"The Great Nations" and "What does China want?"

The question "What does China want" has been asked by western observers repeatedly, especially back in the times when "China threat" rhetoric still received some attention (i.e. before Zoellick said "China is not USSR"). In an early posting of this blog I have argued that it does not matter what China's intention is, because in the medium term (i.e. 20-50 years) it will focus on economic development (and maintaining the hope of re-uniting with Taiwan some day in future), beyond that China's leadership would have changed a few times and it won't matter what it wants now, the optimistic case is that it will probably become a democracy joining the West (or be like Singapore, if not Japan). Therefore, the major concern for the West is not what China intends to do today, but to prevent major disaster in China's path of reform and development, because that may derail the risk-averse do-nothing path it is taking currently.

Apparently the CCP leadership did form some ideas on what they want for China in the longer term (on top of the near term goal of feeding its people and playing "economic catch up"), i.e., not surprisingly, China still aspires to restore the glory it enjoyed centuries ago, and want to become a "Great Nation".

The hint comes from a recent TV documentary series of 12 episodes, "The Rise of the Great Nations"(大国崛起), which I recommend highly to those who are interested in the future of China, and in particular Chinese politics and international relations.

In terms of materials and production, the TV program is probably no different from the Discovery or BBC documentary in world history. One does not expect revolutionary academic insights from them, especially because CCTV is not yet in the same tier of BBC in general. In fact, it continues to use the notion of "combined power" along with RFGP by Paul Kennedy. Then why is this program important? and as a result believed to be a hint to China's next wave of reform by many observers? Because, if you believe it is part of the state propaganda then it would be an interesting exercise to deconstruct the messages it tries to convey, and there are many hints pointing to the allegation that the program is produced under an instruction from the Politburo
  • Explicit acknowledgement from the producer: The director (who is also the head of CCTV), Zhao Huayong, wrote in the preface (there is an accompanying book, in case the audience missed the messages) that, "The CCP Politburo attended a seminar in Nov 2003, the topic was the lessons of the development of the 9 major world powers from 1500 to today......These power has all hurted other nations, including China, in sometime on their path to great become great power, what kind of attitude and embracement should we adopt toward them? What experiences and learning should we find from their paths?" -- so even if this is not an instruction from the Politburo, the fact that CCTV dares to use the Politburo seminar in its promotion of the program tells us something. (Other interviews with the production crew here)
  • "2003年11月24日,中共中央政治局组织了一次集体学习,内容是“15世纪以来世界主要国家发展历史”。这次学习在社会上引起了广泛关注,人们在想,斯时斯地,打开尘封已久的历史,所为何来?...新中国的几代领导人反复强调:我们的发展,要吸收和借鉴全人类的文明成果。这些曾经在近现代历史上引导世界潮流的大国,在历史上或多或少都对其他国家和民族造成过伤害,包括中国。今天,在中华民族重新崛起的进程中,我们应该以什么样的胸怀和态度看待它们?中国的和平发展可以从中借鉴什么样的经验和教训?
  • Coincidence in timing: The documentary took 3 full years to produce. So it started in 2003, roughly right after the Politburo meeting. Either the CCTV director overheard the Politburo discussion and charged ahead or he received some instruction from the Politburo, as it is an unlikely coincidence in time. Since even the head of CCTV is probably not a very powerful figure compared with the Politburo, it is more likely the latter
  • Careful choice of word: The fact that the title was called "Rising", instead of "Development" explains that this documentary is for domestic consumptions. Because many Chinese citizen view the choice of the word "development" to be too weak and they still would like to see China "rising"; that it chose to use the word "great" instead of the more often used word "strong" in Chinese history is also important -- see below on definition of "Great Nation"
  • Pragmatic purpose: Regardless of the intent, the result of airing this documentary is that the Chinese citizens will get the messages conveyed in this series, and such message must not contradict the party line as otherwise it would have been banned. Therefore, for all practical purposes it is in line with the view of the Politburo (including the decision to skip the old teaching that colonialism pillaging crucially contributed to the initial stage of capitalism)
  • Heavyweight advisor team: this particular program from CCTV was able to enlist the best of the Chinese scholars, including internationally renowned scholar Wang Jisi (who was instrumental in the Hu-Zoellick meeting last year), in its advisor team. More likely, if one believes the theory that the Politburo ordered the production, Wang himself is the brain behind this series, and he probably carefully selected the messages to be conveyed in this series. In addition, Wang Jisi, together with historian Qian Shengdan who both were interviewed in the program and led discussion in the Politburo seminar, are said to be the mastermind behind this program (source).
During the production of the program a lot of interviews with prominent international scholars were conducted. The director then used these interview clips (by professors at top universities of the world, such as Paul Kennedy of Yale, and ex-politician Berezensky) to tell what it wants to tell its audience. This is a credible and low political-risk way of getting the message through. On the other hand, since it is an impossible mission to condense the lesson of a great nation into a 40 minute (in the case of Britain, Russia and USA, 80 minutes) episode of the documentary, the content has to be highly selective, so much that perhaps less than 1% fo the interviewed quotes (source) made through the final editing. Therefore, I have strong reason to believe the selection is thus highly deliberate.

Such selective highlighting of the lessons tells us what the Chinese leadership (or the director of the documentary) wants to tell its people/audience, because it wants the support of the people on what where it is going to lead them to. The central question is the million dollar question for China observers and internationl relations pundits: what does China want? The message the program wants to convey is that China aspires to be a great nation, and more than that, a SUSTAINABLE great nation. If we believe in the theory that this program is part of the state propaganda, then it tried to redefine what it means by the concept of "great nation" (and what it means by "Rise") for Chinese leadership as well. The definition is that a great nation is one that brings well-being and properity to its people, and contributes to the progress of the world. This definition of "Rise" or "Greatness" is not exactly the same as what the Chinese people (and other people in the world) used to associate with "Great", which is almost synonymous with "strong" and to a lesser extent, "Rich" (as known in Shang Yang's 商鞅 "Strengthen the military by enriching the nation" 富国强兵). Therefore, the leadership feels the need to educate the people about this definition so that the people will not mis-interpret the policy (e.g. of playing the stakeholder role as advocated by Zoellick) as being "weak". The program tried to define "Great Nation" by identifying a few key properties, which are re-emphasized in its concluding episode (the Finale) "Thinking through our actions based on broad and rightful principles" (大道思行), as follows:
  1. Great Nation = Innovation and contribution to its own people and the world: innovation of Thomas Edison, Dutch shipbuilders, Japanese businesses were discussed throughout the program. In the Finale the head of Chinese Diplomatic Institute Wu jianmin was quoted as saying something like this, "Great nation contributes to the world development, innovation is essential for making such contribution, and innovation is not possible if free thinking is constrained" (一个国家要崛起,它思想得创新吧,对吧。如果全是老思想,国家能崛起吗?崛起不了。思想如果都束缚住了,能创新吗?创新不了。所以文化的作用在这里出现了。)
  2. Aggression through force is to be avoided at all costs, as demonstrated by the example of Germany and Japan:
    • It showed the picture (below) of Warsaw Kneeling along with the comment "The moment Brandt kneels down was the moment Germany stood up in the world", sending the strongest message on its view that aggression is the wrong path to building a Great Nation;
    • in addition, it carefully defined the Meiji Restoration as a 100 year process (instead of 20-40 years, ending in the wars in 1895 and 1905), ending in 1968 when Japan finanlly rose with respect from the world through its economic success, and discounting the Japan's military success as short term aberration (in the Japan episode, the conclusion for Japan's lesson is that a Great Nation should (a) Bring prosperity and happiness to its own people (b) Bring peace and security to the world
    • The Japan lesson is further reinforce when it looks back to the lessons of the Iberian powers, conluding that without building one's own ability to generate wealth the rise is short-lived, and wealth through expansion and aggression are not to be depended upon
    • thirdly, the program made it clear that the modern world order is one in which competition is by business and innovation, and contribution to humanity and scientific knowledges, not by military success.
  3. Rule of law and building of a system: in almost all episodes, especially that of UK and US, the rule of law were emphasized. It was repeated again when it discussed the rise of Germany, and a long section on Thomas Edison and that US made the protection of intellectual property into its constitution, then again on how innovation in information technology helped US to lead the world again economically
  4. Focus on internal development and building sustainable capabilities: the Iberian powers were quoted as short-lived because they did not build the system and sustainable capability with all the wealth they accumulated from the New World. furthermore, this quote from Professor Zheng Yongnian of Nottingham University is note-worthy, "一个国家外部的崛起,实际上是它内部力量的一个外延。国家内部的制度还没有健全的情况下,很难成为一个大国,即使成为一个大国,也不是可持续的。"
  5. A lot of attention is given to building a system and ensuring the fundamentals, both economically and politically: an example is that of the Dutch bank which lent to the enemy Spain during war, maintaining its independence, the other are that of the Dutch government in 1600s which were formed by capitalist merchants, the narration talks about the Dutch paintings which portray the citizen (vs nobles and religious figures in other countries) with admiration
  6. For catching up 'great nations' (e.g Germany, Japan, Russia), the government must play the leading role: This is perhaps the most controversal point in this program, IMHO, as it not only emphasized the role of government "planning", praising its contribution to the Russian industrialization in the 1920s-1930s, it also praises the Keysian economics which influenced the role fo the governement in Rosevelt administration -- my concern is that it is difficult and tempting to forget the fact that government role is needed only when the problem is so serious that the invisible hand is unable to cope with it, and Chinese bureacracts, like bureacrats elsewhere will soon forget the principle that government intervention is needed only as a last resort)
  7. Together with the government role above, the views on USSR's "worthy experiment" on socialism and planned economy is positively ambiguous. My speculation is that the Politburo could not agree on these issues and decided they will keep the conclusion open (again, this is assuming that the program is part of the state propaganda). Same can be said about when globalization will truly make aggressive war obsolete, as in the Finale it stated such time will come even though if not in the medium term.
The messages couldn't be clearer. The question is how committed and how capable the Politburo is to push them through.


