Finger-pointing glosses over root of Taipei housing bubble
The China Post news staff
February 22, 2014, 12:03 am TWN
An opinion article by the author and TV news magazine program host Sisy Chen recently courted controversy. In the article, Chen compared home ownership in Taipei to the castle system in India, saying that people who have home-owning parents “have a colorful youth” while people who do not “can only dwell in some humble corners, destined to a black-and-white youth.” The skyrocketing prices of Taipei homes is the product of government impotence and dysfunction in the post-financial meltdown era, she continued to point out. “The government becomes a tool for interest groups, its policies become custom-designed ATMs for the affluent,” she said, concluding that “this nation has failed its young people.”
The article went viral. In a way befitting the Internet age, the most prominent response to the piece came not from Chen's fellow commentators but from a blogger. The blogger, reportedly surnamed Lin, criticized Chen for pampering an already spoiled generation. The online author, who wrote under an online handle “Berkshire Hathaway,” the name of the holding company owned by famous U.S. investor Warren Buffett, scolded Chen that “Taiwan's young people are already spineless enough, now you've told them 'this is not your fault.' (Your article) urges me to hurry up and post this piece to correct this ridiculous mainstream opinion in society.”
The blogger went on to tell Taiwan's youth that “the nation has not failed you, you have failed yourself.” “Berkshire Hathaway” described Taiwan's middle class as “very lucky” in comparison to those in other Asian countries. While Taiwan's starting salaries are relatively low, the nation has a high standard of living in terms of the public's purchasing power, he said in a point widely agreed by people who commented on his or her blog. He also pointed out that while home prices are high in Taipei, the rent in the city is relatively low compared to other Asian metropolises.
The blogger challenged those who complain about Taiwan's wage stagnation and labor exploitation to either “leave the country and work somewhere else” or to “start your own company and share all your profits with the poor.”