Friday 8 September 2023

Taiwanese offered a free pet if they have a child

Like other developed countries, Taiwan is suffering from a low birthrate. In fact, the country has one of the world's lowest birth rates. In order to encourage the Taiwanese to have a kid a billionaire who wants to become the president of Taiwan has proposed offering couples free companion animals if they have a baby as a kind of reward. And the idea comes from the fact that while human birth rates have plummeted pet ownership rates have skyrocketed. People want pets.

Pets are popular in Taiwan but having kids is not
Pets are popular in Taiwan but having kids is not. Image: Getty (Sam Yeh).

People want to live with a companion animal rather than a child, which brings to mind the current Pope's concern about this trend which is also taking place in Italy. He doesn't like the thought that people prefer to have pets. He sees it as children being substituted by pets and he is right.

The reason for the plummeting birth rates in Taiwan have been put down to the high cost of living and difficulties accessing childcare together with "traditional gender expectations" whatever that means. I think there are other reasons such as a lot of people don't like the direction in which the world is travelling and I mean in terms of human behaviour.

By far the most obvious and biggest reason why the Taiwanese are not having kids is because they are facing the potential invasion of their country by China! And that can happen at any time judging by the threats coming out of the Chinese government. And there are other issues, world issues.

We have the war in Ukraine started by Putin. A brutal, unnecessary war started by a deranged dictator who has become a mass murderer destabilising the world with many threats of nuclear war, which is incredibly worrying to hundreds of millions of people including potential parents. They don't want to bring a child into the world which is that scary.

And then we have global warming i.e. climate change. Billions of people are concerned about climate change. They don't see enough being done to curb it. They foresee their child, if they had a child, living through horrendous conditions in 2050 and beyond. It's not worth bringing a child into a world with these sorts of problems. That is my thought on this problem.

And I see another problem! I tend to see problems being a cynical old man. Having a 'pet' as companion animals are euphemistically called is not as easy as it looks. Kittens and puppies are cute and great and beautiful but you've got to be living in the right circumstances to make the relationship work.

Having a pet is not all fun and it doesn't always enhance your life. There are responsibilities. Very serious responsibilities. And owning a companion animal can be expensive especially with rising prices right now. And you've got to have a lifestyle which makes cat and dog caretaking workable. You can't just adopt a couple of kittens and leave them alone at home all day while you go to work. That is not going to work in any sense of the word.

You can never leave a cat alone all day for 10 hours while you go to work without some sort of problems and for it being very unfair on the companion animal. They are likely to suffer from separation anxiety and their behaviour will reflect it with inappropriate elimination such as defecating on your bed and spraying urine. And if they don't do that, they may develop cystitis. And if they don't suffer from cystitis they're going to be upset, distressed and stressed and even depressed.

The point is that this billionaire presidential hopeful thinks that offering a pet as a reward by having a child in Taiwan is a wonderful idea but he's not offering these potential parents and new car as a reward. He is offering them a sentient being who will live in the human world and you've got to be a committed caregiver to do justice to the ownership of a pet.

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