1) The next wave of reform and policy making?
If we believe the theory that this program tries to pave the way for the next wave of reform, this is what it tells us
2) The Taiwan problem
  • The program stated that economist Friedrich List was instrumental in the unification of Germany in 19th century, in that he advocated unification by peace, not by force, and specifically through economic integration. Prussia created a common market without tariff before it could formally unify Germany. This was cleverly done through the mouth of a Ruetlingen University Professor (where List resided). Such strategy is already in place when China deals with the Taiwan problem

1) Videos websites (1-7, 8, 9, 10, 11-12) or bittorrent. (Server hjosted in the US, run by an exile pro-democracy activist Hu Ping), alternative host at Chinesenewsnet's Wan Runnan blog.
2) script is available in Wan Runnan' blog.
3) Discussions and comments by others (the most comprehensive collection so far), Selected translation by ESWN (ESWN seems to have only translated the first 2 pages, which are mostly negative comments, while the positive comments are on the next 2 pages of the webpage he translated)
4) My post yesterday
5) HK blog "MO's notebook"
6) Sina interview with Wang Jisi and Zhou Yan (executive editor, script writer)
7) people.com interview with Ren Xue-an, Editor of the series, Tang Zhongnan (President of Japan Study), Wang yiming(Deputy Director, Macro-economic Institute, DRC).
8) Mai Tianxu (one of the producers) interview on "compromise"
The quote of Wang Jisi and Qian Chengdan in the Finale

中国北京大学历史学系 教授 钱乘旦:


Qian (Professor, Beijing University; speaker in the Politburo seminar)

Britain was the very first nation to establish the modern nation system. Take for example, political systems such as the now familiar cabinet system, monarch constitution system, 2 party system, parliament system, etc., were first established in Britain. Such kind of political system ensure the long term stability and security of this nation, it was able to maintian the stable status for a very long period of time, so that it is beneficial to its economic development

中国北京大学国际关系学院 院长 王缉思:


Wang (Director of Institute for International Relations, Beijing University -- was said to be a key advisor to Hu Jintao on international affairs, esp to US)

When European immigrants arrived at the American continent, they were building a brand new nation on this new continent. This country has a supreme "constitution", under the "constitution" there is a complete set of legal system, through such a mechanism of power checking [judiciary, excutive and legislative], the productivity of the society was pushed forward.


These two key advisors to the programs did not say anything else in the Finale,
and they made explicitly clear what they thought regarding the connection of a "political system" to "economic development"! There is reason to believe that CCP leadership got it, and we are going to witness fundamental changes in China in the coming years, not immediately, but in 3-10 years, step by step, perhaps.



The Rise of the Great Nations - a Chinese documentary

"Rise of the Great Nation" 大国崛起 is a new TV documentary aired by China's CCTV this month. It runs in parallel to Paul Kennedy's Rise and Fall of Great Power, and a similar documentary series 18 years ago, The River Elegy (河殇).

  • (Paul Kennedy interview conversations were actually shown in many episodes)
I just finished 4 episodes: (1)Portugal and Spain, (2)Holland, (3)&(4) Britain and (7)Japan. It is well made, with clear message to the path of development for China today (for the government perspective). I will show you this link of discussion and commentaries before I write something of my own. Suffice it to say that
  1. it broke a lot of taboos in China;
  2. it tried hard to look at more fundamental drivers of changes (even though they may be obvious to some of us) and spelled them out quite unambiguously to Chinese audiences; e.g. the honest discussion about the pros and cons of bottom-up vs top-down approach in th development of a nation, and even a favor to the bottom-up approach; the unreserved praise of Freedom and Equality as the definition of a Great Nation in the "France" episode
  3. I have a feeling that it will be more influential than River Elegy, and possibly show us what lessons China's historians and scholars (and perhaps the CCP leaders as well) have learned about these stories. (note: some alleged that this is based on a seminar for the CCP Politburo in 2003, and hence the documentary is probably an idea of the Politburo and a prelude to the next wave of reform in China)
  4. If you have watched the 200th anniversary Bastille day parade in Paris (screenshot above) in that fateful year, you would probably understand why I would compare the Great Nations with River Elegy
More importantly, thanks to the internet we are already able to see it anytime, anywhere, via websites (1-7, 8, 9, 10, 11-12) or bittorrent. The script is available in Wan Rennan' blog.


P.S. More in next post.


China's GFW a flip-flopper

It seems that blogspot is again accessible from mainland China since Nov 21. ISPs that accessed this site include

  • Shanghai
  • Beijing
  • Zhejiang
  • Guangdong
  • Hunan
  • Shandong
  • Tianjin
  • Sichuan
  • Fujian
  • Jiangxi
  • Jiangsu
  • Jilin
  • Heilongjiang


North Korean Mass Game (long version)

The clip in 5 parts, it is from the "TV Broadcast of the entire "Ever-victorious Workers' Party of Korea" held at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea on September 4, 2001."

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6


1) For how this works see State of the Mind clip here
2) Older clips here

Military band performance 9/9/2003 (55th DPRK anniversary)

Military band performance 4/25/2002 (70th People's Army anniversary - the army was founded 19 years before the government?)



Taiwan myth: why DPP stuck with Ah Bian

Paradoxes and contradictions, unbelievable, politics in Taiwan defy our intuition. Ideology, ethnic division often overshadow rationality. They are always myths to the outsiders. Even for people who are familiar with Taiwan, it is a non-trivial task to understand the going-on in Taiwan.

