2008-09-09

Samak (沙瑪)

泰國是我在亞洲的第二個家。曾經在那裏工作、生活、遊玩,結識了一大班朋友,和我的朋友一樣崇敬泰皇,甚至曾學懂讀寫泰文。時至今日,仍有香港的朋友在那邊置業結婚生兒女,也有泰國的朋友在香港就業定居談戀愛,所以,儘管我不喜歡談政治,我還是忍不住要寫兩句。

泰國勝在有極有智慧與極親民的立憲泰皇拉瑪五世 (即貌似孫中山的那位朱拉隆功王) 與現在的九世蒲美蓬王,為泰國帶來長年的穩定與團結。可惜在他們將權力讓與人民之後,民主制度卻特顯了社會的矛盾:就是有財富與知識的,是少數;貧窮又缺乏教育的,是多數;再加上教育度越低、生育率越高定律下,讓大多數人話事的「直選制度」,便變相讓農民話事。總理他信 (Thaksin Shinawatra) 便是看準了這點,大派金錢賄賂無知的農民,所以極受支持。據我的泰國朋友說,他甚至用公帑送手機給農民,收買選票,再透過自己家族的電訊公司謀私利,一舉兩得。

現在在總理府門外示威的「人民民主聯盟」,便是反對這種讓未受教育的低下階層實現「多數人的暴政」(Tyranny of Majority),希望不同階層有相同的票數,而不是讓「一人一票」的方式按人口比例地分配權力。人民民主聯盟爭取的,正是本港泛民派極為反對的「間接選舉」或「功能組別選舉」,並要求直選產生的總理沙瑪 (Samak Sundaravej) 下台。

我不是反對「一人一票」的民主,但我覺得這樣純粹的民主,要配合全民的教育與有質素的傳媒。舉個例,如果整個社會大都是藍領工人,對經濟學無認識,並只對自己的的利益有興趣,則自然會支持一些好像「最低工資」的政策。在今屆立選的電視辯論會上,新界西有一位老師參選,名叫阮偉忠。當各候選人不斷攪煽情,都說自己一早便支持「最低工資」時,阮偉忠口窒窒手震震地講出全場最有見地的說法,便是「最低工資」會導致更高失業率,最後大家都飯碗不保;所以政府應該釜底抽薪,用減低領匯租金等方法,吸收營運成本,才能增加就業。這樣有見識,難怪輸掉。只有在新加坡這種極權國家,才真的能推行阮偉忠所講的方法。支持「最低工資」,實在等於他信送手機一樣,是賄賂選民的行為。

所幸香港的教育還算普及,香港人亦比較理性。若中國大陸要搞「一人一票」的民主,恐怕要再等幾代,走完長長的普及教育路,才能再講。泰國還有泰皇,中國一亂便是又一個百年的生靈塗炭了。

早些時,我才在 Orangutan 兄那邊留言,半說笑地提出民主制度正正支持了進化論:一個物種繁殖得越成功,便越能支配其生態。然而,就算自詡民主衛士的美國,其實都不是「一人一票」的。

說回泰國,真正驅使我寫下這些的,是昨晚的新聞。真估不到死不認輸的總理沙瑪,最後會因為上電視教人煮青咖哩鴨而違憲,簡直充分發揮出泰國人極其幽默的性格。我不知道你的反應,我當時幾乎立即笑到噴飯!




事有湊巧,我最近又「不小心」重看了《萬歷十五年》。事關我忘了我已看過,以為曾經中途停了,所以又再重看一遍。《萬歷十五年》實在是一本短小精悍的好書。裏面正正提出了國家大多數是愚民的後果:就是一定要用中央集權,以及接近宗教信條的道德規範來管治。民主?簡直是天方夜談!

6 則留言:

道士 說...

