This is actually a respond to Plutocrats Against Democracy but I got carried away and wrote this article.
What LCY want to say about the pitfall of 1 person 1 vote is that the majority would vote HK into a welfare state as there is a sizable of not too well off people in HK. This is actually the biggest fear of China’s top leadership, in their view this is hurting the so-called western democracies economic recovery. They don’t fear democracy per se but rather what it would do to the social economic structure of China. It is not that they feel welfare is bad but China simply couldn’t afford it. To be honest how many states in the world can really afford the lavish welfare of Switzerland, Norway, Germany etc? The minimum welfare of states like UK, France, Italy, Spain etc is already bankrupting those nations. The US which has even less social welfare protection is also mired in deep debt!
I will go back into history to give an example. In 1949, when the communist gradually took over all of China. In big industrial city like Shanghai, the common workers who have long been paid low wages want a salary increase. It is then that the leadership realized they could not give in to this simple request because the industries are not very profitable and the wages are dictate by market force. Some mid and lower level cadres actually promised the workers when they first got into the city. It is easy in mass rallies shouting “justice and glory to the workers” but when it comes down to reality it is not doable.
Although industrial and food production doubled to tripled in the first 5 years, it was due to increase workforce participation and new factories, farm, better policy etc. Before 1949, unemployment was rife and when the CPC came into power they try to employ everybody. This become one of their biggest domestic head ache. How to give everybody housing, work, food etc. And when the USSR and thus most of the communist bloc cut off all support and trade, China’s economy was in a perilous state. It is under this backdrop that collective farming was tried. We all know how badly that turned out.
Well, what does all that has to do with HK’s protest? It is the economy, stupid. The biggest anxiety, fear of the students are their future employment prospect. This might sound shallow but what kind of lifestyle you have is pretty much dictated by your income level. Nobody likes to work 40-50 hour weeks and spend 20-30 years of income just to get a roof over your head. And this is the reality facing HK’s youth (and youth of the world over, including mainland China!) This is a universal problem, remember the Arab Spring? It was started mainly because of economic dissent but the toppling of the many government didn’t solve any of the problems. The western so-called democracies are also not immune, they are able to contain the problem with welfare given to the less well off but if the debt hit the tipping point welfare would have to be cut back.
The current HK occupy movement definitely have its domestic grievance and it is very real and true. In many ways those university students are easily one of the elite groups of HK. Only about 1 in 10 high school student can get into the local university. They considered themselves above their peer hence their resoluteness, and some would say arrogance when they want to push through “their agenda”. However, is it truly “their agenda” that they are trying to bulldoze through? Who would be the new chief executive of HK if their demand for citizen nomination is met? How is the new chief going to resolve the social economic hardship of the have not in HK? Frankly, nobody has the answer to that.
Neither do the students have the answer but they need to vent their anxiety, frustration and anger at someone, and LCY and Beijing become the easy scapegoats. Also why don’t they simply demand to have better career and economic prospect? Everybody has pride and being elite among their peers it is beneath them to ask for self betterment. It is much easier to hide under a much grander slogan. Unfortunately, their zeal and passion are simply misused by the instigators who have different agenda. This is why I so unkindly called them idiots in my earlier reference towards them. I believe that they are being used to serve the agitators’ interest and foreign interest while their actual (and millions of other HK residents’) grievance is not being answered.
The biggest problem in HK, Taiwan and even mainland China is not political. It is about better employment prospect and thus better life. In the grand scheme of things this is actually the raison d’être of any government, to give the people a better life. The biggest failure in the political arena in Taiwan and HK is that so-called universal suffrage has been touted as a universal solution. The reality in the ground is much more different. If the students have instead chosen the real problems to their woes as subject of protest, there would have been better progress. For example, if they protested about employment and housing prospect and request that the HK and central government do something about it, they would have made themselves the darling of HK residents. For this is an actual problem that hurt everybody. Even if it cannot be solved immediately there would be serious discussion, and thus focus on what is affecting everybody.
If they continuously break the law by blocking public roads and causing businesses to fail they will simply be hurting the livelihood of others. The infamy some of the ring leaders achieved will of course pale compare to those from the Cultural Revolution or TAM 1989, but is this what they actually wanted? Come on be honest with yourself. Those who want to be chief executive should step forward and said so, and give your solution to the problems facing HK and China. Stop pushing the students to do the dirty works like in CR and TAM.