Population: possibly a problem, definitely impossible to solve

Is Hong Kong full yet or not? Does Hong Kong need more people, or do we have too many? If we can find answers to these questions, should government act upon them?

Environmental activists think the Big Lychee has reached full capacity, and in order to avoid future reclamation of land and to protect dolphins, they want to clamp down on family-reunion immigration from the Mainland…

There are countless objections to this. A lot of space is taken up by the parasitical tourism industry; the gargantuan Kai Tak cruise terminal will be empty for the first 300 days of operation, while Disneyland begs to be converted into a new town. A lot of space is taken up by underused roads and bridges and adjacent sterilized land. Property tycoons sit on barren stretches of the New Territories. And is it fair to single out Mainlanders when a Hong Kong resident is entitled to be joined instantly by a spouse and kids from, say, Botswana or Venezuela? Still, if it is beyond the wit of policymakers, interest groups and greens to cut visitor numbers and utilize land properly, yes we are full.

But Chief Secretary Carrie Lam says otherwise… 

Well, actually she says otherwise, sort of, except that, but then again, while of course, though on the other hand – and we’re none the wiser. I especially like the bit where it says some unidentified power should be ‘encouraging marriage and childbirth to make good use of the existing population’. All those of us who have been agonizing over how we could be made better use of will be cheered to hear this.

Carrie says we do need more people. Economic growth will be constrained without an ‘infusion of new blood into the labour force’. (This presumes that we want/need an economy that forever expands in absolute terms, and that our schools will fail to produce more productive/innovative/adaptable graduates.) But then she asks who should pay for extra children. She accepts that most developed economies give subsidies to families with children (and she could mention that Hongkongers rich enough to pay profits tax get such a handout via allowances for dependent children) and take other measures to encourage the livestock to breed (or, maybe in Hong Kong’s case, reduce disincentives). What she means here is the whole caboodle: financial subsidies for all kids; maternity/paternity leave; better housing/schools; maybe Finnish baby-boxes.

This raises a whole host of profound issues to do with the role of the state in Hong Kong, doesn’t it? Should government be a Scandinavian nanny, or a Singaporean eugenicist, or a Nazi German breeder of a perfect master race, or an American Head Start/No Child Left Behind helping hand, or what?

But no such searching philosophical inquiry for Carrie. We won’t be going there, not because of principle, but because it…

“…often involves a range of measures that cut across various policy areas.”

Visionary thinking, Hong Kong-style, 2013. Think back over the last centuries and millennia… We could find cures for disease, solutions to poverty, improvements in technology, expansion of learning, freedom where there is slavery, light where there is darkness, peace where there is fear – a transformation whereby the human race moves from being cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers to civilized societies – but we won’t because it…

“…often involves a range of measures that cut across various policy areas.”

I am delighted to declare open a special extra-long weekend, lasting a good four days or so, in which I will be in an anonymous and probably Internet-free part of Southeast Asia. Might take some interesting photos, but then I might not, because it…

 “…often involves a range of measures that cut across various policy areas.”

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15 Responses to Population: possibly a problem, definitely impossible to solve

  1. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    The solution to all these issues was offered up in the movie ‘Soylent Green.’ Have a nice trip.

  2. THAT HONG KONG POPULATION POLICY IN FULL

    (Loosely to the tune of CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN)

    Three in every toilet
    Ten every lift
    Six at every street corner
    Always on the grift

    Open up the sluice gates
    Watch the salaries sink
    We’re sitting by Thai swimming pools
    Whilst Honker’s on the brink

    (Will this do?)

    For E.J. Wong
    Home Affairs Department

  3. Probably says:

    Solyent Green? I thought Logan’s Run had the solution. Hang on a sec when’s my birthday?

  4. Local Tax Payer says:

    I get the impression that CY and Carrie are just keeping their heads down, transferring responsibility back and forth, while heaving a sigh of relief at every new month’s salary.

    Dealing with their email and calculating their pensions must leave little time for dreaming up new initiatives, let alone ones requiring some political knowhow or philosophical underpinning.

    Have a great time in Lombok!

  5. colonelkurtz says:

    Maybe they should make Catholicism HK’s state religion and they could ban birth control and abortion. They could import some fundamentalist bishops from the Philippines or South America and make one a minister of fecundity. Donald would have liked this nonsense. But why does the current govt fall for it. They’re in league with concrete pourers? The real focus for investigation of political corruption in HK should be the nexus of developers and public works contractors and the various govt departments that plan bridges, reclamations, new ports, etc and the legco committees that vet this work.

  6. Oik says:

    Yummy Mummy is that Standard photo, don’t you think?

    If they all looked like that, I’m sure the birth rate would be up, up, up….

  7. Oneleggoalie says:

    Oneleg feels children are only good for one thing…selling to labs for experiments.
    And bureaucrats are for target practice…if we had guns…or longbows…or rocks that Jews use to stone people….

  8. Joe Blow says:

    I have heard terrible things about Lombok. There are some people there who deserve to be stoned.

  9. master racer says:

    Oneleg, re your “or rocks that Jews use to stone people….” care to elaborate on why you prefer to mention this particular religion rather than, say, others that actually are stoning people today?

    Or do you just like to slide in a bit of gutless anonymous off-topic racism, along with your limp misanthropy, when you get the chance?

  10. Regislea says:

    Nothing to do with this particular post – except that perhaps it reflects the general ineptness of Hong Kong’s media – but why does the Sub-Standard headline its report on Tom Sharpe’s death “Satisfying ending for Sharpe after high jinks and satiric jabs.”?

    I must be missing something.

  11. I think you mean salaries tax, not profits tax.

  12. Oneleggoalie says:

    @master racer…all of the above. Thank you for reading…if only it could make you laugh.

  13. Oneleggoalie says:

    Thank you G. Hova…who does not exists…
    and to master racer…the Taliban stoning chicks for hanky panky is not funny…Jews in the Bible stoning er Jews…its hilarious…ala Life of Brian…

  14. probably says:

    I love children,…… but I can’t finish a whole one.

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