Thursday, 13 August 2009

Reductions In Public Spending Aren't Enough


With respect to Annette Lu’s comments reported yesterday (08/10/2009) concerning the current KMT administration’s efforts to publicise the benefits of the economic cooperation framework agreement, I should like to add a few of my own.

I am in agreement with her on the importance of the lack of FTA negotiations with countries other than China. Taiwan’s continued survival as a civilized nation depends on international trade – the alternative is a descent into the barbarity of “cool” leftyism.

Yet the contingent factor here lies not with the actions of a government – but with their inaction, and more specifically incapacity for action. The point about an FTA is that it is an agreement between the governments of two countries NOT to act, or (more accurately) to act less.

And that is the essence of the point I wish to draw attention to. An alternative strategy to securing Taiwan’s future as an independent free-trading nation is to reduce the size and scope of government power.

In some respects Taiwan is already well-placed to continue to cultivate a culture of flowering entrepreneurship and weeding out of government meddling with the choices of its’ individual citizens.

Currently, government spending is approximately 18.8% of GDP (according to the Heritage Foundation), but this figure could and should be much reduced. The danger for the future is not that the government’s policies of tax and spend (or borrow and spend, or inflate and spend) will not be reduced – they will have to be as a simple matter of political survival – but that cuts in services will not be accompanied by cuts in government power.

Although the government will eventually need to reduce public spending, it will do so without relinquishing its’ grip over such crucial markets as education and healthcare. The services will be cut, but the beaurocracy, taxes, subsidies and regulations will remain.

It is therefore all the more necessary to call for these markets in particular to be liberated from all government involvement forthwith. It would be an enduring and contemptible irony upon the soul of each and every Taiwanese man and woman in the decade to come to have remembered staring down the tyrannical threat of Beijing whilst turning a blind eye to the consolidation of political power within Taipei.

The fight for individual freedom must be taken to all tyrants – not just those far-away ones in Beijing.


Michael Fagan

(Sent: Monday August 10th 2009. Unpublished by the Taipei Times).