China – unbridled capitalism with opaque agendas

China is constantly on the economic march with the excesses of capitalism showing up everywhere. Yet this is a state with many opaque agendas and strict controls over the freedom of its population. The Chinese government is keen to use many tricks to gain what it wants. It tries to increase its territory and power by constantly reiterated definition. The addition of disputed islands to the covers of its passports is one such example.

A more famous and serious one is the labelling of Taiwan as a breakaway province. The Chinese government desires the rest of the world to see its distortion of history in the same way it does. After the communists won the civil war in 1949 and the nationalists fled to Taiwan the Republic of China was reduced to a rump. Taiwan, in fact, was the rump of the Republic of China. Therefore, mainland China broke away from the Republic of China (Taiwan). It would be more correct to call China a breakaway province of Taiwan than the other way round. The Chinese government want to alter the world’s thinking by incorrect use of definition. It wants to possess Taiwan and uses definition as one means of increasing its influence and spurious claims.

Historically, Taiwan was never an integral part of China. The original inhabitants were not even Chinese. They were native peoples more akin to the Malay racial group. The second group of inhabitants were the Dutch who arrived at the end of the sixteenth century. It was only in the last 300 years or so that large numbers of Chinese people settled in Taiwan.

If China were to become genuinely democratic and possessed equal living and social standards to those in Taiwan many of the citizens of Taiwan may well be content to reunite with the mainland. However, as things are there are no valid reasons for China to attempt to coerce such a reunification.

Australia, world’s highest tobacco taxes.

Australia now has, almost certainly, the highest tobacco prices in the entire world. While no one is suggesting that smoking is healthy or not a health risk there are many factors at play here. The Australian government is evidently intent on making poorer people choose between smoking and eating. Unfortunately there will be considerable numbers of people who continue to smoke while their children go hungry and without shoes. I am sure that organised crime is switching its attention from indian hemp and other soft drugs to tobacco. The government is obviously oblivious to these considerations.

Then there are the mentally ill. The vast majority of these people smoke and find it impossible to quit without exacerbating their illness. These are also people who tend to be very low income earners or dependent on welfare. The social consequences of massively higher tobacco taxes has obviously not been considered by the Australian government. From increased crime to greater levels of psychiatric disturbance in the community the dire results of these thoughtless snap decisions are growing in the dark.

There is little evidence that financially destroying smokers causes greater numbers to quit. Other countries (such as Taiwan) that are increasingly banning smoking in public areas, yet do not find it necessary to hugely raise tobacco taxes, would seem to have at least as high, if not a higher, rate of quitters.

Lastly, it is self evident that the Australian government is hypocritical about smoking. On the one hand they are demanding that smokers quit or face utter poverty, so say for concern about their health. Yet on the other hand the government certainly does not want people to live much beyond the retirement age. I for one do want to live long enough to get dementia and be plonked in a nursing home (although I suspect that governments of the future will just give such people lethal injections). It may be cute to be trendy but the Australian government has now crossed the bounds of logic and good sense. Unfortunately, the other political groups are not at all concerned about this. This dictatorial and unwise attitude thus cannot be stopped at the ballot box.