AS HOLLYWOOD earnestly wrings its fat hands and prepares to bestow Oscars on a string of feel-bad movies, it is perhaps time to take a look at one of the 'invisible' social injustices currently perpetrated right here in Hong Kong. I am, of course, referring to the exploitation of bachelors. Life for the single man is getting tougher and tougher. He is easily the most overworked, overspent and overtaxed section of society. While couples celebrated the so-called 'Budget bonanza' with a tray of sushi and a rented video, the unmarried man was having to face the fact that Sir Hamish 'Generous' Macleod (married 1970, one son, one daughter) had stuck it to him again. The injustice is clear: Hong Kong is built on the blood, sweat and credit cards of the bachelor. As a type he is ambitious and hard-working. By definition he does not burden society. He does not go to school, vomit in cinemas or cry for the duration of long-haul flights. Nor does he behave like a smart-ass or get mumps, measles and chicken pox all in the same week. Cosy couples, sedated by the reek of toxic nappies and home cooking, might be a nation's backbone. But bachelors are a nation's wallet. They put more into the territory's economy because they smoke harder, drink harder, grin harder, wear suits harder and laugh harder at bad jokes than almost any other section of society. They can cook. But bach-cuisine is a mean cuisine. Recipes are passed from father to son, and generally involve a frying pan at all stages, including eating (where it is rested on a magazine spread over the knees with the handle pointing towards the television set). Bachelors can cook - but they rarely do so twice. As a result they provide much needed employment to hundreds of malcontent under-achievers on mopeds. Similarly, it is the bach who puts the profit margins in dry-cleaners and laundries and the bach who provides cash-strapped amahs with a little much-needed, illegal and tax-free bunce. LOVE FOR SALE THAT, in itself, may not be social injustice enough to merit a 3?-hour black and white blockbuster, but there is more. Much more. The hard-working bachelor is not simply exploited by the Hong Kong tax system, he is trapped by it. If he is ever to join the sponging masses with their couples 'n' kids tax breaks he must first break the cycle. He must find a wife. This is not so easy. Hong Kong is a world centre of the high-maintenance girlfriend. In a town where most people believe you are what you spend, you simply cannot shed the bach tax bracket with dinner-a-deux in KFC and G-Mart shoes. The outlay is crippling: a name-brand suit, a name-brand movie and a name-brand cocktail in a name-brand bar, followed by a name-brand meal in a name-brand restaurant and topped off with a brand-named gift from a brand-named store. (It is like air miles. Spend enough and Amex will issue you with a free wife). Ms Right, meanwhile, is no fool. She has her own bach tax status to struggle with. Tradition and commonsense demand her money stays largely in her savings account. The single man, meanwhile, pumps up the profits of flower shops, cinemas, concerts and restaurants. He is single-handedly responsible for the success of The Joyce Flower Shop, The Hermes Scarf, a number of stupidly named perfumes, Garfield toys, UA Queensway, La Plume, Emporio Armani, Snoopy toys and those $20 plates of watermelon at karaoke bars. Of course, this situation cannot go on forever. Just as the bachelor is on the point of buying that Design 2000 sofa intrinsic to the look of his shoebox, the tax bill arrives. A great, full-whack, top of the range, name-brand tax bill. What can he do? Invite Ms Right round to watch a video and expect her to sit on a cardboard box? No wonder there is a burgeoning market in duty-free mainland wives and Hong Kong's Vietnamese refugee camps are turning into a cash and carry tax dodgers' hyperstore. DECENT PROPOSALS OBVIOUSLY then, if Sir Hamish is to avoid the ignominy of appearing as the bad guy in 2044's Oscar-sweeping weepie he needs to act quickly. To help him here is a five-point proposal for his next budget: A new taxation bracket will be created that properly rewards the single man's key role in society. It will be based on the slogan: 'Soak the bach'. There is no taxation without representation: a functional constituency for bachelors will be created and offered to Phil Clarke until his death or marriage. Public services will be tailored to the bachelor. Along with the police, fire brigade and ambulance service (which the self-respecting bachelor never uses because he knows how to handle himself, OK?) there will be emergency pizza delivery. (Any service user found with a stocked fridge will be asked to pay a call-out fee). As a sign of society's debt to the bach, single men will be issued with an identity card giving them authority to commandeer married people's dogs/children/entire family for the afternoon. Bachelors will be asked to pay their tax bill with a smile. Cash and cheques will not be acceptable. If these demands are not met steps will be taken. Initially bachelors will embark on a go-slow, withdrawing some of the services they currently provide to society for free. First, they shall refuse to light barbecues. Next they will boycott the killing and disposal of small insects, the hooking up of a stereo, setting the video or building shelves. Finally, in a three-prong attack on the foundations of society itself, they will refuse to date. Alternatively, may I suggest an extremely long movie about a hedonistic, well-connected socialite who has walkers whom she thanks with expensive meals in expensive restaurants, and gift-wrapped neckties before dropping them home in her limo. It will be called Cristal Li's List.