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【Second Opinion】Mr. Xi and Demographics (Mark Simon)

蘋果日報 2018/12/20 08:00


Remember the old line,"demographics is destiny". Well, thanks to falling birth rates and the rapid economic growth brought on by free markets, demographics have become not only the driver of the workplace, but a powerful force for better government.
We have more jobs in developed nations and fewer people to fill those jobs. Flows of labor will not just move people from bad to good companies, but also from poorly governed and repressive countries to well managed and free nations. In doing so, nations that are not attractive to productive labor will suffer as people vote with their feet. They leave.
China and Russia suffer a brain drain as the talented flee repression, poverty, and violence. However even established democracies like France, Poland, and Spain, are seeing a migration of their most talented abroad. Not everyone is running away, most are actually marching towards what they see as a better life. Hong Kong is crawling with French escaping malaise and economic bleakness. Charles de Gaulle would weep if he met the young French waitress in Happy Valley who told me she saw no future in France.
Even in the United States, clown states such as New Jersey and Illinois, with their rent seeking government class, are seeing an exodus of their best and brightest. Governments need to learn that they too must compete for people. When labor is sought by other markets which offer more attractive living conditions and often more democracy, the less competitive governments will lose.
In the United States, Amazon picked its two new east coast headquarters, Queens and Northern Virginia with access to talent as the key factor. New Jersey offered incentives and financial support nearly double what was on offer by New York for the Queens' site according to CNBC. Deciding factor for Amazon was access to talent and a belief talent could be lured to both spots. (Interesting to note that with Queens location the attractiveness to Asian-Americans of Queens as well as a current large pool of Asian American tech workers figured strongly in their decision according to some Amazon folks I spoke with a couple of weeks back).
In Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore are chock a block full with incoming migrants and expats, while Taiwan and China are draining of talent. Taiwan is an economic graveyard with President Tsai hapless in making life better. In China, well, lets just say President Xi isn't making life easy. Results are same for both in terms of demographics, people leave.
China has incredible talent, but a sizeable portion of their best and brightest leave each year in search of the openness, security, and freedoms not allowed under the rule of the CCP. President Xi's ability to knock on your door in the middle of the night provides an excellent reason for many to depart China and take their labor to other markets.
It was this very premise, that people can leave, which reduced Xi's recent speech, at the 40th Reform Anniversary Event in Beijing, to no more than a Trumpian rant of the way he wants things done. Does Xi honestly think that the best and brightest of China are going to come back from abroad as he continues to remove freedoms. As companies run from China to SE Asia and even back to North America will the CCP be able to simply order those left behind to "compete"?
Demographics are destiny, but not just in how many people are born or die. Demographics today are about the power of the individual to change their own situation, and as the CCP might do well to understand, the situation of government.