Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Monday, 23 February 2009
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 04:51

More Than Just a Meal

Aurelie comments on one of the photographs she took for a book presenting twelve associations in Taiwan. Read her introduction to the project below.

A three-storied house on a hill in Muzha, on a Saturday afternoon. In the playground, young kids have a nap after lunchtime. At first sight, you would think you are in a kindergarten. But as I enter, nannies disinfect my hands. Others are giving ‘magic cocktails’, which is medication, to some children. Upstairs, elder kids have class with a volunteer teacher. We are in an orphanage where some children carry HIV, run by Yangjie, a ’second mum’ to the 24 children.
Yangjie’s devotion to the children is a story of love and fight for life; offering a second chance to the ones who need it the most.

This photo book is a story full of interesting encounters, emotions captured through the lens of a camera… The twelve people in this book have different backgrounds and stories to tell, but to me they were one and the same: people who went through difficult times and now are making a difference in the society for others.

For example, after the sudden death of her husband, Mrs Wu built an association to welcome single parents. Following the 1999 earthquake, which devastated Nantou County, Mr 廖振益 built ‘Longyan Community‘ to distribute lunch boxes to the ones in need. Now, these associations have grown bigger and I could see how the combined efforts of the community can put an end to loneliness and turn it into positive energy.

Problems do not simply disappear and it takes time to learn to live with them, but as Mrs Wu working at “Single Families Association” in Taipei, told me: “When I am helping the people coming here, I am also helping myself”. Indeed, as handicaps or hard times affect people’s lives, it can also mean a new beginning to one’s life, a new experience, a new challenge.

All the pictures in this book are matters of reflection to me, and make me think of what can still be worked on: A better access to normal education for children carrying HIV, training courses other than massage courses for blind people, more programs of rehabilitations for ex-prisoners…

As I was photographing, I learned more about the Taiwanese society. These people could be me or you. And as it did for me, I hope this book will call for more collective awareness among others.

Here is the link to Oliver Yang, the other photographer with whom I worked on this project:
photoxgo

Attached media :

For readers in mainland China:

Monday, 23 February 2009 20:42

铁匠

Ever since the start of our current financial disaster various economists and pundits have been comparing first the US banking problems with Japan’s, and then more recently the infrastructure-heavy stimulus program with Japan’s construction state. NYT has a substantial article that easily marks the most high profile comparison yet. I’m certainly no economist and I’m not even taking the time to look at numbers right now, but my quick take on the issue is that the comparison is being significantly overblown, but it is still a very worthwhile comparison to make, so that Japan’s various successes and mistakes can be absorbed as lessons. See the following summation of Japan’s massive pork spending:

“Dr. Ihori of the University of Tokyo did a survey of public works in the 1990s, concluding that the spending created almost no additional economic growth. Instead of spreading beneficial ripple effects across the economy, he found that the spending actually led to declines in business investment by driving out private investors. He also said job creation was too narrowly focused in the construction industry in rural areas to give much benefit to the overall economy.

He agreed with other critics that the 1990s stimulus failed because too much of it went to roads and bridges, overbuilding this already heavily developed nation. Critics also said decisions on how to spend the money were made behind closed doors by bureaucrats, politicians and the construction industry, and often reflected political considerations more than economic. Dr. Ihori said the United States appeared to be striking a better balance by investing in new energy and information-technology infrastructure as well as replacing aging infrastructure.”

Japan’s huge boom in public works spending was less a national stimulus program than a gigantic rural welfare program of pork-barrel projects designed to prop up the ailing LDP in its long decline. The money was largely directed not to the areas where it would benefit the largest number of people, but the areas where it would benefit the largest number of politicians. This was not done entirely out purely cynical political motives but also due to a genuine desire to arrest the decline of the rural regions themselves, in the face of continuing urbanization and a decline in Japan’s traditional and lionized (if anachronistic) agricultural lifestyle. Regardless of intent, a huge proportion (I won’t use words like “most” without looking at actual numerical research) of the spending was “stimulus” but not “investment”.
I am very, very wary of the general principal of “economic stimulus.” I am not opposed to government spending, or even large amounts of government spending, as long as it is being spent on something that is actually necessary or build further value in the future, i.e. services or investment. I think this attitude should be obvious from the mass transit funding letter I wrote and posted in my blog
. In short, I worry that the discussions on spending currently ongoing in Washington may turn into a series of worthless boondoggle projects oriented at unpopulated rural areas, combined with random tax cuts and other expenditures poorly aimed at short-term (i.e. one election cycle) economic recovery, while continuing to ignore the trillions of dollars in outstanding repairs or upgrades as well as vital new investment that the country needs. I think it’s safe to say that politicians are going to spend this money. The question is, what will it buy us? Would we rather have a bunch of bridges to nowhere, vacant museums and amusement parks in virtually deserted rural towns, and paved-over mountain tops, or would we rather have a modern electrical grid, mass transit that at least meets late 20th century standards if not 21st century, a safe and reliable water system, bridges rated to not collapse, and maybe even an adequate system of public health care?

