Erenlai - Landscapes and skylines 探訪亞洲城鄉
Landscapes and skylines 探訪亞洲城鄉

Landscapes and skylines 探訪亞洲城鄉

Growing cities and declining hinterland- or is the plot more complex? We look for a new equilibrium between these two faces of Asia and celebrate the diversity of landscapes and ecosystems, through pictures, videos, essays and poems.

亞洲的城鄉差距有多大?它們各自創造的優勢都被妥善地運用了嗎?城鄉之間的拉距戰是否加深了不同族群間的心靈距離呢?

 

週二, 16 六月 2009

May Snow

Upon his arrival in Taiwan, Li was received by his old friend Fr. Duraud at the airport. In his journal Li writes: “ Riding in Fr. Duraud’s small car through the green mountains, I felt a strange sensation, like I was floating through a dream.” On the left side of the road lay a massive green hill with patches and patches of Taiwanese harlequin glorybowers, a scenery that reminded him of the movie ‘May Snow’ which narrates the story of a Harbin woman who falls in love with a Taiwanese man online, and the man journeys to Harbin to find his true love in the land of snow. In fact, in one of his sketches, Li has inscribed the poem “ The Gui Shan Tong flower is like snow”.

_______________________________________________
Go to the next part of Li Jinyuan’s trip: Jia Yi County

Attached media :
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_en.jpg|}media/articles/LiJinyuan_MayFlower.swf{/rokbox}

週四, 30 四月 2009

贫穷仙境──尼泊尔

摄影/周李隆德
本文亦见于2009年5月号《人籁》月刊


----------------------------------------
尼泊尔人,有著世上最迷人的笑容与温和亲切的天性。
这个国家有种魔力,令我日夜想念,召唤我不断重访。
但是当我将目光转向人们的生活,每每令我无比感伤…
----------------------------------------

山中小国的困境
第一次走访尼泊尔是一九九四年。至今,还记得当时街上的味道、早晨的空气、人们的眼神、弥漫的香气与迷雾中的老建筑…

这个国家有种无法形容的魔力,召唤我不断重访。只是在重访的经验中,我看见的不再是它表面上迷人的情调与独特的气氛,而是这个夹在中国与印度两块大面包中,如同一片薄得不能再薄的火腿肉一般的山中小国,有著多少沉重的内忧外患。

在二○○一年王室血案后,这个原本还算平静的国家,政治局势日益动荡;极度仰赖著观光业的经济,曾数度因罢工、宵禁,以及毛派的窜起,而受到严厉的考验,并直接冲击人民的生计。这几年来,许多乡间百姓,为了谋生与身家安全,纷纷移居首都加德满都。一时间都市里人满为患,地价物价年年高涨,治安问题随处可见,但政府却一筹莫展。


新政府,新气象?
从乡下转居首都的移工与世界各地的移工一样,绝大多数都只能从事最底层的劳力工作,生活品质极为恶劣,贫民窟数量与日俱增,更不要说是下一代的教育问题了。此外,到国外打工的男性人口也不断增加,工作地点以中东地区为主。

原本就身陷贫穷之境的小国,在继任国王无能无德与政府当局贪腐的情况下,跌进了失序又混乱的年代。社会建设百废待兴,经济水平不断下滑。最后,许多民不聊生的百姓选择向毛派靠拢,希望藉由一个制衡甚至反抗的力量,让这个国家的权力结构翻盘。而整个国家在这样的动乱不安中,的确付出了很高的代价,社会问题层出不穷,零星的暴动越演越烈。

去年春天,毛派终于成为议会的第一大党。没多久,便以五百六十票对四票的压倒性优势,在议会通过决议,正式废除了君主制,成为一个联邦民主共和国。而新崛起的政治势力是否能为这个山中小国扭转长年的颓势,带给人民一番新气象呢?


被摧毁的人间仙境
目前,尼泊尔的社会问题并无显著的改善。公共建设依旧停滞不前,贫富悬殊越来越严重,青少年犯罪率不断攀升,人口贩运问题也不见改善,连最显而易见的垃圾处理都变成难题,至于水电与汽油供应的严重短缺就更不用说…

每每在乡间望著喜马拉雅山时,我都有一种无以言喻的感动。以自然条件而言,它是我心中的「人间仙境」。可是当目光转回到社会时,我又有说不出的遗憾。一个国家,由人组成,也由人摧毁。而相较于腐败的政客所掌握的资源与影响,人民的权益与力量几乎毫无招架之力。

