By Tsai Shu-yuan and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writer
The imbalanced distribution of wealth is a global problem that engenders a feeling of deprivation among the world’s poor, and, despite events such as the Sunflower movement, the rich are still not paying attention to those beneath them on the socioeconomic scale, PChome Online chairman Jan Hung-tze (詹宏志) said over the weekend.
The sense of loss accompanying the widening gap between rich and poor has caused many young people worldwide to feel incapable of bettering themselves under current conditions and is becoming increasingly widespread, Jan said on Saturday at a conference in Greater Taichung that was part of a series of national economic conferences hosted by the National Development Council and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Government policies can do more to eliminate this wealth gap, Jan said, adding that: “The primary task of a government is to devise policies that will help give graduates a better chance to make something of themselves.”
Jan said the younger generation and the poor do not have a say in which economic direction the nation heads in, so the government should find ways to gather more opinions and views from these sectors of society.
This problem is not only a national one, it is an increasingly global issue, Jan said, pointing to the anti-inequality Occupy Wall Street movement that started in the US in 2011 and spread across the world, as well as this year’s student-led Sunflower movement against the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade agreement, in which protesters seized the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei from March 18 to April 10.
Citing remarks former US secretary of the treasury Timothy Geithner made in an interview in May, Jan said Geithner described 1 percent of the world as having everything, leaving the remaining 99 percent with nothing, an imbalance of social wealth Jan said has made an entire generation feel deprived.
According to Jan, Geithner also said that the US is still plagued by poverty and salaries have not risen there in a long time.
The PCHome head said the issue is not that there are fewer poor people, but that the rich are using their wealth to hike housing and commodity prices, making it “harder for the poor to live, let alone escape their situation.”
Jan said that the problem in Taiwan is unique because the nation not only has to deal with a social wealth gap, but also China’s rise.
How can the nation compete and cooperate with Beijing when it has more than 1,000 missiles pointed at it, Jan asked.
He cited Barclays research report released a week ago titled: Hello China; Goodbye Taiwan? to reinforce the point that in terms of global information, technology and electronic products supply chains, China’s rise will slowly bump Taiwan off the chain entirely.
Taiwan has no time to prepare a “soft transition” of its industry, Jan said.