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I have a new webventure, where I will be doing some blogging about things. Welcome to the web One-Handed Economist. Thanks to WWB for the name.

  1. Timothy says:

    Better late than never, you precandescent you.

  2. Scott says:

    And for the record, I agree with Andy that Asian schools tend to punch out clone copies of each other, and that they do not foster or encourage creativity or original thought. And I agree with Tim 100 percent. That has to make you sick, Tim, and I am sorry, but in my old age — 28 — I am just now begining to see the folly and stupidity of my younger days. Sorry it took me so long, I guess.

  3. Scott says:

    Correction all of you. There are in fact 36 countries in the world that recognize Taiwan as a country, including but not limited to The Holy See. Anyway, I thought you would get a laugh out of that last part. Although there aren’t very many of them, ther are sovereign, recognized countries in the world that recognize Taiwain as a country. Just thought I would throw that out there.

  4. Andy D says:

    Thanks Tim : )

    Sorry Clint, got confused with who said what. I was saying the Asian approach to education lead to clones. Actually pubic schools cost a lot more than private. Everyone pays for public school from ~18+ years old, and only those parents for 16 or less years pay for private schools, in addition for ALSO paying for public schools. You just said your self, private school is more efficient, and better than public schools. So why can’t we treat it like other welfare programs if we want everyone to have the good? give vouchers. Our public schools are failing because there isn’t a strong incentive to care about them. Same thing with my argument against Scott’s; people act to better themselves, not to better “society.” If everyone wants to help society, just do whatever you think is right : )

  5. Timothy says:

    Education: NOT a public good. It’s excludable, it’s rivalrous in competition. It’s a private good with positive externalities, and it’s important to remember that.

  6. Clint T. says:


    “Yes Clint, all those Taiwanese people who VOTED for thier own government would love to be under the thumb of the communists. Don’t you think is easier to vote to be annexed then fighting a war to defend your self from annexation, but then thats what they actually wanted…..????”

    Uhm, lets see here.. #1) My comment “Taiwan’s not really a country. They’re just waiting for China to come annex them.” was made in jest. As I’m sure you are aware, that is probably the single most turbulent area for potential MAJOR conflicts in the entire world during the past 10 years, when you consider the magnitude of what threats, treaties, and military build-up has gone on. Case in point, we’re obliged to help “defend” Taiwan if China attacks. That is written in stone. China will declare war on Taiwan if the Taiwanese go on record declaring independence, this was reinforced in a recent (last month) governmental decree. And in the meantime we all pretty much think Taiwan is its own seperate entity, even though there is no country that recognizes them as such. It’s a vicious cycle. Do I think the Taiwanese want to be annexed? No. Not at all. Again, I was being sarcastic with this comment. Satire’s apparently not your strong point.

    “We have tons of planning here in America, Clint. There are clear and defined syallabus for every teacher in America on what should be tought at every grade level. Thats the reason our schools are #1 in the world, especially those private universities that receive no government money….wait!!!! The STATE schools are the crappiest! hrm…
    If we toss our kids into school boot camp, they’ll be sure to beat the Americans in academics… Seems like what is actually happening is a bunch of clones without creativity.”

    Uhh, why was this addressed to me? I mentioned nothing about American schools or universities, I don’t know if you got off on some tangent from your dialog with Scott and felt it needed to be brow beaten into me, but hey.. whatever man.

    Do I think our government should play a role in education? Yes. Education is a public good. As far as private schools surpassing public schools in the department of education, that has more to do with the parents that are willing to shell out the big bucks to see their kids with a student to teacher ratio of 12:1 than it does with the role of our government planning. Plain and simple, sure private schools are going to be more efficient, and they’re also costing more per student than our public schools do.

    Personally? I’m sending my kids to a private school. The idea that we’re creating a “bunch of clones without creativity” is pretty poor in my mind. American culture alone would never allow such a thing.

  7. Timothy says:

    And how this has gone from a question about contract enforcement in the role of government to a screed against, well, whatever that was a screed against boggles the mind.

  8. Andy D says:

    Scott, Washington DC has one of the highest income per capita but also the highest crimes per capita. Does more crime lead to better standard of living? There I proved it. You might make an argument for contract enforcement as some sort of “cause” for better learning, but what im saying, is that there are other factors, which I strongly believe and have stated excellent economic reasons, to determining the national english learning rate.