In an interview to Phoenix TV in HK a few weeks earlier, Shih Ming-Teh, the leader of the Red-shirt anti-corrption movement, was puzzled at why Chen Shiu-Bian chose to do what he did. Shih said, "If I were Bian, and suppose Bian is innocent, there is really no reason not to step down while the investigation in under progress. Because, even if Bian is cleared of the corruption charges, because he is still in power while the investigation is in progress, the opposition will find an excuse to accuse him of influencing the investigation. Instead, if he steps down temporarily, and emerged as innocent, he can really prove himself to be clean."

Meanwhile, Ma Ying-jeou is no better. Caught in a similar, although milder, case with Chen's Special Budget mis-use, Ma, a Harvard-trained lawyer, had found the "Anthony Leung wisdom" of thinking that aftermath donation will prove himself clean.

Another myth is about why DPP is willing to bundle itself with Ah Bian and sink with him, and why CSB chose to give up the center and appeal to the deep Green who are his supporterd no matter what. This has puzzled me for a while, until I read this New News article (初選制度,害民進黨變一言堂), the answer lies in DPP's primary nomination system.
  • 一向大鳴大放的民進黨,成為一言堂,貪瀆的人沒事,批評貪瀆的人反而要被移送中評會,民進黨到底為什麼變成這樣?又怎麼連反都不敢反?有人說,「黨沒有分裂本錢、天王間的恐怖平衡,保住了扁的地位。最佳切割點應在年底北高選舉後。」立委黃偉哲表示:「病人在病重時,是否適合再做大手術?」
  • 但其實,追根究柢起來,明年的「立委初選」就是他們自我閹割的癥結。一位同樣不願具名的南部立委不諱言地表示:「黨內各個有意參選的人,為了順利爭取提名出線,現在的﹃不語﹄是理所當然的。因為他必須考慮到後果,如果得罪了深綠選民,絕對在初選中討不到便宜。」民進黨的初選制度,是採三○%的黨內黨員投票;加上七○%的民調為基礎來決定候選人。
  • 不過,如果是考慮初選,由深綠主控的黨員投票目前祇占三○%;具決定性的還是七○%的民調,雖然淺綠與中間選民已傾向不表態,又為什麼沒人考慮「造反」,以呼喚出這群不表態的選民衝高民調數字呢?
  • 最主要的原因是,民調公司的尋找和題目的設計、訂定,都由黨中央決定,而黨中央一片保扁意識,與黨中央作對會有什麼下場?再者,民進黨前民調中心主任吳祥榮表示,今年的全代會確定明年立委初選的民調採用新的方式,也就是「排藍式民調」,亦即,會在題目中設計一題題目,問受訪者的政黨傾向,如為支持泛藍者,就不予採用,這是「為了確保初選勝出的候選人,確實受到民進黨支持者的認同。」他曾說:「以往沒有將支持藍軍的樣本數排掉,容易造成選出來的代表有代表性不足的問題。敵對方會刻意在民調上支持某人,但此人在真正代表民進黨出來參選時並不會當選,所以現階段的民調方式需做改變。」
  • 但這樣的改變雖使得提名人更為「正綠軍」,卻也使得板塊不大的深綠選民,除了穩穩控制住黨員投票這一部分的結果外,也可以將力量延伸至另外的七○%,這也就是為什麼,陳水扁與保扁的黨中央都清楚,祇要控制深綠,就扼制了派系與有意參選公職的人的咽喉。這樣的邏輯,就可以理解為什麼民進黨這次會如此表現。
Basically, the reasoning goes, everyone who wants the party resources in his next election has to stick with the party line (i.e. CSB apologetic). Because the deep Green determines whether you would get the party nomination or not. Although the DPP nomination takes 30% party votes, and 70% public opinion poll, the public poll design is flawed, and rejects any sample from Blue-supporters, and defeats the purpose of being a poll for supports from voters outside the party. Hence, in reality only deep Green opinions were counted. Hence, CSB chose to speak Taiwanese dialect instead of Mandarin which has much wider audience. All senior DPP members chose to sink with Ah Bian even though that alienates themselves with the central voters and guarantee election defeat, because they would not even obtain party nomination otherwise.

1) the reason for excluding Blue samples is to prevent Blue-supporters from influencing DPP into picking the 'wrong' candidate -- but the logic is flawed, since the true conspirator will not reveal that he supports the other party in such polls. A better approach is probably to employ a neutral party for the survey or do not reveal the purpose of the poll
2) KMT has adopted a similar nomination mechanism, with 30% in party and 70% public poll weights. But I do not know if the so called "public poll" deliberately exclude some people


Kuril earthquake informations

The Kuril quake is 8.3 in Richter scale according to USGS, i.e., 10^(-0.8)=1/6 the energy of the 9.1 quake in Sumatra 2 years ago that caused the monster tsunami, and 10^(8.3-4)=10^4.3=20000 times the North Korea (alleged) "nuclear" test last month.

Magnitude 8.3 (Great)
  • Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 11:14:16 (UTC) = Coordinated Universal Time
  • Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 10:14:16 PM = local time at epicenter Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
  • Location 46.616°N, 153.224°E
    Depth 28.5 km (17.7 miles)
    Distances 440 km (275 miles) ENE of Kuril'sk, Kuril Islands 500 km (310 miles) SSW of Severo-Kuril'sk, Kuril Islands, Russia 1650 km (1030 miles) NE of TOKYO, Japan 7185 km (4460 miles) NE of MOSCOW, Russia
    Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 7.1 km (4.4 miles); depth +/- 8.2 km (5.1 miles)
    Parameters Nst=213, Nph=213, Dmin=812.9 km, Rmss=1.05 sec, Gp= 65°, M-type=moment magnitude (Mw), Version=9
    Source USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Event ID usvcam

    Many strong after-quakes were detected around 153-155E, 46-48N.

    There are many reasons that the tsunami is much weaker this time.
    1. Weaker quake (of 1/6 the strength)
    2. Deeper epicenter (28.5km below surface)
    3. Direction of the quake was not as vertical as that in Sumatra
    The location of the quake is right on the rim of on the Pacific Techtonic Plate, and in the middle of Kuril Island Chain, between the south tip of Kamchatka and NE Hokkaido. in (also November) 1952 a 9.0 quake struck the SE tip of Kamchatka, about 600km NE of the epicenter of today's quake. If there is a simple trend, then 54 years later, people in Hokkaido should be very vigilant.

    Light viewing: Chen Shui Bian as Ukulele (忧客李林)

    Ukulele is a Hawaiian 4-string guitar. It is also the name of a very popular band in Taiwan (优客李林), of two musicians with last name Li and Lin. The most famous song by this band is called Admitting Mistake (认错) (right click to save) - downloadable via Baidu's mp3 search.

    When the ROC legislators Li Wen-chung and Lin Cho-shui resigned from the Legislative Yuan, the most entertaining TV program in greater China, People's Pot aka Quanmin Da Menggui (全民大悶鍋), produced this hilarious clip. Enjoy.

    總統府就是你家 前立委 林鐲水

    1. CNN introduction of the program Mengguo here.
    2. For latest clip of Mengguo fgrom Youtube use this link.


    Blogspot blocked again in China around Oct 25 - site stats

    Y-axis represents the number of visits for the 4 week period from Oct 4 to Oct 31, normalized at the total # visits on Oct 4 as 100. Around October 25-26 visits from mainland China were blocked, ISP by ISP.


    Fake Kazakhstan national anthem by Borat

    I thought it was unforgivable to make fun of such great Soviet style musics, but when it is funny enough to make you laugh hard I guess it is then okay.

    (From the movie Borat, anyone has the US anthem clip?)

    1) The real Kazakhstan anthem, and previous version 1992-2006
    2) I also need to clarify that the lyric is fake, e.g., Kazakhstan is not the top exporter of Potassium, North America is. Its main mineral resources are copper, zinc, uranium, and gold.
    3) Deleted scenes here.


    Machiavelli on Iraq

    Dummy Rummy was let go finally, apparently for the fiasco in Iraq.

