When Bill Clinton was running for president in 1992 the US was in a severe recession. His political adviser James Carville coined (invented) the campaign slogan “It’s the economy, stupid”. Carville put a sign with the slogan in Clinton’s campaign office to remind workers they must make the failing economy the most important election issue. The slogan helped Clinton defeat President George H.W. Bush by blaming him for the recession. Bush was the father of George W. Bush who also become president after Clinton served two terms. Today I will coin a slogan for Hong Kong government officials who believe night bazaars will revive the weak economy.
The slogan is “It’s the nighttime economy, stupid.” Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, who suggested night bazaars, should put a sign with the slogan in his office. But can a night economy revive Hong Kong’s economy? I am skeptical. When I was a boy growing up in Hong Kong, I loved going to Tai Tat Tei at night in Sheung Wan. It had dai pai dongs, hawker carts, fortune tellers, and many other types of stalls. It was a true night bazaar, but the government shut it down for hygiene reasons. How will the government handle hygiene now that it wants to promote a night economy?
Government officials and politicians have suggested a mishmash of ideas, including impractical ideas such as shopping malls remaining open late and consumption vouchers for nighttime use only. Some malls have proposed free coupons during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The word “mishmash” means a confusing mixture of things. The Financial Secretary needs to propose a clear and workable plan.
當比爾‧克林頓於一九九二年角逐總統之位時，美國正處於嚴重經濟衰退中。他的政治顧問詹姆斯‧卡維爾創造（coined）了競選口號「問題在於經濟！蠢才！」（“It’s the economy, stupid.”）卡維爾在克林頓的競選辦公室，掛起了這句口號的橫額，用來提醒職員，他們必定要將衰退中的經濟視為大選最重要的議題。這句口號將經濟衰退歸咎於時任總統喬治‧赫伯特‧華克‧布殊，從而幫助克林頓擊敗了他。布殊是喬治‧華克‧布殊的父親，後者在克林頓做了兩任後，繼任為總統。香港政府高官們認為夜市將可復甦疲弱的經濟，今天我就為他們創作（coin）一句口號。
這句口號是：「問題在於夜經濟！蠢才！」（“It’s the nighttime economy, stupid.”）提議搞夜市的財政司司長陳茂波，好應將這句口號的橫額掛在他的辦公室。然而，夜經濟是否真的能復甦香港經濟？我很懷疑。我小時候在香港長大時，很愛晚上去逛上環的大笪地。那裏有大牌檔、小販車、算命師，還有許多其他種類的攤檔。那是一個真的夜市集，但政府卻因為衞生原因而將它結束。政府現在想推廣夜經濟，它又會如何處理衞生的問題？