    You even say yourself you can’t compare countries because their language is different, but you can compare thier contract enforement to english learning? You defeat your own argument by saying that first language is a MORE IMPORTANT FACTOR than contract enforcement.

    Yes Clint, all those Taiwanese people who VOTED for thier own government would love to be under the thumb of the communists. Don’t you think is easier to vote to be annexed then fighting a war to defend your self from annexation, but then thats what they actually wanted…..????

    We have tons of planning here in America, Clint. There are clear and defined syallabus for every teacher in America on what should be tought at every grade level. Thats the reason our schools are #1 in the world, especially those private universities that receive no government money….wait!!!! The STATE schools are the crappiest! hrm…

    If we toss our kids into school boot camp, they’ll be sure to beat the Americans in academics… Seems like what is actually happening is a bunch of clones without creativity.

  9. Scott says:

    No, they don’t attend school seven days a week, rather 6. Monday through Saturday. Usually they attend public school from 7am to 4pm, and then cram school, like the one I teach at, from 4:30 until about 9pm. Unless they’re kndy or younger, and then they attend public from 8am until noon, and cram school from 12:45 to 4:00 at a school such as the one I teach at. And the PRC, while taking the EPT, does not publish or allow to be published its results, so there is no way to compare, or at least none that I am currently aware of. And I did not mean to say that it was entirely appropriate to compare an economic powerhouse like Japan to Taiwan, merely that from a linguistic point of view it is more valid.

  10. Clint T. says:

    One entire problem with this argument, is that Taiwan’s not really a country. They’re just waiting for China to come annex them.

    What is the comparison between Taiwan and China EPT’s anyway? My guess is extremely close. I don’t think comparing Taiwan with a economic superpower like Japan is realistic either, despite the similarities with their “non-alphabet” systems.

    As to why Taiwan is so behind the others, I wonder if its contract enforcement or the lack of planning for education on the government’s behalf. Do the Taiwanese children regularly attend school 7 days a week like the Japanese?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I hate to disagree with you Andy, but my statement actually is provable. I mean of course that countries with solid contract enforcement laws have higher English Proficiency levels. It is arguable whether the mere presence of contract enforcement is causally linked, but my statement is true for the following reasons. First, the College Board from the US currently administers the EPT twice annually to all Asian countries except Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. The EPT (English Proficiency Test) guages English proficiency in non-native speaking persons by testing both BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) as well as CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency). Currently Taiwan scores literally last in Asia. Now, I am careful in comparing all Asian countries, because as I said before, some of the languages are alphabet based — take Thai, Korean and Indonesian as examples — and some are not — take Japan as an example. So, I wouldn’t compare Korea to Taiwan or Japan, because they have two distinct language systems that directly impact how students aqcuire and learn English. To an alphabet language learner, it is entirely more simplistic to switch to another alphabet system than it is for a non-alphabet language learner to switch to an alphabet system. So I would compare Taiwan to Japan. Japan is much more advanced and scores far better, even though they spend less per capita on English language learning than the Taiwanese do. And think of it this way: Taiwan scores lower than countries like Indonesia, where compulsory education and actual attendance is onoy until the 6th grade. It makes a tremendous statement, I think.

  12. Timothy says:

    No, no I don’t.

  13. Scott says:

    Just out of left field, does anyone know a person who owns an ESL school in Korea?

  14. Timothy says:

    The demonstrative pronoun “that” in this case referring to “English acquisition”.

  15. Timothy says:

    Short version: there are reasons to let monopolies stay around, they tend to innovate and there’s no reason to assume compelling a firm to produce would achieve any sort of pareto improvement.

    In the case of badly definied property rights, there may be a pareto improvement if those rights were enforced. Externalities tend to arise as a result of the non-existance of property rights, and a surprising number of them could be solved with market action if property rights could be defined.

    Again, there’s a lot going for an at-will workforce (US teaching suffers from exactly the opposite problem of Taiwan), but in that case it’d be better to do away with the contracting than to have them ignored. Having contracts that are ignored adds noise, and acts as a somewhat distracting signalling mechanism. I contend it’s better to not have a law about something than it is to have a law that isn’t enforced.

    Taiwan also doesn’t operate in a vacuum, and if the best teachers don’t like the instability of being employed there, Taiwan is going to have an adverse selection problem. I’m not sure this is the case, but if the goal of the Taiwanese government is English acquisition, they might start by trying contract enforcement.

