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View Full Version : Hong Kong is NOT a libertarian success story


Lantern
01-12-2009, 10:34 AM
In this post (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=10679355&postcount=51)in the other libertarian thread Sam Stone described Hong Kong as a successful experiment in laisser-faire economics. I didn't know much about the history of Hong Kong so I decided to do some googling. It turns that the laisser-faire nature of the Hong Kong economy has been greatly exaggerated by libertarians including Milton Friedman.

This short article (http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=284&Itemid=34)makes the main point that Hong Kong in fact saw massive government intervention in three crucial areas: housing, education and health care:

At one time 60 percent of the people lived in subsidized housing, mostly rented cheaply from the government, and some in Home Ownership Scheme flats, provided with cheap land and sold to lower-middle-income households. Even now that public housing has low priority and the home ownership scheme has ended, some 50 percent of the people still benefit from this massive intervention in the marketplace.

Hong Kong people have also enjoyed almost free medical treatment at government clinics and hospitals. Friedman was against “free” medicine elsewhere but failed to notice it in Hong Kong. Likewise, education, at least up to the secondary level has long been almost entirely funded by the government.

In other respects Hong Kong may have been relatively less interventionist but clear it wasn't run on libertarian lines. This web-page (http://www.infoshop.org/faq/secC12.html)makes the same case in greater detail.

Ravenman
01-12-2009, 10:58 AM
Anyone who sees Hong Kong as a libertarian wonderland really ought to spend some time in the Chungking Mansions.

If the lawlessness and crapitude of the ghettoes of more regulated societies can be used as evidence of the failure of the boogeyman of socialism (whether real or perceived), then Chungking Mansions says a lot about libertarian Hong Kong.

Little Nemo
01-12-2009, 11:10 AM
Hong Kong also illustrates one of the political pitfalls of Libertarianism. It's all nice in theory to talk about how every individual will be sovereign and will respect the rights of every other individual because the advantages of doing so will be so obvious. But as some of us have pointed out, sometimes a group of individuals will decide it's more advantageous to band together and impose their will on others by force of numbers. We usually talk about bandit gangs robbing individual freeholders but as a metaphor, the People's Republic of China taking over Hong Kong works.

DrDeth
01-12-2009, 12:10 PM
They also do not and can not spend any money on defence, and they live in daily fear of the Red Chinese army walking in.

mswas
01-12-2009, 12:13 PM
I think Somalia is a far greater example of a Libertarian nation.

Gorsnak
01-12-2009, 12:34 PM
I think Somalia is a far greater example of a Libertarian nation.

That's not really fair. Standard libertarian doctrine calls for a central government with a monopoly on force, used to provide for national defense, policing, and enforcement of contracts. Somalia is pretty much anarchy.

History, Mystery and the Wolf
01-12-2009, 08:29 PM
I think Somalia is a far greater example of a Libertarian nation.

More specifically Somalia is the closest example we have of an anarcho-capitalist state.

And it's shit, of course.

But the interesting point is whether it is less-shit than many of the other dirt poor countries with 'functioning' central governments that are the fair comparisons.

Uzi
01-12-2009, 11:21 PM
They also do not and can not spend any money on defence, and they live in daily fear of the Red Chinese army walking in.

Could the reason they don't spend money on defence is because the Chinese government is responsible for it? The Chinese army has been in HK ever since the handover.

China Guy
01-13-2009, 06:08 PM
hong kong government has an unholy alliance with the big property developers for tax revenue, has cartels in most sectors, and has massively intervened in the stock market (in 1998 under joseph yam). government housing sucks with living area per person the size of a breadbox.

the spin is good abount being a model but the reality far different. i lived there 5 years in the 90's & 90's .

haymarketmartyr
01-13-2009, 06:17 PM
Wait a doggone minute. You mean that pure idealistic theoretical philosophical textbook libertarianism does not translate to the real world with real people with real problems and real differences between them.

I am shocked!!!!!!

Libertarianism is the biggest fraud ever put forth outside of Berni Madeof.

Rodgers01
01-14-2009, 12:58 AM
Anyone who sees Hong Kong as a libertarian wonderland really ought to spend some time in the Chungking Mansions.

If the lawlessness and crapitude of the ghettoes of more regulated societies can be used as evidence of the failure of the boogeyman of socialism (whether real or perceived), then Chungking Mansions says a lot about libertarian Hong Kong.
Can't say much about the larger topic of this thread, but IME this comparison is completely bogus. Sure, Chungking is seedy and kind of dangerous, but it's really not that terrible, and from what I saw in my many wanderings around Hong Kong, that's about as bad as HK ever got -- not to mention that Chungking is just one building in the whole city (most of which really is amazingly clean, prosperous, and safe). I'd choose Chungking any day over the vastly more dirty, dangerous, numerous, and spreadout slums I've seen throughout North America and parts of Europe (or mainland China, for that matter).

So if that's the measure of the success of libertarianism vs. socialism, I say bring on the Milton Friedman.

Sevastopol
01-14-2009, 06:06 AM
hong kong government has an unholy alliance with the big property developers for tax revenue, has cartels in most sectors, and has massively intervened in the stock market (in 1998 under joseph yam)... I second this. HK is heavily cartelised in the goods and services the residents use.

