Saturday, October 01, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street" and the our political awakening...



We will never be able to get enough people here to "occupy" Raffles Place but I suspect in the coming months events will occur around the world and perhaps in Singapore that will get people thinking more about the world and system we live in.

2 postings ago I showed a video called "Money as Debt Part 2" that attempts to explain the banking system we have today. While there are some flaws and oversimplification in the video, it is popular on YouTube because people have began to ask about the system we live in and the recurring economic crisis we have to face every few years. There is also great unhappiness over the rising income gap and pressure on the middle class.

Remember when Obama ran for president, his campaign slogan was "Change We Can Believe In". When he took office he was faced with a mountain of economic problems left by 2 decades of unbridled capitalism. The financial crisis threatened to turn into a depression and Obama didn't have much of a choice but to bailout the banks and in effect rescue the some of culprits of the economic problems America was facing. To get the economy going he spend a ttrillion or more on a stimulus package. He tried to address the problems with the healthcare system, the widening income gap and the US budget deficit. However, there were just too many problems that coverged during his term as president at a time. Severe problems began showing up in Europe - again related to banking and debt. Thesee problems that took years if not decades to get to their current magnitude will not be solve in a year or two. The current approach to print money (QE1 & QE2) and kick the can further down the road only serve to postpone the day of reckoning. In the 1930s, it was the severity economic pain that brought about an acceptance of complete revamp under The New Deal. Today, post Great Recession, with economy sluggish and unsatisfactory, but still holding up it is hard to follow through with major disruptives changes - USA's financialised economy has to be restructured. However, high unemployment persists groups such as "Occupy Wall Street" start to emerge and grow.

At this point, some readers might be asking "What has all this got to do with Singapore?". actually plenty...Singapore has done many things similar to the US. The housing bubble for example - even at the height of the US housing bubble, the median price of a US home is lower than what it is in Singapore today. We accept idea of 20 or 30 year mortages as if they are as natural as the sunset. However, these are capitalistic creations ...remember "money as debt".  In the 60s and 70s, people bought homes with cash. Even if you allow such mortgages, you would rein in the free market by making sure that housing prices do not outstrip median income gains. Strangely, our esteemed govt saw little problem with rising home prices....and defended it, just after the problematic collapse housing bubbless in Ireland, Spain,  US crippled their economies and we always have the classic example of Japan that saw a drag on its economy from the 80s housing bubble that lasted for decades. We deregulated our banks just like the Americans. We merged our banks believing that the bigger they are the better - now the lesson learnt from the American financial crisis is not to have entities that are "too big to fail". We allowed the expansion of consumer lending - credit cards, unsecured loans, money lenders (licensed and unlicensed). The govt brought in Las Vegas in the form of 2 casinos euphemistically called IRs.  The income gap in Singapore is larger than USA and we don't have the corresponding social programs to address the rising poverty we are seeing in our society.

People everywhere don't think much about the system they live in as long as things are going smoothly. It is when problems start to start to show up that people begin thinking and checking what goes on in the system. For years, Singaporeans have been apathetic about the political and economic system they live in but problems are starting to show up - income inequality, poverty, structural unemployment, rising cost of living - and we are seeing a political awakening among Singaporeans. The relentless import of people to keep the GDP growing stretches the transport and housing resources overcrowding the island - we now have the highest population density in the world  after Hong Kong and Macau.  Singaporeans are asking why is necessary for us to bring more people per capita than anywhere else in the world - is the system sustainable? A some point, just like those Americans occupying Wall Street, we too will come to realise we cannot continue as we have done so for the past few years. All the imbalances in our system will one day coverge to heighten our desire for change,

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Housing not affordable? Housing cost is from $70k and above. At that base price, you can't even buy a decent car which is only good for 10 years.

Harking up the wrong tree lah...sound like a desperation for greed and political power lah

Anonymous said...

to lucky tan,

i am glad that you highlighted the issue about 30 year house loans. I have been trying to warn people many times in all my writings about this, and it is great that you are also mentioning it.

i strongly believe that we must learn from the mistakes of the past. USA 2007 sub prime crisis which brought financial melt down worldwide, was due to USA allowing easy loans to tom dick or harry who cannot afford and they can still borrow. When debts turn bad, unscrupulous bankers to save themselves, desperately package the bad debt into other instruments of "investment" to push their luck further but we all know what happened therefter.

In exactly same way, singapore mahbowtan and co. in pioneering concept of 30 year loan is sending Singapore to its death.