    Now, whether that is a legitimate duty of the Taiwanese government, well, that’s an entirely different question.

  16. Timothy says:

    Reccomended reading.

  17. Andy D says:

    Dead weight loss…kind of like in markets w “monopoly power?” If we want to elimite this loss, at where should monopolies be forced to produced.

  18. Timothy says:

    Andy: It’s called Dead-Weight Loss, look it up.

    Also, there’s a market in governments: it’s called immigration.

  19. andy d says:

    I’ve never said that looking out for yourself and not for your neighbor was a bad thing. Look at gated communities with roving security. You think that I am attacking society or collectivism, which I am not, because I cannot say what living/economic situation is better for one person, but I can say a violent coersion is worse.

    When the government “forces me to give them money with the threat of inprisonment,” that destroys the free market, which by definiton leads to a less than possible efficient outcome.

    I believe that looking out for your neighbors property is a good thing; groups can be very efficient compared to individuals (i.e. corporations,the grouping of labor). Cooperation doesn’t require the government intervention. What I am saying also, is that no other individual on earth can know my needs better than me.

    Tim, if we lived in a world where we were only concerned with total welfare, anyone with anything to offer would be sacrificed to the welfare of those who had nothing to offer. From an economic standpoint, we cannot quantify, other than in price value of goods, what somones utility is, let alone compare it or add it to others. Utility is ordinal.

    Again, the difference I want to point out that the government that we have today is a violent hegemony (literal definition, i still love America), vs a free market alternative in which we would be able to leave a government. This seems like a far stretch, but humans cannot exist in society without forming government, I believe this. That being said, in a free market, you have the ability to leave a government, losing the benifits/costs associated with it.

    “In those countries that have strict contract enforcement, English Acquisition is much higher, and learning more fluid.” That is a very subjective and not easily supportable statement : )

  20. Timothy says:

    Above should say:

    The US has an at-will labor market, for the most part, and it functions pretty durn well. However, the US also has enforcable labor laws and a process for recompense in the case of capricious behavior from either party.

  21. Timothy says:

    Andy, this is weird for me to say, but I’m going to have to agree that Scott is right and you’re not really seeing the collective action problem here.

    Total welfare could likely be improved if contracts between employer and employee had any force.

    I think there’s a case to be made for at-will labor markets, but in that instance it’s better not to bother with the contracts than to have them exist and not be enforced. Keeps expectations more in-line with reality, eliminates useless signalling mechanisms, etc. The US has a

    Scott: I think the thing you’re not seeing is a very basic question of alternatives. It doesn’t matter in any economically relevant sense whether or not the English acquisition rate is as high as in other locales. The realy question is whether the situation is better than the next best alternative. Still, though, it seems like it isn’t: enforcable labor agreements or laws woule likely help.

  22. Scott says:

    And to agree with your statement, of course my overall desire to eat and be wealthy of course overrides the interest of my client, the student, or my feeling sorry for them. But what I was pointing out is that this very reality, and the absence of contract enforcement, hurts the consumer, ie the parent. In those countries that have strict contract enforcement, English Acquisition is much higher, and learning more fluid. So is the interest of the consumer an interest that outweighs the right of the worker or the boss to break a contract. Indeed, is there at all a right to break a contract. Do you have the right to sign a piece of paper of your own volition saying you will do something and then break your word on that? Just some challges for though.

  23. Scott says:


    While I agree with your underlying logic, I entirely disagree with your application of that logic, in much the same way Nash agreed with the logic of Smith while at the same time adjusting the application of his economic assertions. Are you correct that you can, for the most part, spend your money better than the national government? Absolutely. But the key phrase in that statement is “for the most part”. There are in fact areas that you cannot in your wildest dreams spend your money as well as the government can. These are few and far between, I will grant you, but one of the areas is police protection.
    As a proof of Nash’s wisdom over Smith’s — and I am not one of those people who thinks that Nash said Smith was wrong, merely incomplete — let us take the example of property. Under Smith’s summation, the best overall outcome is where the indivdual looks after his or her own best interests and wealth. But Nash points out, and correctly so, that quite frequently the best outcome is actually where I look out for my own interests as well as that of the group. Take my property. The best group scenario is when each person looks out for their own property as well as their neighbors because in the end analysis, if my neighbors property value declines, so very likely will mine. Thus, ipso facto, the interests of my neighbors property and my property are at least related in a correlative sense, if not a causal sense.

