David Webb, who has supported transparent financial markets and open government in Hong Kong for a decade and a half, spoke to the crowds in Hong Kong yesterday. His vision is good for Hong Kong and good for China. And he indicates a way out of the confrontation. The speech is below and on Webb-site.com here.
Hello Hong Kong! Show me some light [smartphone LED]. You are the stars!
My fellow citizens,
Hong Kong is Asia’s World City, isn’t it? Do we love Hong Kong? Say Yes! Say Hello World! Are you patriots? You are all qualified!
I have lived in Hong Kong for 23 years since 1991, which is longer than many of you have been alive. Hong Kong is my home. I have spent the last 16 years trying to make it a better place for all of us, and I will never stop trying.
We have one of the world’s leading financial centres. The Government claims to believe in free markets and competition, but where is the free market in leadership? Competition between candidates and their policies is essential for the healthy development of our economy.
Don’t worry about the small economic impact of these protests. Think about the large economic benefits of a more dynamic economy, ending collusion between the Government and the tycoons who currently elect the Chief Executive. When 70 old tycoons visit Beijing for instructions, you just know something is wrong. It should be the Great Hall of the People, not the Great Hall of the Tycoons.
A free market for the Chief Executive really is not too much to ask.
Continue reading The “Actual Situation” in Hong Kong is that democracy is happening…
According to the Asian Development Bank, 1.5 billion people live below the poverty line, not the “official figure” of 0.5 billion., so the Asian poverty rate is 41.2% not 12.7%. The explanation is that the officially set poverty line of $1.25 a day is too low and by increasing it by 25 cents, to $1.50 (ooooh!), the poverty figures explode exponentially.
OK, so the headline is shocking, but so what?
Well, firstly these are BIG numbers. Billions of people (like you and me) don’t have food and water, health and hygiene, jobs and leisure. That’s morbid in a world of such affluence.
Which brings be to another point. Massive wealth creation is only benefiting a few while everyone else works for their benefit. And anyone with a modicum of ethics (you go to church, synagogue, temple, mosque, don’t you) or empathy (put yourself in their shoes) must feel this tragedy.
And whose fault is it? Well certainly governments and multilateral agencies which can’t count or act efficiently, effectively, prudently. But also mine and yours for buying too much cheap stuff made in Asia.
Well, it’s going to come back and bite us in the lifestyle as we start to lose our jobs and liberties because the global system is not working as it ought.
IMD: Asia’s poor increase by one-billion overnight
FT: Asians poorer than official data suggest, says ADB
Like millions of others, I have been influenced by this great yoga teacher, though I have never met him. I have read The Tree of Yoga. I refer to Light on Yoga and Light on Pranayama. I study Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I use props to aid my alignment. I am aware that yoga is a strong discipline, not a casual affair. I find something in today’s practice that was better than yesterday’s practice. Thank you, Guruji, for the great gifts you gave us.
“When I practice, I am a philosopher,
When I teach, I am a scientist,
When I demonstrate, I am an artist.” BKS Iyengar
In a wander around the internet I came across Irish government statistics on house prices. When did the hallucination begin? And hubris was so un-Irish. Not anymore.
An unsurprising analysis of teh commitment teh Irish government took on in bailing out unguaranteed bondholders. Read Who are the bond holders we are bailing out? by David Malone author of Debt Generation. The list is good to have, though it is the story that makes you cringe with disgust at the greed and carelessness of rich and powerful people.
When I read headlines like: Deaths as Israel storms aid ship or Israeli Massacres Go International; Commandos Kill 16 Free Gaza Activists I despair. And then to read the vitriolic comments for and against the action, my sense of desperation grows. I feel more strongly for the underdog and I can not fathom why such a rich and intelligent culture as Israel’s can not divine a peaceful settlement. Very sad. A dismal illustration of humanity’s self ignorance and destruction.
Norway, a member state of the EU, makes most tax information available to the public for free, online and with analysis tools. You can compare incomes and wealth of celebrities, friends, yourself. You can see where people live. There are positive aspects to this open approach to disclosure – it supports a more egalitarian economy. But it might be uncomfortable and while human culture suffers from primitive instincts of greed and fear, might even facilitate abuse and crime.
But this open approach to economics is likely to spread. Certainly in the EU, which is becoming increasingly autocratic/bureaucratic with milestones like Lisbon. And then other western countries and the rest of the world. It will certainly catalyse an equalisation of wealth as those who garner grossly unreasonable wealth will be pressured to hold back and give back.
People will want to demonstrate that they are deserving of extraordinary gains. That raises the question of whether people have earned their income – did they work long hours?, develop new technology?, house the homeless?, feed the poor?, put their capital at risk? invest for good or simply gain?, belong to an oligarchy of elite? That kind of information is missing.
Personally, however, I like my privacy. And I’m quite happy to honour other people’s privacy. I suppose that it wouldn’t be so bad if it was simply disclosure of public record, which tax record disclosure might be said to be, but when there is someone staring in through your window you become like a prisoner in your own home.
BBC: Nosy friends scan Norwegian tax secrets
Japan has voted for change.
After more than half a century of nearly unbroken rule the LDP was defeated in a landslide victory by the Democratic Party of Japan.
Of course, it is not easy to win an election in the face of an economic recession – people are naturally unhappy with the status quo. And, despite the majority, it is unlikely that there will be a radical change in Japanese politics because traditional manners and culture allow gradual change and the direction of change is uncertain.
But the result is a positive sign that people would like to change and move on.
BBC: Japan’s Hatoyama sweeps to power
BBC: Japan victor hails ‘revolution’
BBC: Hatoyama faces daunting economic task
BBC: Press upbeat on elections