Sunday, December 26, 2010

For the holidays, I wish you 'net happiness'

If you have not seen this video by Mr. Brown, you should to have a good laugh:



SM Goh has a masters degree in economics, yet he used the word 'happiness' rather than 'economic benefit' or 'wealth' when he gave that speech in Sept 2010. His idea of 'net happiness' may be a little shaky (or funny) but his choice of word 'happiness' is spot on. Some economists, like Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, is now saying that happiness should be a measure of economic success not GDP[ Link]....but very often, in Singapore, happiness is what is traded off for money or GDP. The Singapore govt often say Singapore is an economic success because of our rapid GDP growth but what ultimately is the point if people are not happy....?

I want you to close your eyes and think about the happiest times of your life. For most people, it is time they spend with their family and friends celebrating birthdays, Christmas, New Year, etc. The source of happiness comes from human relationships, human interaction, people's feelings for one another that is nurtured over a period of time. For the few whose happiest moments are the day you got your first pay cheque, knowing the property or the stock you bought has gone up 30%, or winning money playing jackpot/4D etc, I'm old enough to confidently tell you that you're missing something very important in your life.....I'll get back to this point a little later to tell you why.

Yesterday I took a taxi home from the supermarket after collecting some food I ordered for a Christmas celebration. I wished the taxi driver 'Merry Christmas' and he replied with a rather tired 'Merry Christmas' so I asked him if he had enough rest. He told me that he drove 18 hours on Christmas Eve to make as much money as possible from the holiday eve surcharge. That is what many workers have been motivated to do year after year - work a little harder to make ends meet as the cost of living goes up. Singapore workers today clock the longest working hours in the world[Link]. We have given up time with friends and family to accumulate this thing they call money. It is suppose to make our life better but does it really? We work longer hours than ever before but the homes we can afford have shrunk, smaller % of Singaporeans can own cars as the number COEs are cut and the same money will buy you less next year. Why did the taxi driver drive for 18 hours on Christmas Eve? He knows he can't buy happiness - he is trying to avoid the misery of being poorer next year. You have to work longer hours just to be able to buy the same things you're buying...not just longer hours but later retirement ages because the cost of living goes up. ..and coincidently it goes up faster just after general elections are conducted in Singapore. Young people are entering the workforce at a time when they are asked to work longer hours than their parent, retire later, shoulder a much heavier debt burden when they get married to buy a much smaller home - struggle harder for less, you have to compete or you're even worse off materially. This is what happens when you pack in more people onto an island with limited living space and resources - the GDP will grow by this crude rather thoughtless brute force approach but so will the misery of the people on the island.

Year after year we trade away things we cannot buy to compete harder and struggle for more money just to keep up with the ever rising cost of living....and the govt wants to keep the GDP growing as fast as possible. GDP does not translate to happiness....in fact we trade off happy days and friends as the pace of life increased over the years. You cannot solve this problem by working 18 hour days and becoming cheaper, better and faster. For the ordinary Singaporean, there is little benefit focussing on GDP growth when the economic benefits of this growth so unequally shared with corporate profits taking the highest % of GDP in history. To create 'net happiness' policy makers have to start looking at a diferent set of measures and goals other than GDP growth - like how many hours a worker has to spend with his family, the quality of life of retirees,etc. The PAP govt goes on a growth formula of importing foreigners to expand the population and pushing the increasing cost of healthcare, transport and housing to ordinary Singaporeans who now have to trade off time with family & friends to up with rising cost of living. There is no net happiness in this formula....and there is little motivation for the PAP govt to change this. So how do you create 'net happiness' for yourself and your fellow Singaporeans? You start by removing your support for this formula and sending a clear signal that you want it changed....otherwise it is more of the same...and a few years from now you may find yourself working 18 hours on Christmas Eve just like the taxi driver I met.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

55 comments:

handsome cat said...

I know that taxi drivers have a difficult time. That's why I try to say "keep the change" if the trip has been smooth.

Anonymous said...

Whatever it is, happy or not, rich or not, most important is Singaporeans have very "high tolerance" for all this. And for a long time.