Read another article by Roy Berman

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/Roy_stimulus.jpg{/rokbox}
Monday, 23 February 2009 20:42

鐵匠

Ever since the start of our current financial disaster various economists and pundits have been comparing first the US banking problems with Japan’s, and then more recently the infrastructure-heavy stimulus program with Japan’s construction state. NYT has a substantial article that easily marks the most high profile comparison yet. I’m certainly no economist and I’m not even taking the time to look at numbers right now, but my quick take on the issue is that the comparison is being significantly overblown, but it is still a very worthwhile comparison to make, so that Japan’s various successes and mistakes can be absorbed as lessons. See the following summation of Japan’s massive pork spending:

“Dr. Ihori of the University of Tokyo did a survey of public works in the 1990s, concluding that the spending created almost no additional economic growth. Instead of spreading beneficial ripple effects across the economy, he found that the spending actually led to declines in business investment by driving out private investors. He also said job creation was too narrowly focused in the construction industry in rural areas to give much benefit to the overall economy.

He agreed with other critics that the 1990s stimulus failed because too much of it went to roads and bridges, overbuilding this already heavily developed nation. Critics also said decisions on how to spend the money were made behind closed doors by bureaucrats, politicians and the construction industry, and often reflected political considerations more than economic. Dr. Ihori said the United States appeared to be striking a better balance by investing in new energy and information-technology infrastructure as well as replacing aging infrastructure.”

Japan’s huge boom in public works spending was less a national stimulus program than a gigantic rural welfare program of pork-barrel projects designed to prop up the ailing LDP in its long decline. The money was largely directed not to the areas where it would benefit the largest number of people, but the areas where it would benefit the largest number of politicians. This was not done entirely out purely cynical political motives but also due to a genuine desire to arrest the decline of the rural regions themselves, in the face of continuing urbanization and a decline in Japan’s traditional and lionized (if anachronistic) agricultural lifestyle. Regardless of intent, a huge proportion (I won’t use words like “most” without looking at actual numerical research) of the spending was “stimulus” but not “investment”.
I am very, very wary of the general principal of “economic stimulus.” I am not opposed to government spending, or even large amounts of government spending, as long as it is being spent on something that is actually necessary or build further value in the future, i.e. services or investment. I think this attitude should be obvious from the mass transit funding letter I wrote and posted in my blog
. In short, I worry that the discussions on spending currently ongoing in Washington may turn into a series of worthless boondoggle projects oriented at unpopulated rural areas, combined with random tax cuts and other expenditures poorly aimed at short-term (i.e. one election cycle) economic recovery, while continuing to ignore the trillions of dollars in outstanding repairs or upgrades as well as vital new investment that the country needs. I think it’s safe to say that politicians are going to spend this money. The question is, what will it buy us? Would we rather have a bunch of bridges to nowhere, vacant museums and amusement parks in virtually deserted rural towns, and paved-over mountain tops, or would we rather have a modern electrical grid, mass transit that at least meets late 20th century standards if not 21st century, a safe and reliable water system, bridges rated to not collapse, and maybe even an adequate system of public health care?

Read another article by Roy Berman

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/Roy_stimulus.jpg{/rokbox}
Monday, 23 February 2009 20:41

火和水

Ever since the start of our current financial disaster various economists and pundits have been comparing first the US banking problems with Japan’s, and then more recently the infrastructure-heavy stimulus program with Japan’s construction state. NYT has a substantial article that easily marks the most high profile comparison yet. I’m certainly no economist and I’m not even taking the time to look at numbers right now, but my quick take on the issue is that the comparison is being significantly overblown, but it is still a very worthwhile comparison to make, so that Japan’s various successes and mistakes can be absorbed as lessons. See the following summation of Japan’s massive pork spending:

“Dr. Ihori of the University of Tokyo did a survey of public works in the 1990s, concluding that the spending created almost no additional economic growth. Instead of spreading beneficial ripple effects across the economy, he found that the spending actually led to declines in business investment by driving out private investors. He also said job creation was too narrowly focused in the construction industry in rural areas to give much benefit to the overall economy.

