Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Income Gap : Nothing achieved in 3 years!

A few days ago, a report entitled "$1.1B narrows income gap" appeared in the Straits Time to explain the 'progress' made in narrowing the income gap.

A ministrial committee released a 60-page progress report which found that these workers 'have come a long way' since 2006. When you don't have clearly stated goals, you can always define success as whatever you have achieved. Yes, the PAP govt has succeeded again:

One, wages have risen from $1,200 a month to $1,310 in 2008 for the bottom 20 per cent of full-time resident workers. It is very strange that nobody in govt knows what inflation is and nobody seems to know what real wages are. Are the workers better off because they now make $1,310? The inflation rate for the bottom 20% of workers was 9.5 over 2 years ,2007-2008. Over the 3 years, the CPI has gone up more than 10%[Link]. These low wage workers have to make at least $1320 in 2008 just to stay where they were economically in 2006. When the govt adjusts our CPF minimum sum upwards, they use inflation as a reason but when it comes to the wages of low income workers, they leave out inflation to show us they are doing a good job!

The pool of residents earning $1,200 or less a month has shrunk from 360,000 to fewer than 300,000. How can $1200 be used as the reference point? Again they did not adjust for inflation.

The GINI index fell from 0.489 in 2007 to 0.481 in 2008 for the 1st time in a decade. They have to go to the 3rd decimal place to find some improvement in the GINI and even though it improved slightly it is still the GINI co-efficient of a 3rd world country. Countries like Japan, Taiwan and S.Korea have GINI of around 0.3. One reason for the fall in the GINI could be the drop in income of wealthy individuals rather than the poor becoming getting richer. Recall in 2008, we had a financial crisis that caused sources of income of the rich such as rentals, dividends and bonuses of top executives to fall temporarily.
.
If you read the report carefully, you will realise that while the PAP govt talks a lot about helping the poor and expresses concern for the poor, they do not match their words with actions. $1.1B is less than the amount of money Temasek lost in a single investment (Barclays). This problem has gone on for more than a decade and has worsened in recent years as the PAP opened the floodgates to cheap foreign labor. Now they spin the numbers to tell us that things have improved - where is the sincerity? But still we shouldn't too surprise as we voted for a govt whose first act was to adjust its own record breaking salary upwards - the interests of ordinary Singapore appears to be secondary for this govt...

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

"$1.1B is less than the amount of money Temasek lost in a single investment (Barclays)."

That, Mr Tan, is one of the best descriptions for the word "understatement".

Thanks for this post. I await for this report to be discussed in Parliament, and i await what MPs, NMPs and opposition folks have to say.

Anonymous said...

thanks for pointing out the facts from the fiction generated in the press.
pse keep up the good work, lucky!

Anonymous said...

$110 increase is better than nothing right?

Like our Vivian Balakrishnan quote “How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?”

With a yearly increase of $36.60 narrowing it down to $3.05 a month, you get to eat additional 1 plate of chicken rice each month leh. What more you want with your low IQ, low skill and low intellect. You should thank God or Thio for such miracle to happen in such a dog eat dog Sinkapore.

Anonymous said...

Lucky,

You don't need to tell me that I vote them into office when in the first place I was robbed of a chance to vote them out due to the underhand GRC zoning scheme.

Anonymous said...

"The GINI index fell from 0.489 in 2007 to 0.481 in 2008 for the 1st time in a decade. They have to go to the 3rd decimal place to find some improvement in the GINI ...."

Haha, this is a good one. Good tip for those who want to write job resume when talking about "improvement"

Anonymous said...

this country is rich enough to give more than 1.1b if she wants to. giving money away with or without expecting any obligation from the recipient is the easy part.

the hard part is not to create an economic situation to constantly keep a substantial number of our hard working people becoming redundant and disenchanted(with every generation) with the system and end up dependent on state aids and dying alone.

i think they are aware of a social apocalyptic situation rising and are trying to correct or address it but....their priorities are still skewed which means, this distinctive breed will become ..more cold and business like.

