Monday, 26 July 2010

Strictly Orwellian: Tseng Shu-Cheng

"Because land prices in Taiwan are not subject to any restrictions, the cost of the land is generally high..."
Tseng Shu-Cheng (apparently "dean of the College of Visual Arts at Tainan National University of the Arts") displaying a despicable degree of economic illiteracy in the Timid Times today.

No. The ultimate cause of high land prices in Taiwan is simply the naturally limited supply of useful land together with high market demand for it - whilst it is of course true to claim that government restrictions on land prices would make land cheaper and thus more affordable, such a claim can only be used to pass over in deliberate ignorance the anti-ethical who-eats-who implied by the question "more affordable for whom?".
"We never hear about those farmers who do not want the classification of their farmland changed, those who want to continue to till the land. These farmers, however, are in the minority and their values are out of step with mainstream opinion."
There you are - the farmers are in a minority, or "out of step with mainstream opinion" as Tseng would have them salt-and-peppered, so they get to watch their property and the work of their lives fished out of the democratic pot on the end of a privileged "expropriation" spoon and swallowed up by Hon Hai Precision Industry Company Ltd.
"Many countries with a free market economy have placed controls on the price of land. Germany is a good example of this... because the government has to acquire land at the market price, it is forced to implement policies to control prices."
Any country in which the government exercises price controls cannot logically be considered to enjoy a "free market" economy; the establishment of price controls is the essential anti-thesis to a market in which prices are set freely by fluctuations in the aggregate ratios of supply and demand. Tseng's assertion is strictly Orwellian (or should that now be called "a strict Turton-toggle"?) and anyone who would mouth that 2+2=5 logic while keeping a straight face is nothing less than dishonest and perhaps quite a bit more besides that.


  1. I agree that if property can be "expropriated" at any time (using coercive force to redistribute from the actual owner to another owner) it really is not property. It really is not owned by the owner when the owner has no say over it.

    The purpose of government is to protect one's rights from theft, rather than acting neutral by ignoring the theft. Here, however, the government is itself doing the theft.

    As for government-imposed price controls, they end up making things more expensive in the long run, not cheaper. The disaster of rent controls illustrate this point.

    Other interventions, such as height restrictions and forcing developers to mandatory open spaces, limit the supply floor space available. This decrease in useage results in higher prices.

  2. Thank you "Anonymous", but I look at your words...

    "The purpose of government is to protect one's rights from theft..."

    ... and I would ask you to consider three points: (a) whose rights? (b) from whose authority can this "purpose" of government arise? and (c) how?


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