He agreed with other critics that the 1990s stimulus failed because too much of it went to roads and bridges, overbuilding this already heavily developed nation. Critics also said decisions on how to spend the money were made behind closed doors by bureaucrats, politicians and the construction industry, and often reflected political considerations more than economic. Dr. Ihori said the United States appeared to be striking a better balance by investing in new energy and information-technology infrastructure as well as replacing aging infrastructure.”

Japan’s huge boom in public works spending was less a national stimulus program than a gigantic rural welfare program of pork-barrel projects designed to prop up the ailing LDP in its long decline. The money was largely directed not to the areas where it would benefit the largest number of people, but the areas where it would benefit the largest number of politicians. This was not done entirely out purely cynical political motives but also due to a genuine desire to arrest the decline of the rural regions themselves, in the face of continuing urbanization and a decline in Japan’s traditional and lionized (if anachronistic) agricultural lifestyle. Regardless of intent, a huge proportion (I won’t use words like “most” without looking at actual numerical research) of the spending was “stimulus” but not “investment”.
I am very, very wary of the general principal of “economic stimulus.” I am not opposed to government spending, or even large amounts of government spending, as long as it is being spent on something that is actually necessary or build further value in the future, i.e. services or investment. I think this attitude should be obvious from the mass transit funding letter I wrote and posted in my blog
. In short, I worry that the discussions on spending currently ongoing in Washington may turn into a series of worthless boondoggle projects oriented at unpopulated rural areas, combined with random tax cuts and other expenditures poorly aimed at short-term (i.e. one election cycle) economic recovery, while continuing to ignore the trillions of dollars in outstanding repairs or upgrades as well as vital new investment that the country needs. I think it’s safe to say that politicians are going to spend this money. The question is, what will it buy us? Would we rather have a bunch of bridges to nowhere, vacant museums and amusement parks in virtually deserted rural towns, and paved-over mountain tops, or would we rather have a modern electrical grid, mass transit that at least meets late 20th century standards if not 21st century, a safe and reliable water system, bridges rated to not collapse, and maybe even an adequate system of public health care?

Read another article by Roy Berman

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/Roy_stimulus.jpg{/rokbox}
Monday, 23 February 2009 20:40

火和水

Ever since the start of our current financial disaster various economists and pundits have been comparing first the US banking problems with Japan’s, and then more recently the infrastructure-heavy stimulus program with Japan’s construction state. NYT has a substantial article that easily marks the most high profile comparison yet. I’m certainly no economist and I’m not even taking the time to look at numbers right now, but my quick take on the issue is that the comparison is being significantly overblown, but it is still a very worthwhile comparison to make, so that Japan’s various successes and mistakes can be absorbed as lessons. See the following summation of Japan’s massive pork spending:

“Dr. Ihori of the University of Tokyo did a survey of public works in the 1990s, concluding that the spending created almost no additional economic growth. Instead of spreading beneficial ripple effects across the economy, he found that the spending actually led to declines in business investment by driving out private investors. He also said job creation was too narrowly focused in the construction industry in rural areas to give much benefit to the overall economy.

He agreed with other critics that the 1990s stimulus failed because too much of it went to roads and bridges, overbuilding this already heavily developed nation. Critics also said decisions on how to spend the money were made behind closed doors by bureaucrats, politicians and the construction industry, and often reflected political considerations more than economic. Dr. Ihori said the United States appeared to be striking a better balance by investing in new energy and information-technology infrastructure as well as replacing aging infrastructure.”

