Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Some General Information

I received a rather strident, but not unexpected comment from someone regarding a previous post on the problematic behavior of domestic helper picnics on the sidewalks in Hong Kong. It started with the rather predictable. "These women are treated like slaves"

Two words: B.S.

They are not slaves. Nobody forced them onto a slave ship. They were not "Sold" at a market and they can quit any time they want. At the end of a two year contract the employer has to pay their way back home. They often quit in the middle of a contract and either return to where they came from or find another employer in Hong Kong. They have garanteed days off and holidays. None of those things are rights that slaves have.

More than that, domestic helpers are not particularly low paid by Hong Kong standards.

Domestic helpers in Hong Kong have a higher actual salary, when you include their benefits and more days off than many of the locals in Hong Kong.

The commentor says "I don't believe that!" Well let us add it up: Domestic Helpers make about $3500 Hong Kong dollars a month in basic salary. All of that is disposable income because they are provided room and board and you have to look at the cost of that as well in figuring their salary. How much is that worth? Well a small room with a shared bathroom and some kitchen privileges in Causeway Bay is about $2500 a month. Figure that food cost the average low wage earner in Hong Kong about $50.00 a day assuming they do not eat out. Maids have to have an insurance policy provided for them by the employer; which cost about $500.00 a month. They are provided airfare home once a year which must be figured into their income. When all of this is put into the total, a maid in Hong Kong actually has a life style closer to a local person making about $8000.00 a month. They don't work more hours than many other professions like security guards or those in food-service or hotels, indeed even most rather high-dollar jobs here require lots of hours. So, let us assume a maid is on duty 12 hours a day, six days a week. That comes to 72 hours a week and 288 hours a month or about the average for a job in Hong Kong. $8000 a month divided by 288 is about 28 dollars an hour. Lots of people in Hong Kong do not make that much. Please notice, my wife and I looked at hiring a maid and this is how I know these figures.

Now are some, possible a high percentage of the maids done hard by their employers? Yes, certainly. Does that mean that all employers treat them poorly? No, it doesn't.

However, whether the domestic helpers are treated badly by their employers our not is irrelevant to my point. They maids I complained about were having a picnic on a pedestrian bridge that was over a busy street. The police will not let pedestrians block that bridge for other purposes, we can they? If it is a traffic hazard for the normal population to do this then it is a traffic hazard for domestic helpers to do so as well. Their working conditions have nothing to do with it.

If the other low income workers in Hong Kong cannot picnic on the sidewalk then the domestic helpers should not be allowed to either. I would bet that the person making the comment drives a car, and thus does not have to walk over the maids.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger without a maid

Would that it were so here

This is a message that the HK government needs to hear as well.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dogs in Space

Did they have melamine in the milk powder?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who does not eat dogs

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Move over Nancy!

I have a new favorite female offender, Leung Sin-ting. I have some sympathy for her in a sense though not very much. She was, I think totally and certifiably nuts but I am not sure that nuttiness should exonerate her of this crime.

What is interesting to me about the horrific crime is the role that culture (Notice I didn't say society) plays in mental illness? If this woman had lived in a culture where a married woman who has problems conceiving a child receives a bit of sympathy rather than being scorned by her inlaws and where adoption is considered a noble option would she have felt pressured to do this? 

While having some sympathy for this woman I am still angered by the fact that it appears in Hong Kong a "Guilty Plea" almost always receives a reduced sentence. Suppose this woman had actually been innocent but through a bad lawyer, lazy judge or poor police work been wrongfully found guilty? Suppose she had pleaded innocent because she was innocent and been found guilty by mistake? The judge would have given her far more jail time. That means the justice system here is actually unjust because it penalized plaintiff that plead "Not Guilty" assuming, I guess that they are liars. It just bothers me but then what should I expect from a legal system patterned off a country with no "Bill of Rights" and not written constitution that limits the scope and power of government?

