Best columns: International
Hands-off attitude costs lives
Dong-a Ilbo (South Korea)
A tragic accident has put a spotlight on Chinese people’s cruel disregard for the needs of others, said the Dong-a Ilbo. Eleven kindergartners, most of them South Korean, died when their bus crashed and caught fire in a tunnel near the eastern city of Weihai earlier this month. Some of them might have survived had Chinese drivers who witnessed the accident rushed to their aid. But nobody did. This is typical. Video of a toddler getting run over twice in the city of Foshan in 2011 shocked the nation, as it showed passers-by simply stepping over the girl’s bloody body. Then, as now, Chinese media strongly criticized “the ‘none of my business’ attitude among the Chinese people,” but it is deeply ingrained in their culture. An old Chinese fable tells of a dog who took on the cat’s job of catching rats and then fell asleep. When the owner came home to find the cat atop the pile of dead rodents, he gave the cat a fish and kicked the dog. The moral—that the dog was “too meddlesome”—reflects the Chinese belief that “one can suffer from doing a good thing.” Such selfishness has only intensified with the “spread of individualism” following China’s embrace of capitalism. “Perhaps Beijing should consider holding a public campaign against the indifference to other people in distress.”
Paying for the recklessness of others
The Globe and Mail
Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for the poor choices of some of our neighbors, said The Globe and Mail. Earlier this month, thousands of families were evacuated from their Quebec homes because of severe flooding brought on by heavy rainfall. Nearly all the damage occurred in “known flood plains,” meaning the people who bought houses there should have realized they were at risk. Yet the federal government is going to compensate them. “When Canadians are facing natural disasters, we pull together,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. But was it a natural disaster? Flooding in a flood zone is entirely predictable, even if uncommon. Of course, the government allowed these people to build in these areas, so we can’t just abandon them, “any more than we can deny health care to smokers and heavy drinkers.” But given that climate change is increasing the likelihood of ever more severe flooding, we must do something to mitigate the cost to those of us on higher ground. The best answer may be “some form of public-private insurance.” Homeowners will have to be officially informed if they live in an at-risk area, and then required to purchase flood coverage, perhaps with a subsidy. “The waters are going to keep rising”—we have to be prepared.