Japan’s huge boom in public works spending was less a national stimulus program than a gigantic rural welfare program of pork-barrel projects designed to prop up the ailing LDP in its long decline. The money was largely directed not to the areas where it would benefit the largest number of people, but the areas where it would benefit the largest number of politicians. This was not done entirely out purely cynical political motives but also due to a genuine desire to arrest the decline of the rural regions themselves, in the face of continuing urbanization and a decline in Japan’s traditional and lionized (if anachronistic) agricultural lifestyle. Regardless of intent, a huge proportion (I won’t use words like “most” without looking at actual numerical research) of the spending was “stimulus” but not “investment”.
I am very, very wary of the general principal of “economic stimulus.” I am not opposed to government spending, or even large amounts of government spending, as long as it is being spent on something that is actually necessary or build further value in the future, i.e. services or investment. I think this attitude should be obvious from the mass transit funding letter I wrote and posted in my blog
. In short, I worry that the discussions on spending currently ongoing in Washington may turn into a series of worthless boondoggle projects oriented at unpopulated rural areas, combined with random tax cuts and other expenditures poorly aimed at short-term (i.e. one election cycle) economic recovery, while continuing to ignore the trillions of dollars in outstanding repairs or upgrades as well as vital new investment that the country needs. I think it’s safe to say that politicians are going to spend this money. The question is, what will it buy us? Would we rather have a bunch of bridges to nowhere, vacant museums and amusement parks in virtually deserted rural towns, and paved-over mountain tops, or would we rather have a modern electrical grid, mass transit that at least meets late 20th century standards if not 21st century, a safe and reliable water system, bridges rated to not collapse, and maybe even an adequate system of public health care?

Read another article by Roy Berman

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/Roy_stimulus.jpg{/rokbox}
Monday, 23 February 2009 20:39

早安,长溪村 !

Ever since the start of our current financial disaster various economists and pundits have been comparing first the US banking problems with Japan’s, and then more recently the infrastructure-heavy stimulus program with Japan’s construction state. NYT has a substantial article that easily marks the most high profile comparison yet. I’m certainly no economist and I’m not even taking the time to look at numbers right now, but my quick take on the issue is that the comparison is being significantly overblown, but it is still a very worthwhile comparison to make, so that Japan’s various successes and mistakes can be absorbed as lessons. See the following summation of Japan’s massive pork spending:

“Dr. Ihori of the University of Tokyo did a survey of public works in the 1990s, concluding that the spending created almost no additional economic growth. Instead of spreading beneficial ripple effects across the economy, he found that the spending actually led to declines in business investment by driving out private investors. He also said job creation was too narrowly focused in the construction industry in rural areas to give much benefit to the overall economy.

He agreed with other critics that the 1990s stimulus failed because too much of it went to roads and bridges, overbuilding this already heavily developed nation. Critics also said decisions on how to spend the money were made behind closed doors by bureaucrats, politicians and the construction industry, and often reflected political considerations more than economic. Dr. Ihori said the United States appeared to be striking a better balance by investing in new energy and information-technology infrastructure as well as replacing aging infrastructure.”

Japan’s huge boom in public works spending was less a national stimulus program than a gigantic rural welfare program of pork-barrel projects designed to prop up the ailing LDP in its long decline. The money was largely directed not to the areas where it would benefit the largest number of people, but the areas where it would benefit the largest number of politicians. This was not done entirely out purely cynical political motives but also due to a genuine desire to arrest the decline of the rural regions themselves, in the face of continuing urbanization and a decline in Japan’s traditional and lionized (if anachronistic) agricultural lifestyle. Regardless of intent, a huge proportion (I won’t use words like “most” without looking at actual numerical research) of the spending was “stimulus” but not “investment”.
I am very, very wary of the general principal of “economic stimulus.” I am not opposed to government spending, or even large amounts of government spending, as long as it is being spent on something that is actually necessary or build further value in the future, i.e. services or investment. I think this attitude should be obvious from the mass transit funding letter I wrote and posted in my blog
. In short, I worry that the discussions on spending currently ongoing in Washington may turn into a series of worthless boondoggle projects oriented at unpopulated rural areas, combined with random tax cuts and other expenditures poorly aimed at short-term (i.e. one election cycle) economic recovery, while continuing to ignore the trillions of dollars in outstanding repairs or upgrades as well as vital new investment that the country needs. I think it’s safe to say that politicians are going to spend this money. The question is, what will it buy us? Would we rather have a bunch of bridges to nowhere, vacant museums and amusement parks in virtually deserted rural towns, and paved-over mountain tops, or would we rather have a modern electrical grid, mass transit that at least meets late 20th century standards if not 21st century, a safe and reliable water system, bridges rated to not collapse, and maybe even an adequate system of public health care?