In international and trading sectors it is competitive but for domestic consumption residents are the slaves of the cartels.

Uzi
01-14-2009, 07:30 AM
In international and trading sectors it is competitive but for domestic consumption residents are the slaves of the cartels.

You sure your name isn't Robin Grey?

Sevastopol
01-14-2009, 07:33 AM
Fairly sure, yes.

Why? Who is Robin Grey?

Uzi
01-14-2009, 07:36 AM
Fairly sure, yes.

Why? Who is Robin Grey?

Noble House character who is a British Socialist MP out to clamp down on HK's free market system.

It's a joke, Son! I'm a pitchin', you ain't a catchin' [/end channeling Foghorn Leghorn]

Sevastopol
01-14-2009, 07:52 AM
Ooops [/wet blanket]

Don't get my wrong, I'm a huge fan of HK, one of the biggest.

Fan that I am, I'm not blind to its flaws. They've done a lot with little more than enterprise. Which incidentally is why the mainland army will will never invade: There's nothing to conquer. Short of a direct political challenge to Beijing, that will never happen.

By comparison with the other international trading cities it lacks competition laws. There's a body with a wide remit, the ICAC to make sure government and industry don't get too close. In HK people talk commerce and government and inevitably the absence of competition in many sectors comes up.

As to that unpronounceable ideology, HK's success vis a vis it's political system, IMHO is only half due to the light touch of regulation. The other half is that the ideology of regulation is facultative: Regulation is there to facilitate and open pathways, not there to prevent things happening.

Sam Stone
01-14-2009, 08:57 AM
Hong Kong is not perfect. It's not a worker's paradise. But you have to compare it to other locations in Asia where markets weren't allowed to flourish, and which instead relied on government planning and heavy regulation of trade and commerce. Is there any doubt that Hong Kong was vastly more successful than any other country in the region, and that the standard of living was much better in Hong Kong than anywhere else in the region?

You can take the same measuring stick and compare other countries before and after they allowed markets to work. Singapore is not heaven on earth, but compare it with the worker's paradise of Vietnam, especially before Vietnam embarked on its own market liberalization program.

Asia is a much, much wealthier continent today than it was 30 years ago. And without exception, the various countries in the area saw their economies boom and their standards of living rise in proportion to how many regulations and central plans they dropped and how much control they gave to the market.

Hari Seldon
01-14-2009, 09:16 AM
That's not really fair. Standard libertarian doctrine calls for a central government with a monopoly on force, used to provide for national defense, policing, and enforcement of contracts. Somalia is pretty much anarchy.

So even Libertarians believe that certain things (national defense, police, and contracts--presumably including property) should be socialized. Bunch of socialists wimps imposing their beliefs on everyone whether they want it or not!

Seriously, the logic escapes me of deciding, for example, that protection of the person from other persons should be socialized but iit is evil to protect them from bacteria, viruses, bodily decay, etc. Of course I live in the Socialist Republic of Canuckistan.

MichaelQReilly
01-14-2009, 09:28 AM
Hong Kong is not perfect. It's not a worker's paradise. But you have to compare it to other locations in Asia where markets weren't allowed to flourish, and which instead relied on government planning and heavy regulation of trade and commerce. Is there any doubt that Hong Kong was vastly more successful than any other country in the region, and that the standard of living was much better in Hong Kong than anywhere else in the region?

You can take the same measuring stick and compare other countries before and after they allowed markets to work. Singapore is not heaven on earth, but compare it with the worker's paradise of Vietnam, especially before Vietnam embarked on its own market liberalization program.

Asia is a much, much wealthier continent today than it was 30 years ago. And without exception, the various countries in the area saw their economies boom and their standards of living rise in proportion to how many regulations and central plans they dropped and how much control they gave to the market.

Yeah, but so what. No one is arguing that free markets and capitalism aren't a good thing. We are arguing against the deification of them that libertarians engage in.

DrDeth
01-14-2009, 10:27 AM
Could the reason they don't spend money on defence is because the Chinese government is responsible for it? The Chinese army has been in HK ever since the handover.

This is like the Nazi Government being responsible for the Defence of Denmark in WWII.

It's an unwelcome foriegn army, it's not there for their protection.

BrainGlutton
01-14-2009, 10:32 AM
This is like the Nazi Government being responsible for the Defence of Denmark in WWII.

It's an unwelcome foriegn army, it's not there for their protection.

You know, I'm sure most Hong Kongers do think of themselves as Chinese and always have. Their separation from the mainland was never an ideological matter like it is with Taiwan.

DrDeth
01-14-2009, 10:42 AM
Hong Kong is not perfect. It's not a worker's paradise. But you have to compare it to other locations in Asia where markets weren't allowed to flourish, and which instead relied on government planning and heavy regulation of trade and commerce. Is there any doubt that Hong Kong was vastly more successful than any other country in the region, and that the standard of living was much better in Hong Kong than anywhere else in the region? .


Not better than Singapore.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_(Country)

Nor Brunei.

And South Korea and Taiwan are right in there. Not to mention Japan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

In fact, basicly we have successful nations and Communist (or once Communist) nations which aren't so successful.

