Part of my job is reading juvenile literature. I’ve been reading the Tripod books by John Christopher the past few days and found them quite thought provoking in a number of ways. It is always interesting to be able to see the way that moral issues are handled in books for teen-agers; especially in what is left unsaid at times. It is also interesting to see how often I think people who review books, not just these books but most books completely miss the point.
Fiction is often a way for us to explore what might be and to clarify our moral and ethical horizons. It doesn’t have to do this and it is perfectly appropriate for it to simply entertain us but it often does so much more than entertain. The Tripod books do more than entertain.
The plot of these books is a pretty basic one. The Aliens from space land, they take over and a small band of humans manages to overthrow the alien oppressors despite what would appear to be insurmountable odds. Like many books of this type there rather huge gaping, holes in the plot and more than a few rather incredible coincidences needed to allow the good guys to win.
What sets these books apart for me and makes them a book I’d recommend to students is the discussion in the books of what it means to be human and what constitutes good and evil. The space alien bad guys in these books view themselves as morally superior good guys. On their own planet, in their own society, they don’t have crime, don’t have wars, they cannot lie and don’t have social problems like over population. They also don’t have art, humor, or friendship.
Yet, these same beings that live in peace with each other practice racial genocide on planets that they conquer. The vices they avoid with each other they inflict upon those weaker than they.
The idea of political elites that believe they have the right, or responsibility to force a population to do good always devolves into a tyranny that is upheld by force. Political elites resulting from education, wealth or heredity are, in effect, a “Might makes right” argument. The idea that government control is better than individual freedom is a particularly virulent and widespread form of this.
A particularly damning aspect of the Tripod books was how even after the mind control device had been turn off many of the people who had been "Capped" were unable to function normally. They still needed the protection of the tripods.
When governments win the support of the masses through the use of subsidies then they have just as effectively “capped” the population as the tripods ever could. The use of housing subsidies proposed by THBT and the HK government will simply mean that the government has moved from enslaving the poor to enslaving the middle class. Governments like to have a population dependent upon them because people who are dependant upon the government support the government even when it oppresses them. They have no choice. The rent to purchase scheme proposed by THBT will accomplish just that. It also does so without addressing the root cause the high cost of housing in Hong Kong; namely, the corrupt monopolistic practice of the property developers who actually control our government with the tacit approval of the Shoe-polish-hair-dye-brigade in Beijing.
So how should THBT have approached this problem?
Require developers to build on the land they buy. Right now they build the “luxury” flats and mothball the developments slated for more affordable housing. Simply tell them if you don’t have a building up in “Nth” number of months you must pay the equivalent of the rates (Property Tax) that the owners would pay.
Do not allow real estate agents to engage in price fixing of their fees.
Pass an anti-collusion law so that developers cannot collude with each other to keep prices high and quality low. This would also bring food prices down.
Require developers to advertise the actual internal size of the flats they sell with out adding part of the elevator lobby, bay-window and imaginary rooms.
To curb speculation place a 50% capital; gains tax on any property re-sold within 180 days
Limit sales of flats priced below 3 million dollars to people with valid Hong Kong residency
Until Next Time
The Blogger who thinks Hong Kong is looking and more like a bad Sci-Fi novel