Monday, October 22, 2007

Why the Government is Paralysed: Economic Microcephaly and Political Huntington's Disease

Why the Government is Paralysed: Economic Microcephaly and Political Huntington's Disease
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
October 22, 2007

The Chen regime's performance for the past seven and a half years can be summed up two ways: One, its international standing has deteriorated steadily, yet its reaction is to butt its head against the wall. Two, its domestic policies are an unmitigated catastrophe, yet its reaction is to spend money as if there were no tomorrow. Sudden price increases have left the government at a complete loss. Yet the government's reaction is to redouble its efforts to "Join the UN." Its reaction is to neglect the welfare of the people, by tilting at windmills, and putting the cart before the horse. The government is paralyzed by its own incompetence.

Leave aside increases in the price of produce following Typhoon Krosa. The government has never had a policy for dealing with increases in the price of oil or consumer goods. It has done nothing but watch from the sidelines. Whether the problem is short-term commodity price fluctuations or long-term supply chain adjustments, the Chen regime has essentially abandoned the ordinary citizen and left him to fend for himself. But all it takes is a single order from Chen Shui-bian to promote the "Join the UN" campaign, and a sluggish and unresponsive bureaucracy immediately springs to life. The post office, the water company, the power company, and other public services cooperate by stamping "Join the UN" slogans on everything from private correspondence to utility bills. When senior citizens collect their monthly social security checks, local governments misappropriate their chops and affix them to "Join the UN" petitions without their knowledge or authorization. Central government agencies compete with each other contributing to the "Join the UN" campaign. From top to bottom, everyone is in perfect lockstep. The efficiency is astonishing.

The government is indifferent to the welfare of the people or the health of the economy. By contrast, it is passionate about political mobilization. Superficially this would seem to reflect the ruling regime's monomania and irrationality. In fact, the root of the problem is the ruling party's inability to solve real problems by normal methods. Therefore all it can do is play political games. All it can do is set off smoke grenades, diverting the public's attention. In fact, the Chen regime's "irrational" political games are in fact rational calculations based on an awareness of its own incompetence. Such a regime is more frightening than one that is merely insane. Such a regime is so cold-blooded it would consciously sacrifice the future of the nation for selfish political advantage.

Why are people incapable of bettering the economic circumstances of the people, able to do such an enthusiatic job of promoting the "Join the UN" campaign? It's no secret. It's because the "Join the UN" campaign requires only obeying orders from above. It does not require individual intelligence or independent judgment. But dealing with even minor issues such as fluctuations in the price of green onions, requires precise market information and specialized administrative ability. It requires balancing the interests of farmers, merchants and consumers. But the Chen regime's populist nature ensures that it will attempt to appease all parties. Therefore whenever it encounters such a lose/lose/lose situation, it has no solutions. All it can do is pretend not to hear the people's complaints.

From beginning to end, the "Join the UN" movement has been a campaign requiring no thought. It is something "easier done than said." That's because the government is not actually seeking to "Join the UN." It is merely seeking to exploit "Join the UN" propaganda for political advantage. The target of the government's propaganda is not foreign governments, but domestic voters. What's so difficult about that? Spending the public's money to wash the public's brains, all the while trumpeting the process as a heroic undertaking. What could be easier than that?

As long as postal service and electric company officials obey orders, they are assured of glowing performance reviews. As long as financial, economic, and defense officials comply with orders to provide funds and stage skydiving shows, they have demonstrated their fealty to the regime. Under such circumstances, what need do executive branch officials have for independent thought? Or even brains? Hence the spectacle of Government Information Office Chief Hsieh Chi-wei leaping to the podium to respond to questions directed at Chang Chun-hsiung, without being summoned. Hence the spectacle of Vice Minister of Finance Li Jui-tsang ordering civil servants to participate in a signature drive for the "Plebiscite to Join the UN." Hence the spectacle of Minister of Finance Ho Chih-chin denying all knowledge of such an order. Hence the spectacle of the Executive Yuan claiming that increasing garbage collection fees did not constitute decision-making, and passing the buck to the Environmental Protection Agency. What are these confused thoughts and moral inversions, if not classic symptoms of microcephaly? Under such circumstances, for Frank Hsieh to equate the economic welfare of the people with the "feeding of pigs, dogs, and chickens" is hardly surprising.

When the Chen Shui-bian administration first took office it payed lip service to reform. Over the past two years, not only have chants of "reform" died on the wind, so have boasts about "bolstering the economy." Obviously, the ruling regime knows its lies have been refuted by its own actions. Last year the Japanese media used the term "necrotic" to describe the dysfunctional state of the Chen regime. Most worrisome today is that Taiwan will be despoiled by a political authority in an advanced state of necrosis. How can the people hope for a peaceful existence under a regime afflicted with both "Economic Microcephaly" and "Political Huntington's Disease?"

The government has reduced the nation's problems to a single issue. If only we can hold a "Plebiscite to Join the UN," they promise, then we enter a Brave New World. How many times will ROC citizens fall for this Big Lie? The Democratic Progressive Party's fanaticism conceals a bigger secret. To paraphrase a popular expression: "It's your incompetence, stupid!"

2007.10.22 03:50 am









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