落台在一煲咖喱之上﹐實在很諷刺。

民主﹐也只是認為自己會得利得益的那一群才叫得最響罷。很久之前﹐民主就只淪為另一種達不到的烏托邦﹐和馬克司那人人安居樂業的理想無不一樣。

可能說﹐教育是唯一出路﹐但是教誰的教育? 而覺學習也為資質早定﹐社會的瘋狂﹐恐怕只是不能避免的延續。好的血統遺傳得少﹐壞的卻激增以倍﹐突然 right of the first night 也好像變得有點道理。最近看了幾篇說遺傳瓶頸﹐實在想不到也不敢想後世會如何﹐或從來就不該想得那麼多。

匿名 說...

I thought there is education for everyone in HK nowadays. What sort of "degree" do you propose a person to achieve before you allow a person to cast a vote? And what’s problem with bribing the voters? The whole democracy is to setup a system that leaders have to suck up the voters instead of ripping them off. To get elected, the candidate has to please the voters and this is the time when the leaders have to do what the voters ask for. May be it is a short term benefit, but fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Orangutan 說...

狂人兄:對最低工資,我有點不同的意見。我認為最低工資對保障低下層,是有一定作用的。

以美國為例,有些州的最低工資只得五元多,實在不夠維持生活。無疑,最低工資會增加成本,削弱競爭力。但我覺得右派是誇大了最低工資對整體經濟的負面影響。因為,低收入人士不會蓄起多賺的那一元幾角;他們會立刻把收入消費掉,在社會中繼續 multiply 下去。

在一個完美的市場,工資自由浮動,自然會找到平衡點。但勞工市場不是完美的,工人也不能隨時改變技能。收入微薄不足糊口,卻是迫切的社會問題,受苦的是家庭和小孩。最低工資可說是個折衷的,沒辦法中的辦法。

至於政客以最低工資來騙選票,那是另一回事了。我同意你說的民主基礎。社會一定要有一個強大,能獨立思考的中層階層,一人一票才會成功。中國還要走一段很長的路。

另外,美國行的是一人一票,只不過你的一票可能比我的一票重要。但是選舉人票這個古怪的制度,是有其歷史背景,也有一定的存在價值。

美國行的是總統制,總統和國會選舉不相關,不像英國般,在國會取得多數議席的黨領便是首相。美國立國時,是十三個各自獨立的殖民區聯合起來的聯邦,各州之間互不信任,根本沒可能實行簡單大多數制。

美國幅員廣闊,如果靠簡單大多數票選出總統,政黨只會注意人口集中的城市。人口稀少的州份便會被忽略。

狂人 - Paul Sin 說...

Orangutan 兄:

謝謝你為大家介紹美國的制度!我同意「最低工資」不會減低資金流動,但我認為在《世界是平的》的前提下,會做成職位流失,並提高創業者的門檻。

我不是不知民間疾苦,大言「何不食肉糜」之輩;只是如果可以選擇,我會選擇政府從稅收中提供安全網,實行社會主義,再釜底抽薪,減租減稅,刺激經濟,從而增加稅收 (是有點詭異,減稅反而增加稅收,但這便像投資一樣)。這樣的經濟,才算「活」的經濟。

生活的最低保障是一種 Public Goods,好像社會福利等安全網,政府不能推卸給中小企投資者。留意是「中小企投資者」,並不是大財團。大財團根本不關心有沒有最低工資。

小弟任職大機構多年,好肯定最低工資對真正有錢的大機構是毫無影響的。且看高盛 (Goldman Sachs) 出三十個月花紅給掃地阿嬸,便知他們的機構內的「最低工資」並不真的低。因為只要薪金一上漲,大機構便將工作外包。「最低工資」越高,則越多工作外包或自動化,結果越來越少職位,甚至整個亞洲合併成一個辦公室,再整個團隊從香港搬到新加坡。我便親身經歷過很多次。

如果我是沒良心的資方,我更支持「最低工資」,讓我在管理階層更容易 Justify 這些外包項目,更容易為自動化做 Cost-Benefit Analysis。小弟的工資嘛,便是來自這兩種「陰質」項目的成果。

作為大財團,他們在工資上一向一擲千金。長和的高層有錢過很多老闆。問題是他們只付錢給有特殊知識或技能的人。所以如果政府真的要大家生活水平提升,又回到另一種 Public Goods:教育。

也許我想法太天真、太現實,早說過我不懂政治,不識左是右非,只不過有幸靠近高層,比較容易看到經濟上的後果。

狂人字

匿名 說...

