Smoke chokes Beijing
By avalon on Jun 21, 2006
How to stop the smoke?
Beijing has a pollution problem. Part of that problem comes from burning off of straw in the provinces surrounding it. Officially this is banned, so the column says. If it is banned then someone should be out there enforcing the ban, not twiddling their thumbs and mumbling. No wonder I see so much flagrant violation of common law every day - nobody actually enforces anything apart from censorship of the media. Fine the farmers 3000 yuan if they get caught burning off, each time they get caught. Yes, that's a huge amount of money to them, but the consequences need to be severe or else they'll just ignore the rules - like they do now. If the farmers have low incomes and cannot afford to pay for other ways in which to dispose of the straw then I have some suggestions:
- 1. Increase the cost of whatever it is they sell so they make more money to use more expensive ways to dispose of straw
- 2. Government subsides the construction of alternative methods of disposing of straw
Beijing's problem is a problem for the world. Everyone needs to be looking at finding ways to cut greenhouse gasses. Burning straw and the pollution it puts in the atmosphere is a global problem and needs to be stopped. It is compounded in Beijing because of local conditions - both weather and geographical. If the worst comes to worst, just relocate the farmers and prohibit that kind of farming close to Beijing. As it stands now, 20,000,000 people or more suffer for days because nobody has helped these farmers find a better solution.
Pilots Pose Problem
This column is almost laughable. It would seem that China is just starting to wake up to what it means to have competition and some of its employees, such as pilots, are learning that they don't have to put up with the poor living and pay conditions offered from working as a state employee. Well isn't that a shame? You know what we do in other places of the world to combat that? Increase working and living conditions and pay to be more competitive. That is the only real alternative here. Otherwise, when it comes time to train and become a pilot, the better pilots will always choose to work with the better - non-state run - airlines and the state-run airlines will become home to 2nd rate pilots. Would you choose to fly on a state-run airline if you knew that the pilots were 2nd class? Probably not. The real solution here is for the government to get out of the business of airlines and leave it to companies that are not state-run or state-backed and can respond to changing market conditions more rapidly and more appropriately than with contracts to lock in pilots for years and years. Such contracts could be far worse for China Eastern - if they lock pilots in and have poor contracts that do not let pilots escape if they want to, why would pilots want to work there to start with?