Anonymous said...

Some things have taught me that what they say must be taken with a pinch of salt. For example, the goal 2010 for football and the Swiss Standard of living, shows they are just promoting dreams.

But they fool 66.66% of Singaporeans all the time. What to do?

Lost Citizen

Fievel said...

Nicely done. keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Refering to Lucky: 'as the PAP opened the floodgates to cheap foreign labor.'

Dear Lucky and all,

I have left singapore early this year because the organisation (NTU) is increasingly dominated by PRC politics and focussed on recruiting FT; my job went to a FT (PRC). I am now working in a private western uni campus, happily, until today when the acting manager announced that his (manager) post will be filled by a PRC from NTU. Looks like even Malaysia is not safe haven from PRCs! I am planning to leave malaysia in the next couple of months. the next place is more ulu and language more difficult than English and hopefully i won't get a PRC as my boss again and again.

Onlooker said...

The imaginary closing of the income Gap.
By the people who brought you:-
1) 60k is peanut.
2) $$$Billion$$$ PAPer loss a few day red is compare to 5 year of blue.

And Nothing is Achieved in 3 years.How's that for capable governance? :)

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:10
"....i think they are aware of a social apocalyptic situation rising and are trying to correct or address it but....their priorities are still skewed which means, this distinctive breed will become ..more cold and business like."




from the keywords, "skewed" and "distinctive breed", i tot your message suggested that we are ruled by a bunch of far out people, aka dweebs. how is it possible then for the skewed minds of the people upstairs to understand the ordinary people? i checked the thesaurus and came out with the list below. in certain places, they are called freaks and weirdos.


Main Entry: nerd
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: geek
Synonyms: dolt, dork, dweeb, fool, goober, goofball, jerk*, oaf, techie, trekkie, weirdo
Notes: a geek is any smart person with an obsessive interest, a nerd is the same but also lacks social grace, and a dweeb is a mega-nerd


Main Entry: geek
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: odd person; computer expert
Synonyms: buffoon, computer specialist, curiosity, dolt, dork, freak, goon, guru, nerd, techie, weirdo

(http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/nerd)

Anonymous said...

Well said!!

The increase of $110 is nothing to shout about. This is equivalent to an annual increment of 4.5%. If we factor in inflation, these people are actually worst off.

Using the CPF minimum sum to compute the average inflation rate for 2006 to 2008, we get 5.9% compounded annually.

And the fact is that inflation for the lower income group is far higher than the average national inflation rate.

So it is not difficult to conclude that these group of people are actually worst off.

Why do they still have the cheek to blow their trumpet ??

Anonymous said...

kekeke

to describe a people that's cold(you won't describe singaporeans as warm, communal and friendly) and business like( money rules charity and social behavior/programs/leadership) is not exactly a compliment to our leaders

rich but with no soul(however, the media is good at telling selective "soulful" stories not representative of the general populace)

increasingly, it is like living in a prison full of people trying to be alive.

Anonymous said...

how come hk( 39th) beats sg( 54th) at most liveable cities?

hk is more chaotic,debilitating and far more complex as a society than sg which is more, structured, organized, harmonious and law abiding.

hmmm....must be the "weather"or feng shui. lol

Anonymous said...

i really admire the improvement made in GINI - from 0.489 to 0.481.

that is a hefty 1.6% improvement!

bravo! encore! mooichido!

The Truth Serves Me said...

It is shaping perception in preparation for the elections, namely to paint PAP as worthy of the poor's support, and for those concerned for the poor - if there are any genuine ones around - that they are the ones already improving the lot of the poor.

Of course we have no idea whether the poor can be much better served another way, and where the PAP have made mistakes - which of late seems very likely - and if so, were they aware of such, and if the PAP was really effective in what they have planned (or didnt) with their many scholars, and were they even efficient at all (eg every $1 spent on improving the poor's lot, results in $0.001 improvement in the poor's income?), etc etc.

