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Finger-pointing glosses over root of Taipei housing bubble

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.”

February 22, 2014    chenjohn2@
I like this well-reasoned editorial. Though I share Chen's and Lin's "disappointment", one with the weak Ma admin, the other with the weak younger generation. Ma will go down in history as Taiwan's worst president if he fails to provide affordable housing to the middle classes in his remaining term of office. As for the younger generation, one is disappointed because they leave their protests against lack of opportunity, poor pay, work exploitation and housing problem to their professors and the media; at most they join demos for only the media's causes. Or they are too busy, in queues for sales, free gifts or for (repetitive) pop shows, snow caps on mountains and sea resort and other night markets. Yes, they are poor but they are Taiwan's hedonists; which does keep the economy going!
June 22, 2014    taipeir2001@
Since then the youth stepped up big time, I don't think the government is listening.

Sissy Chen is correct Taiwan’s income gap is getting too big.
June 24, 2014    ludahai_twn@
The income and wealth gap today in Taiwan is one of the worst in the developed world, and is getting worse. Thanks Ma and Chinese KMT.
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