It’s not that Hong Kong is run by morons…

…the surprising part is that the morons manage to be in so many government functions. Today, they seem to be everywhere.

First, the main part of a new highway along (largely beneath) the shoreline from Hong Kong Island’s Causeway Bay to Sheung Wan is described as a ‘Central-Wanchai Bypass’, though much of it supplements earlier roads designed to bypass even older streets along the same route. Obviously, at HK$36 billion, it is a money-no-object taxpayer-plundering white elephant – improvement of transport links is just an excuse for the project.

The initial impact probably delights transport bureaucrats: not many people are using it, yet it still somehow manages to create more traffic jams. They are no doubt considering yet more roads to relieve the new pressure at the new bottlenecks they have created.

The fiscal philosophy – billions in the pig trough for construction cronies – is just scummy. But the planning mentality is pure moronic: let’s counteract traffic congestion by making private-car use more convenient.

Second, Hong Kong has the Solar System’s most expensive housing for the 18th decade in a row.

In the government’s defence… The Demographia survey ignores factors like low taxes, low commuting costs, and virtually free housing for a third of the population in public rental accommodation. So our affordability ratio might not be quite as extreme as the data show (ie Hongkongers wanting private-sector housing probably have higher purchasing power than equivalent Vancouverites). And of course, there are global factors like low interest rates and the clustering of high-value skills in certain cities.

But the fact is that government policy decisions have driven prices up and, just as bad, apartment sizes down. We could guess that maybe half the ‘excessive’ pricing is due to local official actions/inaction.

According to popular legend, the government’s unwritten aim is to enrich developers, with the accumulation of huge budget surpluses as a fortuitous side-effect. Maybe it’s the other way round. Even back in the 1980s-90s, Beijing showed a fascination with Hong Kong land sales and revenues. Perhaps Beijing has ordered post-1997 administrations to prioritize the accumulation of reserves – and the inflated cost of housing is in fact the side-effect. Either way, the economic distortions have been damaging. Since housing prices are a root cause of anti-Beijing and pro-independence radicalism, this is moronic squared.

Third, a window falls from a hotel and kills a passer-by, and the valiant police arrest the hotel cleaner. Actually, this is not moronic, because the cops know something the rest of us don’t: the window frames are specially designed to detach if opened, and the cleaner is a well-known murderous psychopath.

 

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12 Responses to It’s not that Hong Kong is run by morons…

  1. biglychee says:

    Fun announcement: Owing to anti-spam measures, comments from sources not previously approved are being brushed to one side, probably to be ignored. Shouldn’t affect regular contributors.

  2. Mjrelje says:

    Talking of money-no-object taxpayer-plundering white elephants, i just flew over the HK section of the HKZMBridge on a reasonably clear morning at 10:30am. Not one, not even a single one of car, bus, container lorry or VIP limousine was on the entire section of the Bridge to Nowhere from the HK artificial island all the way to the start of the runway. Totally empty and useless. We have been conned by unelected morons.

  3. Stanley Lieber says:

    There’s a comment in the SCMP forum to the effect that the arrested cleaning lady is the main victim in the falling-window-frame death scene.

    With that level of thinking as the competition and a 15% tax rate, how can you not get rich in this city?

  4. dimuendo says:

    Stanley

    In answer to your question: have ethical standards.

  5. Old Newcomer says:

    It is well known among planners – though apparently not in Hong Kong government circles – that new transport links generate new traffic demands, because people decide to make journeys that they would not have done previously.

  6. reductio says:

    @Old Newcomer

    Yup, but of course the “independent” transport consultants know which side their bread is buttered. And if the HK government should, my great mischance, happen upon one that actually points out what you noted, then you just bury that report and keep shopping around until someone gives the required response.

  7. dimuendo says:

    As to the arrest of the unfortunate ( and helpless patsy) cleaner, unless memory fails the Mira (then known as the Mirimar) was where patient zero, who brought SARS over the border, stayed and infected people. Not the hotel’s fault but does seem an unlucky if rather pretentious establishmeent, given yesterday and its history.

  8. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Stanley: She was framed.

  9. Pingback: Gratuitious Link of the Day - Page 542 - Hong Kong Forums - GeoExpat.Com

  10. tim says:

    dimuendo your memory errs. The SARS hotel was the Metropole (which has since changed its name) in Waterloo Road.

  11. Big Al says:

    @Chinese Netizen
    I think you mean that the unfortunate, now deceased, passer-by was framed?

  12. dimuendo says:

    tim

    I stand corrected. Apologies

    As to the fallen window,why were not the general manager and the maintenance and engineering manager the people arrested?

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