    Ironically, his fault is not on military execution in Iraq. The Battle of Deposing Saddam was well executed. It was the War in Iraq, which includes the post-occupation positioning and strategy that was ill conceived. Yes, the job of the Defence Minister is to win a war, not a battle, and yes, I would not object to anyone saying that Rummy is a dumb ass.

    What Rummy and the Bushbabies failed to recognize are the similarities of the Iraq occupation with traditional occupation of conquered territories in the era of Machiavelli. The installation of democracy and the well-intended political set-up does not resonate with the people in the occupied land, in part due to the oil and reconstruction wealth distribution. So it is viewed as occupation, not liberation. OTOH, the ideals of democracy and high standard of human right back in US deprived the occupation force the option of brutal suppression (such as Chechnya for Russia, or Genghis Khan in Iraq, or the Spaniard in America), which means military supremacy does not provide the US with any real advantage (after the initial entry).

    Once we recognize this simple piece of fact, the principles laid out in the Prince by Machiavelli becomes entirely applicable to Iraq -- and most important of all, to any new venture, such as Iran and North Korea, that Rummy's successor might comtemplate. Below are lines taken from, for example, chapter 3 of "the Prince",
    • The people did not ask the US to change their ruler (though they would like their rulers changed). US did not have the goodwill of its natives in 2003, which is strengthened by the ostentious effort to install exiled politicians from US. This was the beginning of all the troubles. Iraq is the new principality in the paragraphs below.
    • "BUT the difficulties occur in a new principality. And firstly, if it be not entirely new, but is, as it were, a member of a state which, taken collectively, may be called composite, the changes arise chiefly from an inherent difficulty which there is in all new principalities; for men change their rulers willingly, hoping to better themselves, and this hope induces them to take up arms against him who rules: wherein they are deceived, because they afterwards find by experience they have gone from bad to worse. This follows also on another natural and common necessity, which always causes a new prince to burden those who have submitted to him with his soldiery and with infinite other hardships which he must put upon his new acquisition.

      In this way you have enemies in all those whom you have injured in seizing that principality, and you are not able to keep those friends who put you there because of your not being able to satisfy them in the way they expected, and you cannot take strong measures against them, feeling bound to them. For, although one may be very strong in armed forces, yet in entering a province one has always need of the goodwill of the natives."

    • The Bush-Rummy school made another mistake when it failed to read Machiavelli's advice on selective injury. Instead of forgiving the elite and leveraging them to rule (as it did on Japan after WWII), the US, like a little child, issued arrest warrant for the 52 playing cards to clean out all the staff from the old regime, and tried to install its own puppet (Callabi/etc) who are alien to the Iraqi people.
    • A prince does not spend much on colonies, for with little or no expense he can send them out and keep them there, and he offends a minority only of the citizens from whom he takes lands and houses to give them to the new inhabitants; and those whom he offends, remaining poor and scattered, are never able to injure him; whilst the rest being uninjured are easily kept quiet, and at the same time are anxious not to err for fear it should happen to them as it has to those who have been despoiled. In conclusion, I say that these colonies are not costly, they are more faithful, they injure less, and the injured, as has been said, being poor and scattered, cannot hurt. Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.

    • The fact that occupation is costly and a large force (Levithian - Thomas Barnett) is needed is also fore-warned by Machiavelli, although that may not be the most preferrable option. Haven't Laura Bush the librarian at least mentioned this book to her prince?

    • But in maintaining armed men there in place of colonies one spends much more, having to consume on the garrison all income from the state, so that the acquisition turns into a loss, and many more are exasperated, because the whole state is injured; through the shifting of the garrison up and down all become acquainted with hardship, and all become hostile, and they are enemies who, whilst beaten on their own ground, are yet able to do hurt. For every reason, therefore, such guards are as useless as a colony is useful.

    Read the rest of the Prince here, and find the relevance on current situation in Iraq. And this map to help you understand the geographic location of the actions in the book.



    Nov 8 in US, Dec 9 in Taiwan?

    On November 8, US voters voted down Rummy indirectly.

    Will this repeat on Dec 9 in Taiwan? Is the democracy in Taiwan maturing as we expected? Will the lesson in US be learned?


    Taiwan: suggested pan-Red strategy

    As predicted, DPP seems determined to protect CSB, and to allow the scandal to drag itself down. Even TSU has cold feet now. The happiest people, I guess, are the deep Blue strategists. Because this means DPP is increasingly shifting its support base away from the center, hence ceding the center to the Blue. Guaranteed win with no contest for KMT in the mayoral, and eventually presidential election. Without competition, it does the people in Taiwan no good. KMT might just retreat to the pre-reform era, back to incompetence and corruption.

    What should the Red do?

    Here is one suggestion. Campaign for the rehabilitation of Gong Chaosheng (前金管會主委龔照勝、金管會委員林忠正、內政部次長顏萬進) etc. one by one. Because after all, it is unfair that these people were sacked and expelled from their parties right after indictment, and before the verdict from the court is delivered. They deserve the same treatment as the president.

    This should have the support from pan-Blue. DPP would find no excuse not to support it. When DPP members and supporters finally see the irony, they will probably wake up.

    Will the DPP supporters wake up? I will tell you the story of my mother.

    My mother is a die hard supporter of DPP and Chen Shui-bian, even though she only has been to Taiwan a few times. She loathes CCP, and she is from the area near south Fujian and speaks the Minnan (aka South Fujianese or Taiwanese) dialect. She likes CSB because she thinks he is the only person who dares to challenge the CCP government, especially in the time when the "sudden-patriots" in HK are kowtowing.
    • If we rank the people in Taiwan from the greenest to the bluest, 1 being greenest and 100 being bluest. We would probably have 30 green, 40 center and 30 blue. My mom would be around number 10.
    • The main difference between my mom and Lee Tenghui is - she thinks Taiwanese are Chinese people, but she agreees with LTH and CSB that Taiwan should be independent. She also loathes Shih Mingteh, Lian Chan. In addition, she thinks Ma Yingjeou is not too different from Lian Chan (this is where my view differs with hers).
    • She has not visited the mainland for some 7-8 years, apparently she still cannot forgive what CCP did during the Cultural Revolution and she thinks little has changed in the 'party way' since. I tend to be more sympathetic and, having witnessed the changes and problems of China in the past 10 years, (believe I) realize the complexity of the problems CCP faces. Even though I disagree with the CCP in a lot of issues, I think they did a decent job bringing China to where it is today. Calling myself a pragmatist, I am also willing to praise any small progress (e.g. Chen Liangyu case) even though I wish they could have been bolder, faster and happened earlier. Perhaps she is right and I may be wrong in some issues. Listening to her views makes me think and reflect.
    Even after she heard the news that Wu Shu-chun was indicted, she tried to defend CSB, saying that the amount (NT$1400M) is tiny compared with the old KMT and those corruptors in the mainland today. It was almost two days later, after she read the details of why the WSC was indicted, she finally stopped defending them. She was disappointed. She stopped defending CSB. But she is still sympathetic to DPP in general.

    If her case could be indicative, the line DPP is defending probably retreated a bit in the past few days.


    Is Chen Shui Bian guilty?

    It would be a great mistake if Chen is indeed innocent, as he claimed. So, it is important that we study his response objectively, even thought we may all have some hypothesis.

    First of all, Chen admitted he was guilty of perjury and falsification of documents. There is no question about it.

    What about his defense on corruption charges?

