On November 10, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government issued the "Report on Hong Kong's Poverty Situation in 2020", claiming that after government policy intervention, the number of poor people in Hong Kong fell to 553,500 last year, a decrease of 88,000 compared with 2019, and the poverty rate dropped by 1.3 percentage points to 7.9%. .
The so-called government policy intervention includes permanent cash projects represented by CSSA, non-constant cash projects represented by the disbursement of 10,000 Hong Kong dollars in cash, and non-cash benefits that are subject to means review represented by public housing.
Taking into account that non-constant cash projects are not unusual, and the intensity of the policy may not be the same every year, the poverty reduction effect of the intervention of the SAR government last year may not be sustainable, and those who have escaped poverty may return to poverty again.
According to the statistics of the "Hong Kong Poverty Report 2020", if policy intervention measures are not taken into consideration, the poor population and poverty rate in Hong Kong last year were 1,652,500 and 23.6% respectively, and nearly half of the new poor population came from unemployed households.
The ratio of 23.6% means that one out of every four people in Hong Kong may live in poverty.
This is a very alarming data. Fortunately, after the intervention of the Hong Kong government's policies, the poverty situation has been significantly alleviated, but it is still serious.
The serious polarization between the rich and the poor in Hong Kong society has a long history.
Take the Gini coefficient, which measures the gap between the rich and the poor, as an example. The SAR government announces the Gini coefficient every five years. The most recent was in 2017, when it was 0.539, a 45-year high, which clearly exceeded the warning value of 0.4 set by the United Nations Development Program.
According to a 2016 report by Bloomberg, the total wealth of Hong Kong's top ten richest people is equivalent to 35% of Hong Kong's GDP, ranking first among all countries and regions.
Under the capitalist order, a person’s freedom, dignity, and happiness are closely related to economic income. The rich can enjoy luxury and live the life they yearn for, while the poor have nowhere to stand, struggle for life, and dreams are often extravagant dreams.
Hong Kong, which has been "government by government and business" since the colonial period, has particularly widened the gap between the rich and the poor. The rich can sit in mansions in the middle of the mountain and enjoy the freedom, convenience and services far beyond ordinary people, but the poor are like the prosperous ants. , Life is difficult and aggrieved, living space is cramped, and even some people can only live in sub-districts and cage homes.
Freedom should be the freedom of all people, but in Hong Kong today, freedom is more often the freedom of the rich.
Under the glamorous appearance of the world's financial center, Hong Kong is very divided between the rich and the poor. Some poor people can only live in subdivided houses and caged homes that lack privacy and self-esteem.
Under the long-term “government-business co-governance” structure and the growing trend of increasing polarization between the rich and the poor, the gap between the rich and the poor in Hong Kong has become increasingly solidified. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Impersonal struggle.
Chen Zhiwu, a former tenured professor of finance at Yale University School of Management and currently a Fung Chair Professor at the University of Hong Kong, once said in an interview with the mainland media "Caijing" that "the class structure of Hong Kong society is too solid, and the space for cross-class mobility is too narrow." "Looking at the Hong Kong companies and brands that everyone is familiar with today, it is nothing more than HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Cathay Pacific, Cheung Kong Holdings, Kerry Group, Swire Group, Jardine Group and other old names, all of which were left over decades ago. "Old Hong Kong", there are no new large companies, which in itself tells you that the "money" of this society has long been solidified in the hands of a few families, and the grassroots can only continue to be the grassroots."
The reason for this, Chen Zhiwu explained, "On the one hand, the opportunity to make money in this society is firmly monopolized by a small number of families." "It is indeed easy to register a company in Hong Kong, but after you register a new company, there are almost only those. The competition is so profitable or only hard labor industries are open to you." On the other hand, the reason is that "Hong Kong has a small population, so business, politics, academia, and social elites are almost all friends with each other, even if they are not. Blood relatives will also be in-laws and will care for and protect each other; in particular, Hong Kong’s elite society operates through exclusive private clubs and clubs. If you can’t get into these clubs, you can’t enter the elite class, and if you can’t be the elite class Recognition, you will hardly have the opportunity to get those privileges to make money."