I could write more but it would be politically incorrect.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who hopes he never has to go before a judge in Hong Kong

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Rule of Law and Domestic Helpers

My wife and I spent time on the telephone with the Hong Kong police today. My tolerance with the passive-aggressive herds of domestic helper buffaloes that are allowed to flagrantly disobey the loitering laws; sell merchandise in direct violation of their employment contracts; block sidewalks and generally make life Hell for the residents of Causeway Bay every Sunday reached a breaking point when a group of them had a the pedestrian footbridge near the Rosedale Hotel completely blocked at one end. There is no ground level crossing at this point and the bridge is over a very busy street.

The only thing that really makes me angrier about this situation is the fact that so many local Hong Kongers put up with it. When the police officer came the shit-assed-coward of an officer refused to up hold the law and make them leave; despite the fact that this activity is a potential traffic hazard. Suppose one of these women had dropped a water bottle onto the road below that landed on an automobiles windshield? Suppose that caused a traffic accident and a child or pedestrian was killed?

So the police are more afraid of offending a group of domestic helpers than upholding the law? This is a blatant form of corruption in that the police are treating one group of citizen in an unequal manner before the law. Why are the maids allowed to break the law and I am not?I can guarantee the reader that If I had a picnic on that bridge with my kids on a weekday the police would ask me to pack up and leave.

The officer complained about being a low level person, with no authority, and nobody had complained about this before. He wouldn’t even ask them politely to leave or relocate but simply talked to them. The Hong Kong police are cowards. Criminals, commit your crimes brazenly and as long as they don’t affect the property developers or THBT’s lunch then you can be as criminal as you want to be with impunity because you now a full proof legal defense.

That defense is that if the police know that the law is being flagrantly and habitually broken by a large number of people and refuse to take steps to see that the law is actually enforced then they have lost the legal authority to enforce any part of the law; more than that they have lost any legal standing to stop otherwise law abiding citizens from taking the law into their own hands over this situation. 

Notice, this is very different from a unique event like a riot where some of the rioters get away. This is simply domestic helpers, in large numbers, breaking the law with impunity every Sunday and Holiday. Because a report was filed, illegal activity was observed as being illegal and noted but no action taken and indeed, it was clearly stated that no action will be taken, I as the citizen have no legal recourse but to take the law into my own hands. That does not mean I will but I legally could.

The actions of the police today in Causeway Bay have legally justified vigilantism against the women who break the law every Sunday.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who refuses to hire a maid

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Civility and Manners

The article linked to above is a good example of why kids should play sports. The unwritten rules in any sport are often as  important as the written ones. They also bleed over in a positive way into the rest of the players life and help to explain why geeks and over protected kids are often so rude. The unwritten rules help the player, child, student, adult internalize the concept of fair play, respect and graciousness. These are lessons that a strictly academic education is often woefully lacking in.

I see rather prominent educational initiatives both at the school I work at and in other international schools that deal with ethical education.  These often look to be rather simplistic and trite to me and deal with everything from running in halls to anti-bully programs. I don't see them as being all that effective.

You see the same problem, I believe in places like Thailand with the endless political protest, The Red-shirts and Yellow Shirts need to learn to wait for the next election. The HK leg-co and PCCCPXYZ!@#SARB or whatever that thing in the PRC is called needs to learn some respect for the opposition,

Maybe, schools simply need to require less math but more baseball.

Play Ball! Double Header anyone?

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who wanted to be a knuckleball pitcher when he was a teenager, just like Charlie Hough

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The case against a Capital Gains Tax

Hong Kong does not have a Capital Gains tax or a VAT tax. The lack of those two taxes, I believe go a long way towards explaining why Hong Kong is prosperous DESPITE the incompetent government officials.

Here is a good  overview of a Capital Gains tax and why it is a bad idea.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The blogger does not support a Capital Gains or VAT tax

Why I am enlarging my carbon foorprint

Robyn makes a wonderful point.

