Wednesday, October 12, 2005

new things, old things

Taiwan is a fairly proseperous country. I remember seeing "Made in Taiwan" labels and stamps on all kinds of products, mostly crappy, plastic toys and knick-knacks. Taiwan used to be a kind of island sweatshop, and the average person here did not make much money, certainly not enough to have more than the basic creature comforts. This was the case even into the 80's.

Then, Taiwan started to go high-tech. A combination of local business savvy and other countries needing to outsource labor made this the perfect place for computer manufacturing. The county's economy exploded. All the good and bad came with that. The standard of living here is among the highest in the world, the education system seems to be strong, but also consumer craziness took over. Everyone wants the latest gadget and convenience. It is such that, I would say the average Taiwanese office-worker or salesperson is every bit as materialistic as the average U.S. corporate lackey.

On top of that, there is a bit of a problem with computers. Taiwan was so good at what it does (did?), that the wages here are now too high, and labor is being outsourced, mostly to China. There is some concern here about keeping up the economy and keeping the country in business. That, coupled with the fear of China acquiring the island as its own, keeps people a little concerned here.


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