With that in mind, it's heartening to hear that Hong Kong is having an old lady in a shoe-type problem when it comes to government finances. It has so many revenues it doesn't know what to do. Let's just say success begets success instead of the other way around. In contrast to various Western wasteleands alike the Washington wonderless-land, it's running out of ideas about how to redistribute a bountiful largesse. A fiscal surplus; what a concept:
The United States is shrinking its military and debating whether to cut social spending, raise taxes or both. European governments from Greece to Ireland are struggling to maintain payments to the unemployed and retirees. Japan is borrowing heavily to pay for earthquake reconstruction and care for a graying population.Reuters has more on the specifics. It begs the question: Given the influence of Westerners at international financial institutions alike development agencies, what right do they have to teach LDCs about running a country? No one except the most imperceptive Yankee dolt would champion their nation spilling endless amounts of red ink as a global exemplar. No one respects a bankrupt since a bankrupt lacks self-respect by getting into such dire financial straits to begin with.
And then there is Hong Kong.
Financial Secretary John Tsang announced a budget for the coming fiscal year that cuts income taxes, corporate taxes and real estate taxes. Household electricity bills will be subsidized, and people living in public housing will receive two months’ free rent.
Education spending will jump 7 percent. Senior citizens will receive an extra month’s pension payment; government hospitals will expand; and 10 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $1.29 billion, will be put in a special fund to help the needy buy medicine.
Perhaps most impressive, the budget is forecast to be roughly in balance – and Hong Kong’s budget forecasters have a reputation for consistently underestimating surpluses. The city, an autonomous region of China ever since Britain handed it back in 1997, has accumulated a rainy-day fund equal to more than a year and a half of government spending.
Hong Kong is running another large budget surplus for the current year, which ends on March 31, despite giving 6,000 dollars to each adult permanent resident. Economists attribute the bonanza to a series of factors: tight limits on senior citizen spending, no military spending and an economy that grew 5 percent last year, mostly because Hong Kong has cashed in on China’s economic boom.
As a student of political economy, I humbly suggest that closer attention be paid to the China's example. Cheneynomic apologists aside, their money-management skills look far superior to those of their Western counterparts who still believe in the white man's burden via their laughable freedom 'n' growth shtick.
To paraphrase our very own Martin Jacques, what exactly is there to fear When China Rules the World compared to today's example of assorted Western spendthrifts and prodigals? It's a no-brainer. With which will you gain more spillover effects and positive externalities? Take your pick--do you want to be Atlanta or Hong Kong? Having something of a brain left, I'll go for the latter, thank you very much.