As noted by my libertarian writer friend Bretigne Shaffer, who lived in Hong Kong around the time of its transition back to rule by the mainland, the Hong Kong pro-democracy politicians, much as we’re all rooting for them, have been inclined to reproduce some of the same bad welfare-statist ideas we have over here.
Beijing, lacking our focus-group-checking and poll-taking aversion to economic reality (despite also obviously lacking our more-reliably property-based legal system), looked at how the major big-government Ponzi schemes were holding up over here (and indeed, one decade ago was about the time that people were starting to realize we’d need to privatize Social Security to keep it from bankrupting us, though we failed to follow through on the observation). Beijing said no.
There is something to be said for not having to cater to the ignorant masses. And lest we think politicians over here don’t cater — and can just monarchically do whatever they please — try talking to a Hill staffer whose congressperson boss did something unprincipled and just listen to them plead with real fear, “We had to do it — it was really popular back in our district!” Politicians’ role as “leaders” is overblown (as is their supposed stake in thoughtful right/left debates or even in the fate of their respective parties beyond their own districts), and the dastardly role of the commoners back home in creating our woes is often whitewashed.