Miles from Home

China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

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I am fresh off of two vacations in three weeks, the second being an extensive scuba diving trip in the Philippines. I feel like I have painted a rather negative portrait of Taiwan on my first few posts, and this has not been my intention at all. My trip to the Penghu Islands in the Taiwan Strait was epic. As in all of life, the beautiful aspects, while abundant, can be contained in the common chaos of daily living. So Taiwan’s props are forthcoming. I love this country. I couldn’t be happier, so please always keep that in mind.

PUERTO GALERA, MINDORO ISLAND- The Philippines are incredible, spectacularly beautiful and ravaged by inequalities of all sorts. This mixture fascinates me. My initial impression of Manila brought me back to Cape Town, South Africa. Color. Life. Skin. Heat. There is a realness. There are people living, surviving– living. The people are open and friendly. I was treated excellently. The scuba diving was indescribable… wrecks, holes in walls, down currents, and the constant reminder that this planet is 75 percent covered by this wet power.

Manila and Puerto Galera are full of life. U.S. citizens like myself, Dutch, English, Australians, and others are a two-sided coin for the Philippines, the problem and the solution. We bring money and with it instill a desire for it at unimaginable price. I cannot help feeling very negatively about the symptoms of Southeast Asian developing societies.I was brought back to a theory outlined by Tiziano Terzani in A Fortune-Teller Told Me.  He is one of many voices on this issue, but I recently finished his book and found it moving in a much more human rather than academic way.  Paraphrasing Terzani’s much more rounded theory, the infection begins when governments liberalize an economy.  Masses are put out of work, and social turmoil ensues in the following years as the system stablilizes. In this time tourism offers an immediate opportunity to exploit an unalienable resource: women. Prostitution was the likely the third largest “industry” in this town I stayed in, behind scuba shops and guest houses. It was in Tiziano’s time and is in my time a major facet of society in Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and even China.– I recommend Terzani’s book for anyone with an interest in travel writing, journalism, politics, mysticism, faith, and globalization.

NORTH KOREA- There is some pretty potent sentiment in my neck of the woods on this as there surely is in the States. My dive guide in the Philippines was from Seoul. The only words he could really use (in English) to describe the situation were: “I hate Kim.” Diplomacy, anyone?

DARFUR- I am curious, asking my friends back home in the States, if this “Rock for Darfur” concert gained any mainstream attention.

FORD- Ford Motor Company recorded a $5.8billion dollar loss. Hello??? Maybe it is time for Ford, in all of its restructuring to fundamentally change its omnipresent philosophy. One day soon the notion of Bigger-is-Better is going to fall hard, as giants do. Ford should take this as a wake up call and an early bird special on jump starting an entirely new era of automotive transportation– one less dependent on oil and more dependent on common sense.

Thank you all for your concern about Virginia. She is healed up and smiling. The situation is evolving. I received some fantastic advice from my friend in an email, and I am going to ask her for her permission to post it.


Written by Miles

October 23, 2006 at 5:26 pm

One Response

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  1. I do not want to get into N Korea or Darfur because I have a lot to say on both subjects that’s fueled more by uneducated emotion than any real knowledge of either situation. However, I do have something to say that relates to our friends at Ford and GM. There is a political solution to both of these companies problems. Unfortunately for them, it comes at the expense of their existence. There are two reason why cars are larger in the US than say Europe. First, Americans like big wasteful things that make them feel tough, and the Europeans don’t. Second, and arguably more importantly, the Euros tax the hell out of gasoline. So how do you force Ford into making a relevant, fuel efficient product? You tax US gas like the Euros do, meaning that gasoline will roughly triple in price. What would that do? In all actuality, it would probably bankrupt Ford and GM to the delight of the Japanese auto industry. Both companies still carry too much inventory, too much debt, and not enough new product lines in production to deal with such a change in gas tax policy. The reality is that it is not in the US government’s interest to bankrupt these companies by raising the gas tax because the unemployement rate would shoot up (remember it would not just kill F and GM it would also kill or severely wound several of their suppliers). Such an initiative would also greatly reduce demand for oil which would significantly ding some of the bell weathers of the US economy like Exxon, Conoco, Shell, etc. However, the government talks about supporting alternative energy constantly, even though the dollars behind such initiatives are very small compared to Europe. Increasing gas taxes would force the players in the auto industry to sink or swim and have the dual effect of reducing emmissions by leaps and bounds.

    So instead of massive changes to the gas tax and subsequently the auto industry, Ford and GM will continue to struggle along. I expect them to continue to cut production at their facilities, and by the end of next year, I expect them to be pulling their heads out of their asses and to start moving forward in terms of design innovation and the financial righting of their respective companies (and don’t get me wrong both are trying like hell to do just that).


    October 25, 2006 at 4:30 pm

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