「三月,來如雄獅,去似羔羊」(March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb)是英國的天氣諺語,指的是界乎於冬天和春天之間的英國三月還寒乍暖,月初寒風猛如獅,月末春風柔如羊。《三月的獅子》是一套在1992年上映,由矢崎仁司執導的日本倫理愛情電影,講述一對兄妹亂倫的故事,以三月天比喻他們具爭議性的愛情,來勢凶猛,終於溫柔。香港的雨傘運動始於九月,其時乃香港的秋季,但筆者當時正身處澳洲,所以二零一四年的那個九月也是春季, 正值筆者工作假期之末,界乎於回港與留澳之間,幾經糾結,終於決定留澳攻讀會計碩士。在首學期經濟理論功課,就以邊際報酬遞減定律 (The law of diminishing marginal returns) 嘗試解釋雨傘革命這頭「九月的獅子」。

雨傘革命是香港的民主政治運動,發生於2014年9月28日,中大民調推算超過100萬港人曾經參與這場佔領運動 ,佔香港人口的六分之一。這場運動獲得國際媒體的廣泛報導和關注,可是在79天後,警方清場,​​政府拒絕佔領者的所有訴求。

邊際報酬遞減定律 (The law of diminishing marginal returns)

雨傘革命的「失敗」可以用經濟學的邊際報酬遞減定律 (The law of diminishing marginal returns) 來解釋,這是指在短線的情況下 (in short-run),其他投入不變 (other inputs being constant),單一生產投入(a single input of production) 的增加最終將導致邊際產出 (marginal output) 下降。

這個規律可套用於雨傘運動,假設香港政治和商業環境等因素不變,79天代表這是一個短期的情況,香港人的時間和金錢成本是投入,對社會的正面影響是報酬。

佔領的第一天是星期日,很多香港人整天參與佔領示威,向政府表達強烈不滿,以及「我要真普選」的訴求。其後,有市民留守佔領街頭,有市民白天上班,下班後又回到佔領場地。幾天後,警方施發催淚彈,示威者以黃傘抵抗的畫面成了整場運動的標誌,激勵越來越多市民參與佔領,亦得到本地和國際媒體的廣泛報導。成本的投入帶來了大量輿論關注(初始產出),在這個時期雨傘革命猛如獅,規模報酬遞增 (the increasing returns to scale)。

「九月獅子」變「勇武雄獅」、「沉默羔羊」?

然而,隨著時間一天一天過去,運動的邊際成本不斷增加,回報卻逐漸放緩。另一方面,警方亦開始採取較強硬的手段驅逐佔領人士。市民最期望得到的報酬是能逼使政府讓步,並承諾落實「真普選」,可是現實是殘酷的,香港政府忽視市民的聲音,拒絕佔領者一切的訴求。在成本方面,學生停課、佔領主要街道使生意交通受阻,其他市民陸續譴責佔領運動為社會帶來不便和經濟損失。隨著規模報酬遞減 (decreasing returns to scale),當邊際成本 (marginal cost) 超過邊際收益 (marginal benefit) 的時候,雨傘運動若再勉強繼續下去就是不理性的了。2014年12月15日,冬,雨傘革命結束。有別於「三月獅子」由兇猛變得溫柔,這群在九月悲秋逼不得已站起來的「抗命獅子」,有的在懍懍北風下漸漸變了「沉默羔羊」,有的則變了揚言無底線的「勇武雄獅」。

短線來看,邊際報酬遞減定律解釋了是次民主運動的失敗。可是,我們也不能忽視雨傘革命帶來的正面外部影響 (positive externalities),這場運動對於公民教育和政治覺醒上的貢獻是無可置疑。看長線一點 (in long-run),在其他政治和環境因數可變的情況下 (other variables are changeable),現在就判斷雨傘運動的成敗可能是言之過早了。筆者在前年的選舉論壇上曾經帶出雨傘革命仍未結束的這個觀點,除了沉默羔羊和勇武雄獅外,「九月獅子」喚醒的可能還有理性班馬、正義老鷹、貼地長頸鹿、聰明豬…筆者相信在不遠的三月,乍暖還寒,除了群獅滙聚,溫柔羔羊和一眾正義之士亦會自強,不會甘於任人擺佈。看長線,香港,仍有希望。

 

英文原版:

Umbrella Revolution, “in like a lion, out like a lamb.”

The Umbrella Revolution was a pro-democracy political movement in Hong Kong which began on 28th September 2014. Surveys revealed that over 1 million people, one sixth of Hong Kong’s population, participated in the movement by “occupying” several Hong Kong’s main districts. The revolution successfully received lots of international media coverage at the beginning. However, it was eventually terminated by police’s clearing operation after 79 days and the government rejected all the appeals urged by the protestors.

The failure of the Umbrella Revolution can be explained by the law of diminishing returns. The law states that in short-run with other inputs being constant, an incremental increase in a single input of production will finally result in a decrease in the marginal output of the production.

Applying the law to the model of Umbrella Revolution, the time frame of 79 days indicates that it is a short-run scenario, while other inputs related to Hong Kong’s political and business environment are constant. Input can be regarded as the time and monetary cost of Hong Kong people and the output is the impact to the society.

On the first day of the revolution, which was a Sunday, lots of Hong Kong people spent their day off on joining the protest to express their request for universal suffrage and anger towards the government. Some people remained on the street for the following days and some of them went to work on weekdays and came back to the occupied districts after work. A few days later, police’s tear gas action and the protestors’ yellow umbrellas further symbolized the revolution and motivated more and more people to join the protest. The movement was widely reported by both local and international media. The increase in aggregate time cost input brought a larger increase in media coverage (initial output). In this early period, the Umbrella Revolution came in like a “lion” and experienced the increasing returns to scale.

However, as time passed, the marginal cost of the movement kept increasing, but was accompanied by a gradually slowed down and even flattened output. Regarding the output, the glowing social noise and media pressure generated by the movement only led to the police’s unyielding actions to expel the protestors (political change was the further output wanted). The government neglected people’s request and rejected all their appeals. With regard to the cost factors, students skipped their classes, people blocked the roads, and normal businesses were affected. The majority started to blame the protestors for the inconvenience and economic lost brought by the movement. With decreasing returns to scale and when marginal cost exceeded marginal benefit, it was irrational to continue the movement. The Umbrella Revolution eventually turned from a “lion” to a “lamb”.

In short-run, the law of diminishing returns explained the failure of the democratic movement. Nevertheless, some long-term positive externalities of the Umbrella Revolution, such as its contributions towards civil education and political awareness should also be recognized. In long-run scenario, if other variables related to Hong Kong’s political and business environment are changeable, it is far too early to judge on the success or failure of the Umbrella Revolution.

原文載於《本是老土

 

2071516398324_