  24. Andy D says:

    “ for it determines how..’ I mean how much they pay lets us as observers determine how much they care.

  25. Andy D says:

    Scott, lets decontruct the previous post. You feel sorry for the kids that don’t know english. Fine, but is that a motivator for you to teach? I would think your feelings about eating are stronger than those about pity. What I am trying to say is that individuals are motivated to succede on thier own, and it isn’t any relevance to anyone else on how “society” is doing. If you have a job and unemployment is 10%, are you going to quit your job so someone else can have it? As a business owner will you hire more people becuase you “feel” that the unemployment is to high. Try to understand the causation in the argument that you state. Therefore I am not intirely incorrect stating the Kinder/Reading proposition and the only rule i’m esposuing is utility maximization.

    -Im glad you know an effective teaching method, im not saying don’t teach kids, im saying those who care about thier kids education care about solely that, and the price/time they pay for it determines how much they actually care. thier motivations for spending those resources stem from their love of thier child, and when they care for this person, they feel better than otherwise.-

    The problem with interventionalist programs is there is no defined limit on where to stop. The best answer to why the government does so and so is, “well I feel that it should do that.” You talk about protecting property rights, and the government provides police. But how much police should it provide? There is no incentive for the government to maximize utils/dollar. Why not tax the crap out of everyone (even more) and provide each family with a police officer? That sounds funny, but why not? In most place there is too much government “protection,” because there is no free market solution. This is a very touchy subject, and I don’t have all the answers to the problems, but I do KNOW that I can spend my money better than the government can spend my money.

    Can you tell me why you think that police protection is a ligitimate government service?

  26. Scott says:

    And there are other ways to protect your property than to have a police force or to safeguard the borders of your country than to have a military, and yet I would still believe that these are legitimate functions of the government. Do you agree with me Tim? It’s quite all right if I am incorrect and need to be slapped back into reality. I am slowly attempting to re-educate myself, so feel free to call me names and make fun of me if I am way off mark here.

  27. Andy D says:

    Screaming for the government to step in is highly libertairian.

    Just remember, there are other ways to get your money out of people besides legal means 😉

  28. Scott says:

    As for whether or not I care about Taiwan being behind the English acquistion curve: no, not really. It’s not my country and I don’t care all that much really. I just feel sorry for the kids because I know they’re losing out in a system where they would be better off with a higher English competency level. I teach what I know — or the best of my knowledge know — to be sound and effective teaching methods. But you are entirely incorrect to posit that because you could read before you were in Kindy that means it should be applied as some sort of rule. You could read being brought up in a phonetic, alphabet driven system, i.e., where sound is the imperative thing. Chinese people are raised in a system where phonetic sound is less important than tonal intonation. So the sound “Boo” means 4 different things based on how you inflect your voice. The way you would say itin English is the Chinese third tone, but the other three — flat, inflected down and inflected up — are far more difficult to create naturally. As a result, reading and teaching the Latin Alphabet and English grammar and conversational rules to a Chinese language speaker can be very difficult. It’s part of the reason teaching English to Korean students, or so I have been told by my friends that have taught in the ROK, is easier and far preferable to teaching Chinese student, as the Korean language is an alphabet language. Not the Latin alphabet, but an alphabet none the less.
    Sorry that was so long.

  29. Scott says:

    All right here is why I think it is interestin from a contract perspective. Not because teaching English is particularly interesting. I do it and love it and I don’t think it’s all that fascinating to discuss. Rather, I think it’s interesting because of how it impacts the rest of the economic situations in the country. While the givernment of the cities of Hsinchu and Kaohsiung are enforcing contracts for teachers, other sectors of the business community are asking “Why can’t the government force the person I’ve made an agreement with honor their word?” I think it’s interesting to see how business and the government are evolving — and I believe it is in a rather libertarian way — due to the English teaching business. I don’t think it was intentional, but I think that in order to be competitive — or more so — in the market, the government needed to force schools to honor the employment contracts they made with teachers, and it had an unintended, though I think positive, set of consequences. Anyway, that was long, but just my thoughts.

  30. Timothy says:

    Andy: I think contract enforcement is probably a legitimate function of the state. Yes, contracts and de-facto enforcement measures will arise without the assistance of the state, but I think a legal system helps impose penalty for non-compliance with terms. It also helps standardize the way in which terms and conditions are set forth.