Read another article by Roy Berman

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/Roy_stimulus.jpg{/rokbox}
Monday, 23 February 2009 20:39

早安,長溪村 !

Ever since the start of our current financial disaster various economists and pundits have been comparing first the US banking problems with Japan’s, and then more recently the infrastructure-heavy stimulus program with Japan’s construction state. NYT has a substantial article that easily marks the most high profile comparison yet. I’m certainly no economist and I’m not even taking the time to look at numbers right now, but my quick take on the issue is that the comparison is being significantly overblown, but it is still a very worthwhile comparison to make, so that Japan’s various successes and mistakes can be absorbed as lessons. See the following summation of Japan’s massive pork spending:

“Dr. Ihori of the University of Tokyo did a survey of public works in the 1990s, concluding that the spending created almost no additional economic growth. Instead of spreading beneficial ripple effects across the economy, he found that the spending actually led to declines in business investment by driving out private investors. He also said job creation was too narrowly focused in the construction industry in rural areas to give much benefit to the overall economy.

He agreed with other critics that the 1990s stimulus failed because too much of it went to roads and bridges, overbuilding this already heavily developed nation. Critics also said decisions on how to spend the money were made behind closed doors by bureaucrats, politicians and the construction industry, and often reflected political considerations more than economic. Dr. Ihori said the United States appeared to be striking a better balance by investing in new energy and information-technology infrastructure as well as replacing aging infrastructure.”

Japan’s huge boom in public works spending was less a national stimulus program than a gigantic rural welfare program of pork-barrel projects designed to prop up the ailing LDP in its long decline. The money was largely directed not to the areas where it would benefit the largest number of people, but the areas where it would benefit the largest number of politicians. This was not done entirely out purely cynical political motives but also due to a genuine desire to arrest the decline of the rural regions themselves, in the face of continuing urbanization and a decline in Japan’s traditional and lionized (if anachronistic) agricultural lifestyle. Regardless of intent, a huge proportion (I won’t use words like “most” without looking at actual numerical research) of the spending was “stimulus” but not “investment”.
I am very, very wary of the general principal of “economic stimulus.” I am not opposed to government spending, or even large amounts of government spending, as long as it is being spent on something that is actually necessary or build further value in the future, i.e. services or investment. I think this attitude should be obvious from the mass transit funding letter I wrote and posted in my blog
. In short, I worry that the discussions on spending currently ongoing in Washington may turn into a series of worthless boondoggle projects oriented at unpopulated rural areas, combined with random tax cuts and other expenditures poorly aimed at short-term (i.e. one election cycle) economic recovery, while continuing to ignore the trillions of dollars in outstanding repairs or upgrades as well as vital new investment that the country needs. I think it’s safe to say that politicians are going to spend this money. The question is, what will it buy us? Would we rather have a bunch of bridges to nowhere, vacant museums and amusement parks in virtually deserted rural towns, and paved-over mountain tops, or would we rather have a modern electrical grid, mass transit that at least meets late 20th century standards if not 21st century, a safe and reliable water system, bridges rated to not collapse, and maybe even an adequate system of public health care?

Read another article by Roy Berman

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/Roy_stimulus.jpg{/rokbox}
Monday, 23 February 2009 20:36

记忆和创意

Ever since the start of our current financial disaster various economists and pundits have been comparing first the US banking problems with Japan’s, and then more recently the infrastructure-heavy stimulus program with Japan’s construction state. NYT has a substantial article that easily marks the most high profile comparison yet. I’m certainly no economist and I’m not even taking the time to look at numbers right now, but my quick take on the issue is that the comparison is being significantly overblown, but it is still a very worthwhile comparison to make, so that Japan’s various successes and mistakes can be absorbed as lessons. See the following summation of Japan’s massive pork spending:

“Dr. Ihori of the University of Tokyo did a survey of public works in the 1990s, concluding that the spending created almost no additional economic growth. Instead of spreading beneficial ripple effects across the economy, he found that the spending actually led to declines in business investment by driving out private investors. He also said job creation was too narrowly focused in the construction industry in rural areas to give much benefit to the overall economy.