No one should be allowed to borrow for 30 years, because of the fragility of life and as well the entire financial system founded on Credit Creation.

We will be having our own subprime crisis in future, because of the wreckless promotion of 30 year loan most of which can turn bad because the loan amounts are too high and the tenure too long!

If property prices are high, instead of encouraging it as such by 30year loans the govt should on the contrary not even allow any bank to lend for such long periods, then it will have a dampening effect of property prices.

The tragedy of it all is that all mistakes of PAP governmnet of singapore in this regard will never be recognised as their mistake. In future if people defualt on their 30 year loan again it will be portrayed as their mistakes not the government. And anyway in the road ahead, if PAP is ousted, then the new govt will have to solve the mess left behing by PAP and the latter will simply say, see i told you so PAP is best, you can't solve singpaore problems. Whereas in actual fact, PAP will leave THEIR problems for the hapless next generation to solve.

What is desperately needed in Singapore is freedom of thought and expression, such as in this Blog so that educated singaporeans can learn and debate itself everywhere on TV, press, etc. instead of resigning to watch brainless cookery shows and game shows on national tv day in and day out. Singpaore is in very dangerous situation indeed, but how many people belieive??.

rex

Confused... said...

Unlike Europe & USA, Singapore does not have:

1. Large agriculture & land
2. Large domestic market
3. Natural resources ( except humans)

We survive by remodeling and reselling products that others need.
Products that we can safely say that we created on our own is the ERP and coupon parking. But no one else wants them.

So, what can we do that ensures our next bowl of rice, vegetables, meat?
There are many roads to Rome. We have chosen one that has given us uneven wealth. There is no such thing as a society with equal wealth. Even in North Korea there is unequal wealth.

Its just gotten too wide.

80% of people here are well fed
10% are better still
5% are Top of the pyramid.
1% think they are living alone.

4% are suffering.. but how did they get to that state?

Kicking the can further down.. delaying the day of reckoning.. what is the reckoning?

War?

will it help? if not, what will?

More money? or more jobs?

There seems to be lots of money out there, but you and I are not getting any of it! why?

Anonymous said...

No matter what problems show up or what changes happen in the future, Singapore is guaranteed to have 3 things.

1. Majority of the people will continue to be happy and satisfied.
And as result of this, 2 other things naturally come with it as follows:

2. Political Stability. Meaning PAP will continue to have over 90% of seats in elections to come.

3. Social peace. Meaning on the streets things are very normal and peaceful.

It is the dream of every govt in the world to have these 3 things in the country for as long as possible.

And Singapore is one of those countries which has achieved this for over 40 years, and perhaps the only one. So locals and foreigners living here are indeed very lucky.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be lots of money out there, but you and I are not getting any of it! why?

Try being a preacher or preacher's doormat. Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find the pot of gold and knock,even the devil cannot stop you from raking his banking system.

Then you can build monumental places of worship to rake in more money and live in earthly mansion while your religious slave come to you every week to find out....Why there seems to be lots of money out there, but you and I are not getting any of it! why?

Veritas said...

The problem can be solve, people know the solution, but to solve it, the elites will be injured.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Germany was more broke than now, or USA 1933 or SG in 1965. Hitler bring prosperity within 2 years.

Even in today, no one wants to discuss how Hitler did. Its a taboo in economics. Hitler's way is the anti thesis of all free market economics.

Hitler used socialism. But today, u will only hear Nazi as a far right party as if Nazi is a ultra free market capitalist.

I will blog Hitler economics in the future.

Anonymous said...

Dear Confused, to your last para: give up the local stock market.. go where the actions are.. this is a small cowboy town where the MIW ruled.

Anonymous said...

Why? Because we support religious corruption. You must be corrupted too if you do nothing. If so, we expect that you will be corrupted in judgment on human affairs.

Anonymous said...

As I have constantly told my friends who are real Singapore citizens,why would you want to buy a House or an apartment for a million dollars in Singapore,where you do not have freedom of speech and where someone is constantly watching over your shoulders
That's all I am telling you.I am not going. to tell you whether I am living in a property valued above a million dollars,or a HDB apartment or a public rental apartment.
Rich foreigners can afford luxury homes and they can afford to loose it and that is their business.

Anonymous said...

Remember to tithe. You will be set for life come recession or not.

Anonymous said...

Some Singaporeans are really really too idealistic and naive.