    These factors reduce the incentive to breach a given contract, and as contracts are a sort of extension of property rights (right to one’s time, labor, services, etc) its a legitimate function of government to enforce those sorts of rights…all right, this is getting long enough to become a post…more later.

  31. Andy D says:

    Do you think that the government is the only reason that contracts exist?
    If you sign a contract with someone, who then renigs, you probably won’t do business with them, the market failed, and so no one is better off. When you have two parties who enter a contract, both benefit, and so it is in the best interest of both parties to enter into contracts and keep them, unless one person errored in their forecast, and then in a free society, that person would be worse off being known as a person who is dishonest, than taking a monetary hit.

    As for the “social English curve that Taiwan is behind,” I could read before I went to kindergarten, so what do me or my parents give a shit about if other kids can’t do what I do? Are parents motivated to educate their kids by the “inherent motivation to raise the Taiwan ESA curve?”

    I’m sorry to be an ass, but it’s not interesting from a contract perspective to anyone who isn’t actually in a contract. People breaking contracts? wow, never heard of that. You’re an English teacher; tell us about the kiddies learning English and what you’re going to do to help them or something. But learn the economics of “interesting things” before espousing their relevance. 🙂

    Plus, the comment was made about the DEMAND for your services, not what the state has arbitrarily certified you to teach! Damn foo!

  32. Scott says:

    And for the record, my Master’s in Education allows me to teach the following in Oregon: ESL, Language Arts, and Social Studies (History, Government, Psychology, Economics, Geography, Contemporary World Affairs, Internatinal Relations) at the Middle School and High School level.

  33. Scott says:

    Well, I guess I deserve all of the criticism. Maybe. Oh well. I’d cry, but that really would take too much time and energy. Anyway, I really was kidding about having 4 girlfriends. I have one really nice Chinese girlfriend, Connie (I can’t pronounce her Chinese name, though I am taking Mandarin classes at the moment, and am coming along decently). She’s really nice, and we’ve been dating for about 6 months now. I’ll post her pic here in a day or two if she lets me. Anyway, Clint, I do take my job seriously, as seriously as I can, and in response to your remarks, it’s just the way things are here. Are parents happy? Sure, I guess. The country, as I have said, is behind the curve in English Language Acquisition, and it is slowly starting to adopt a tort system that strictly enforces contracts, especially on the east coast. That really is a funny thing to look at historically. Hsinchu has the science park, and that’s where a lot of the contract reform in the country started, because the need for qualified teachers was in such high demand, and qualified ESL teachers refused to come without some sort of contract assurances. So, the city started to enforce conracts, and then pretty quickly, American owned schools started putting the Taiwanese owned schools out of business, and then, well that’s where it stands now and is going down. Anyway, it’s interesting from a contract perspective I guess. I was just throwing it out there for conversation’s sake, but whatever.


  34. Timothy says:

    She’s certainly no Rebecca Newell.

    I think Scott’s advantage in Asia is that he’s taller and better fed than the men, and the women can’t understand him well enough to be afraid.

  35. Clint T. says:

    Yea.. so on the one hand, I feel the need to defend Scott because he has 4 asian girlfriends at the same time.. I’ve never even had one asian girlfriend.

    On the other hand.. I feel the need to loathe Scott for having 4 asian girlfriends, I’ve never even had one asian girlfriend..

    Hm. Well, anyway, I think I want AnneMarie Knepper to be my next girlfriend. Anyone check out her photo?

    She’s even got some clevage poking out there.. in an Emerald staff photo? That’s unheard of. Plus screaming out the name AnneMarie in the heat of passion sounds pretty hawt. Of course then I read her article.. and unless she could refrain from speaking at all times I doubt I could put up with her.

    So, uh.. nevermind and stuff.

    Oh and Scott, to answer your original question. It sounds like the marketplace is flooded and disorganized. While there may be a shortage of native English speakers, there is a glut of education establishments in the area. It also sounds like since contract enforcement is not part of the culture, it never will be. So basically, if anyone ever gets their stuff together and organizes the p.o.s. education system over there, you’ll probably be out of a job for spending too much time chasing ass and not enough time focusing on your career.

    Oh yea, and let me tell you.. the marketplace for for a Bachelor’s Degree in English/Education sucks back home as well. Particularly in Oregon. So enjoy your situation while you’re there. Chances are they don’t see too many American con-artists in action, so you might have a punchers chance.. so to speak.