Dear 狂人,
I believe in your principle. Arguments will never be perfect and it is not because the oratory’s lack of knowledge but language itself is incomplete. Additionally, almost everything in this world has exceptions, probably except tax and death. So please do not feel bad if my argument is headon. Personally I am totally impressed by your knowledge and wisdom and also you patient and lenient of tolerating different ideas. You make me remember the great thinker Wittgenstein as “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”.

Contrary to your belief, I support minimum wages. It is not logical to solely hold minimum wages responsible for potential decrease the job vacancy. Hong Kong has no minimum wages, but indeed organizations, big, medium and small have cut jobs in Hong Kong and move to cheaper places. It is happening as you testified. And it is simply because no matter how low wages the employees are going to accepted, there are be lower somewhere else.

The public good, safety net together with “no minimum wages” are self defeating public policy. For example, if there is no minimum wage, the employer offers me some wages, say $50 a day. I then have a choice to work or stay at home and take $20 a day of. social benefit. It is not economical for me to spend $20 on MTR and then $10 lunch to get my ass out and offer for humiliation. Would it be better to be humiliated comfortable at home with $20.

Employers then either transfer the job overseas, which they cannot because if they can, they have already done it. Another option is to increase wages to an attractive level. Preferably, they import cheap labour to maintain the low wages, just as many Philippine household assistants. Under the policy of safety net and no minimum wages, the consequent will be less HK people get employed anyway.

Hong Kong is more expensive than Singapore for running a business. You can send an email to Mr Rowse, he definitely can tell you more. People come to HK because it is cheap. As Mike preaches many times, it is the location and the quality of service. For quality, you need to have enough people. India call centre is probably not a good option, It is better to have some help desk on site support.

So, there are jobs that cannot be transferred or reduced or automated in order maintain a proper service. There is a need at least one security, one cleaner, one chef, etc. There are jobs that is impossible to cut.

If there is a minimum wage set, where is the money come from? Probably the clients by increasing the price for goods or services. In order to stay in a competing edge, there is really not much for a movement. So those people get paid cut are really the management, people of middle income earners and even high income earners, those leaders. The side effect is a decrease in income difference between different levels of workers. This is probably too good for general public but not the privilege classes.

Pardon me on my observation of「活」的經濟. Decrease tax will increase business activities, and increase government income. Will there be any side effect called inflation? Too much money on investment will increase the share values, and attract more investments and for a while there will be a small adjustments leading to a burst. If the tax is already very low when the market burst, what else can the government do? 「活」的經濟 is not just about low tax.

There is not much long term benefit without a minimum wages, of course, unless that minimum is ridiculously high. It is then a matter of setting the level of min wages. It is difficult to strike a right balance. Since it is difficult, therefore it is not worth to do it and let the market do the take the control. This is not an attitude for achieving a long term benefit. For long term, it is better to seek for a good formula and policy to set the minimum wages to a sustainable level.

Those outsourcing to India, China, and dropping service quality, and then in-sourcing again, sacking long term employees, putting people in short contracts, etc are jokes from the consequent of the higher “public goods”. What’s happen in last 30 years of no minimum wages – jobs keep on disappearing, companies keep on outsources, wages keeps on dropping. Yeah right if there is minimum wages, there will be not jobs available in Hong Kong. And people promising a min wages are bribing voters. Threatening and tagging people are easier than putting out a logical argument. Let go back to cultural revolution, and labels our enemies.

狂人 - Paul Sin 說...

忽然覺得,要能寫出以上回應的,才能在今天的社會參選,就如 Orangutan 兄筆下的共和黨人一樣。

這亦讓我想起我跟學生談畢業論文時,解釋為什麼不能「證明」Null Hypothesis 時的例子:你昨晚吃了半碗飯,卻吃不飽,結論是吃飯是不飽肚的。

你說多可惜,他們讀了這麼多書,卻從來沒有受過這種思考的訓練。

狂人字