Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 September, 2010, 12:00am

The logic of big business - keep the poor poor

Our government is drowning in money, your money. Its bank account is so bloated it would burst if you stuck a pin in it. Billions are pouring into the government's pocket from land auctions and property transactions - thanks to greed in our housing market. Our officials are rubbing their hands in glee. But they prefer to hoard rather than spend this mountain of money. Our business leaders say that's wrong. They want the government to splurge. No, not on you, on them. The General Chamber of Commerce - the voice of big business - says the best use for all that money is to cut profits tax. That's right, the chamber wants the government to give your money to big business. This is the same business group whose leading members already squeeze every dime out of you from preposterous property prices, supermarket rip-offs, and other scams. You name it they do it - all in the name of profits. And this is the same chamber of commerce which fought fiercely against a minimum wage. Its logic is this: businesses having to pay a liveable minimum wage will hurt the economy. But businesses having to pay less tax would help the economy. Translation: low wages and low taxes will boost the economy, which will boost profits. Makes sense. But what should businesses do with the extra profits? Pay workers a decent minimum wage? Well, no, because that would hurt the economy, which would hurt profits. So there's the logic of big business - keep the poor poor and the rich rich to keep the economy thriving.

Will the fat cats get even more?

Oxfam says the number of working poor in Hong Kong has hit a record. Bosses are paying workers too little to support their families. Educators are angry the government won't cut class sizes so children can get a better education. The government says it can't afford the billions to make class sizes smaller. Big business says the government is sitting on too many billions, which it should spend by cutting profits taxes. So how should the government spend all this money - helping Hong Kong's poor, giving children a better education or putting it into the pockets of the fat cats? What say you?

Prime polluters in the chamber

There's something else the General Chamber of Commerce wants, aside from getting its hands on your money. It wants the government to clean up air pollution. Do you know what's dirtying our air? It's all those old buses our bus companies refuse to get rid off, our coal-burning power companies and the thousands of factories - many Hong Kong-owned - on the mainland. These prime polluters are members of the chamber of commerce. Public Eye applauds any pressure on the government to clean up the air, but here's our advice to the chamber: look at yourself in the mirror first.

Don't expect help if you are disabled

Just who are these doctors who've ruled that dockyard worker Lee Shing-leung (pictured) isn't all that disabled after losing his right leg in a work-related accident? The government won't pay him a measly HK$1,280 a month disability allowance, buying the doctor's argument that the 60-year old one-legged Lee can still earn a living somehow. How will these doctors rule if one of their own, say, a heart surgeon, loses his right hand in a hospital accident? Will they tell the insurance company he's fine and can easily operate with just his left hand? Or that he can still work as a hospital toilet cleaner? Or will they likely say a one-handed heart surgeon's career is finished? But then you can't really compare doctors with dockyard workers. Sure, Lee can still make a living. We suggest he sits on a Central footpath displaying his artificial leg. Today is car-free day. Some of our officials may even walk to work for their annual peek at the real world from outside their chauffeured cars. Who knows, they might toss a buck or two into his begging bowl.