may not be as effective as initially anticipated. But one thing we can be sure of. Without ECFA Taiwan's economic and industrial plight would be far worse.
It gets worse. On the one hand the DPP condemns the Ma administration's Mainland policy, saying it "panders to [Mainland] China." It claims this makes Taiwan's trade and economy dependent upon the Mainland. It obdurately opposes US beef imports. It has launched several "sneak attacks" in the Legislative Yuan. It has demanded the passage of a "Zero Clenbuterol Act" that would destroy Taipei/Washington relations. The ruling and opposition parties both know that permitting U.S. beef imports is the policy issue with the biggest impact on current and future Taipei/Washington relations. Washington no longer drops hints about the importance of US beef imports to Taipei/Washington relations. Washington shouts it, loud and clear. U.S. beef imports affects Taipei/Washington relations, It also affects TIFA (Trade and Investment Framework Agreement). US beef imports will determine whether consultations between Taipei and Washington resume.
Washington has made the situation crystal clear. Yet the DPP continues to use "national health" as its pretext for continued opposition to U.S. beef imports. Taiwan desperately needs a solution to its economic and trade problems. But the DPP has none. Taiwan's largest exporter is the Chinese Mainland, The DPP is alarmed about that. It opposes expanded cross-Strait economic and trade relations, cross-strait investment, Mainland investments on Taiwan, or Taiwan investments on the Mainland, It oppose every one of them. But Taiwan has another important trading partner, the US. The US is Taiwan's second largest exporter. The DPP yammers on about how the government must expedite an FTA between Taipei and Washington, even as it mulishly opposes US beef imports. As a result Taipei and Washington cannot even sign TIFA, which is not even an FTA.
The DPP condemns the government's gasoline and electricity price hikes. Hsu Hsing-liang, currently a candidate for DPP chairman, has even staged a hunger strike. But has the DPP forgotten its anti-nuclear stance? Has it forgotten its vision of a nuclear-free homeland? To achieve a nuclear-free homeland, one must first increase the percentage of renewable energy. One must then improve energy efficiency and reduce electricity demand. These goals require higher, more reasonable gasoline and electricity prices. The government must not artificially depress gasoline and electricity prices. It must not bleed red ink in order to provide subsidies. Artificially low gasoline and electricity prices inevitably lead to wasteful use of resources. They make it impossible for higher priced renewable energy to survive and prosper.
The opposition DPP has also accused the government of borrowing too much. The national debt has reached new heights. Meanwhile, the price of gasoline and electricity are kept artificially low. That means each year the government spends hundreds of billions of dollars subsidizing gasoline and electricity. Doesn't this increase the government's fiscal burden? Is the DPP really oblivious to its own contradictions?
Now take the capital gains tax. During the presidential election the DPP called for a "fair and just society." But tax experts and citizen's groups have stressed that the capital gains tax is the first step to social equality. But where does the DPP stand? The DPP does not dare openly oppose the capital gains tax. But while criticizing the Ma administration, it stresses that shareholders would lose money. When the DPP held its "Condemn Ma Protest March," one group demanded "fairness." Why is the DPP so evasive about the capital gains tax, even when launching sneak attacks in opposition? Just how is it championing equality?
Actually, the DPP is not alone. Society as a whole is this way, Everyone ignores the cost of reform. But as the saying goes, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." Do the opposition DPP and the public truly object to the widening gap between rich and poor? Do they truly object to social injustice? Do they truly demand reform? If they do, the capital gains tax and even the real estate tax are essential. Just know that if one promotes them, one must be willing to bear the cost -- lower short-term stock prices.
Do the opposition DPP and the public truly appreciate Taiwan's loss of economic and trade competitiveness and the widening gap between Taiwan and South Korea? If they do, we must sign FTAs with other nations as soon as possible. Only then can we reverse our decline. Everyone must understand that negotiating FTAs is a give and take proposition. If we want the other side to open its markets and lower its tariffs, we must make the same concessions. That is why when Korea signed an FTA with the United States, Back home protests erupted everywhere. Disturbances broke out in the legislature. Given the political atmosphere and the posture adopted by the opposition DPP, we can take but not give. Where in the world can one find international negotiations like these? The business community has repeatedly urged accelerated follow-up negotiations over ECFA, One reason is our representatives are authorized only to take, not to give. They are afraid to be scolded upon their return, Naturally negotiations like this are bound to run aground. Beijing's FTA with Seoul will be finalized. Follow-up negotiations on ECFA will remain incomplete. Taiwan will watch as it loses everything.
In today's world there are two typical extremes. In Greece, political rivalry, partisan bickering, and populism overshadowed professionalism. What was the result? Just look at Greece's political and economic fate. South Korea had internal quarrels. But at least the government and the public kept moving ahead. As a result the economy and industry continued to grow. It grew so much Taipei, Beijing, and Tokyo now hope to join forces against it. The lesson is staring us in the face. The opposition DPP and the public have some serious soul-searching to do.