Wednesday, March 13, 2013

what we lose when we ban street trading

It takes a keen observer in a highly developed city--Hong Kong--to recognize what we lose when we ban street trading.
  • First money quote: "In our drive for modernity, wealth and cleanliness, we have rid our city of character and individuality." 
  • Second money quote: "The economic benefits were taken away from free-wheeling hawkers and have accrued to rent-seeking landlords and developers, and shopping chains." 
  • Third money quote: "It is up to the government to promote and encourage a hawker business for the 21st century."

Admittedly, this seems somewhat contradictory -- that government should promote and encourage businesses that often flout government controls, that government should stop making policy to aid  the wealthy.

I would revise the thought this way: it is up to us to demand that government and the landlords get out of the way so we can work with hawkers to promote and encourage their businesses for the 21st century.

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