He agreed with other critics that the 1990s stimulus failed because too much of it went to roads and bridges, overbuilding this already heavily developed nation. Critics also said decisions on how to spend the money were made behind closed doors by bureaucrats, politicians and the construction industry, and often reflected political considerations more than economic. Dr. Ihori said the United States appeared to be striking a better balance by investing in new energy and information-technology infrastructure as well as replacing aging infrastructure.”

Japan’s huge boom in public works spending was less a national stimulus program than a gigantic rural welfare program of pork-barrel projects designed to prop up the ailing LDP in its long decline. The money was largely directed not to the areas where it would benefit the largest number of people, but the areas where it would benefit the largest number of politicians. This was not done entirely out purely cynical political motives but also due to a genuine desire to arrest the decline of the rural regions themselves, in the face of continuing urbanization and a decline in Japan’s traditional and lionized (if anachronistic) agricultural lifestyle. Regardless of intent, a huge proportion (I won’t use words like “most” without looking at actual numerical research) of the spending was “stimulus” but not “investment”.
I am very, very wary of the general principal of “economic stimulus.” I am not opposed to government spending, or even large amounts of government spending, as long as it is being spent on something that is actually necessary or build further value in the future, i.e. services or investment. I think this attitude should be obvious from the mass transit funding letter I wrote and posted in my blog
. In short, I worry that the discussions on spending currently ongoing in Washington may turn into a series of worthless boondoggle projects oriented at unpopulated rural areas, combined with random tax cuts and other expenditures poorly aimed at short-term (i.e. one election cycle) economic recovery, while continuing to ignore the trillions of dollars in outstanding repairs or upgrades as well as vital new investment that the country needs. I think it’s safe to say that politicians are going to spend this money. The question is, what will it buy us? Would we rather have a bunch of bridges to nowhere, vacant museums and amusement parks in virtually deserted rural towns, and paved-over mountain tops, or would we rather have a modern electrical grid, mass transit that at least meets late 20th century standards if not 21st century, a safe and reliable water system, bridges rated to not collapse, and maybe even an adequate system of public health care?

Read another article by Roy Berman

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/Roy_stimulus.jpg{/rokbox}
Monday, 23 February 2009 20:35

記憶和創意

Ever since the start of our current financial disaster various economists and pundits have been comparing first the US banking problems with Japan’s, and then more recently the infrastructure-heavy stimulus program with Japan’s construction state. NYT has a substantial article that easily marks the most high profile comparison yet. I’m certainly no economist and I’m not even taking the time to look at numbers right now, but my quick take on the issue is that the comparison is being significantly overblown, but it is still a very worthwhile comparison to make, so that Japan’s various successes and mistakes can be absorbed as lessons. See the following summation of Japan’s massive pork spending:

“Dr. Ihori of the University of Tokyo did a survey of public works in the 1990s, concluding that the spending created almost no additional economic growth. Instead of spreading beneficial ripple effects across the economy, he found that the spending actually led to declines in business investment by driving out private investors. He also said job creation was too narrowly focused in the construction industry in rural areas to give much benefit to the overall economy.

He agreed with other critics that the 1990s stimulus failed because too much of it went to roads and bridges, overbuilding this already heavily developed nation. Critics also said decisions on how to spend the money were made behind closed doors by bureaucrats, politicians and the construction industry, and often reflected political considerations more than economic. Dr. Ihori said the United States appeared to be striking a better balance by investing in new energy and information-technology infrastructure as well as replacing aging infrastructure.”

Japan’s huge boom in public works spending was less a national stimulus program than a gigantic rural welfare program of pork-barrel projects designed to prop up the ailing LDP in its long decline. The money was largely directed not to the areas where it would benefit the largest number of people, but the areas where it would benefit the largest number of politicians. This was not done entirely out purely cynical political motives but also due to a genuine desire to arrest the decline of the rural regions themselves, in the face of continuing urbanization and a decline in Japan’s traditional and lionized (if anachronistic) agricultural lifestyle. Regardless of intent, a huge proportion (I won’t use words like “most” without looking at actual numerical research) of the spending was “stimulus” but not “investment”.
I am very, very wary of the general principal of “economic stimulus.” I am not opposed to government spending, or even large amounts of government spending, as long as it is being spent on something that is actually necessary or build further value in the future, i.e. services or investment. I think this attitude should be obvious from the mass transit funding letter I wrote and posted in my blog
. In short, I worry that the discussions on spending currently ongoing in Washington may turn into a series of worthless boondoggle projects oriented at unpopulated rural areas, combined with random tax cuts and other expenditures poorly aimed at short-term (i.e. one election cycle) economic recovery, while continuing to ignore the trillions of dollars in outstanding repairs or upgrades as well as vital new investment that the country needs. I think it’s safe to say that politicians are going to spend this money. The question is, what will it buy us? Would we rather have a bunch of bridges to nowhere, vacant museums and amusement parks in virtually deserted rural towns, and paved-over mountain tops, or would we rather have a modern electrical grid, mass transit that at least meets late 20th century standards if not 21st century, a safe and reliable water system, bridges rated to not collapse, and maybe even an adequate system of public health care?