    (A) Chen compared the alleged corruption amount of NTD14.8M in three years vs his volunteered wage reduction of NT$5.5M/year. Then compared the total amount og his wage difference for 8 years (i.e. to 2008) vs the alleged amount for 2003-2005. It is easy to see the logical flaw here. (一個月剩四十二萬,一年十三個半月,因為薪水減半,一年就少領了五百五十萬,四年就少領兩千兩百萬、六年三千三百萬、八年四千四百萬,由此大家好好想想,我有必要拿發票貪污一千四百八十萬?)
    • (a) If Chen continues to does this, before 2002 and beyond 2005, the total amount would have been NT$14.8/3x8=NT$40M. vs NT$44M wage saving
    • (b) Prosecutor Eric Chen only pointed out the obvious, i.e. the rest of the State Affair Budget is also suspucious, though there was not enough evidence. The amount is about 2-3x the alleged (confirmed) corruption amount
    • (c) There are other avenues of corruption, such as Sogo Gift Certificate, son-in-law cases, etc.
    • I am not saying he is guilty on all these scandals/charges. I am just saying that there is enough financial incentive, which is much larger than the salary reduction, which is quite insignificant.
    • (My personal opinion is that, the base salary should be raised to at least on par with that of Singapore, since Taiwan is a bigger economy than Singapore)
    (B) 過去五年從民國九十一年到今年四月,犒賞文武百官,一年差不多八、九百萬,扣除固定費用支出,五年機密費用累計有五千九百萬,加上檢察官認定的一千兩百萬禮券與發票核銷的一千四百萬,我能使用差不多九千萬,但五年我支出為九千四百萬,如此入不敷出,還有可能放口袋?這是非常重要數字和簡單算術,希望大家能參考,由此可知,陳水扁是這樣的人?有必要收集發票貪污嗎?
    • Chen needs to elborate on the arithmetics here, better ask an accountant to list the cashflow in a table. i.e. list the breakdown of his claimed 5 year expenditure of NT$94M, and be able to explain that there is no other source of fund that has paid for any of these items. Yes, very simple arithmetic. Chen should just publish this cashflow statement.
    1) Fake reimbursement started before previous secret fund (Dang Yang) was closed
    2) At least NT$1.8M spent on gift for "First Lady" (not on so-called diplomacy) - CSB admitted to Eric Chen
    4) 卡西迪發聲明 駁斥陳水扁「訊息錯誤」
    5) 李傑:早不用台商做情報
    6) 單據如果是別人的,我們不會知道,除非有人檢舉,這個案子就是6月有人檢舉...Chart: President vs Auditor


    North Korea Karaoke

    Enjoy! (too bad I don't read Korean - appreciate if anyone translate the titles)

    Don't ask my name

    A Whistle

    Air Koryo

    Unification Rainbow


    Will the Taiwan recall be passed this time?

    Let's suppose DPP decided to back CSB up, or let the legislators choose their own vote. Would CSB recall be passed this time.

    The total number of seat in the Legislative Yuan is 220. 147 is needed to pass the recall bill. In the second recall motion, 116 votes (pan-Blue + independent) supported the recall. In the first recall in June 119 supported (more independent went to vote).

    The shortfall was 28. (Let's assume this time all 119 will support the recall). We now know for sure that there will be 12 votes from TSU. That means another 16 is needed from some DPP members.

    What do the DPP members think? Do we have the 16 votes? Here is the poll of 70 DPP legislators (total=89, I suppose 19 were not approached or not approachable). 21 refused interview, so we only have the answer from 49 of them.
    • If the investigation found that CSB should be indicted, will he need to step down? 33 Yes, 6(suspend power of president), 10 No
    • If CSB refused to step down, what should be done? 12 recall, 3 impeach 3, 14 He should be able to make the right decision, 7 DPP will make the right decision, 4 this will not happen or never considered this situation 4, 9 No

    Marginal, but not unlikely this time. Evidence were pouring in for the past 9 months, making the Chen family corruption case look like a 10-year old car lacking proper maintenance -- leaks and gaps everywhere. The cases for Sogo and State Affair Budget were so clear even to an outsider like this blogger, that I congratulated Annette Lu in May.

    Related link (gauging the DPP response)

    1) The apologist stucked: (Liberty Times) 扁:被迫要講出機密費對象, 說法獲黨內巨頭接受與支持

    2) Two possibilities of the "First Indictment" case - Ruan Ming (former advisor to Chen Shui-bian) -- cached below

    3) Editorial from pro-Green Taipei Times - The president must make his case

    4) Taipei Times on Eric Chen the prosecutor








    The A-list in China

    Wang Xiaofeng (带三个表) has put together the A-list for the Koei Game of "Romance of the Three Kingdom" (aka Sangokushi) for the positions in current date PRC, as follows (translation/interpretation work-in-progress, check back later for more)