It's not "government planning and heavy regulation of trade and commerce" vs laisser-faire it's Communism vs Capitalism. We all know (I hope) who wins that battler, economy-wise.

Lantern
01-14-2009, 10:58 AM
Hong Kong is not perfect. It's not a worker's paradise. But you have to compare it to other locations in Asia where markets weren't allowed to flourish, and which instead relied on government planning and heavy regulation of trade and commerce. Is there any doubt that Hong Kong was vastly more successful than any other country in the region, and that the standard of living was much better in Hong Kong than anywhere else in the region?

You can take the same measuring stick and compare other countries before and after they allowed markets to work. Singapore is not heaven on earth, but compare it with the worker's paradise of Vietnam, especially before Vietnam embarked on its own market liberalization program.

Asia is a much, much wealthier continent today than it was 30 years ago. And without exception, the various countries in the area saw their economies boom and their standards of living rise in proportion to how many regulations and central plans they dropped and how much control they gave to the market.


The point isn't that Hong Kong isn't a success story but that it isn't a libertarian success story. The interventions that I describe in the OP go far beyond what libertarians would prescribe. And you can make a strong case that these interventions were essential to Hong Kong's success: they provided social and political stability, helped to absorb the large number of poor immigrants moving to Hong Kong and built their human capital which in turn provided the basis for economic growth. The same goes for the other Asian tigers like Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore which were about as successful as Hong Kong. All of them had fairly interventionist governments as did practically every economic success story of the last 60 years.

Of course there have been interventionist governments that have failed to provide economic growth as well. So the debate isn't really about markets versus intervention; it's about which interventions are smart and which aren't.

sailor
01-14-2009, 11:14 AM
This is like the Nazi Government being responsible for the Defence of Denmark in WWII.

It's an unwelcome foriegn army, it's not there for their protection.You are making up shit. Again.

Where are the refugees who flee HKG? Where are the demonstrations against the "occupation" of HK by the Chinese? Where are the pro-independence parties and demonstrations? Inquisitive people demand cites.

Maybe you are mistaking HK and China with some other places. Like Puerto Rico where there is, in fact, a sizable proportion of the people who are pro-independence and against the US armed forces being on their soil.

RTFirefly
01-14-2009, 12:23 PM
And the level of union penetration in Hong Kong (http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/01/economic_freedom_universal_health_care_and_labor_unions.php) is twice what it is in America. Don't libertarians regard unions as coercive?

DrDeth
01-14-2009, 12:31 PM
You are making up shit. Again.

Where are the refugees who flee HKG? Where are the demonstrations against the "occupation" of HK by the Chinese? Where are the pro-independence parties and demonstrations? Inquisitive people demand cites.

Maybe you are mistaking HK and China with some other places. Like Puerto Rico where there is, in fact, a sizable proportion of the people who are pro-independence and against the US armed forces being on their soil.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Hong_Kong#The_1990s
At the same time, the warnings of the 1997 handover raised emigration statistics to an all new historical level. Many would leave Hong Kong for United States, Canada, United Kingdom and any other destination with no communist influence.

Article 23 became a controversy, and led to a marches in different parts of Hong Kong with as many as 750,000 people out of a population of approximately 6,800,000 at the time.
Journalists in particular are concerned about the new law, especially with respect to journalistic criticism of the Central Government of the People's Republic of China ...


...Other organisations which have spoken out against the proposal include the Hong Kong Journalists Association, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the Foreign Correspondents' Club and the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong. Members of the European Parliament, and officials of the United States Department of State, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have expressed concerns about the Article 23 legislation.

Some banks in Hong Kong were reported to be considering relocation if the proposed Article 23 is passed out of the fear that the laws would restrict the free flow of information. On 7 December 2002, it was reported in the press that ten foreign banks had told the government privately that the introduction of Article 23 would have disastrous consequences for Hong Kong, threatening its demise as Asia's financial capital.[6]

And of course, once you know that "pro-independence parties and demonstrations" could lead to the Red Chinese army taking over, then that puts a damper on the protests.

ElvisL1ves
01-14-2009, 12:36 PM
Where are the refugees who flee HKG?There's plenty in Vancouver and Australia.

runcible spoon
01-14-2009, 12:44 PM
You know, I'm sure most Hong Kongers do think of themselves as Chinese and always have. Their separation from the mainland was never an ideological matter like it is with Taiwan.

Having spent about six months there in college, I'd disagree with that. At least, partially. A LOT of people ended up in Hong Kong after fleeing Shanghai and elsewhere during the civil war. It's maybe not as stark an ideological difference, but even in the twenty-somethings I was hanging out with, I encountered a definite sense of being different-from and, really, better-than, mainlanders. When I was there, there was also some dissatisfaction with some Beijing-appointed government officials.

sailor
01-14-2009, 01:03 PM
There's plenty in Vancouver and Australia. Let us see some citations then. Not immigrants but refugees. How many "refugees" from HK in the last 5 years? Since January 2004. people who have stated they left HK for fear of political persecution. Let us see some facts. i am sure Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch would have such information and I would like to see it.

There was plenty of concern before the handover of what would happen after China took over and many people left at that time. We are talking about what is actually happening now.