Hence I think there won't be any breaking point. This is the unique quality and material that made up Singaporeans. Material that can withstand lots of stress and strain without breaking. Or exploding. You can afford to try all kinds of experiments with such material.

Hence it is wonderful to rule Singaporeans and try out all sorts of systems and policies.

Lucky Tan said...

anon 09:53,

Interesting when they hit that "breaking point" you're talking about - lots of interesting things will happen.

Anonymous said...

They get higer & higher rewards for making us suffer more???

Anonymous said...

Everything has a breaking point, so does Uniquely Singapore. Its only a question of when. Meanwhile the party is at full swing, but I guess like any party, its looks bad when they finally turn on the lights.

Anonymous said...

As long as clowns of PAP, especially LKY, LHL is around, Singaporean should stop dreaming about "happiness".

Anonymous said...

"This is what happens when you pack in more people onto an island with limited living space and resources"

The Towkays are happy with many foreigners flooding Singapore.
With more foreigners in Singapore, more space are allocated to accommodate more foreigners, less space are made available for cars. So, less cars are allowed to be on the road, COE quotas are cut and COE prices shot up.

The Towkays of car dealing business has to struggle to survive with crash in revenue.
The Towkays of transportation companies have to incur higher interest to pay off vehicle loans for ever rising delivery vehicles.
The not so rich Towkays have to suffer to pay for higher COE prices which erode their wealth. If they choose to give up cars, they have to suffer the inconvenience and the sadine packed crowd that many Singaporeans are suffering now.

By the Towkays act of supporting the open floodgate of foreigners to Singapore, the Towkays themselves have become the victims of this flooding of foreigners.

Anonymous said...

If Singaporeans don't take actions against the papist Leegime, things can only get worst. Cost of living will rise. Food and raw material prices have doubled and will continue to rise. Property will rise further. When the Yuan rise against the S$, manufactured goods from China will rise. More foreigners will be imported. Singaporeans will work harder and for less. In short Singaporeans quality of life will deteriorate further. There are only two options open to Singaporeans:
1. The easy one is to give up on Singapore and migrate. Unfortunately only the top 30% can do this.
2. Forced the papist Leegime to change course by giving them less support. If they still don't change, then kick them out.

The choice is clear. I am not sure that Singaporeans caught in the hellish environment has the clear minds to see thru.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Lucky! Love your blog, have been following it daily for years.

Thanks a lot.

Regards,
A Kind of Chicken

Anonymous said...

Hello Everyone!

I am on the same page as Lucky Tan. I have been reading him for more than 10 years (he used to write on other forums) and there's hardly a post he makes that I disagree with.

BUT...

I just don't get it. Around me everyone is suffering, but they seem to support PAP even more.

There are employers I know who work 70 hour weeks (most employers are actually small businesses struggling to pay high rents and compete against PAP's GLCs), and their response to their suffering is... to praise PAP.

I point out all of PAP's flaws, and these people get angry. To them, if not for the 'great' PAP, they would be working 100 hours a week because they can't afford to hire employees.

This is the sad case of the Ah Q mentality. Instead of questioning why PAP is creating a situation where costs are high, they praise PAP for lowering the labour costs.

Anonymous said...

PAP seems to like to place runnings dogs, LKY' relatives as leaders.

Our supposedly next-in-line Teo Chee Hean is from a cadet branch of an infamous traitor.

Teo's grand-uncle was a high ranking traitor who worked for the Japanese in the occupied areas in China.

http://gb.worldjournal.com/gate/gb/sf.worldjournal.com/view/full_sfnews/10703002/article--ifbase4-base136-JUU1JUJDJUI1JUU2JUIwJUI4JUU3JUE2JThGJUU4JUI0JThBJUU1JThBJUE5JUU1JTlDJThCJUU3JTg4JUI2LSVFNiU5QyU4OSVFNiVCMSU4MiVFNSVCRiU4NSVFNiU4NyU4OQ~~?instance=sfbull_left

Teo is a distant relative to Lee's family through Kwa Geok Choo (Tony Tan same same).

Singaporean can only free ourselves when we get rid of those clowns.

