Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Taiwan’s Social Safety Net Is the Street Market

Free-marketers are often ridiculed for suggesting the welfare state can be substantially replaced by free enterprise: that we’re smoking funny weed to even suggest that able-bodied adults would be better off with more invigorating freedom instead of a debilitating dole.

The Case of Taiwan

Well, we have a fantastic case study in exactly this: Taiwan. With a GDP per capita about half US levels -- between Spain and Portugal -- Taiwan has a tiny welfare state paired with regulations that are both light and lightly enforced.

Result? An explosion in commerce, and apparently near-zero homelessness. Walk anywhere in a Taiwanese city and the streets are alive, all day and all night, with a rotating cast of pop-up businesses that employ mainly low-skill labor while making life a joy for consumers.

Hundreds of jobs, small rivers of entrepreneurial income all running off one little street.

To give a flavor, take one street near my university, Wenhua St. in Taichung. Starting around 5am, farmers drive in and spread out their produce on folding tables along the street. Shoppers are diverse: elderly who can walk instead of driving out to a megastore, mothers with kids, fathers cooking up breakfast.

Around 7am the farmers pack up and in move the breakfast joints, unloading folding tables and stacking chairs off their pickup trucks. Sandwich places, noodle shops, omelettes and full English breakfast. These go until a bit past noon, when they fold up everything on their trucks and out come the night crew: a different set of restaurants selling fried chicken or dumplings, vendors selling clothes, watches, kids’ toys. As the night wears on the beer joints open, selling hot soup and a cold beer. Families, teens, and singles throng the streets until 3am, when the street cleaners come out in preparation for the farmers coming at 5.

So hundreds of jobs, small rivers of entrepreneurial income all running off one little street. Each patch of street is recycled 3 or more times a day according to what customers want. And none of it would be legal in most US cities.

The Beauty of Laissez-faire

Three interesting results come out of this laissez-faire approach to small commerce. First, streets in Taiwan are full of shoppers all day and all night. There are none of those dangerous urban deserts that abound in American cities like DC and New York. You can safely roam around at 3am any day of the week, and find tons of pop-up bars or restaurants, packed with laughing people enjoying the night.

His friends’ first question was: what kind of shop will you open during your job-hunt?

Second, because laissez-faire allows a robust market to develop, street food in Taiwan is safe, delicious, and ridiculously cheap. We pay between $1.50 and $2 for a full meal, in a country where overall costs are half the US level. So, adjusting for price levels, we pay $3 to $4 for what would cost us easily 3-5 times that in the US. As a result, my family doesn’t eat out once a week like back in the States; we eat out 2 or 3 times a day.

Why so cheap? Because the market is substantially left to self-regulate: if a vendor sells bad or dirty food, word spreads and they’re out of business. Other vendors, indeed, enforce this since the reputation of the whole street is at risk. The result is that vendors scrupulously clean their equipment every day; indeed there are services that go around cleaning your food-stall on hire. It’s like nested deregulation: an unregulated service provided to an unregulated service that is, ultimately, “policed” by customers themselves.

Freedom and opportunity: that is what underpins true welfare and security.

From my perspective as a customer, the end result is fantastic: clean, delicious food that we can afford to eat every single day of the month. By the way, that is apparently what most Taiwanese now do: it’s standard for people to never cook in, but rather to just pick up $2 meals every night for the family, only cooking for special occasions or for a midnight snack.

Third, and possibly most important, is the impact on jobs and self-sufficiency. A Taiwanese friend announced he’d lost his job, and his friends’ first question was: what kind of shop will you open during your job-hunt? Since it’s so easy to start a pocket-business, there’s an entire industry that caters to them. You can lose your job, take the bus, rent a food stand for a month, pay $50 to slap on some signage, have it delivered to some high-traffic spot and get cranking that night on fried twinkies, sausage-buns, whatever you think people want to eat. So sling sausages by night, keep looking for work in the daytime, and when you find a job just take the stand back for your deposit.

Freedom and opportunity: that is what underpins true welfare and security. The results are striking: in 3 years here, in a city bigger and poorer than St. Louis, I have never once seen a homeless person. The closest I've seen is an elderly lady who grows orchids and sells them out of a bag.

So choose one: job-killing regulations and a welfare state, or reduce burdens on small business and set the people free.



Surge of Migrant Children From Central America Continues Despite Border Apprehensions

A surge of migrant children and families fleeing Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador attempting to enter the U.S. via Mexico is not slowing down in spite of the apprehension of tens of thousands of Central American migrants by the U.S. Border Patrol, according to a report issued by UNICEF.

The massive flow of families and children continues at the same time that the U.S. government has announced it will expand a program allowing refugee minors from the violence-torn region of Central America to enter the U.S. legally.