I would like to see how in the last five years there are actual refugees. How there are substantial numbers of people in HK who want independence from China and who see the Chinese army as an occupation army. If such movements exist I have never heard of them. And I travel to HK almost every year and have friends there.

Let us see proof of all these refugees and resistance movements.

sailor
01-14-2009, 01:13 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Hong_Kong#The_1990s
That's all old stuff of fears around the handover. I want to see citations of refugees in the last five years.

And of course, once you know that "pro-independence parties and demonstrations" could lead to the Red Chinese army taking over, then that puts a damper on the protests. Since there is freedom of the press and there are demonstrations remembering the Tiananmen massacre and othe such demonstrations against the HK government I can't see how this holds any water. Not to mention that any fears of the "Red Chinese army", more properly known as the PLA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Liberation_Army) "taking over" are unfounded. The Red Chinese army "took over" at midnight July 1, 1997.

Now let us see about those refugees. Where did they go? What countries have granted them asylum?

DrDeth
01-14-2009, 01:57 PM
That's all old stuff of fears around the handover. I want to see citations of refugees in the last five years.

Let us see a cite that Hong Kong allows unlimited real free emmigration.

The USA gets several hundred thousand illegal Chinese immigrants a year.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_immigration_to_the_United_States#Present-day_countries_of_origin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_emigration#China
[edit] China
It is illegal for a citizen of China to emigrate without getting permission from the Chinese government.[11]

About 100,000 Chinese citizens do get to immigrate legaly to the USA each year. The number of Americans going to China to be permant residents is deminimus.

sailor
01-14-2009, 02:53 PM
Let us see a cite that Hong Kong allows unlimited real free emmigration.

The USA gets several hundred thousand illegal Chinese immigrants a year.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_immigration_to_the_United_States#Present-day_countries_of_origin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_emigration#China
[edit] China
It is illegal for a citizen of China to emigrate without getting permission from the Chinese government.[11]

About 100,000 Chinese citizens do get to immigrate legaly to the USA each year. The number of Americans going to China to be permant residents is deminimus.

NO. Don't change the subject. We are talking about Hong Kong. Hong Kong. Remember?

You asserted "They also do not and can not spend any money on defence, and they live in daily fear of the Red Chinese army walking in. " which is quite ignorant and nonsense because, as has been said, the "Red Chinese army" "walked in" over a decade ago. And to say they cannot spend money on defense is like saying New York cannot spend money on defense. They each spend money on defense through their national governments.

I do not have to show you people are free to travel from HK because I have had several friends from HK visit me in America and Europe. You are the one claiming persecution and lack of freedom in Hong Kong (while Sam Stone claims what makes HK work is precisely the existence of freedom).

So, where are the refugees? I am waiting for a cite. How many people have fled HK in the last five years due to political persecution? (The part about the red army "walking in" has already been shown to be nonsense.)

DrDeth
01-14-2009, 04:52 PM
NO. Don't change the subject. We are talking about Hong Kong. Hong Kong. Remember?

You asserted "They also do not and can not spend any money on defence, and they live in daily fear of the Red Chinese army walking in. " which is quite ignorant and nonsense because, as has been said, the "Red Chinese army" "walked in" over a decade ago.
I do not have to show you people are free to travel from HK because I have had several friends from HK visit me in America and Europe. So, where are the refugees? I am waiting for a cite. How many people have fled HK in the last five years due to political persecution? (The part about the red army "walking in" has already been shown to be nonsense.)

We are talking China when we talk Hong Kong. Hong Kong is part of China, they use Chinese passorts. Thus emigration form Hong Kong is not tracked separatly.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_Special_Administrative_Region_passport

Oh, you had freinds from HK visit you, so that obviously refutes my cite that

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_emigration#China
China
It is illegal for a citizen of China to emigrate without getting permission from the Chinese government.

Did they emigrate? Did they have permission?

It is true that holders of that special version of the Chinese passport are allowed visa-free entry to several nations, for a visit.

Note that a lot of dudes from China and VietNam want to migrate to Hong Kong, so I didn't say it was so bad people are leaving en masse.

BrainGlutton
01-14-2009, 05:22 PM
Hong Kong is part of China . . .

Then how is the PLA an "unwelcome foreign army" comparable to the Nazis in Denmark?

sailor
01-14-2009, 05:22 PM
Look, this is silly. Let me repeat: where is the evidence of political persecution, refugees, etc?

The fact is that you have no evidence and that you just have a preconceived notion of what HK should be like and you are not willing to change that. Show me the lists of people who have been denied exit from HK on political grounds. Show me. There must be hundreds if what you say is true. Where are they?

There are probably people who are forbidden to leave HK just like there are people who are forbidden to leave the USA or a particular state. That does not make the USA a police state.

Again, where is the irrefutable evidence of political persecution?

Fun with Google.
- No results found for "political persecution in Hong Kong".
- Results 1 - 23 of 23 for "political persecution in Russia".
- Results 1 - 30 of about 214 for "political persecution in China".
- Results 1 - 30 of about 313 for "political persecution in America".

Gorsnak
01-14-2009, 09:09 PM
So even Libertarians believe that certain things (national defense, police, and contracts--presumably including property) should be socialized. Bunch of socialists wimps imposing their beliefs on everyone whether they want it or not!