All we have here is that we have done well, we have done well, pat pat my back, etc etc ad naseum. Of course who will make public they did not do well? It is only human to say you are good, for sure.

But the report primary intend was never to represent reality on the ground, or in PAP, as they are.

Instead all facts and figures were twisted and "analysed" to arrive at the desired conclusions, and is aimed to influence some targeted segments of the population, or even abroad, eg potential foreign imports.

And this is how I read anything ST prints, namely between the lines and pages, of the real message and of the intended audience, and never what is stated at face value. And truth is merely a servant for other purposes.

Anonymous said...

I cant believe our govt is doing this...anyway, thanks.

Anonymous said...

the spirit in one's heart, neither the amount of words used nor the scope of propaganda can disguise. this elite govt for the elitists, even the ah bengs on the roadsides know about, where care and concern come secondary to dollars and cents. not just ah bengs, but also the ang mohs and FTs. if you are elite, by all means vote for them; if you are like me, just the struggling majority, you wud need more evidence that yor welfare is being looked into than just some bombastic gni 3rd decimal places correlationship.

Anonymous said...

Well, they pay you peanuts literally so that you are in debt forever and hence cannot leave this island easily.
For the better educated ones, they use "scholarship" bonds, hoping you get chained to the HDB scams and pay you slightly bigger peanuts.
Without these, how do they retain & control you in SINgapore?

Anonymous said...

It's confirmed Mr Teo Chee Bye (I dun know how to spell hean, but this one suits him better) is the next seat-warmer for Mr Horny Lee (The other functional Lee's grandson).

So more good years ahead :-0

Anonymous said...

It was the same stroy when they told us that GST was merely increasing by 2% (from 5% to 7%), when in fact it was a 40% tax increase!

Too bad we Singaporeans are so shallow and stupid, and keep ticking the box with the lightning bolt at every GE... :(

Anonymous said...

in this day and age where the free flow of information is as free flowing as your alcoholic beverages in your neighborhood sleazy beer garden, we can still find some elite members with the power to decide on your eternal fate in prison for....touting business in orchard road.

bravo. is there nothing more invasive and offensive than the capitalist gospel?

Anonymous said...

fiaking satanist hypocrites who SELL their souls to the devils

Anonymous said...

LHL scorned the opposition after the last GE thus: "When the big tree falls all the monkeys scattered."

Hey it seems to me that his insult befits the PAP more than the opposition.

As to who the big tree is and who are the monkeys, I am sure no one needs any explanation.

LHL can only see the faults of his opponnents but not that of PAP, which are already so big and institutionalised that he has taken them for granted as normal rather than faults. After all, his own position now as LKY's son and PM is the prime example of such faults.

If the Lees are thinking of perpetuating their dynasty, that just goes to show how smug and blind they are, trying to oppose nature itself.

In LHL's own words, the big tree will someday have to fall, as nature dictates.

But for now it would seem LHL and his men are not concerned. They are probably more concerned about checks and balances.

What, checks and balances in Singapore politics? What nonsense.

Well read it this way: fat pay CHECKS and $millions BALANCES in their bank accounts.

That's checks and balances, PAP-style lah.

Anonymous said...

First off, 0.489 to 0.481 is not a 3 decimal gain. The gini curve is meant to be read as a percentage. The ideal income distribution is a 45 degree straight line and any area deviation from this over the 45 degree line area gives u the gini coefficient. Correctly read, the gain is 1.6% improvement in situation from an area of 48.9% to 48.1%. If you think this is small, think how big total income is.

Secondly, note that the GINI index for a supposedly developed and democratic nation like the USA is not even close to perfect. Increasing yearly, the GINI index of USA is 45.0 in 2007 and HK 53.30. Redistributing wealth is not an easy feat to be performed as it has many political and social implications.