    • 国家主席:李世民
    • president: Tang Taizhong (Li Shimin) -- the brightest emperor of Tang dynasty
    • 军委主席:孙武
    • chairman of central military commission: Sun Zi
    • 人大常委会委员长:孙中山 \
    • Chairman for People's Congress: Sun Yat-sen (why? because he had never really attained no real power?)
    • 国务院总理:诸葛亮
    • Prime Minister: Zhuge Liang (This is the real Romance of the Three Kingdom hero)
    • 外交部部长:文成公主
    • Foreign Minister: Princess Wencheng, who married the king of Tibet in 7th century (hence the first sovereign claim on Tibet). Wang Xiaofeng commited the crime of political incorrectness here, since Tibet is no foriegn affair. A better arrange should should be switch hers with that of Wang Zhaojun (see below), as Mongolia is real foreign affair now
    • 国防部部长:曹操 Defense Minister: Cao Cao (also real ROTK hero)
    • 教育部部长:孔子 Education Minister: Confuscius
    • 卫生部部长:华佗
    • Minister of Public Health: Hua Tuo, the first physician (also ROTK character) who used anaesthetics and performed operation. Again, not a good choice, since the problem we face today is corruption, operation that needs to be done is the medical pricing system
    • 环保总局局长:陶渊明
    • SEPA (State Environmental Protection Adminisrator), Tao Yuanming, the poet who loved nature
    • 农业部部长:李宇春
    • Minister of Agriculture: Li Yuchun, because her fans are nicknamed Yumi (Corn)?
    • 文化部部长:李斯
    • Minister of Culture: Li Si, who unified characters for Qin dynsaty (I though this should be the job of Education Dept. while Culture Dept should foster diversity instead?)
    • 商务部部长:胡雪岩
    • Minister of Commerce: Hu Xueyan, a successful businessman (I think a better choice would have been Shan Yang, who fully understood the incentive and market dynamics 2400 years ago)
    • 水利部部长:大禹
    • Minister of Water Work: Da Yu, first emperor of Xia Dynasty who came into power after fixing the flooding of Yellow River (A better candiate would be Li Bing and son, who constructed Dujiangyan near Chengdu, which is still here today. They understood is it better to divert the flood than dam it. Yellow River flood came back every few years until it was finally stopped by over-irrigation in upper stream in recent years, whil Dujiang has behaved well for over 2000 years)
    • 建设部部长:秦始皇
    • Minister of Construction: Qin Shihuang (yes he built a lot, but not as much as Sui Yangdi)
    • 地质部部长:土行孙
    • Minister of Geology: Tu Xinsuen (not a real person, a legendary figure in the fantasy novel Fengsheng Yanyi, who could move by burrowing underground)
    • 公安部部长:展昭
    • Minister of Public Security (Police): Zhang Zhao (the police who worked for Bao Zheng of Song dynasty)
    • 中宣部部长:雍正
    • Minister of Central Propaganda: King Yongzheng of Qing dynasty (I do not follow these TV series, and have no idea why he got this post. IMO Mao Zedong should be put in this post)
    • 国土资源部部长:徐霞客
    • Minister of National Resources: Xu Xiake (a traveller and explorer in Ming dynasty)
    • 发展与改革委员会主任:商鞅
    • Minister of DRC: Shan Yang (the reformer of Qin -- I would say Deng Xiaoping is equally qualified)
    • 最高人民法院院长:包拯 Supreme Court Judge: Bao Zhen
    • 最高人民检察院检察长:狄仁杰
    • Attorney General: Di Renjie (of Tang dynasty, and worked for Empress Wu Zetian)
    • 国家烟草专卖局局长:林则徐
    • Administrator of Tobacco: Lin Zexu (who banned opium in 1840 and became the excuse for the UK to start the Opium War)
    • 妇联主任:贾宝玉 Chief of Women's Association: Jia Baoyu from the novel Dream of the Red Chamber (This one is hilarious)
    • 新闻出版署署长:纪晓岚
    • Head of News Publication: Ji Xiaolan (who edited the 4 Volumes of Ancient Literatures in Qing)
    • 国家广播电影电视总局局长:西门庆
    • SARFT: Ximen Qing (why? because sex sells?)
    • 海关总署署长:郑和
    • Head of Custom and Excise: Zheng He (this I do not understand, Zheng was an explorer in Ming dynasty. A better candidate should be Suan Hongyang, who systematized the taxation of salt of iron)
    • 国家烟草专卖局主任:佘太君 (this one must be a typo -- as Lin Zexu already was assigned above)
    • 中国民用航空总局局长:嫦娥
    • Administor of Civil Aviation: Chang E (legends has that she flew to the moon after stolen the potion from her husband) -- better for the Aeronatic Dept, Wang-Hu is also a good candidate.
    • 国家体育总局局长:高俅
    • Administrator of Sports: Gao Qiu, who was a soccer star at Song dynasty, who turned into a corruptor when in position (perhaps that is represents the soccer sports in PRC today)
    • 科学技术部主任:祖冲之
    • Head of Science and Technology: Zhu Congzhi (who calculated Pi to 7th decimal places)
    • 国家民族事务委员会主任:王昭君
    • Head of ethnic affairs: Wang Zhaojun (as mentioned earlier, should switch position with Wencheng)
    • 国家安全部部长:魏忠贤
    • Minister of National Security: Wei Zongxian, the eunuch in Ming who established secret police (a commentator suggested he shold better head the Association of the Handicapped)
    • 监察部部长:秦桧
    • Minister of Oversight: Qin Kui of South Song (I do not understand this)
    • 民政部部长:寇准
    • Minister of Civel Affairs: Kou Zun of Song dynasty (WXF seems to have particular interests in Song history)
    • 财政部部长:和珅
    • Minister of Finance: He Sheng, the big corruptor of Qing, who amassed a personal wealth equivalent to that of a year's GDP in China
    • 信息产业部部长:毕升
    • Minister of Information Technology: Bi Sheng of Song, who invented movable type printing (a thought the revolutionaries who put meesages inside the mooncake also deserve this job)
    • 保密局局长:刘胡兰
    • Bureau Head of Secrecy: Liu Hulan (a female guerilla who was killed by Japanese invaders in WWII, after refusing to tell them anything about the guerilla)
    • 交通部部长:李春
    • Minister of Communication: Li Chun (he probably means the artisan who construct Zhaozhou Bridge, the oldest arch-supported stone bridge in the world)
    • 国务院台湾事务办公室主任:郑成功
    • Head of Taiwan Affair: Zheng Chenggong (who recovered Taiwan from the Dutch)
    • 国家信访局局长:陈世美
    • (what the hell is Xinfang Ju? apparently there is a State Bureau of Letters and Calls, intended to handle complaints from civilians who camped outside of Beijing Train Station and the like. If that is the case, a better candidate should be Chen Shimei's first wife)
    • 中国气象局局长:诸葛亮(兼)
    • Bureau Head of Meteology: also Zhuge Liang, who was said to be able to control weather with his wizardry
    • 国家旅游局局长:徐霞客(兼)
    • Head of Bureau of Tourism: also the traveller Xu Xiake
    • 国家宗教事务局局长:玄奘
    • Administrator of Religious Affairs: Xuenzhuang (Buddhist monk in Tang, who also starred in Journey to the West aka Monkey King)
    • 国家食品药品监督管理局局长:神农
    • SFDA: Shenggong, legend has that he tried all herbal medicines himself. Perhaps those corruptors in SFDA should try the drugs they approved as well
    • 国家海洋局局长:张靓颖
    • Head of Bureau of Ocean: Zhang Liangyin (Supergirl 2005 runner up, who had sung like a dolphin) -- better candidate would be Zheng He, who visited Madagascar in 1500s
    • 中国地震局局长:张衡
    • Head of Seismology: Zheng Heng of Han, who invented the instrument that detected earthquake
    • 拆迁办主任:孟姜女
    • Head of Tearing-down and Moving: Mengjiang of Qin, who was said to have cried over her deceased husband buried under the Great Wall so loudly that the Great Wall collapsed due to resonance. (This one is also hilarious)
    N.B. some of these departments are fictitious and a good number of departments were not included in the list. Here is the full list (un-noted ones are covered by WSF)

    • 中华人民共和国外交部
    • 中华人民共和国国防部
    • 国家发展和改革委员会
    • 中华人民共和国教育部
    • 中华人民共和国科学技术部
    • 国防科学技术工业委员会 (TBA I nominate Zhuge Liang, who was said to have invented many weapon in ROTK, though historically untrue)
    • 国家民族事务委员会
    • 中华人民共和国公安部
    • 中华人民共和国国家安全部
    • 中华人民共和国监察部
    • 中华人民共和国民政部
    • 中华人民共和国司法部 (TBA should be Bao Zhen as well, as there are not many people for such jobs)
    • 中华人民共和国财政部
    • 中华人民共和国人事部劳动和社会保障部 (TBA)
    • 中华人民共和国国土资源部
    • 中华人民共和国建设部
    • 中华人民共和国铁道部 (TBA
    • 中华人民共和国交通部
    • 中华人民共和国信息产业部
    • 中华人民共和国水利部
    • 中华人民共和国农业部
    • 中华人民共和国商务部
    • 中华人民共和国文化部
    • 中华人民共和国卫生部国家人口和计划生育委员会 (TBA)
    • 中国人民银行 (TBA)
    • 中华人民共和国审计署 (TBA)
    • 中华人民共和国海关总署
    • 国家税务总局 (This should be Suan Hongyang's post as well)
    • 国家工商行政管理局 (TBA)
    • 国家质量监督检验检疫总局 (TBA)
    • 国家环境保护总局
    • 中国民用航空总局
    • 国家广播电影电视总局
    • 国家新闻出版署(国家版权局)
    • 国家体育总局国家统计局 (TBA)
    • 国家林业局(TBA)
    • 国家食品药品监督管理局
    • 国家安全生产监督管理局 (TBA)
    • 国家知识产权局 (TBA)
    • 国家旅游局
    • 国家宗教事务局
    • 国务院参事室 (TBA)
    • 国家机关事务管理局 (TBA)
    • 国家信访局
    • 国家粮食局 (TBA)
    • 国家烟草专卖局
    • 国家外国专家局 (TBA: some nominated poet Li Bai, who was borned in current day Kazakhstan)
    • 国家海洋局
    • 国家测绘局 (TBA)
    • 国家邮政局 (TBA: I nominate Yang Yuhuang, the mistress of Tang Gaozong, who courierred Lai-chi from Guangdong to Xi'an)
    • 国家文物局 (TBA)
    • 国家中医药管理局 (TBA)
    • 国家外汇管理局 (TBA)
    • 国家航天局 (TBA: this should be the domain of Chang E and Wang Hu)
    • 国家原子能机构 (TBA)


    Minimum wage with free market mechanism

    I wanted to write on this for a while, now that my views are mostly discussed by Jimmy Lai's excellent piece on Apple Daily today (cached below) I can focus on discussing the proposed solution, which is along the line of Lai's last paragraph -- it basically asks a third party (the government) to provide for the difference between market rate and the intended minimum wage level, i.e. along the spirit of negative tax.