Seriously, the logic escapes me of deciding, for example, that protection of the person from other persons should be socialized but iit is evil to protect them from bacteria, viruses, bodily decay, etc. Of course I live in the Socialist Republic of Canuckistan.

One argument is that a minimalist government is inevitable, in that any less government will not result in a stable society. For example, Nozick argues in Anarchy, State, and Utopia that in an anarcho-capitalist setting, you'd have private defense/security/contract enforcement services spring up, and that inevitably one would gain a monopoly over a given territory (because the attractiveness of a security provider's services are directly proportional to its marketshare, more or less). Once such a monopoly is attained, you in effect have a minimalist government, so you may as well just skip the steps leading up to it.

Another argument goes something like, physical coercion is bad. The least amount of physical coercion will be attained by having a minimalist government, hence that is the form of government we should have. Less government would result in more coercion by private citizens committing crimes against each other. More government results in more coercion by government.

Now, I don't agree with either of these, but they're not completely illogical.

Little Nemo
01-14-2009, 10:18 PM
A Hong Kong joke.

A foreign journalist travels to Hong Kong after the transistion to get some "man on the street" views.

"What's your opinion on how things have gone since Beijing took over?"
"I can't complain."
"So you're saying there's no problems?"
"No, I'm saying it's illegal now."

DrDeth
01-14-2009, 10:50 PM
Look, this is silly. Let me repeat: where is the evidence of political persecution, refugees, etc?

Again, where is the irrefutable evidence of political persecution?

F.
I gave cites. You seem unwilling to read them. There is not currently a lot of political persecution in HK, nor did I claim there was. What there is the the looming threat of political persecution whenever Peking wants to institute it.

Here are the cites again. Please read and refute:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_emigration#China
China
It is illegal for a citizen of China to emigrate without getting permission from the Chinese government. HK residents are citizens of China.

Then this about Art 23

Article 23 became a controversy, and led to a marches in different parts of Hong Kong with as many as 750,000 people out of a population of approximately 6,800,000 at the time.
Journalists in particular are concerned about the new law, especially with respect to journalistic criticism of the Central Government of the People's Republic of China ...


...Other organisations which have spoken out against the proposal include the Hong Kong Journalists Association, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the Foreign Correspondents' Club and the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong. Members of the European Parliament, and officials of the United States Department of State, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have expressed concerns about the Article 23 legislation.

Some banks in Hong Kong were reported to be considering relocation if the proposed Article 23 is passed out of the fear that the laws would restrict the free flow of information. On 7 December 2002, it was reported in the press that ten foreign banks had told the government privately that the introduction of Article 23 would have disastrous consequences for Hong Kong, threatening its demise as Asia's financial capital.[6]



And of course we had evidence of a million or so refugees, who left out of fear when the Chinese were about to take over. Then you changed the bar to "Since January 2004".

MEBuckner
01-15-2009, 12:11 AM
You are making up shit.
Moderator's Note: Please remember that accusing another poster of lying is not permitted in this forum (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=448632).

Sam Stone
01-15-2009, 12:28 AM
I prefer the formulation that started with Hobbes in Leviathan, describing the nature of the social contract:

Natural rights are simply things we are capable of doing. Can I swing my fist? Yes. Then I have a natural right to do so. Everyone is born with natural rights. No one should be born a slave to another human being, or born in a state of somehow owing something to other humans. We are not serfs or chattel.

In an anarchistic world with all of us exercising our natural rights, we will devolve into a state of endless conflict, much as earlier societies and hunter-gatherer tribes often were. We tend to devolve into tribes or clans and fight with each other or at least isolate ourselves from each other for safety. This means ultimately a significant limit on our natural rights. We are constrained by the violence and chaos around us.

Therefore, we determine to give up some of our natural rights, if others will agree to give up those same rights. We form a social contract. We do this to maximize liberty - recognizing that we will willingly give up some rights ("My right to swing my fist ends where your face begins.") in order to maximize other, more important ones, such as not having the other guy's fist intersect our face.

Inalienable rights are those natural rights which are so important, so intrinsic to quality of life and the maintenance of society, that we will enshrine those in a document that says they can not be infringed on or turned into political rights to be bargained away.

We also recognize that we have an incentive to break our vow and gain an advantage over those who keep theirs. But then, so do they. So the system breaks down without enforcement. The best way to enforce the social contract is with a sovereign power, representative to all, so that bias cannot creep into the system. The sovereign must be trusted by all parties, or the contract breaks down. We also need impartial adjudicators to settle our disputes, and we entrust the sovereign with that power as well.

There's your basic form of government - a social contract designed to maximize our freedoms, a declaration that no human is born subservient to another, and a sovereign nation given the power to use force to protect the citizenry from coercion within and from external threats, and a judicial system that treats everyone impartially and objectively settles disputes.

From that, you can build a fairly Libertarian nation. I don't agree with privatizing armies and police forces and the courts, because they must remain impartial, and everyone has to recognize their legitimacy. Private police forces don't work because they will be subject to bias - they'll treat the people actually paying them differently than they will those citizens under contract to someone else. That would put the two private forces in direct conflict.

