With Trump signing a record $1.3 trillion spending bill, of which $700 billion is set to go to the military, average Americans are wondering if they will each get some cash, or at least an army tank, from the government. And, if they were resident of Hong Kong instead of the US today, the answer would be yes (to the cash that is, not the tank), as the local government is literally making money rain.
Today, more than 2.8 million Hong-Kongers who did not benefit from this year’s budget will receive a cash handout of HK$4,000 (US$510) each from the government, following intense public and political pressure on Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po to further share the bumper HK$138 billion surplus announced in last month’s budget, the SCMP reported . And faced with demands to do more for the needy, the government decided to fork out an extra HK$11 billion in handouts.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the new scheme shows the government’s goal of caring for the community. “[We are] trying to cover more people who may not directly benefit from the budget,” he said at a press conference on Friday. What he meant is that his is just another way to short-circuit conventional economics and directly bribe the population.
Asked by reporters, Chan said he would not promise that there will be similar handouts in the future. Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said he could not give an exact date when residents could receive the benefits, but said he hoped it will happen before the next budget is issued.
Predictably, handing out cash to some but not others leads to anger, and Chan in his financial blueprint – the first by the government of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor – dished out a combination of salary and profits tax rebates and increased old age and disability allowances for at least two million Hongkongers. The 2018 budget was criticised by many, including lawmakers from both camps, for neglecting specific groups, in particular low-income people who pay no taxes, do not own property and do not receive government benefits.
Asked if the new measure was made after receiving pressure from both camps, Chan responded that he said he would look into further measures two days after the budget was issued.
“[W]e mainly heard the voices in society, and we reflected calmly after listening to these voices and opinions. We agreed that the budget’s caring and sharing component could provide wider coverage,” he said.
Democratic Party lawmaker James To said he welcomed the new measure (duh): “We do not want the government to give cash handouts every year, but the original budget was unfair,” he said. “The Financial Secretary has to think about not giving land rates rebate to big corporations.”
What he meant is that he wants the government to give cash handouts every year.
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According to a poll conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion program one to two days after the budget announcement, the 500 people surveyed gave the budget 42.8 marks out of 100, meaning satisfaction with the government’s financial strategy plunged to a seven-year low.
Which explains the highly popular cash handout.
However the money is distributed today, Hong Kong has now set a very dangerous precedent, one where the government literally has to hand out cash to quell public anger. Call it pork for the people, which is great as long as government funding is cheap and ample - like in the case of the US and its $1.3 trillion porkulus package - however one the money dries out, such "universal cash handouts" just happen to be the fastest road to a revolution by a suddenly disgruntled "free shit" army.