Anonymous said...

""HAWKER fare at restaurant prices, from $13 nasi padang to $17 laksa, is becoming more common in food courts here, and it is raising the ire of diners.""

More & more people are becoming greedy & cunning.

Who will be our saviours???

Anonymous said...

this place is now like a country club. a place for the rich.

Anonymous said...

$17 laksa? which hawker centre ah?

Anonymous said...

Lucky's blog is actually quite misleading.
Realized he likes to grouse about the really struggling underclass who are a minority in our society and the majority basically accept the fact that life and making a living is tough in the real world.

Again, he has no solution to take us all to a state of "nirvana" - who has anyway. So will he, and the likes of him, be better to manage this country than the incumbent?

And the unanimous and emphatic answer is...no - at least, that's what most, I believe, would think.

The point to remember when people start telling stories is that life is really not that bad for the hard working person in Sg.

Take the life of a taxi driver who claims to slave away 18 hours a day for instance.

In-between of the 18 hours, he could be sneaking into some cheap hotels and screwing some cheap whores for all you know or, enjoying long naps in his car parked next to the beach full of bikinis babes in between " work".

In short, life is not all that bad for the average working class joes in Sg. At the end of the day, it depends on who you are and how you manage your circumstance and limited sources.

Lucky, to be fair which he is not, should balance his tales by telling us stories about people who just love working long hours or glad to have work.

Chances are, these folks have got pride and see the virtues of hard work and living a discipline life - high costs or not so long as income covers all necessary expenses - otherwise they would have been dead by now.

They may not have the means to enjoy the kind of overseas holidays like Lucky with a " soft spot for the underclass", but they are more realistic or grounded in reality than Lucky.

Anonymous said...

Change must come, and it surely will. And there is nothing the despotic PAP can do about it, short of holding the nation hostage and dragging the people down with it.

As for the "breaking point", it is like the stock market, when the turn comes it will be sudden, fast and violent and there will be blood on the street.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous at 27/12/10 14:32

If you prefer reading/hearing the good stuff, try Straits Times or ChannelNewsAsia. According to them, all is well in Singapore.

Why not try challenging those "news" sources instead?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, life is about perspectives and perceptions. That said, in every stage of progress, people will complain no matter what - with or without justifiable reasons.

But when there is real cause for distress, we need to address those cause or causes.

At this point in time, most are "real" or are " grounded" enough and they probably know that the gov is doing their best to "balance" the challenges facing Sg.

Anonymous said...

"As long as clowns of PAP, especially LKY, LHL is around, Singaporean should stop dreaming about "happiness"."

Ironically, one of the happiness's moment for Singaporeans is when both of them meet their makers.

Anonymous said...

@anony 27/12 14.42hrs:
after reading 1st two para of the comments, i stopped. typical reply from a pappy. living in a very tall tower can't see things on ground level - majority of people are suffering. A typical reply to criticisms : "you think you can do better?". you are probably having a good job enjoying life, wait till you lose your job at 40 then come back and talk.


to Lucky: you're doing a great job writing about the facts. don't let these clowns bring you down. they are just doing their job as pap ib

Anonymous said...

Never envy the rich who eats better, live in bigger houses, drive bigger cars, could buy anything they want in life and basically " loved" by people who look up to them.
Even the old man, who has been there and done that, is about 50% happy in life.

Truth is,in life, some are slaves to their successes and some are slaves to their failures but all are slaves and will one day faces his or her dreadful mortality.

One day, all your works will be....washed away through time or as time ..... changes.

But the man who knows to enjoy his regular cheap beer in all his labor is the happiest.

Anonymous said...

Lucky are definetly right. China workers enjoyed about 27days public holidays, philiphinos about 17 days, etc. Singaporeans have about 11 days. One of the least. Despite of this, Singaporean are labelled as not working hard enough. MM is definite correct about Singaporean are daff not able to demand more.

Lye Khuen Way said...