I'll go farther than that and say that as our wealth increases, the marginal utility of a dollar of taxation goes down, and at some point the social contract should allow for some of that money to be used for public purposes. I don't think that in a modern first-world democracy anyone should ever starve or be denied basic medical care or shelter. We are wealthy enough that the social contract can be extended to that. I'll go even further and say that there's a role for government to play in building public works and infrastructure. Regulation that ensures the functioning of free markets can also fit within this framework. Banking regulation, building codes, transparency and disclosure laws, laws against fraud and false advertising, etc.

I don't even have a problem with government being an information agency. If the FDA operated as an advisory organization, I'd be all for it. Information Asymmetry is one of the main causes of market failure, so let government provide information.

Libertarians can be found all along this spectrum - up to a point. That point generally come when government starts to attempt to push society around, to initiate coercion against citizens for the benefit of other citizens, to block trade, to impose tariffs and regulations in an attempt to change the direction or outcome of the free market, to attempt to stop you from exercising your natural rights 'for your own good', etc.

sailor
01-15-2009, 03:26 AM
I gave cites. You seem unwilling to read them. There is not currently a lot of political persecution in HK, nor did I claim there was. What there is the the looming threat of political persecution whenever Peking wants to institute it.

Here are the cites again. Please read and refute: You have not provided any cites which support there is political persecution today in HK. None. Zero.

First you claimed they lived in fear of the "Red army walking in". Then you claimed the red army occupied HK like the Nazis Denmark :rolleyes: And now you cannot provide a single cite in support of that. Not a single party or group objecting to the presence of the PLA in HK. Not a single group which says they would rather be independent from China. Not a single person imprisoned. Nothing. You got nothing. Absolutely fucking nothing. That's what you got.

And you try to come up with vague laws that whatever they may mean, which is very disputable, as a fact we know that in HK they do not mean what you want them to mean. You can always find a law in the books of any country and try to make it paramount and leave everything else aside. So the citizens of HK need to get a passport to leave HK and that is a terrible thing? OK, now show me all those people who have been denied passports to leave HK. Where are they? Where are all those people who "live in fear of the Chinese army walking in" and who are denied passports to leave?

You cannot find a single, solitary, instance in the last five years? Come on! try harder! I am sure you can find at least one.

The fact is that HK is, politically speaking, among the freest places in Asia.

sailor
01-15-2009, 03:40 AM
Moderator's Note: Please remember that accusing another poster of lying is not permitted in this forum (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=448632). I never did and never would. Making up shit is very different from lying. The way I understand it, "lying" is making an affirmation knowing it is false. "Making up shit" is uttering a statement with no proof, support or validation. Very different things. My accusation is not that the esteemed gentleman is posting things which he knows to be false. Not at all as for that he would need to know the truth in the first place. My affirmation is that the esteemed gentleman is posting regarding matters about which he knows nothing and he believes things to be true without any reason, just because it fits his view of "bad, communist China".

Sevastopol
01-15-2009, 07:30 AM
Having spent about six months there in college, I'd disagree with that. At least, partially. A LOT of people ended up in Hong Kong after fleeing Shanghai and elsewhere during the civil war. It's maybe not as stark an ideological difference, but even in the twenty-somethings I was hanging out with, I encountered a definite sense of being different-from and, really, better-than, mainlanders. When I was there, there was also some dissatisfaction with some Beijing-appointed government officials. I agree with this. In fact it is understated. HKers will in general have a poor regard of mainlanders. Particularly now that there are a lot of tourists from the mainland. They stick out and don't fit in.

DrDeth
01-15-2009, 10:48 AM
You have not provided any cites which support there is political persecution today in HK. None. Zero.

First you claimed they lived in fear of the "Red army walking in". Then you claimed the red army occupied HK like the Nazis Denmark .

Actually, I have provided them, but "There is not currently a lot of political persecution in HK, nor did I claim there was"

What there is is fear, and a looming dread. Not of the Red Army being there, but of the red army taking over, and the reimplementation of earlier Communist polcies "The implementation of Maoist thought in China may have been responsible for over 70 million excessive deaths during peacetime,[2][3] with the Cultural Revolution, Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957-58,[4] and the Great Leap Forward. Because of Mao's land reforms during the Great Leap Forward, which resulted in famines, thirty million perished between 1958 and 1961. By the end of 1961 the birth rate was nearly cut in half because of malnutrition. [5] Active campaigns, including party purges and "reeducation" resulted in imprisonment and/or the execution of those deemed contrary to the implementation of Maoist ideals"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China

70 million dead, and there is nothing to stop it from happening again. It's the same government.

This is exactly why a million plus HK people left before the Reds arrived. Right now, thigs are not so bad. But there's a "sickle of Damocles" hanging over the "free people" of HK, and everyone knows it. Those freedoms could end at any time, on a whim.

BrainGlutton
01-15-2009, 11:25 AM
70 million dead, and there is nothing to stop it from happening again. It's the same government.

Well, it is and it isn't. Kind of hard to imagine the current PRC rulers putting through anything like the Cultural Revolution ever again. They're not really very Communist any more.

DrDeth
01-15-2009, 11:59 AM
Well, it is and it isn't. Kind of hard to imagine the current PRC rulers putting through anything like the Cultural Revolution ever again. They're not really very Communist any more.