    • 例 如 , 一 個 人 工 作 月 入 四 千 元 , 而 法 定 最 低 工 資 是 月 入 六 千 元 , 那 麼 只 要 有 工 作 , 他 便 可 以 向 政 府 申 請 二 千 元 補 貼 , 把 收 入 提 高 到 最 低 的 法 定 水 平 。 這 樣 做 他 既 有 工 作 , 又 有 得 體 的 生 活 條 件 。 這 個 方 法 類 似 佛 利 民 ( Milton Friedman 1912- ) 提 倡 的 「 負 薪 俸 稅 ( negative income tax ) 」 , 弱 勢 的 一 群 可 以 得 到 工 作 帶 來 的 好 處 和 收 入 , 非 但 不 用 交 稅 , 反 而 得 到 補 助 , 是 個 兩 全 其 美 的 做 法 。
    Lai has only showed a general direction. There are loophols in his scheme. e.g. employer can offer a $1 job and exploit the government subsidy (who pays for the difference) to save cost. A practical solution would need to consider the following constraints

    1. Sufficient incentive for the worker to apply for job (vs unemployment subsidy), e.g. lower the amount of unemployment benefit
    2. Sufficeint incentive for the worker to look for jobs that pay more (even if both are sub-minimum wage jobs), and work harder (i.e. more hours)
    3. Sufficient incentive for the employer to pay for market rate (significant barrier on free-riding on government subsidy). This and the previous objectives mean the subsidy needs to discriminate among difference levels of sub-minimum wages
    4. Source of fund should come partly from the social safety net (unemplyment subsidy), while the subsidy for those who really cannot work (e.g. handicapped) should not be affected (e.g. qualify them with a extra subsidy)
    5. A formula needs to be applied to calculate the subsidy, so that there is continuous transition (for the net income of the worker) between sub-minimum and minimum wage. The net income function (x-axis being the employer pay, y-axis employer+government pay) should be as smooth as possible, to discourage worker to stay at certain 'kink' in the graph (i.e. if incremental income suddenly decreases)
    A simplified example

    Assumption (for simplicity, I assumed monthly, instead of hourly wage, and ignored social welfare for dependents -- which can be adjusted accordingly):

    • social welfare: HK$2500/person
    • proposed minimum wage: HK$6000
    • market rate for the job: $3000
    Issues to consider

    1. The worker should not be punished for getting a low pay job (i.e. he should still qualify for social welfare pay-check, although the amount could be adjusted down)
    2. To encourage the worker to ask for full market rate from the employer (and find the highest pay job), the net income of the worker must increase with the amount he earns from the employer
    3. Therefore, the target net income for the worker should not be a fixed amount, instead, it should be a range (e.g. HK$5000 to 7000)
    Solution (example)

    1. Lower the welfare subsidy to, e.g. HK$2000
    2. For every dollar the worker makes, the subsidy decrease by, e.g. $0.25. i.e. If the workers makes $3000, he would be entitled to 2000-0.25x3000=2000-750=1250 of subsidy. His net income will be $4250.
    3. To encourage the worker to apply for job, there should be a bonus (e.g. $300-450) if the worker makes , say $1000-1500 that month (this range should be attainable even for the market minimum rate, if the worker works hard enough, e.g. doing 80 hours a month). In this amendment the above work will make $3250+450=3700 that month (he got $450 because he makes more than $1500 that month)
    4. In this example the worker does not attain the minimum range of $5000-7000, because he did not work full time (180hr). So he is in between part-time wage-earner and social welfare receiver. Had he worked full time, he would have earned $4000 from his employer, and make a net of $4000+(2000-4000x0.25)+450=5450
    5. The subsidy will decrease to zero if the workers earns more than $8000/month in this example.
    6. The bonus should also be adjusted down according after the worker makes more than, e.g. $5000, e.g. for every $1 over $5000, the bonus will decrease by $0.33, so that when the wage reaches $8000, the bonus disappears (this creates an artificial kink at $5000, a better, but more complicated solution is to make thge transition smooth, e.g. bonus adjustment should transit from $0.05 per one dollar over slowly to $0.33 per one dollar over.
    7. The graph is plotted below (y=net total income; x=earned salary)

    Ratios and thresholds can be adjusted with actual target and government budget, but a structure like this would improve the situation of the low skill labor, while preserving the free-market mechanism. In addition, it would also discourage lazy people who live on social welfare.

    爭 取 最 低 工 資

    我 一 向 反 對 政 府 插 手 干 預 勞 工 市 場 、 實 行 法 定 最 低 工 資 。 我 當 過 月 入 港 幣 六 十 元 的 童 工 。 那 個 時 候 要 是 有 了 法 定 最 低 工 資 , 哪 怕 法 定 水 平 是 月 薪 一 百 元 吧 , 誰 會 花 多 四 十 元 僱 用 我 這 個 不 懂 事 的 十 二 歲 小 孩 ? 找 不 到 工 作 餬 口 , 要 不 是 餓 死 街 頭 , 我 便 大 有 可 能 鋌 而 走 險 、 作 奸 犯 科 了 。
    黎 智 英

    我 安 然 避 過 了 這 兩 個 悲 慘 的 下 場 , 因 為 我 有 幸 當 了 童 工 。 雖 然 工 資 低 微 , 更 要 每 天 工 作 上 十 多 小 時 , 但 有 兩 餐 飽 飯 而 夜 有 一 宿 , 已 夠 我 感 恩 不 已 了 。
    更 令 我 慶 幸 的 , 是 從 工 作 中 學 到 了 做 人 做 事 的 道 理 , 人 生 得 以 有 個 正 確 的 開 始 , 不 致 墮 落 於 社 會 邊 緣 之 外 , 被 罪 惡 黑 暗 吞 噬 。 要 認 識 事 物 , 又 有 甚 麼 比 親 身 經 歷 來 得 更 為 深 切 ? 每 當 有 人 主 張 設 立 法 定 最 低 工 資 , 我 便 不 期 然 想 起 當 年 可 能 墮 入 的 陷 阱 而 不 寒 而 慄 。
    我 當 童 工 到 如 今 已 過 了 幾 十 個 寒 暑 , 其 間 香 港 從 一 個 難 民 避 難 所 搖 身 一 變 成 為 世 界 大 都 會 , 而 整 個 世 界 也 從 工 業 時 代 邁 入 資 訊 時 代 。 今 日 的 香 港 是 個 富 裕 的 社 會 , 而 知 識 則 是 全 世 界 最 重 要 的 生 產 資 源 。 富 裕 的 香 港 應 否 正 視 、 同 情 社 會 最 低 下 層 的 苦 況 , 有 所 承 擔 ? 資 訊 社 會 貧 富 日 益 懸 殊 , 我 們 又 應 否 重 新 檢 討 勞 工 政 策 以 為 應 對 ?
    資 訊 科 技 帶 來 了 空 前 的 經 濟 繁 榮 和 科 學 進 步 , 讓 大 部 份 生 活 在 先 進 社 會 的 人 享 有 前 所 未 有 的 物 質 條 件 。 與 此 同 時 , 另 一 些 人 ─ ─ 哪 怕 只 是 一 小 撮 人 ─ ─ 卻 被 扔 進 可 恥 的 窮 困 中 。 從 資 本 主 義 社 會 的 效 率 出 發 , 這 兩 極 分 化 或 許 可 以 自 圓 其 說 , 有 其 合 理 性 的 地 方 ; 可 是 從 道 德 的 角 度 看 來 , 那 不 是 太 冷 血 、 太 不 近 人 情 了 嗎 ? 對 我 們 這 些 熱 愛 自 由 、 擁 護 自 由 市 場 的 人 來 說 , 又 豈 能 讓 財 富 的 兩 極 走 向 令 資 本 主 義 的 光 環 蒙 羞 ? 我 們 必 須 向 那 些 被 壓 在 社 會 最 低 下 層 的 人 伸 出 援 手 。
    無 可 否 認 , 受 過 育 的 人 , 較 易 適 應 瞬 息 萬 變 的 知 識 , 因 而 是 資 訊 社 會 的 主 要 得 益 者 。 相 較 之 下 , 育 程 度 低 的 人 則 難 於 適 應 資 訊 變 化 , 是 給 資 訊 社 會 遺 忘 的 一 群 。 物 競 天 擇 , 這 兩 群 人 的 貧 富 差 距 便 愈 來 愈 懸 殊 了 。

