Thursday, 2 June 2016


"If the government’s start-ups initiative is only for Taiwanese firms, then such a mind-set would not help Taiwan to achieve its goal of becoming an Asian innovation hub, he [Tung Tzu-hsien (童子賢) - ed] said."
One part of the problem is obviously laws and regulations; like most developed countries, Taiwan is monstrously over-governed in many respects and yet there is ample reason to suspect the laws and regulations (e.g. those concerning food safety) are not effective. As stated in the article itself, the laws and regulations restricting the activities of foreigners in Taiwan (although some of these have recently been somewhat relaxed) are a nightmare. As a personal example, I was offered work in a certain export area three years ago but I couldn't take it up owing to the stupid labour regulations ostensibly intended to benefit me. It is only recently, after living here for over a decade, that I have the legal permission arising from my permanent residency and open work permit to pursue things like that.

A second part of the problem is probably the education "system". It is a nightmare of permanent drudgery, alienation, stupidity, ignorance and ... testing to see how much of the shit has been retained in the poor kids' short-term memory. There will always be a part of me which, like Lieutenant Colonel Slade, would prefer to take a fucking flame thrower to the whole thing.

A third part of the problem might be the culture, and in particular family structure. Taiwan does not have a nuclear family culture but a culture based on the extended family with various forms of interdependence between the grandparents, parents and children. How many Taiwanese have been discouraged from even starting out on new ideas due to the remonstrations of their family members, particularly the older figures? We'll never know, but I can tell you this: in my eleven years here I have come to expect all kinds of idiotic superstitious bullshit from Taiwanese old people.

It really should be obvious to anyone that this idea of Tsai's to "create" a Taiwanese version of Silicon Valley is almost certainly not going to work. This is not to say that Taiwanese people should not be ambitious or optimistic; they should. But they should not be so delusional as to think that something as great as that could ever be "created" by any government, whether green, blue or any other denomination. It is odd for me to find something in the pages of the Fuckwit Times that I can actually agree with; it does sometimes happen but nowhere near often enough.


  1. To the list of problems you might also want to add the 1) severe academic inflation, and 2) the system of universal (male) conscription which either leads to a year of drudgery or three-years of R&D Alternative Service, neither of which seem particularly conducive to cultivating a "start-up mindset".

    Note that a graduate degree is a requirement for R&D Alternative Service so the two problems may be somewhat connected.

  2. Yes. The military conscription is counter-productive. It might not be so bad if it was a year spent entirely on firearms training and infantry tactics, but it's a year spent cleaning toilets, listening to speeches and various other "activities".

    Privatizing the universities would solve several problems at a stroke; it would calibrate education to strictly market values, whether as preparation for a given field of endeavor or as an end in itself but only what people would pay for; it would also free up a large amount of money in the government budget which could be spent elsewhere, e.g. paying off debt or better funding the military.


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