At this point in time. Don't you think they'll have new leaders someday? There are "reform hardliners" active in Russia that want a return to the days of the USSR, I have little doubt there are similar dudes in China.

sailor
01-15-2009, 01:31 PM
Actually, I have provided them, No, you haven't. Not one single name or instance of a person being persecuted or being denied a passport. Not a single one. Nothing. Nada.
"There is not currently a lot of political persecution in HK, nor did I claim there was" So living in fear of the "Red army" "walking in" and the "Red Army" in HK being like the Nazis in Denmark is the same as "not a lot of political persecution". I see.

What there is is fear, and a looming dread. Not of the Red Army being there, but of the red army taking over, and the reimplementation of earlier Communist polcies
...
But there's a "sickle of Damocles" hanging over the "free people" of HK, and everyone knows it. Those freedoms could end at any time, on a whim. Again, you are making shit up. Where is the evidence of that? There is none and you have none. Where are the people running away in fear?

70 million dead, and there is nothing to stop it from happening again. It's the same government.
More recently the USA has bombed the shit out of several countries just for shits and giggles and there is nothing to stop it from happening again. So?

Little Nemo
01-15-2009, 02:07 PM
Sailor, in a society where public demonstrations against the government are routinely and severly punished, it's hard to draw any conclusions from the lack of public demonstrations. Are they not occurring because the people support the government or because the people fear the government?

DrDeth
01-15-2009, 03:10 PM
I give up. :rolleyes:

BrainGlutton
01-15-2009, 03:37 PM
At this point in time. Don't you think they'll have new leaders someday? There are "reform hardliners" active in Russia that want a return to the days of the USSR, I have little doubt there are similar dudes in China.

That is possible, but only in the sense it is possible Communists will take over America.

sailor
01-15-2009, 03:47 PM
I give up. :rolleyes: I thought you had no proof. I see I was right.

Sailor, in a society where public demonstrations against the government are routinely and severly punished, You have proof of that? I'd like to see it. Otherwise I do not believe it. I say demonstrations in HK are not routinely and "severly" punished. Not more than in America, anyway.

Again. Cites.

Little Nemo
01-15-2009, 04:56 PM
You're questioning the fact that China imprisons and executes people for political crimes and uses military forces to break up anti-government demonstrations? Seriously? I can find cites if that's what you're saying but I want to make sure I'm not just misunderstanding your position here.

sailor
01-15-2009, 06:05 PM
You're questioning the fact that China imprisons and executes people for political crimes and uses military forces to break up anti-government demonstrations? Seriously? I can find cites if that's what you're saying but I want to make sure I'm not just misunderstanding your position here.You may have noticed we are talking about HK, not the rest of China. Yes, I believe there is good freedom of expression in HK as I have not heard of people being arrested for demonstrating against the government. If you maintain that people in HK are "imprisoned and executed" for political crimes and that they use "military force" to break up demonstrations then I would like to see cites. Like, when was the last time military force was used to break up a demonstration in HK? Name a few people who have been imprisoned and/or executed in HK for political reasons.

sailor
01-15-2009, 08:47 PM
It seems to me there is a lot of ignorance about Hong Kong. Let's try this:

One country, two systems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_country,_two_systems)

Hong Kong Basic Law Article 5 reads:
“ The socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the HKSAR, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years."”

The establishment of these regions, called special administrative regions (SARs), is authorized by Article 31 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, which states that the State may establish SARs when necessary, and that the systems to be instituted in them shall be prescribed by law enacted by the National People's Congress in light of the specific conditions.

The SARs of Hong Kong and Macau were formally established on 1 July 1997 and 20 December 1999 respectively, immediately after the People's Republic of China (PRC) assumed the sovereignty over the respective regions.

Framework
The two SARs of Hong Kong and Macau are responsible for their domestic affairs, including, but not limited to, the judiciary and courts of last resort, immigration and customs, public finance, currencies and extradition. Diplomatic relations and national defense of the two SARs are, however, the responsibility of the Central People's Government in Beijing.

Hong Kong continues using English common law. Macau continues using the Portuguese civil law system.

Implementation
In Hong Kong, the system has been implemented through the Basic Law of Hong Kong, which serves as the "mini-constitution" of the region, and consistent with the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Similar arrangements are in place with Macau. Under the respective basic laws, the SARs have a high degree of autonomy and enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. They formulate their own monetary and financial policies, maintain their own currencies, formulate their own policies on education, culture, sports, social welfare system, etc. within the framework of the basic laws.

Princhester
01-15-2009, 09:23 PM
Hong Kong is not perfect. It's not a worker's paradise. But you have to compare it to other locations in Asia where markets weren't allowed to flourish, and which instead relied on government planning and heavy regulation of trade and commerce. Is there any doubt that Hong Kong was vastly more successful than any other country in the region, and that the standard of living was much better in Hong Kong than anywhere else in the region?

There are other factors. HK was British. Culturally and geographically it stands with a foot in both China and the West. It is (and more to the point was) consequently one of the few effective doors between one of the largest nations on earth and the rest of the world. You don't have to skim off much from the stuff passing through such a door to be successful. Being what and where it is, is a licence to print money. Unless it had had a government that was so stupid that choked the door completely, it couldn't have been unsuccessful if it tried.