Hong Kong's economic system has always been known for its liberal capitalism and has been rated as the freest economy in the world for many years.
In terms of trade import and export policies, tariff policies, foreign exchange policies, and the basic characteristics of "active non-intervention" economic regulation, Hong Kong's economy is indeed very free.
But from the perspective of corporate competition, in the face of a few large capitals, large companies, and families with monopoly advantages, how much freedom do those emerging companies and ordinary entrepreneurs have?
The key to free capitalism lies in fair and free competition in order to maximize people's enthusiasm and creativity.
But in Hong Kong, in the past few years, a small number of large capitals, large companies and aristocratic families have firmly held monopoly advantages, which can to a considerable extent make the formulation of policies in line with their interests and needs. Over time, Hong Kong’s economy has become more and more dependent on a few vested interests. The service industry controlled by the group, especially the financial industry and real estate industry, has no way out for emerging industries, economic vitality is constantly being suppressed, development is becoming more and more rigid, and growth is becoming weaker and weaker.
To some extent, Hong Kong's economy has already deviated from the original intention of free capitalism, and free competition exists in name only, which has led to the popularization of "fighting capitalism".
Large companies represented by Cheung Kong Holdings have promoted the development of Hong Kong's economy, but over time, these large companies have become more and more monopolistic, squeezing the growth space of emerging companies and ordinary entrepreneurs.
French economist Thomas Piketty once wrote a very influential book "On Capital in the Twenty-First Century". In the book, research on wealth and income data in Europe and the United States since the 18th century shows that the rate of return on capital far exceeds The economic growth rate and the growth rate of inherited wealth are much higher than labor income. The amount of wealth depends on inheritance and birth rather than acquired efforts and labor. This will seriously threaten Western development and democratic society.
Piketty’s point of view has been summed up sharply by some as that the capitalist world is returning to daddy capitalism.
Compared with Europe and the United States, Hong Kong’s gap between the rich and the poor and the solidification of classes is more serious, and the situation of daddy capitalism is more prominent. It has not only become a major obstacle to Hong Kong’s innovation and development, but also continues to erode fairness and justice as the cornerstone of social stability.
Hong Kong is the Hong Kong of all Hong Kong people, not just the Hong Kong of a few big capitals, big companies and families. The development of Hong Kong should allow all Hong Kong people to share the dividends and live a better life, rather than the rich getting richer and poorer. The poorer.
In the process of Hong Kong’s rise since its opening as a port, some big capitals, large companies and aristocratic families have played an important role in promoting, and thus obtained huge wealth. However, imagine that if Hong Kong was already like 50 or even 100 years ago With the solidification of the class today, did today's big capitals, large enterprises and aristocratic families still have a chance?
In everything, you should compare your heart to your heart and do what you don’t want to do to others. Since today’s big capitals, large companies, and aristocratic families do not want to see the solidification of the Hong Kong class before their rise, then when they rise to Hong Kong’s largest interest group, they should understand today Many ordinary Hong Kong people also don't want Hong Kong to be reduced to capitalism.
A society is made up of a group of people. Everyone lives in groups. Although there are various considerations, people’s perceptions are often complicated, but in the final analysis, everyone wants to live a better life and hope that the society is free, equal, and The pursuit of different values such as justice is more balanced and reasonable. Otherwise, the dividends will always be monopolized by a small number of interest groups, and most ordinary people will find it difficult to see hope, and social stability is destined to be difficult to maintain for a long time.
Chen Zhiwu said: "If Hong Kong's economy is to regain its vitality, it is necessary to allow competition from the legislative and administrative perspectives, encourage competition, break the monopoly structure, loosen the structure of social strata, and make family origin no longer a passport to entrepreneurship and wealth, nor to become an official. It brings hope to the grassroots and also clears the way for the economy.” Cheng Zai said that
fighting capitalism is the alienation, degeneration, and end of liberal capitalism. Hong Kong does not need to fight capitalism. Hong Kong needs to reform the capitalist economic system and break it. The cage of interest structure promotes fairness and justice and gives more people hope.