As usual, there are a few who disagree with Lucky Tan.
Sure, not everthing in Singapore is rotten. Not yet ! But do you agree that the "mistakes"/ oversights and breakdown of civilities on our roads / housing estates / rules of laws are becoming worst ? We are supposed to be 1st World by now, then someone reminded us that we are but a City-State, with a Standing Armed Forces that "aspire" to be a "United People", blah blah...

Towkay said...

The logical solution to all these problems is to ship non-working Singaporeans to lower cost countries to live in. With the space freed up, the higher value FTs can come in. With their higher salaries, they can afford to pay higher taxi fares, and the taxi uncle will earn more. Coupled with the lower expenses that the taxi uncle's family living in 3rd world now occur, everyone will be happier.

For these to happen, Singaporeans have to accept the fact that Singapore is a not a country. Sure, we started off with lofty aspirations of building a great little country but the great PAP leaders soon realise this is unrealistic given our small land mass and the low quality of our population.

Godwin said...

"There are employers I know who work 70 hour weeks (most employers are actually small businesses struggling to pay high rents and compete against PAP's GLCs), and their response to their suffering is... to praise PAP."

Because they know that if the oppo parties come into power and implement their xenophobic, protectionist policies and anti-business minimum wage their businesses will be unable to compete on the market and collapse!

I think you bring up a very important point - people who are anti-gahment here are just being angry on nobody's behalf!

They see the poor and assume that their plight is due to PAP policies and that they are angry with PAP, and so take up their cause, when in reality no one has asked them to!

Anonymous said...

You heard of Stockholm Syndrome? Its not uncommon for girls to fall in love with their rapist.

For years, PAP has masturbated Singaporean, especially the old and poor. Yet many keep on supporting PAP.

The internet serves as a platform the enlighten the people. French Revolution occur not mainly out of oppression, but rather than propagation of ideas by Rosseau, Locke, Voltaire.

Anonymous said...

All self serving bastards, including revolutionary....wannabes ok.

You guys got no answers...next

Anonymous said...

Yes, even oppositions MP can't part with a miserable 10% of jackpot astronomical politician's salary and yet want to talk about the plight of the struggling class.

You see, how can people with mouth FULL of cake can ever share a common cake with the rests.

In a nutshell.....all are fucking hypocrites, including their supporters.

Anonymous said...

I got a solution how to reduce business cost. First, since banks are able to borrow from MAS and savers at 1% interest or lower, that should pass to us. All loans to citizens should be just something like 1.01%.

Next, erect foreigner speculator firewalls. All foreigners who wish to buy our property must pay a 10% foreigner tax.

Third power should be supply to citizen homes (citizen only) at cost price. Remember Semcorp lock in Indonesia gas during the 1997 crisis. I presume Indonesia fire-sale their asset but its really puzzling to me why Singaporean was made to pay the highest electricity levy in the world, when natural gas is one of cheapest means of generation. Singaporean pay a risk securing gas in 1997, that profit should be transfer to us.

Set up a GST payout board to make sure all the 7% GST goes to the welfare of bottom 80% of Singaporean. (This was promise to us by LSL. He lied). The 7% GST could be use to set up hospital voucher and distribute to the bottom 80% of Singaporean.

There is many we can do. Nothing communist about that. That is our fare share.

Anonymous said...

What, you think under Lucky's rule, or under the six fucking oppo idiots, the taxi driver can work 9 hrs,instead of 18 hrs, and earn $5000 a month, live in a brand new 5 rms HDB in telok blangah for only $ 100 k plus, able to afford a Honda accord because of no COE ah?

Of course lah...vote oppo for a better tomorrow and free healthcare system. Yippee..

Anonymous said...

I think paying Liew Mun Leong 1% of what he is getting now is a good idea of reducing business cost.

Next sack all SAF amakudari in GLCs.

Reduce minister pay to 200 000.

Hack the salary of senior public service.

Stopped giving scholarship to foreigners.

Stop sending our scholars to fancy western university for under-graduate studies. (same thing can be conduct here)

Reduce the number of scholarship given to prevent management inflation in civil service and to free talents to private sector.

The citizens pay for the above corrupted policy. Thats why our cost of living is unbearable.

Anonymous said...

