On the last weekend of November, Taiwan finished a major election for 9 categories of representatives and government officials including city and county mayors peacefully. The election was a success in terms of its processes. However, it has been a debacle for the ruling party, KMT. The opposition party, DPP, has won a sweeping victory and pocketed 13 of the 22 mayoral positions up for grab, and the independent won three, including Taipei city.
This result mirrored the November 5th mid term election result of the US in which the ruling Democrats lost many seats in both chambers of the Congress and in gubernatorial races. Why did Democrats lose? There is finger pointing in every direction for sure. However, repeatedly appearing reflections are like fail to address the issues of the millenials, the middle class and the poor. And what kind of problem do these three classes of people have in common? They obviously all suffer from the problem of inequity and the same suffering is also felt by people similarly situated in Taiwan.
Taiwan has been plagued by the problem of decreasing wages and increasing housing prices in recent years. The millenials are especially hurt by these problems. In reality a lot of them are drifting away from middle class and falling into poverty. The dwindling of middle class is not unique in Taiwan. It has been a global problem for the first two decades of the 21st century. We see GDP growth worldwide amid an aging population and decreasing fertility rates. If the wealth is accumulating with fewer people to share it, how come the majority of people feel they are poorer? The no brainer answer is there is inequity in income distribution. As an old Chinese saying goes, the problem is not there is less but there is uneven distribution. Although it is important to accumulate wealth, what is more pressing right now is how to distribute the hard earned wealth more equitably. And this is a painful lesson we all have learned from many elections globally in the new millennium.