I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised and fascinated by this trend. If it can happen in Hong Kong, bastion free market capitalism, it can happen anywhere -- except the U.S., of course. The "beacon of liberty" that is supposed to be America is
May 2, 2011

I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised and fascinated by this trend. If it can happen in Hong Kong, bastion free market capitalism, it can happen anywhere -- except the U.S., of course. The "beacon of liberty" that is supposed to be America is now all about cutting what little workers get, while Hong Kong is actually trying to bridge the wealth divide -- because they think it's a bad thing! Imagine that:

Hong Kong has introduced a minimum wage that is expected to benefit 270,000 low-paid workers, or around 10% of the working population. Workers will now earn a minimum of HK$28 ($3.60; £2.18) per hour.

The legislation was passed in response to public pressure to narrow the territory's wealth gap.

But the minimum wage has been resisted by the business community, who say it is too costly. Business leaders say small businesses will be forced to lay off staff.

Critics also say the legislation is a departure from Hong Kong's free-market roots.

With the exception of Singapore, most Asian countries now have a minimum wage or are considering one.

The move is expected to boost the pay of Hong Kong's legions of street sweepers, security guards and restaurant workers.

"The employers now cannot squeeze the lowest paid sectors of society," said Lee Cheuk-yan, head of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and a legislator.

Unions had campaigned for a minimum wage of HK$33 an hour and many workers say the wage increase will not cover rising living costs.

The government said it was forced to introduce the legislation after a voluntary minimum wage scheme in 2006 met with a tepid response from businesses.

What, you mean a rising tide didn't lift all boats? Entrepreneurs didn't want to share the wealth? Fancy that. At least in Singapore, they admit it.

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