  36. Melissa says:

    “In addition, why is there always the talk of your supposed girlfriends?? Do you think we don’t have girlfriends here in America?”

    Well, we know Scott didn’t have girlfriends in America…

    From his above posts, Scott obviously has no bearing in his arguments, but justifies making 580 word posts with no paragraph breaks by bringing up his inability to get sex he isn’t paying for.

    Is this sympathy or awe you’re attempting to inspire, Scotty? I sense insecurity, in many ways similar to a certain former Commentator AP contributor. When a man has to go overseas for tail and all he brags about is the tail, we know one of two things: either Scott lost his virginity to a Thai hooker and it is the only sexual experience he has to brag about, or he still isn’t getting laid and invents these women to place his losses on American culture, ie “American women don’t like me, but Asian women do, so there must be something wrong with American girls instead of with me.”

    Either way, Scott still won’t be getting any when he returns to his native soil.

  37. Andy D says:

    Scott, you say that the kiddies are getting behind in thier schooling because schools are closing all the time right? It seems obvious that thier parents are perfectly happy with this situation becuase they aren’t willing to pay more for thier child to go to a school with more stability. If there is no profit for someone to charge a higher price for sticking around in the education business, then there isn’t a great enough demand, and therefore it isn’t a place where scare resources should flow.
    On the other hand, maybe there is a high demand for quality schools, and if you start your own, you could be a millionaire.

    In addition, why is there always the talk of your supposed girlfriends?? Do you think we don’t have girlfriends here in America? Well, you probably didn’t…but no one gives a shit either way! You think you’re a better person for sharing your prositute experiances, but do you think anyone else thinks so??
    lol 🙂

  38. Scott says:

    Yes, I am aware of that, and I still use the term “girlfriend”. If I am paying for it, I use the term “whore” or “hooker”. In my posts, I explicitly use “girlfriend” precisely because these are women that I am NOT paying for, though I am not opposed to, nor am I beneath, paying. It simply isn’t necessary in the instances of the 4 gfs mentioned above. God I love Asia.


  39. Melissa says:

    Oooh. Snap. Very good, Clint.

  40. Clint T. says:

    “I hate this place from a contract perspective and the only reason I stay is that I have a Chinsese girlfriend, an Indonesian girlfriend, a Thai girlfriend and a Philippino girlfriend:) Call me a bastard, I deserve it.”

    Keep in mind if you’re paying for them, you can’t exactly call them girlfriends.

  41. Timothy says:

    Takes time to learn things.

  42. Scott says:

    Just for the record, I work 25 hours a week, and earn about $2,000 in American currency per month. That standard pay for English teachers is NT600 per hour, which works out to between $18.50 and $19.00 per hour, depedning on the exchange rate. I’ve never worked for less than NT800 and hour, but I have a Master’s Degree in Education and an ESL certificate, so I can charge more and get it in the market I’m in. When I worked on the West Coast in Hsinchu and the Science Park, my wage was closer to NT900 per hour, but the cost of living was much higher. Rent alone was almost twice as much as it is on the rural East Coast. That reminds me of another rant I have about inflated wages leading to higher costs. I know, Timothy, I should have come to that conclusion years ago, and you are right to criticise my lack of foresight, but it is none the less a light bulb of realization for me. Sorry.


  43. Anonymous says:

    To begin with, if I did not state this from the begining, please allow me to do so now. I can only speak from the experience I have in the ROC and from the limited number of people I have come in contact with who have lived in Korea and Japan. They tell me the cost of living is a bit higher in those placed than in Taiwan. I don’t know, as I have only lived in the ROC. For example, I live in Ilan county, Luodong Town, population 150,000. I pay about $75 a month in rent, and never more than $125 for all combined costs: electricity, cable, rent and water. Now, I have been told that in a community of similar size in ROK, the prices are a bit higher, though not by much. This again comes back to the same question I had: why would a qualified teacher want to teach in Taiwan. I think, though I am not certain, that you and I agree. The only point I was making about Taiwan being preferable, and I do not think it is in the grand scheme of things, is that some of the overhead costs — and I may be entirely wrong about this, and I admit it freely — might be lower in Taiwan. If you have evidence that I am wrong, I’m all eyes and ears. I hate this place from a contract perspective and the only reason I stay is that I have a Chinsese girlfriend, an Indonesian girlfriend, a Thai girlfriend and a Philippino girlfriend:) Call me a bastard, I deserve it.

