One of the most pressing issues that we have observed during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, besides the medical aspects, is that of money. Of course most of these discussions in the halls of power revolve around items such as bailing out multinational corporations after they dumped all of their profits into stock buybacks or simply dumping trillions of tax dollars into the market. One would be justified in wondering why these giant corporations manage to get so much money from the workers when they themselves often shirk the tax responsibilities required of true patriots. What about us? This is a question now that must be addressed in Taiwan.
Taiwan does have a bit of a unique position in the current Covid drenched world. Due in part to their history with the CCP in China, the small nation of islands avoided any real outbreak for over a year. Unfortunately, earlier this year, due to loose regulations on pilots and elderly men who couldn’t keep their hands to themselves (or tell the truth about their daughters’ whereabouts), Taiwan is now in fighting to get back down to zero local cases per day.
It should be said that aside from the hubris that let the initial cases slip through, which could have led to Taiwan ending up like the next America without the international clout (read giant military) or vaccine manufacturing capabilities to dig its way out, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), led by Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) has done a very good job keeping Taiwan safe and relatively open simultaneously. Unfortunately, it is impossible to expect people to distance and stay home as much as possible while still maintaining a the same level of economic generation. Some percentage of citizens will see their income drop or even disappear. There are many ways that we can help prevent people from falling through the cracks.
One is to pay people to stay home. If people can work from home, let ’em. Cry your tears that the workforce might be slightly less productive, there’s evidence to say other wise, but regardless the country will be safer and LESS PEOPLE WILL DIE. If people are not able to work from home but need to stay home for some other reason (childcare, care for themselves/a loved one, their job isn’t crucial to the basic function of the nation, they want to start a book club, whatever), they should be paid to stay home as they are doing a very patriotic thing in inconveniencing themselves for the health and future of the nation (and world). Those that must continue working away from home should be vaccinated as soon as possible* and paid hazard pay for putting themselves in harms way to protect the nation, like true patriots. This would allow Taiwan, and other nations, to drop local cases to 0 as soon as possible while ensuring that everyone can take care of themselves until the virus is eradicated.
Now some oligarch apologists may come to protest, screeching “What about the economy?!” The short answer is “I don’t care.” The economy has never really been a good indicator of how workers are doing. For those still worried about how this may affect your darling overloads, the economy often does well when workers, who unlike the rich have things they actually need to buy that intern help spur the general economy unlike rich people who pool their money in niche back corners of the market in order to flout and protect their wealth, have money they often spend it. This is especially true in a pandemic when incomes are generally lower and costs continue or even increase. Most importantly FEWER PEOPLE WILL DIE.
Currently, because Taiwan collectively worked together and scarified to push back the ever potential tsunami of infections and deaths, many would likely think these measures unnecessary. I would argue its better to go with a sure thing than take a reckless bet for the future of your country, as we have already seen the world round, it just takes one small mistake.
Complacency is a risk that could lead to widespread infections costing the state likely billions in medical bills. This would also take workers out of the GREAT ECONOMY! If transmission starts to spread out of control it would also lead to scores of dead and the implosion of the economy. There are other smaller fixes, though less comprehensive and thus packing less punch, that may and in cases have been implemented.
Taiwan itself has even implemented some of these measures. Last year it rolled out a voucher program that allowed for those in Taiwan to essentially spend 1000 NTD to get 3000 NTD (about 100 USD), and according to many it was a success. It wasn’t without issue though as many foreigners were initially completely barred from the program, though later were allowed to join in though only after a number of Taiwanese nationals didn’t claim theirs. Now another plan currently being implemented is facing some of the same issues.
Taiwan has put in place a direct payment program to help subsidize the costs of those who have been impacted by Covid in Taiwan. However, like the previous program this one falls short of helping all it could. Only people with Taiwanese national IDs could initially apply, this meant that essentially no foreign workers had access to these funds even though many other them are directly impacted by the pandemic. This was eventually augmented and now those with alien residency cards (ARC/APRC) may now apply. However, some brilliant triangulationist oligarch fondler decided it would be a fantastic idea to means test the usefulness out of most of the measure.
This rocket surgeon decided to use previous taxes as a means of deciding if you were in need enough for the stimulus, this moronic calculation was also made around the world, including surrounding some of the US stimulus. The issue with this is, it’s not 2019/2020 anymore. A lot of people who were doing pretty well for themselves last year are currently unemployed due to restrictions placed on them (for good reason) by the same governments that decided this was the best path. This is the equivalent to going to the doctor for a shattered collarbone and them telling you that your previous years’ medical records don’t show any sign of fractures.
This is why universal programs are the only choice. Sure some dingus will say, “But rich people don’t need that money!” While this is true it completely misses the point. With universal programs no one would be left out. Also it should be noted that most of the people who are “soiling their pants over the rich getting some less than 1000 USD in stimulus would also refuse to raise taxes or cut loopholes that allow the rich to steal from the countries they operate in. If someone is really worried about the rich receiving what they would make in seconds through their manipulation of government via their vast fortunes, tax them accordingly.
The longer we wait to ensure citizens can remain at home comfortably, the larger the risk that the fire we are playing with rages out of control, it also means more people will suffer and die. Anything short of this is the government shirking its responsibility to the citizens its negligent acts, however many of few there were, have put in peril. Governments should do the right thing, pay people to stay home and drop the means testing BS.
*We will not be getting into Taiwan’s vaccine issues in this article because they are deserving of articles themselves. Not only which vaccines but also how/who to get them from, local vaccine research, and on and on. Also, we have and will continue to discuss this on The Free China Pod, and in future article on the site.