The Hong Kong community is currently devoting millions of man-hours to working out the clunky registration, multi-stage collection and relatively straightforward but restrictive expenditure details of the government’s Consumption Voucher Scheme, which was originally intended to boost the economy during Covid, but somehow morphed into an attempt to force people to adopt digital payment systems.
HKFP bravely attempts to explain how to get your HK$5,000 (unless you’re an overseas domestic helper, of course).
The bureaucrats designing this mess are clearly trying to torment the elderly who don’t have smartphones or home PCs, and can’t get out much. More generally, the aim seems to be to force people to spend on goods at tycoon-owned supermarkets and convenience stores, rather than buy from market stalls – or just save the money.
Despite the bureaucrats’ best efforts, most recipients will spend the hand-out in ways that offset other income; the amount of normal Octopus card top-ups will plummet as people leave money in the bank. Hongkongers’ natural cunning in such matters will no doubt enable them to find ways to convert voucher ‘purchases’ into plain cash.
Among forbidden uses of the hand-outs: donating it to charity. We can’t fritter away good sound wealth on the underprivileged when we have starving property plutocrats to look after.
This is a purely autonomous non-CCP-dictated scheme – a reminder of how, even pre-NatSec Regime, we were truly being run by malevolent morons.
Whose money is it, anyway?
On the subject of good sound wealth… This is off-topic and for masochists only, following some earnest debate about cryptocurrencies in the comments section.
(Background: my curiosity about crypto extends from a general fascination with the wacky world where mental-health issues, conspiracy theories and grift overlap, from QAnon to anti-science health fads to End Time preppers to Scientology. Maybe gawking at these people gives me the entertainment thrills Victorians got from viewing the inmates in asylums.)
My humble advice: how ever much you might find today’s monetary policies annoying, avoid crypto – it’s just digital Monopoly money manipulated by scammers. These are not currencies. Many of us in Hong Kong would love a way to place our cash out of the CCP’s grasp, but a magic-beans Ponzi scheme isn’t it. Nor is crypto an investment. It has zero fundamental worth or connection to the real economy. (And can you imagine proponents of, say, emerging-markets bonds reacting so defensively, or at all, the second anyone criticizes their pet asset class?)
For anyone tempted, Stephen Diehl’s threads are quick reads: How crypto is like a pyramid scheme and how they end; what ‘stablecoins’ like Tether are for, and why they’re a scam; and some examples of how blockchain makes simple financial processes absurdly complicated. He actually proposes a ban on crypto to protect gullible investors and gambling addicts. Fanatical HODLers will rail at these. Just smile politely and walk on.
We’re not touching on: ransomware/money-laundering; the utterly deranged ‘proof of work’-type processes through which miners gobble up vast resources solving pointless puzzles to compete to log transactions; the Elon-worshipping, proselytizing and cult-like aspects of the crypto movement (a feature of some other pyramid schemes); or the stale far-right conspiracy theories about central bankers and ‘fiat’ that lurk in the background. As entertainment, it’s brilliant.