  44. nathaniel says:

    I have a question for you Scott that is quite off topic. What is the advantage of teaching English in Taiwan versus Korea where I have taught before? I have known a few people who taught in Taiwan and Korea and they all unhesitently say Korea is better. First off, as best as I can tell, the pay in Taiwan averages around 18,000 a year versus 25,000 or so in Korea. Contrary to your statement about the cost of living in Korea being higher, though I am hesitent to listen to anyone who acts as if it is the same in Indonesia, Korea and Japan, cost of living is actually about 7% lower in the ROK then ROC. In Korea every school pays for apartments and airfare which to my knowledge is not something they do in Taiwan on a regular basis. The situation in terms of getting fired is very similar in Korea but not only do I know I will also find another job quickly, I know that eventually I will prevail with the labor board and get any money that is owed to me. So is there something I am issing about Taiwan that makes it better or do you find just find the risk of a Chinese invasion more bearable then that of a DPRK nuke attack?

  45. Timothy says:

    In Short: Clearly defined property rights and enforcement of same are vitally important for the function of a stable economy. More later, when I have time.

  46. Scott says:

    I just want to post this, as humiliating as is it to me, for the record. I suppose it’s necessary in order to offer a glimpse of evidence that I am not as evil a person as most think I am. Timothy was correct in almost all of his criticism of my intellectual — or, lack thereof, I suppose — assertions while at the University. You all can heckle me and call me names, and God alone knows I deserve it. I think I had to actually get out and work and live in a different country to appreciate exactly what America has, and is in fact dangerously close to losing. Anyhow, viva la beer and alcohol, and I toast my sixth Corona to Timothy this evening. And of course, you can use this in the Spew section and make fun of me, goodness knows I deserve it. Cheers!


  47. Scott says:

    OK, here’s a challenge for anyone, as Timothy says, who is interested primarily in the day to days aspects of economics. I live and teach in Taiwan, ROC. The economic atmosphere for Native English Speakers with a Bachelor’s Degree in unique, and in my opnion, awesome. There is literally an exponentially larger demand for people to teach English to children, young adults — all right anyone in Taiwan — than there are people in Taiwan who speak English as a native language. SO great is the demand in fact, that the government requirement that you have a Bachelor’s Degree to teach English is rarely, if ever, actually enforced, and the market for visa runs every 90 days for the few native English speakers in the country who don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree is staggering. OK, so here’s the conundrum. There is no civil law system or contract enforcement system in Taiwan, and the unique idiosyncracies of Chinese society — for those of you who don’t know, Taiwan is the leftovers of the losers from the Chinese Civil War — create a system where even though there are thousands more schools than there are workers that the consumers — ie, parents and students — will pay to have teach, it is not uncommon for a school owner to dismiss a teacher, close the school and go belly-up all in one afternoon. Now, as a conservative, on the one hand I say, “Oh well. That’s the way the old ball bounces.” And, for the teacher, it really is laughable, because if I lose my job at 12:00 noon on Monday, I will have another job with the same pay and benefits at 12:15 on Monday. Yet, this system poses a devastating consequence to the Taiwan student and consumer. The Ministry of Education in Taiwan estimates that its students, due almost entirely to the lack of contract enforcement, and the phenomenon described above, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 years behind the English Language Acquisition of even third world countries such as Thailand. I suppose you have to have been to places like Thailand to understand how embarrassing this fact is. The cycle is obvious, it seems to me, but perhaps not so. Why would a qualified teacher who knows the best and most creative methods of education and English Language Acquisition want to work in a place where contracts do not exist and if they do, are not enforced by the government, when that same teacher can go to a place like Korea, Indonesia or Japan and make similar money — albeit a higher cost of living — where the government will at the very least enforce written contracts? Now, for me, I’m in it for the money and the women, so whatever. I can live with the volatility, and the knowledge that if I lose this job, I’ll just get another one in two hours. But even I simply shrug my shoulders and do whatever the non-English speaking idiot who owns the school tells me to do, just to save the hassle of finding another job. And the thing is, no one, not even the people who benefit the most from the system in Taiwan, argue that is what is happening isn’t hurting the consumer and the country. So I guess after all that, my question is this: Does the government, at the very least, have an obligation to actively enforce contracts, or is that against the libertarian economic philosophy?

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