Lastly, the $1 bn Temasek lost has no relevance in comparision unless it is implied that this sum will be used for income distribution. This will have dire effects as it will negatively impact work and productivity if the govt can step in and redistribute income (too actively).

Lastly, everything boils down to efficiency of economics. If income distribution is not fair we must look to the roots and fine tune it using alternative policy --- granting education to those who cant afford it. The government is doing a good job in this. Capitalism rewards those resources that are scarce. Thats how the economy rolls.

Anonymous said...

the garbagemen are doing a good job( giving or doing just enough) in keeping you alive (to keep big bucks rolling in for fat pay checks) and begging( neither dead nor alive)

someone better come up with a better idea. so far...all kosong.LOL

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is more accurate to compare with the average wage of the bottom 20% ... 10-20 years ago.
and also consider the price of a 3 bedroom HDB in AMK (Singapore heartland). And maybe contrast it with the income of the top civil servants over the same period.

And finally, when could we have the figures of local-born Singaporeans?

Anonymous said...

Hey Lucky

Where's your ode to the great founding father?

http://mrwangsaysso.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-book-launch-and-no-my-name-is-not.html

Anonymous said...

"someone better come up with a better idea. so far...all kosong.LOL"

I share your point of view. What we need is a national solution. We don't see it but that does not mean there is no possibility.

People must believe in finding solutions however difficult or impossible the situation looks.

If enough people can start thinking/aspiring seriously something might come our way. If not a technical solution, the collective seeking itself will throw out a force to empower the opposition or the opposition to be.

But first people must understand there is a very serious national problem - it concerns their own and their children's hard-earned CPF savings and future survival in this country what with sky-high public housing etc. In short its a nation in crisis kept under wraps by PAP.

Given the facts, am I making out a story. I wish I were. And it all sounds so unreal given the present order, is'nt it?

Anonymous said...

@11.09am

'If income distribution is not fair we must look to the roots and fine tune it using alternative policy --- granting education to those who cant afford it. The government is doing a good job in this.'

Many sons are born everyday and some are more gong than others to believe trash as gold.

Big Elephant said...

"When the big tree falls all the monkeys scattered."

Maybe we are better off without big trees.

Maybe we dont need pesky monkeys either.

So let the big tree fall.

Anonymous said...

according to an old tale, its the birds taking shelter on the big tree that's peskier than the monkeys

where the carcass is, there you 'll find hovering vultures.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Tan

Good post!

I have always wondered if the men in the newsroom or some hotshot economists working for the government know what they are talking.

Your post confirms my suspicion.

Anonymous said...

"the men in the newsroom or some hotshot economists working for the government" would certainly know what they are talking about. Otherwise how could they spin motivational fairy tales and keep their masters in power (and get paid)?

lazylizard said...

nothing achieved indeed..i thought they would have widened it a bit..

Anonymous said...

anon 11:09 AM

the first generation leaders were not such astute analysts of statistics (data collections were lacking then). although they worked with impoverished resources, they were able to win the minds of the people of their generation. this comes about becos their hearts were in the right places. period.

Anonymous said...

anon 4:48

beware of spreading msm rubbish.

the 1st generation leader were hardly country pumpkins.
They were educated and knew their stats. and in fact they also knew that stats can be manipulated and needed to be backup by commonsense observations like looking thru the recruitment pages.

Anonymous said...

anon 5:04

firstly, the conjecture about first generation leaders being hillbillies is merely your own, as such your comprehension level is appalling.

secondly, the old guards did an astounding job of bringing singaporeans from attap huts to modernity, that generation visibily experienced constant improvements in their lives; this, you cant rubbish away.

localized said...

anon @5:33
And somehow the common people of Singapore have no part in the achievement of our city state? Policy can only point in the general direction of the society.

The People on the ground are the ones who are making Singapore a success.To take sole credit and to open the flood gate to erosion is only putting our city on the path of "the golden Age lol" we are experiencing now.

Anonymous said...