Read another article by Roy Berman

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/Roy_stimulus.jpg{/rokbox}

{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/stories/thumbnails_video/rabago_thumb.jpg|}media/articles/FrRabago_GraciasDios.flv{/rokbox}

A Spaniard in Taiwan Today: Fr Andres Diaz de Rabago (born in 1917)

The most well-known Spaniard in Taiwan today is probably Fr Rabago. At 92, this Jesuit priest is famous all around Taipei for his infectious laugh and the warm care he seems eager to bestow on anyone who crosses his path. Fr Rabago is also “Doctor Rabago”: he got a doctorate on medicine at a young age, specializing in the application of tomography to radiology of dorsal vertebrae. “when there were only six tomographs in the whole of Spain” he recalls. Today, he still goes running from one hospital to another, caring for his Jesuit brothers but also for many other friends. As he once taught medical ethics at Taiwan National University from 1970 to 2000 and has also been chaplain of the association of Catholic nurses, he is almost always affectionately greeted by old acquaintances during these countless hospital visits.

 

Family inheritance

Fr Rabago does not correspond to the bellicose model of the Spaniards who had been conquering Americas and the Philippines (and back then, Taiwan as well) in former centuries. But this does not mean that his life has been peaceful and uneventful. As a matter of fact, his story reflects many of the events and tragedies experienced by Spain and other parts of the world during the 20th century. He was born in 1917 in Galicia, an economically backward province that borders Portugal. His paternal grandfather was teaching Hebrew and sociology at a university, but was above all interested in the problem of rural poverty, trying to devise ways for the development of his beloved Galicia. Among other books, he wrote an influential essay on “rural credit.” After his death, and in inheriting the land, his youngest son (Fr Rabago's father) did not hesitate to sell the whole lot to start a fishery, hoping that this would provide work for a population suffering from chronic unemployment. He married a young woman who came from a family whose background was less intellectual but who shared similar social concerns; Fr Rabago’s maternal grandfather had started a bank by inadvertence, he had such a reputation for probity that the peasants of the neighbourhood would confide their wealths to him, and he in turn, would pay them interests. Soon enough, a family bank was created.

Similarly, Fr Rabago’s mother was active in a number of charitable causes, starting, among other projects, the construction of cheap habitation units, so as to enable poor people to become owners of their own house. She still found time to give birth to ten children, three of whom died at a young age. Andres Rabago was number seven, and his youngest sister (who also gave birth to ten children) is still alive. “My mother was restless, always taking care of one business or another, preferably of the poorer people in the area or the employees of my father’s fishery. At the same time, she loved us so much. Her love was a selfless one. When I decided to enter the Jesuits and later on to go to China, she told me not to worry for my father and for her, but just to do what I felt I had to do…”

The family was deeply rooted in the Christian faith, coupled with vanguard social concerns. So, it was little wonder that, apart from Andres Rabago, one of his elder brothers became a doctor and later on the director of a hospital. As he had publicly lamented the state of hygiene in Spanish hospitals, he was urged by the Health Minister of that time to retract himself or be dismissed, to which he accepted without hesitation. The youngest boy of the family became a Jesuit, like his brother (he would later on become a pioneer of distant learning in Spain.) But Spain during the first half of the 20th century was knowing a ceaseless political agitation, and the opposition between Right and Left was becoming more and more radical, with Catholics most often associating with the Right and Anticlericalism with the Left (though this was not the case in the Basque country, which was at the same time Republican and Catholic.) The civil war started in 1936… One of the brothers of Fr Rabago died in battle. This experience might have contributed to his choice in becoming a Jesuit after having gotten his medical diploma at the end of the Civil War. He admits that such a choice was not an easy one. Andres enters the Jesuit noviciate in 1940, in Salamanca. With this, a new chapter began…

