Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hong Kong is run like an experiment in extreme capitalism

The way the majority of people live in Hong Kong would be regarded as insane in most other countries. Today i had this epiphany. We are all trapped in a laboratory where an experiment in extreme capitalism is being conducted. Someone is trying to figure out how hard they can screw people before they die, flee the city or start rioting.
Unfortunately HKers' passivity and tolerance of abuse has reached such a high threshold that the experiment cannot be repeated anywhere else.
(Try to put European workers through what HK workers experience everyday, and you end up with a general strike, barricades and petrol bombs.)

In this city people can be deprived of clean air, and if you get lung cancer, no big deal, there are million of desperate migrants ready to take your place and work for a pittance. Minimum wage? What minimum wage? Just work 12 hours a day, and you can afford to put food on the table (for one, other family members will have to earn their own food). 1 out of 9 residents lives below the poverty line. So much for Asia's world city!

People are expected to squeeze in the smallest apartments ever built in the developed world, with no natural ventilation, and no insulation, so that their hard-earned money is spent on air-conditioning (CLP and HK Electric shareholders rub their hands in glee). Such apartments feature no balconies, so people are forced to buy driers for their clothes (again, i can see a big smile on the faces of those shareholders). You might think such poorly designed and built flats come cheap. No way. As a matter of fact they can cost many times more than a nice flat in Paris, Madrid, Rome etc.

Hong Kong citizens are deprived of political rights, such as universal suffrage, therefore they can't kick out an ineffective, incompetent, colluded government. Who needs democracy when a few "well-intentioned" tycoons can make decisions for you?

Whatever little money you make in this "city lab" will be spent on surviving, and what is left will be spent on stuff that you don't even need, but that some marketeers convinced you to buy...so that your money is pumped back into the pockets of the capitalist system that holds you at ransom. You can't even take public transport without being herded through a shopping mall.

Extreme exploitation can only be contrasted by breaking the metaphorical "ball and chain" that holds you down.
Work less, a lot less. Barter more, buy less, a lot less. Sit and watch the GDP drop...breath in and wait for the biggest revelation....your life will start to improve, and so will the lives of million of people like you....the planet will be grateful too.

Though worshipped by legions of capitalists, the GDP is a poor measure of living standards. A badly managed city with a lot of unnecessary infrastructures will see its GDP grow. Destroy and build, and then destroy again and rebuild....this makes the GDP grow and creates misery for all those who don't partake of the wealth thus created. Produce substandard goods that will soon end up in a landfill, and that will also make the GDP grow. And when the landfill comes to the end of its life cycle, build an incinerator...that will make the GDP grow. People get sick as a result? No problem, sell them pharma drugs, and build new hospitals...that will make the GDP grow.

2 comments:

je_n'habite_plus_à_HK said...

While your frustration is understandable. Couple points:

Have you looked at how big Parisian apartments are and how expensive they are? Hardly like you'd get a much better deal in Paris than in HK.
As for Madrid or Rome, not clear why you'd want to live in either. I have been told living in HK is preferable to Rome by someone who has lived in both.

HK is not picnic, but there's no need to let hyperbole get the better of you.

foreign body said...

I lived in the cities i mentioned, and in many others too. Nowhere i have seen the overcrowding that Hong Kong is infamous for. Planning regulations in those cities ensure that people have the right to natural ventilation, are not forced to use air-conditioning and clothes driers. The majority of flats, even in social housing blocks, have balconies.

Developers in those cities are not the majority shareholders in public utilities, shopping malls and supermarket chains...and they do not have seats in the Executive Council!