"First off, 0.489 to 0.481 is not a 3 decimal gain. The gini curve is meant to be read as a percentage. The ideal income distribution is a 45 degree straight line and any area deviation from this over the 45 degree line area gives u the gini coefficient. Correctly read, the gain is 1.6% improvement in situation from an area of 48.9% to 48.1%. If you think this is small, think how big total income is."

In that case, if a country has a Gini ratio of 0.1 which improves to 0.09, does that mean that the its a drastic 10% improvement? I think your example of using simple percentage improvement on the Gini ratio is misguided, and paints a wrong picture.

Anonymous said...

"Secondly, note that the GINI index for a supposedly developed and democratic nation like the USA is not even close to perfect. Increasing yearly, the GINI index of USA is 45.0 in 2007 and HK 53.30. Redistributing wealth is not an easy feat to be performed as it has many political and social implications."

With all the outcries on excessive CEO and Wall street pay in US, selecting USA as a basis of comparison reflects a lack of deep thinking. It will be like saying "I'm bad, but they are worse". The Singapore government has presumably always set a high standard right?

We should compare ourselves with nordic countries like norway and denmark with Ginis of 20 plus, and ask ourselves whether the phenomenon of our high-paying elites have future political and social implications

Anonymous said...

localized said...
anon @5:33
And somehow the common people of Singapore have no part in the achievement of our city state? Policy can only point in the general direction of the society.

The People on the ground are the ones who are making Singapore a success.To take sole credit and to open the flood gate to erosion is only putting our city on the path of "the golden Age lol" we are experiencing now.
10:14 PM




your observation is absolutely correct.

at the same time, one must be aware of the timelines to which the context applies. up to the eighties, the leaders were seen as modest and steeped in humility. back then, it was totally unimaginable that anyone could come forward to brag about their geniuses and abilities, least of all peg their pay to the highest in the land.

the first generation leaders were the absolute models whose sacrifices and devotion have laid the foundations for today's singapore. the goodwill that the pap is still getting today, it is the direct fruits of their labor.

i lived thru that period and still holds the old guards in great esteem. i wouldnt say the same for the changeover that took place from the mid eighties. where back then (pre-eighties) we have real people, today we just have scholars. in my opinion, this could be where the great social divide really got started.

Anonymous said...

It appears that despite efforts to dispel "mis-information" in this blog, our zealous government is not fairing too well, lol. Just a take on what I read between the lines.

Anonymous said...

We have seen enough of these spins, and the way these are reported is an insult to our intelligence.

Alan Wong said...

How reliable are statistics ? Can we really believe any of them that is being regularly churned out by our Govt ?

Statistics can only be true if they have real data to process. It really make me wonder where they got real on-time data to begin with. And we know for a fact that statistics can always be skewed in one's favour.

There are so many Singaporeans who only have odd jobs or part time jobs to begin with, who do not report their income to the IRAS. So how the hell can our Govt be able to gauge the average income of these low income earners to come out with the final conclusion that the income gap has narrowed ?

It really beats me how our Govt can come up with this conclusion unless it is cooked up !

Anonymous said...

The usual rubbish by PAP, which will be published by their obedient Straits Times.

Ghost said...

The numbers are strange to say the least. A 9% increase in wages for low-wage workers? Hard to believe

Anonymous said...

I would say if government pour in the amount of $$$ lost from 2003 to 2008....we would have wipe out the entire 20% of the lower income.....The GINI index will look uniquely Singapre indeed...maybe near 0%

Just a dream....

Anonymous said...

@ 11:59 AM

First to fix a problem, one must admit there's a problem and then a brainstorm session to address it.

The issue now is everyone knows there's a problem but someone try to hide it and nobody bothers about it...

Get it?

Anonymous said...

kids are always such amusing companions. when i entertain them, i often share this advice, how well you can read between the lines (wow) will depends on where you are coming from. usually, they get the drift in an instant. amazing.lol.