 

China, Philippines, East Timor…

Even if he had chosen a religious life only after his university studies, Andres had already dreamt of being a missionary during his childhood. His dream would be fulfilled: in 1947 he arrives in Beijing – thus shifting from the Spanish civil war to the Chinese one… After a few months in Anking he goes to Shanghai where he stays from 1949 to 1952, being ordained a priest there in the last ordination of foreign priests that took place in China. “I loved China," he confides today, "and during these tormented times, the friendships you acquired had very, very deep roots…” After five years in China he had to leave, as all other monks and priests had to. Destination: the Philippines, where he accomplishes his second doctorate – a doctorate in theology this time. He subsequently taught in a university in Manila, while taking care of a dormitory. “I was so busy, there was really not time to rest", he recalls, "one task was succeeding another. And guess what? I fall in love with the Philippines as I had fallen in love with China – while not in the least forgetting China though…”

Soon, Fr Rabago has an opportunity to fall in love with another country : East Timor. He is appointed rector of the Catholic seminary there in 1961, and will stay eight years in a country that, at that time, is still a Portuguese colony and suffers from poverty, and misery. “At some point, the seminary, was the only real secondary school. We had a remarkable Portuguese bishop, who had understood that soon East Timor would be independent, and that the role of the Seminary was not only to form priests but also civic leaders who would be able to lead their country towards peace and progress.” This is indeed what happened, since the first President(1) of independent East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, and several of his Administration were former students of the Seminary. As were also the three first aboriginal Bishops. The very first one, Carlos Filippe Ximenes belo, was co-winner of the 1996 Peace Nobel price, with another outstanding Timorese, Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta(2).

These eight years in East Timor, at the contact of a very poor population, in a time of awakening and search for dignity and political independence, are certainly very important for Fr Rabago. He still laughs, filled with merriment and admiration, recalling the day when he was in the bishop’s office: “The telephone rang , and it was the military governor, asking angrily the bishop why, during a recent village insurrection, all the leaders had been formed by the Catholics. After he answered the call, the bishop turned to me and exclaimed: ‘Thanks be to God, we are forming people who are able to rebel!’ And Fr Rabago laughs again… Fr Rabago has learnt from his time in East Timor that he was meant to help people in their personal growth while deeply respecting the road that their conscience tells them to choose, even if this road does not correspond to his own options or feelings.

 

Falling in love with Taiwan

His experience in working with youth both in the Philippines and East Timor follows Fr Rabago as he arrives in Taiwan. It was in the year of 1969 (he is thus celebrating his fortieth year in Taiwan), and he was already 52. But he falls in love again… and this proves to be the longest love of his life since he is still around! He recalls with much gusto his teaching of ethics and Latin in Taiwan National University, but puts even more emphasis on his role as a counselor in professional schools. “I have been struck by the fact that these kids had a speedier psychological development than the ones in High School who had to prepare for the university exams.” Assisting the youth in their psychological and spiritual development seems to be the passion of Fr Rabago. “I was feeling the weight on the youth when I arrived in Taiwan and was hoping that they could lead a more normal life. Little by little, I saw a process of individualization that came to maturity and witnessed an awakening of independent thinking. During my years in Taiwan I could not help but see some similarities with what I experienced in Spain in my youth, but Taiwanese people lived this political process in a much more rational way.”

On the whole, it seems that these forty years in Taiwan have been passing very quickly for Fr Rabago, and he is happy to know and to still meet so many former students. Everything he has gone through in his life seems to be a “confirmation” that he did make the right choice when he decided to become a Jesuit. “My life has been richer and more fruitful than if I had eventually decided to marry and be a doctor. The reasons for which I decided to enter religious life are still the same ones as seventy years ago. But they have become much more real, much more concrete. My thinking was rather idealistic as a youth. Now, my wish to serve other people with love is connected with very concrete realities.” This concreteness applies to everything: “A missionary must identify with the land he is living in.’ He suddenly shudders: “If I had to leave Taiwan… that would be terrible for me!” At 92, one can be confident that he will be able to love Taiwan up to the end.

 

Notes:

(1)The first president of East Timor was Xanana Guzmao, former student of Father Rabago

(2)He was 2nd President of East Timor

 

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