Shalmanese
01-16-2009, 12:02 AM
70 million dead, and there is nothing to stop it from happening again. It's the same government.

This is exactly why a million plus HK people left before the Reds arrived. Right now, thigs are not so bad. But there's a "sickle of Damocles" hanging over the "free people" of HK, and everyone knows it. Those freedoms could end at any time, on a whim.

I lived in Hong Kong for half a year and what you're saying is utter horse shit.

There are people like that in Hong Kong, they're treated like Americans treat those civilian militia people who have their own private weapons caches. There's a lot of grumbling about the political process but nobody seriously expects the reds to march across the border and impose martial law.

Also, as far as I'm aware, being a SAR, there's no restrictions on emigration from anyone holding a Hong Kong passport. Mainland Chinese who live in Hong Kong face different restrictions.

Please stop making baseless assertions about the political process in Hong Kong until you can actually come up with cites that aren't wiki articles.

Shalmanese
01-16-2009, 12:05 AM
Oh, and public protest is common and not cracked down upon by the authorities. Freedom of press is enshrined in the constitution and the South China Morning Post regularly posts articles critical of both the Hong Kong and Beijing Government.

Sevastopol
01-16-2009, 05:52 AM
Sometime SDMB Member Hemlock (http://www.geocities.com/hkhemlock/rat/diary-17jan09.html) discusses HK governance: Democracy via 'Functional Constituencies' Functional constituencies … need to enhance public recognition by understanding public opinion and making appropriate adjustments. For example, they might consider adding representatives from new industries, as well as newly established commercial associations (such as the cultural sector) or even non-professional communities, to reflect the philosophy of “balanced participation” more fully.

In this way, such “charmed circles” may become a mouthpiece for the people and meet the demands for innovation in the political system. Functional constituencies and their contribution to the political history of Hong Kong may, then, finally be commemorated.

This is a new approach to keeping FCs – rearranging them a bit via a conjuring trick so they miraculously appear to be putting the public interest first.

The traditional argument in favour of FCs is that people who own leading corporations should be able to veto popularly elected legislators’ decisions because they are richer, and therefore smarter and more capable than the masses of understanding Hong Kong’s true interests. More modest members of these limited franchises like to claim that the Legislative Council benefits enormously from the presence of members with in-depth knowledge of complicated and technical aspects of commerce.

Opponents of the system simply decry on principle its undemocratic nature, in which a small and select group of what Christine Loh terms ‘non-humans’ – some controlled in batches by individual tycoons – get the vote. The pro-democrats tend to be too preoccupied or diplomatic to stress bluntly that the system is essentially institutionalized corruption. Where the vested interests of these narrow business groups coincide with those of the bureaucracy, Government policymaking ignores the public interest, which is why we spend billions on unnecessary infrastructure projects while public hospital waiting lists grow ever longer.

The truth, known only to a small handful of us illuminati south of the Mainland border, is that the FCs today have just one function – and that is to give the Central People’s Government in Beijing a guaranteed, dependable voting bloc in the Big Lychee’s mini-parliament that can be called into action if counter-revolutionary and/or foreign forces attempt to use legislative means in Hong Kong to undermine the Motherland.

This bloc will not be replaced by democratically elected representatives that Beijing cannot control or trust. But nor does it absolutely have to comprise nominees of entitlement-hungry, rent-seeking cartels. From a United Front point of view, it doesn’t hurt to keep tycoons in line by letting them plunder. But if the semi-feudal privilege and collusion became more trouble than they are worth – if the pro-democrats got off their backsides and roused public opinion – Beijing would probably be happy to fill the seats with less personally avaricious guardians of the national interest. For example, Legco could instead have ranks of Mainland-based, moon-faced cadres in green uniforms, dozing through all the parochial stuff and only voting when evil, unpatriotic enemies of the Chinese people try to push through some sneaky motion that contradicts the one-party dictatorship of the proletariat in some way or other. It would be a big improvement.
...

Steve MB
01-16-2009, 06:27 AM
And the level of union penetration in Hong Kong (http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/01/economic_freedom_universal_health_care_and_labor_unions.php) is twice what it is in America. Don't libertarians regard unions as coercive?

Not generally, no (unless one uses the leftist definition whereby "you have to do X to get and keep this job" counts as "coercive"). Obviously, some specific cases involving some specific corrupt unions are exceptions.

China Guy
01-16-2009, 07:08 AM
There's a lot of confusion in this thread. i just happen to be flying from HK to Shanghai right now. i lived in HK in the late 1980's and 1994-98 and was there during the handover of sovereignity.

Some posters in this thread are taking a mix of mainland history and practices over the past 50 years and claiming this is the HK of today. This is a patently false connection (and the view of Red China is sadly out of date as well.)

I honestly don't know where to start addressing the false 'assertations.' The Red Army have been in HK with a low profile since 1997. HK people have a special SAR passport and can freely emmigrate. Demonstrations are rare but allowed. the Falonggong pubicly demonstrate (i've witnessed tnis). Ad nauseum.

need to have a credible cite for HK (and not mainland China) if you want a debate.

sailor
02-19-2009, 11:40 AM
The debate was sort of continued in this thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=503637&page=2) and this thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=507184).