    市 場 無 窮 的 動 力 來 自 哪 ? 依 我 看 , 那 主 要 是 來 自 川 流 不 息 的 新 知 識 推 動 的 創 新 ( innovation ) 。 大 量 資 訊 的 加 速 流 通 令 投 資 機 會 來 得 更 透 明 , 讓 全 球 資 金 更 容 易 找 到 投 資 對 象 , 從 而 加 快 市 場 的 創 新 發 展 。 此 外 , 資 訊 科 技 促 成 的 全 球 經 濟 一 體 化 亦 大 大 擴 張 了 產 品 的 市 場 , 進 而 提 高 企 業 家 ( entrepreneur ) 創 新 的 批 量 效 益 , 這 非 但 令 創 新 能 更 快 地 因 應 市 場 需 求 , 創 新 嘗 試 亦 來 得 更 易 成 功 , 從 而 賺 取 更 高 的 回 報 。
    海 耶 克 ( Friedrich von Hayek 1899-1992 ) 說 , 市 場 競 爭 是 個 發 現 新 知 識 、 創 造 新 事 物 的 過 程 。 知 識 瞬 息 萬 變 , 推 動 了 前 所 未 有 的 競 爭 , 而 競 爭 又 倒 過 頭 來 幫 我 們 發 現 前 所 未 有 的 新 知 識 。 這 個 良 性 循 環 給 今 日 的 資 本 主 義 社 會 帶 來 了 前 所 未 有 活 動 力 ( dynamism ) , 更 同 時 加 速 事 物 新 陳 代 謝 的 步 伐 。 後 果 之 一 , 是 受 育 少 的 人 愈 來 愈 難 適 應 經 濟 步 伐 , 但 受 育 多 的 人 卻 可 以 從 強 勁 的 經 濟 活 動 中 找 到 愈 來 愈 多 的 機 會 , 因 而 令 貧 富 差 距 愈 益 懸 殊 。
    康 德 ( Immanuel Kant 1724-1804 ) 說 : 「 妒 忌 是 人 性 罪 孽 ( envy is the vice of mankind ) 」 。 社 會 最 低 下 層 的 人 被 資 訊 繁 榮 遺 忘 , 不 想 辦 法 加 以 照 顧 , 他 們 對 財 富 的 妒 忌 必 然 導 致 社 會 動 盪 , 以 致 繁 榮 不 保 。 事 實 上 不 管 資 本 主 義 制 度 帶 來 如 何 大 的 經 濟 效 益 , 要 是 這 個 制 度 同 時 帶 來 極 度 的 貧 富 懸 殊 , 朱 門 酒 肉 臭 , 路 有 凍 死 骨 , 那 又 怎 能 不 令 人 懷 疑 這 個 制 度 的 道 德 價 值 ? 我 們 該 怎 樣 協 助 那 些 被 資 訊 社 會 淘 汰 的 弱 勢 一 群 ?

    就 讓 我 們 利 用 法 定 最 低 工 資 吧 ! 如 何 利 用 ? 首 先 , 我 們 萬 萬 不 能 令 弱 勢 的 一 群 因 為 工 資 給 人 為 地 提 高 了 而 找 不 到 工 作 。 當 中 的 道 理 簡 單 不 過 : 要 是 他 們 工 作 產 生 的 效 益 低 於 法 定 最 低 工 資 , 那 又 豈 非 形 同 叫 僱 主 以 機 器 或 其 他 方 法 代 替 勞 工 ? 如 斯 一 來 , 透 過 法 定 最 低 工 資 提 攜 弱 勢 一 群 的 好 意 不 是 反 而 成 了 導 致 他 們 失 業 、 損 害 他 們 利 益 的 邪 惡 ?
    對 弱 勢 的 一 群 而 言 , 工 作 是 重 要 的 。 透 過 工 作 , 他 們 非 但 得 到 技 術 訓 練 , 工 作 環 境 更 會 鍛 鍊 他 們 的 修 養 , 讓 他 們 從 同 事 、 上 司 的 身 上 學 到 知 識 、 手 藝 和 生 活 常 識 。 這 固 然 有 助 於 培 養 他 們 的 性 格 , 更 可 以 幫 助 他 們 適 應 資 訊 社 會 。 更 重 要 的 是 , 有 工 作 他 們 便 可 以 參 與 社 會 、 組 織 家 庭 、 養 育 兒 女 、 樹 立 榜 樣 , 實 現 他 們 的 自 我 存 在 價 值 。
    以 我 們 今 日 進 步 繁 榮 的 物 質 水 平 , 我 們 非 但 義 不 容 辭 , 更 責 無 旁 貸 , 替 社 會 最 低 下 層 的 人 提 供 基 本 而 有 尊 嚴 的 生 活 條 件 , 讓 他 們 擁 有 工 作 、 參 與 社 會 。 要 達 致 這 兩 個 目 的 , 我 們 務 必 要 將 市 場 的 運 作 和 社 會 責 任 分 開 , 以 免 在 履 行 社 會 責 任 的 同 時 , 破 壞 市 場 運 作 。
    若 然 制 訂 最 低 工 資 法 例 等 同 強 制 改 變 自 由 市 場 的 運 作 、 迫 使 僱 主 付 出 高 於 市 場 願 意 承 擔 的 工 資 , 那 麼 這 樣 的 法 定 最 低 工 資 一 定 會 失 敗 , 而 以 這 個 水 平 的 工 資 受 聘 的 勞 工 亦 一 定 被 市 場 歧 視 , 失 掉 工 作 的 尊 嚴 。 妥 善 的 法 定 最 低 工 資 一 定 不 能 走 上 這 樣 的 末 路 。 同 樣 , 法 定 最 低 工 資 更 不 能 是 為 了 博 取 掌 聲 的 政 治 口 號 , 而 是 確 實 可 以 協 助 弱 勢 的 一 群 找 到 工 作 、 得 到 體 面 的 生 活 條 件 。

    要 達 到 這 些 目 的 , 我 們 只 能 在 市 場 體 制 以 外 建 立 法 定 最 低 工 資 。 是 的 , 我 們 不 能 讓 有 工 作 的 人 的 收 入 少 於 法 定 最 低 工 資 的 水 平 , 我 們 更 不 能 讓 他 們 在 工 作 上 受 到 歧 視 。 我 們 要 讓 他 們 有 找 工 作 的 自 由 、 讓 市 場 機 制 釐 定 他 們 的 工 資 , 更 同 時 保 障 他 們 得 到 最 起 碼 水 平 的 收 入 。
    例 如 , 一 個 人 工 作 月 入 四 千 元 , 而 法 定 最 低 工 資 是 月 入 六 千 元 , 那 麼 只 要 有 工 作 , 他 便 可 以 向 政 府 申 請 二 千 元 補 貼 , 把 收 入 提 高 到 最 低 的 法 定 水 平 。 這 樣 做 他 既 有 工 作 , 又 有 得 體 的 生 活 條 件 。 這 個 方 法 類 似 佛 利 民 ( Milton Friedman 1912- ) 提 倡 的 「 負 薪 俸 稅 ( negative income tax ) 」 , 弱 勢 的 一 群 可 以 得 到 工 作 帶 來 的 好 處 和 收 入 , 非 但 不 用 交 稅 , 反 而 得 到 補 助 , 是 個 兩 全 其 美 的 做 法 。