Anonymous said...

i have been reading between the lines too.i think people need to get a real job that pays peanuts before they really begin to turn into monkeys lol

i think we have enough monkeys on the other side. we don't need more on this side. lol

Anonymous said...

lol

Anonymous said...

without independent assessment of the statistical data kept by the PAP regime, we can only second guess that the analysis provided is not useful because the data has not been checked.

Anonymous said...

we need a gradual change in strategy. we need to move from containment to mitigation. for a start, the alert level should be raised. follow by taking into the account of the severity before adjusting the severity in tandem. while current containment measures are meaningful in easing the load, at some stage, we will be overwhelmed.

the spread is only a matter of time.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys,

I see blank space between lines. Don't blame me, I don't have super eye like many have.LOL

Anonymous said...

"...But still we shouldn't too surprise as we voted for a govt whose first act was to adjust its own record breaking salary upwards - the interests of ordinary Singapore appears to be secondary for this govt..."
(lucky)


reminds me of this man who is a big spender, wine, woman and song. one day his kids came asking for pocket money, the stingy bastard tells them, i cant give you enough becos i am training you to be resilent and independent.

but of cos his heart is not with the family. he is generous with the ladies of the night and spends like a duke on himself, everything else is of secondary importance.

we can gamble away billions without heads being rolled, no doubt this must be a small matter. it only becomes a big matter when we have to give the poor sick aged proper and sufficient welfare.

is there a proper social safety net instituted to help those who got displaced by their liberal FTs' policies? is there a proper pay system instituted to help the ministers adjust their pay?

they certainly got their priorities, sense of urgency right, did they?
what were their excuses?
why do they sound so familar?

lucky has been venting about these since what, 2006,7? will the miw ever change, you think?

what can you do abt that?

Anonymous said...

they want you to fill in the blanks because they too are blanks.LOL

Anonymous said...

beginning to sound like a schoolboys forum, hahahha

LuckySingaporean said...

Anon 11:09,

The GINI is in general negatively correlated with per capita GDP with 3 countries breaking the pattern with high per capita income and high GINI coefficient - USA, Singapore, Hong Kong. The rest of the developed world including East Asian countries have lower GINI.

In HK, the govt put in a safety net to limit the downside of poverty....not that they want to do it, there was simply no choice. The people went to the streets to stop regressive taxation like GST. The income gap in HK is the source of great social tension. However, HK is not a country and we should not aspire to be like hong kong in this aspect.

The US had income gap this high once before in 1929 just before the great depression. We are seeing change in healthcare, CEO pay and market regulation under Obama. The high income gap and other events have American faith in capitalism shaken. Still in America, you have many options for where you can live....anyway, Americans voted for CHANGE because they just cannot go on with the system as it was.

LuckySingaporean said...

anon 11:45,

Mr. Wang (also known as Gilbert Koh?) writes nice poetry. I used to send write these for my girlfriend...but I think I do better if I just send flowers. Poetry is just not my cup of tea.

But the great man I would say will be greater if he can learn to let go.

Anonymous said...

You must take care you can earn a good living already, then talk about the arts, poetry, literature, plays etc etc. Mr Wang has achieved the former very well, as a lawyer in the investment banking field. So he can afford to write poetry, stories, blog etc.

Singapore is indeed a nice place if you have or earn lots of money and don't go into opposition politics. Blogging? Sure.

I believe many do and maybe about 66% (blogger or not) of them.

Anonymous said...

If $600 000 is peanuts,

then $1 billion is apple only.

Anonymous said...

is the girl friend now a wife? hence, no more flowers or poetry.=)

Anonymous said...

lucky tan u remind me of the irish guy who was sent to prison island for criticising the british govt during the Irish famine.

What he said was true at the time but no one listens.

Maybe its the fate of mankind...98% will always be exploited by the smart 2%.

Economist with a heart :)

Anonymous said...

Didn't Sue Ann Chia write something that made the same comparison as Lucky? Of course Lucky was first on the ball with it.