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June 25, 2017

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Double Tenth National Day extravaganza not proper

Taiwan celebrated this year's Double Tenth National Day with a showy and costly extravaganza; the trendy and morally cheap demonstration was not proper or fitting for the solemn occasion meant to memorialize the revolution in Wuchang on Oct. 10, 1911 that toppled the Manchu Qing Empire. A celebration that should have been somber was turned into a farcical show to entertain those in attendance and couch potatoes who glued their eyes on the TV screen to share in the fun.

The extravagant celebration, sponsored nominally by the private National Day Organizing Committee but paid for by the government, should have been avoided, as the country is currently burdened with a mountain of national debt and is having a hard time making ends meet. The reason the event was such a travesty is that it set an example for local government heads who will now feel justified in organizing exorbitantly expensive parties to mark whatever memorable occasions come to their minds to amuse and win over eligible voters in their next elections.

The frugality that helped make China the world's longest surviving civilization, not thanks to our spendthrift politicians alone of course, is no longer a value in Taiwan. It has become a dirty word after great macroeconomists began persuading people the world over to spend as much as they can to boost the economy. But we are forgetting frugality, which, together with hard work, helped Taiwan achieve the economic miracle of the last century. Our people would rather have fun than work hard and expect politicians to provide them with nonsensical fun.

The situation here now is pretty much like that in ancient Rome. At the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire, emperors and politicians had to entertain Roman citizens by showering them with an extravagant entertainment at the Colosseum, where gladiatorial contests and public spectacles took place. Roman politicians had to entertain citizens, who forgot they had to work hard to earn their enjoyment, in order just to get re-elected. The empire lost its once powerful Roman legions and had to hire mercenaries for its self-defense and collapsed.

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