Fuck, singaporeans have no qualms paying100k COE for a fucking Japanese car.. If costs of HDB is 100k and below, fuck fuck fuck, a 99 years lease public housing will be so hot, because you can rent out to foreign idiots who come here and steal our high paying jobs, who bothers to buy car and lose money unless you have more money to throw lah.

When that happens, ooo la la, the opposition who can promise citizens at least 4 HDBs under my name will get my vote or i will fuck you in the Internet.. anyone?

Anonymous said...

I havent own HDB yet. cost price preeese and dont bluff MBT...we know HDB cheap cheap

Anonymous said...

wat fukking 100k for a lousy hdb and RENT from garbahmen some more.

I too poor want 20k only can or not?

can I vote you you can have rich life in partyment house.

Anonymous said...

What the Fiak...taxi driver works 9 hrs.????..where got time to Fiak the horny wife and take children tosentosa universal studio.

Single Malt only said...

Lies lies lies! How come whenever lucky tan goes out, he is sure to meet people who would tell him personal bullshit of theirs. i wonder if all the people depicted in his posts are all made up!

How come i dont get to meet people who tell me they are miserable and they cant make ends meet?!! the truth is everybody is doing fine. sure there are complains but nothing as serious as not able to afford the most basic of maslow's bottom of pyramid needs.

Taxi Drivers are the most overpiad lot of donkeys in Singapore. they are rich enough to go whoring along geylang according to some newspaper reports. some even have a golf handicap. how poor can they be?

Taxi drivers is probably the most relaxing job a bum could do. you get paid well, you dont have to report to anybody, no skills needed, unlimited demand. everytime i drive past centrepoint, there is a long loser queue. Just do the math donkeys, a merc cab could easily make 500 sgd a day if he make 10 trips to the airport. that would translate to over 8k a month if he work twenty days.

Stop all this propaganda and keep saying people are having a terrible life. feel it for yourself on the ground.

Oh yes, we should really tax the the taxi drivers more considering the amount of accidents they create for other road users on the road with their renegade attitude. i say they should foot 20% of my latest insurance bill which comes in at an absurd 14.6k!

Anonymous said...

The high costs is just not sustainable.
Many locals are jobless or under-employed. They relied on savings or interest to help support them.

Even with 7% gst, the cost is alreadi unbearable.
Who is going to guranntee to u that the gst wld not be further increased.
But the levy collected from IR alone is alreadi much much more than gst, why incraese gst again??

Anonymous said...

Hey, actually HDB is cheap and under MBT, prices shot up to ridiculous level. Since it is so cheap, we should provide free housing to the 20 % slackers in society and solve all social problems related to debts. With no financial burden, they can channel their miserable pay to ikea furnitures and shop shop till they drop to boost our economy.

Any oppositions can do that, put your name down below I will vote for you.

elitist so what said...

i still think PAP is doing a great job all this years. they have given me a good education and a good paying job. those who are lazy and not that clever can be a taxi driver and drive 18 hours a day.

Anonymous said...

To Single Malt only said on 27/12/10 18:19

"How come i dont get to meet people who tell me they are miserable and they cant make ends meet?!!"


You want to know why?
It is because you are a person who strives to associate with those of higher social status and who behaves condescendingly to others.

Anonymous said...

To elitist so what said on 27/12/10 22:41,

Can you guarantee that you will not be replaced by a cheap foreigner in the next 5 years?

Even if you are 100% sure that you will not be replaced by a cheap foreigner, can you guarantee that your relatives and friends will not be replaced by cheap foreigners?

Anonymous said...

I tell you why Singaporean got screwed.

Capital Land--
Liew Mun Leong compensation 2009 S$21.7 million.

Siemens--
Peter Loescher compensation 2010
6 million Euro

Southwest Airline
Gary C Kelly Compensation 2010
US1.2 million

Foxconn Hon Hai
Terry Gou Compensation 2010
NT$1 (S$0.05)

The list goes on and on ad infinitum..

Everyone on the list except for Liew Mun Leong prosper by creating jobs, values and well-being for society.

