Thursday, September 12, 2013

Moon-cake or prunes - part 2 (GDP)

No doubt eating the prunes is better for my health than eating the moon-cake.  It should, in the long run, improve my well-being.  However, from the point of view of the commonly accepted measurement of the standard of living - the gross domestic product per capita - it makes no difference whether I eat the moon-cake or the prunes, because they cost the same.

Actually, it is well known that the GDP is not a very good measure of well-being.  Unfortunately it is the commonly-accepted measure and favoured by finance people, the people in power.

The GDP per capita in Hong Kong is said to be US$36,796 in 2012.  It translates into HK$287,009 per year, and HK$23,917 per month.  I know for a fact that most fresh university graduates in HK are lucky if they can earn HK$13,000 per month, and the majority of Hong Kong workers do not even have a university degree.  The median household income is said to be HK$22,000, with an average household size of 2.9.  The median monthly income for men is HK$13,000, and for women, it is lower.   Hence it is clear the GDP lies again.  The real income of the majority of the people in Hong Kong is much much lower.

The people in power, holding all the real money, is doing a very good job in deceiving the rest of us.  They have succeeded in making us feel rich, with artificially high GDP numbers, big real estate bubbles that we eagerly feed into, and high prices for junk food that we gobble up greedily.  What is so rich about working inhumanely-long hours, living in spaces more cramped than mainland China, Indonesia and even Rwanda, and eating high-priced but unhealthy junk food?  Why do we still not wake up?


YTSL said...

Before I moved to Hong Kong, I thought Hong Kong had a lot of middle class people. Now my sense is that even if that were so, Hong Kong has a lot more lower middle (and middle middle) income folks than upper middle income ones -- with my reckoning being backed up by finding out facts such as the majority of Hong Kongers not making enough money to propel them into the territory's income tax paying bracket.

In view of this, I find the amount that the government officials, etc. make to border on the obscene. At the very least, it should come down to a level closer to regular people so that they are able to experience and thus understand the concerns of regular folks.

StephenC said...

You are quite right. Our government officials are making more than officials in much bigger countries, with much bigger responsibilities and capabilities.

On the other hand, many of them came from the lower classes. However, once they reach those exalted position, they forget all about their previous lives.