尼泊尔人,有著世上最迷人的笑容与温和亲切好客的天性,我想这是我日日夜夜想念这里的主因。但它却也是我伤感的缘由,因为不知道这些无法发声的百姓,要到何时才会回到一个安定的社会状态,享有最基本的生活品质。



关于尼泊尔及周李隆德的摄影作品,请参考</b>
周李隆德的影像世界

附加的多媒体:
{rokbox}media/articles/SarinaYeh_nepal.jpg{/rokbox}

週四, 30 四月 2009

貧窮仙境──尼泊爾

攝影/周李隆德
本文亦見於2009年5月號《人籟》月刊


----------------------------------------
尼泊爾人,有著世上最迷人的笑容與溫和親切的天性。
這個國家有種魔力,令我日夜想念,召喚我不斷重訪。
但是當我將目光轉向人們的生活,每每令我無比感傷…
----------------------------------------

山中小國的困境
第一次走訪尼泊爾是一九九四年。至今,還記得當時街上的味道、早晨的空氣、人們的眼神、瀰漫的香氣與迷霧中的老建築…

這個國家有種無法形容的魔力,召喚我不斷重訪。只是在重訪的經驗中,我看見的不再是它表面上迷人的情調與獨特的氣氛,而是這個夾在中國與印度兩塊大麵包中,如同一片薄得不能再薄的火腿肉一般的山中小國,有著多少沉重的內憂外患。

在二○○一年王室血案後,這個原本還算平靜的國家,政治局勢日益動盪;極度仰賴著觀光業的經濟,曾數度因罷工、宵禁,以及毛派的竄起,而受到嚴厲的考驗,並直接衝擊人民的生計。這幾年來,許多鄉間百姓,為了謀生與身家安全,紛紛移居首都加德滿都。一時間都市裡人滿為患,地價物價年年高漲,治安問題隨處可見,但政府卻一籌莫展。


新政府,新氣象?
從鄉下轉居首都的移工與世界各地的移工一樣,絕大多數都只能從事最底層的勞力工作,生活品質極為惡劣,貧民窟數量與日俱增,更不要說是下一代的教育問題了。此外,到國外打工的男性人口也不斷增加,工作地點以中東地區為主。

原本就身陷貧窮之境的小國,在繼任國王無能無德與政府當局貪腐的情況下,跌進了失序又混亂的年代。社會建設百廢待興,經濟水平不斷下滑。最後,許多民不聊生的百姓選擇向毛派靠攏,希望藉由一個制衡甚至反抗的力量,讓這個國家的權力結構翻盤。而整個國家在這樣的動亂不安中,的確付出了很高的代價,社會問題層出不窮,零星的暴動越演越烈。

去年春天,毛派終於成為議會的第一大黨。沒多久,便以五百六十票對四票的壓倒性優勢,在議會通過決議,正式廢除了君主制,成為一個聯邦民主共和國。而新崛起的政治勢力是否能為這個山中小國扭轉長年的頹勢,帶給人民一番新氣象呢?


被摧毀的人間仙境
目前,尼泊爾的社會問題並無顯著的改善。公共建設依舊停滯不前,貧富懸殊越來越嚴重,青少年犯罪率不斷攀升,人口販運問題也不見改善,連最顯而易見的垃圾處理都變成難題,至於水電與汽油供應的嚴重短缺就更不用說…

每每在鄉間望著喜馬拉雅山時,我都有一種無以言喻的感動。以自然條件而言,它是我心中的「人間仙境」。可是當目光轉回到社會時,我又有說不出的遺憾。一個國家,由人組成,也由人摧毀。而相較於腐敗的政客所掌握的資源與影響,人民的權益與力量幾乎毫無招架之力。

尼泊爾人,有著世上最迷人的笑容與溫和親切好客的天性,我想這是我日日夜夜想念這裡的主因。但它卻也是我傷感的緣由,因為不知道這些無法發聲的百姓,要到何時才會回到一個安定的社會狀態,享有最基本的生活品質。



關於尼泊爾及周李隆德的攝影作品,請參考</b>
周李隆德的影像世界

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/SarinaYeh_nepal.jpg{/rokbox}

週一, 23 二月 2009

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}

週一, 23 二月 2009

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}

週一, 23 二月 2009

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}

週一, 23 二月 2009

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}

週一, 23 二月 2009

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}

週一, 23 二月 2009

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}

週一, 23 二月 2009

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}

週一, 23 二月 2009

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}

週一, 22 十二月 2008

Northern Africa and Its Wonders

Images of Tunisia, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Morocco taken by Sarah Mersch during her work placements in Africa.

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