UNICEF reports that nearly 26,000 unaccompanied children and approximately 29,700 individuals traveling as families were stopped at the U.S. border in the first six months of 2016. The majority were from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The report said some 16,000 Central American migrants were apprehended in Mexico before reaching the border in the same period.

The three Central American nations “have some of the world’s highest murder rates,” according to the UNICEF report.

“The flow of refugee and migrant children from Central America making their way to the United States shows no sign of letting up,” it concludes.

The number of Central American families and children stopped at the border beginning in October of last year doubled from a year ago, according to the Pew Research Center.

Meanwhile the U.S. government has announced plans to widen its consideration for legal entry of Central American minors with parents living legally in the U.S.

The Central American Minors (CAM) refugee program is currently restricted to minors – and in some cases to a “parent of the qualifying child” that is also living in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The program will now be opened up to the minors’ caregivers, as well as to a biological parent of a minor with a spouse living in the US, and also to adult children of Central Americans living legally in the U.S., according to the Dept. of Homeland Security website.

The program expansion was announced last month, although a DHS spokesperson could not say when the changes would take effect.

The program was originally restricted to unmarried children under the age of 21 living in the three Central American countries, with a parent 18 years or older legally in the US.

In some cases, a parent of the minor could be considered for U.S. entry.

The expansion will open the program to non-minor children, namely sons and daughters 21 years of age or older, with a parent legally in the U.S.

It will also allow consideration of “caregivers” of minors in the Central American countries where the caregiver is related to the parent living legally in the U.S.

And the expansion will allow a “biological parent” of a qualifying minor where the biological parent is living in one of the three Central American countries, to be considered for entry into the U.S.

According to Salvador Stadthagen, the director of the USAID-sponsored youth program Honduran Youth Alliance, family members living in the U.S. are the “pull factor” behind the surge of migrant children fleeing violent crime in Central America.

“A lot of these kids already have family in the U.S. What we have noticed is that when things get really bad in a community such as the killing of a neighbor or a cousin or brother, then the mother and the father in the U.S. sell whatever they have to sell to get their kids out.”

Many of the Central American minors, Stadthagen said, “have never known their mothers or fathers. Or the fathers left when the mothers were pregnant or when the kids were very young.”

Drug-related gang violence was “fueling” the migrant surge north to Mexico and the U.S., he said.

Outreach workers like Stadthagen, as well a missionary and local pastor in Honduras, told CNSNews.com they have seen significant progress in reducing the violence, with improved policing and by providing alternatives to youths who are either forced to join local gangs or flee the country.

Violence and murder rates have gone down in the community of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, 3.5 miles north of the capital of Tegucigalpa, according to Paul Hutton of the Denver-based Mission’s Door evangelical group.

Local pastor Arnold Linares told CNSNews.com an “entire generation of youth” has been lost to the crime and violence, but that now, “we have seen a change in the community.”

“We are creating a model for the country. We want them to know that the heart of man can be changed by God.”


“Very Right Wing” People Are Happiest With Their Sex Lives

…they’re often happiest overall, too, according to a five-country YouGov poll

People who describe themselves as “very right wing” are the most likely to be satisfied with their sex lives, according to a survey carried out across five European countries by the polling company YouGov.

The survey of more than 19,000 people in the UK, Germany, France, Denmark and Sweden, shared exclusively with BuzzFeed News, found in most countries sexual satisfaction increased the further right you went along the political spectrum.

In the UK, people with left wing politics were least likely to describe their sex lives as satisfying (with 66% of people saying they were), versus 73% for those saying they were “very right wing”.

In all five countries in the survey, it was the people with very right wing politics who were most likely to be pleased with their sex life, though in every country except Germany, people on the centre-right were less likely to be satisfied than centrists.

The study also showed than in Britain at least, people with right wing and very right wing politics were markedly happier overall than their left wing counterparts – but this trend did not replicate across Europe.

The research was carried out for the new edition of the book Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box, published on Friday.

Joe Twyman, YouGov’s head of political and social research, warned against changing your politics to improve your sex life.  “There are obviously numerous factors that might explain an individual’s sexual happiness and this study does not suggest that changing your political views would make you happier in bed (or on the stairs, on the kitchen floor, in the shower and on the backseat of the car),” he told BuzzFeed News, in unexpected detail.

“The old rules about correlation not equalling causation always apply. Being very right wing doesn’t make you sexually satisfied, but nonetheless, these results suggest it is, in contrast to at least some stereotypes popular in the political world, those on the very right of the political spectrum who enjoy their sex life the most – and that this finding is true across a number of different European countries.”


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- mainly about Muslims


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