Friday, October 17, 2008

No Idea

I envy those bloggers who seem to have time to live a life, hold down a job, and still write 5,000 words before breakfast. I guess they don't need much sleep.

No doubt some of them have already written a lengthy analysis of Donald Tsang's policy speech on Wednesday. I haven't studied it in depth, but I do have two short comments.

"This is not a time for innovation," declared Donald after the speech. Dead wrong! The system of unbridled self-interest that has dominated the world economy since the Thatcher/Reagan era (when greed was elevated from one of the seven deadly sins to the supreme virtue) has reached an ugly dead end with the current financial crisis, hopefully giving way to a new age of fairness and responsibility. Meanwhile Hong Kong's traditional role as China's gateway to the world is becoming redundant, as a newly confident China ceases to need an intermediary and deals with the outside world directly.

Given this situation, innovation - i.e. new ideas about Hong Kong's future role - is exactly what we need at this moment. Either that, or slide into irrelevance.

Donald's other mistake was in declaring that the minimum wage to be set under the long overdue minimum wage law - to be introduced in the coming year, no doubt acompanied by bleats of protest from employers - may still be insufficient for a wage earner to support a family without receiving additional social welfare assistance. If this is so, then what is the point? What this means in effect is that the taxpayer is subsidizing irresponsible firms that underpay their workers, giving them an unfair cost advantage over more responsible companies that pay their employees a fair wage. Great system, huh?

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