ASIA—I said it three years ago. New York’s entrepreneurial spirit is in Hong Kong… and lo! The results are starting to show.
It’s not being British or American or Spanish or French or Chinese that makes one prosperous—it’s one’s commitment to freedom and justice. But what is freedom and what is justice?
Freedom means freedom from central panning… whether it’s central planning from big government or central planning from big business or central brainwashing from teachers and parents who bark rather than mentor. Justice means being honest about what really matters—how we answer the question: What’s more important… schooling or mentored experience?
In 1997, when Hong Kong left the British crown and was taken over by China, according to the 100 year lease already in place, the West miscalculated. In our spite for Chinese labor taking our jobs, and our disdain for Communism, we in the West assumed that Hong Kong would fail under China. Actually, as Americans, we should have said, “Leaving the tyranny of Britain is always a good thing. America did it. Now Hong Kong will have the same prosperity.” That idea proved correct. Wish I’d have said it when I was seventeen.
Hong Kong’s prosperity reminds us of what it means to be American: Independence, freedom in politics, speech, and the markets. Beijing kept the Hong Kong markets and laws free. Peacefully, people assemble to petition for redress of grievances without reprisal from Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region—SAR government. I still remember a Hong Kong policeman who said to me, “Look at this great city!” to which I replied, “It’s amazing what a slight change in the law can do.”
Hong Kong is not without it’s problems. They implemented a minimum wage over a year ago. Most everyone is stressed to the limit. Their Asian culture is fleeing as the cultures of “constant self-improvement” and “pop media-influenced immorality” are taking over. Professionalism of employment rather than professionalism of entrepreneurialism is already capping their growth, along with the fact that Hong Kong is running out of land—it’s a small cluster of tropical lands with seven million people.
Fifteen years ago, the [hideous, in my opinion] HSBC building, not far from where the Dark Knight, Batman, kidnapped a Mob Banker, was the tallest building. But now, it can hardly be noticed in the skyline. Kowloon didn’t have a sewer, now it’s real estate goes for over $3,000USD per square foot. Hong Kong still grows, but that growth is slowing because it’s more “shiny” than “construction-dusty”.
As the world wonders where to go next, just remember you also heard it right here: Hong Kong is the new New York—Taiwan is the new Hong Kong. Several times larger, more plentiful, and one step more distant from Beijing’s grip, Taiwan’s growth spurt will stretch at least thirty years.
How do I know to predict these things? It’s easy. How does a farmer know which trees produce apples and which trees produce oranges? How do we know that winter is probably white and spring brings mosquitoes? I know the basics of prosperity: A thriving society requires 1. laws that liberate smaller, newer businesses and 2. the mentality that in-field experience and actual results are more important than higher education and certification. Those two issues define the battle between central-planned tyranny and a thriving society. Unfortunately, America is rediscovering the first principal—about laws that liberate small people—and America is still in denial about the second principal—that results weigh more than certificates.
…and they ask why I live in Asia!? I’ll sell and return to America—when Taiwan becomes shiny and less construction-dusty, and when America learns that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, judges us by our fruits and not by our sheepskins.