The rub for me is that the environmental movement majors in minors. How much pressure did the environmental movement in Hong Kong put on the government to force stores to stop using plastic bags? This despite the FACT that it was the environmental movement in the 1980's that forced stores to use plastic bags because they were more environmentally friendly than paper bags!

I bring this up today because CLP has a truck parked in the garage downstairs that has display inside the back detailing how environmentally friendly they are. This is the company that has absolutely NO as in zero, Nada, zilch filters on its smoke stakes to remove sulphur dioxide, carbon-monoxide or particulates. CLP and Hong Kong Electric are the largest polluters in Hong Kong.

Robyn is correct. the green movement isn't about saving the planet, it is about control. Government control of what I eat, where I live and my ability to voice dissent. That is a shame because there are certainly problems with pollution that need to be addressed and that could be solved. Unfortunately, they can't be solved by bowing down to the false green goddess Gaia.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who has a smaller carbon footprint than most people who actually believe in AGW

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Let's Name Some Things

The definitions below are my reply to a post by Morgan Freeberg's about definitions for various phenomenon:

1. Womynism: That branch of feminism that seeks to divide privilege from responsibility, so that all gender disparities having to do with privilege can be ended, but disparities dealing with responsibility can endure indefinitely.

2. Pan-Gaism: Those of any religious affiliation that seek to win converts through fear and threats, by linking random disasters to the vengeance of an angry, spurned God.

3. Idolatry: Excessive adoration for a public figure based not on the sensibilities of his ideas, or their likely success, but rather on the uneducated perception that he would be a close and dear friend if only his acquaintance could be made somehow.

4. Locutionism: Pronouncing oneself to be the champion of a debate after having deployed nothing but “zingers.”

5. Chamberlainism: The mistaken belief that war must be caused by those who show the temerity to acknowledge it is coming, or to respond to its arrival, or to prepare for its arrival, or to enlist for the purpose of responding to it.

6. Qualitative Research: Making horrible ideas look like possibly-good ideas, by socially stigmatizing their opposites.

7. Sustainable: When an awful idea of yours is put to a test, and fails, behaving as if history began the day after that test; conveniently forgetting about any & all occasions on which the idea has been exposed as a miserable failure.

8. Relativism: Insisting that secular people like you are just as moral as religious people, and then defining morality according to your own personal likes and dislikes — how else could it be done? — completely missing the irony.

9. Noblisobligism: The notion held by certain people “at the top” of a structure of money, power or prestige, that people beneath this level should be forced to cope with limits that don’t apply up there. Hypocrisy coupled-up with a sense of elitism.

10. Entitlementism: Angry people show off their anger. Say they’re angry because they don’t have stuff. The other people get them whatever it is they want. The angry people stay angry as if they were never given the stuff, even though they were.

Here are some new terms for Hong Kong
1. Peakism: The idea that those who live in high(er) dollar neighborhoods that were formerly reserved for the British overlords are somehow smarter than the average Hong Konger and deserve to rule, reign and lord over the rest of us simply because they live up there.
2. Polivolumism: The way that the interior size of flats is inflated by property developers in Hong Kong
3. Running-Dogism: Regina Ip's exercise program.
4. Deitism: The attitude displayed by Hong Kong Civil (un)Servants who clearly believe they are God Almighty or at least His favorite drinking buddy. 
5. Red Shirtism:  The policies of the DAB
6. Lookatmeiamaslutism: The real reason Christina Chan tries to stage protest that get her face on TV.
7. Helpliosity: The stated reason that legco members cannot accomplish anything
8. Parity: The wage scale that provides Hong Kong (un)Civil Servants with salaries and benefits equal to 6 to 8 times what they would make in the same job if it were not in the government and gives them lifetime employment regardless of how incompetent they are.
9. Dim-Sum: Grease, rice flour, chicken feet, tripe, parts of fish that are not normally eaten and some unidentifiable goo.
10. Legco: A dog and pony show

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who like things well defined