Everyone on the list is paid lower than Liew Mun Leong by a whopping amount.

Everyone on the list manage more headcounts than Liew Mun Leong.

Everyone except Liew Mun Leong become CEO through real meritocracy and relevant experience. Liew Mun Leong is a fucking asshole who expertise lies in figuring out the things like "kg, cm, km, volt"..etc in SISIR. How he got there as Capital Land CEO is still very puzzling to me.

The only reasons why Liew Mun Leong is so well paid than all other CEO is because he play blood sucker in sucking the people dry on property.

The value he creates is misery, debt, ponzi..etc. Welcome to the wicked land of Singapore. The most wicked person is the most rewarded, while honest hardworking citizen got screwed, and at the same time, being accused of stupid and lazy.

Anonymous said...

Anon 27/12/10 14:32

Say anything you like, just be focused on the following sticky issues. The rest are just smoke & diversion.

1) CPF and their deferring withdrawing age.
2) HDB (supposedly subsidised housing).
3) Jobs
4) The performance of our Foreign investments.

Anonymous said...

Liew Mun Leong is not an isolated case. There are thousands of little "Liew Mun Leong" styled CEOs, upper management or other leaders whose pay depend on how hard they can screwed Singaporean.

SMRT CEO Saw Phaik Hwa screwed Singaporean by reducing train frequencies when Singapore population increases.

Mah Boh Tan landed on his minister position because he is willing to impose hardship, reducing living space on Singaporean on the behest of LKY and LHL.

Goh Chok Tong would not become PM if he refused to implement the ponzi "asset enhancement".

Gan Kim Yong will never become minister of manpower because he tries to stop exploitation of workers.

In Singapore, you got rewarded for being wicked and penalized for being honest. Remember to screwed you fellow citizens hard, you wont regret it.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to Lucky and all visitors to this site. Lucky, you have been the voice of conscience of our society. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

i think that most people have to realised that the pap today is not the same pap of yesteryear. i realised this a few years ago when i observe the impacts of policy changes on lives of singaporeans. dont get me wrong, many things still work better here than other countries but we are going down a slippery road.
i for one has decided that my vote no longer goes to the pap as i do not want many of the same in future. i believe we need to vote for change.

Anonymous said...

Just be patient, the wickedness will be just rewarded.
It is not karma that I am talking about. It's that these people do not have bosom friends and are shun by their relatives and even kins. Happiness is far away from these people and they live in shame each time they face their kins and relatives other than the constant curses from the people.
They are approachable only to ball lickers and they in turn have to constantly lick the balls of their superiors.
So much for so-called talents, shame!

CHANGE said...

"You start by removing your support for this formula and sending a clear signal that you want it changed"

You want CHANGE?
CHANGE, you'll have!
Just so long as you keep these symbols in mind!

Anonymous said...

The Liew guy is "unrighteous"( and he doesn't really care much about the man in the street) - know of people who dealt with him. Like most elites seated in ivory towers, they are given latitude to practice double standard.

This is because most of our top leaders are utilitarian. They subscribe to what a Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle called " pig philosophy".

It is the kind of philosophy that justifies corruption if it leads to a "greater good".

Anonymous said...

When you reward people(especially top leaders) by giving them what they want - all the pleasures money can buy and pander to their egos - you are treating them like PIGS and thus, pig philosophy.

That's why they behave like pigs.

Anonymous said...

A lot of these " pig leaders" who practice double standards are Christians.

How many of the six opposition leaders who recently gathered are Christians?

Most of them are the same. You put them in a pig style, they will eventually behave like hypocritical pigs,

tree said...

they did it! they did it!

they have delivered on their election promise!

they promised "staying together, moving ahead"

indeed, we are staying together status quo and they have moved ahead, leaving us behind!

8P

Anonymous said...

patriot wishes everyone gooder and betterer year ahead after 2010.

subash pillai said...

Come on Lucky, u make it sound like its a sin to work on Christmas eve. If you gripe was about working 18 hours a day, then the topic is well heeded.

Christmas is not a big thing to everyone.

It shouldn't be made as the only and most important day to spend with the family.

JUN said...

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