If the Americans don't go to wars and fighting everywhere and living in besieged tenterhook in their homeground and abroad, they will be beyond the reach of any other country. The wars are costly both to the US economy and live of its' fighters and civilian target(ref 9/11)
Had the Americans maintained their non-warfare industries in technology(IT included), medical/medicine and further humanitarian pursuit, they will never be in the plight they are in today.
The US political leaders seemed to be born with penchant for want to be superior beings and the Americans were/are enamoured with their leaders' idiosycracy and idiocy. HOWEVER, the US Political Leaderships since Second World War were inferior to its' business community. They(P Leaders) depended/depends on the Latter to fund their political ambitions and became beholden to the Business People. The Political Leaders should have rightfully have reins over the citizenry, no matter who they are. But, while the US and most of its' citizens are in the doldrum, many of the Worlds' richest folks are Americans.
So, to make it short, the woes of the Americans are what the American Leadership and its' business people have made it out to be.

It is definitely very different in Singapore. The Sin Leadership is made up of one man at the helm with a handful of adjutants commandeered by him. The citizenry have little or no say in the Tiny Dot which probably has got the most what some Singaporeans described as Draconian Laws. Such Laws are wide and flexible in interpretation when exercise by the authority.

Singaporean is one of the most compliant, law abiding and hardworking(so called kiasu, kiasi) citizenry. Many decades of conditionings through social engineering has wrought about a prosperous and peaceful little island. Singaporeans enjoy the peace and prosperity very much.
Though many Singaporeans feel that the Rulers are paying themselves too much or even angry about it, most are fine with it. Singaporeans are by and large able to survive better than so-called Third World countries.

Singapore is now home to the most millionaires. Though cars and their taxes and fuel are among the most expensive in the World, big continental with large engine capacity pack the roads.

Anyone can see and the blind can feel that Singapore is a well governed First World Country that is improving in leaps and bounds with the best talents in charge.

Veritas said...

//////
Some Singaporeans are really really too idealistic and naive.

If the Americans don't go to wars and fighting everywhere and living in besieged tenterhook in their homeground and abroad, they will be beyond the reach of any other country.
//////

You are the naive one. Capitalism cannot survive without expansion. War gain and loots are necessary in a capitalistic system.

In Singapore, slave hunt and land grab are express in another form.

The FT policy can be view as slave hunt. The land acquisition is the conquest of land by the elites against the people.

In theory, upon the end of such conquest, capitalism will implode.

Anonymous said...

Singapore did not go to war and it has no need to loot.
The Bestest Talents are in charge and they know best to keep Sin growing in prosperity and blooming.

"War gain and loots are necessary in a capitalistic system". Unquote. If this is so, the US should be the Richest as it is fighting the most wars. Why is the US in economic woes?
And base on the Quote, those not warring, deemed necessary, are not adopting capitalistic system?

Anonymous said...

"Remember to tithe. You will be set for life come recession or not."

Sure or not

Veritas said...

Re 1/10/11 17:35
What feeds capitalism in today form? Its cheap oil and petro-dollar that can only be obtain when corrupt oil sheikhs in power.

In the era of peak oil, saddam has to be brought down.

In summary, the access to cheap raw material and surplus labour is essential to capitalism.

USA collapse despite of its pax americana domination of the world is due to contradictory forces that pile up as capitalism develop, especially inequality and the increasing scarcity of cheap raw material especially oil.

Socialist has long pointed out the downfall of capitalism.

In SG, our system will definitely collapse when we cannot find FT.

Anonymous said...

30 years mortgage and low interest rates are the main causes for a financial bubble. To solve the debt crisis, interest rates must be raised and people will then stop to borrow and save more.

Anonymous said...

All US presidents including Obama are just bootlickers of big investment firms like GS and MS so that they can be considered for a director role someday in some big companies which these firms invested in. Capitalism is a dirty word.

Anonymous said...

But you see, the business community are the ones that love what this Gov does and it is they who support the policies, twist arms of the unions.

Look at the person standing next to Tony; sitting next to Khaw, pictured next to Loonie.. all these are business people.. from construction, housing,M&E, Hotels, F1, Banks... etc

The entire business community is the pillar supporting.. not you or I.. they are the 60% that voted for this system to continue.

Do not be fooled for one moment that business hates the policies.

From Ngee An Kongsi to Hotel properties and even to NGOs.. all support the system.

I dare you to withdraw your membership, your employment, your insurance policies... you will not survive.

Anonymous said...

woo woo we are going back to 2009's low! hey you big mouth dimwit.. can see the obvious now? haha stoopid

Anonymous said...

You're dreaming, Mr Tan.

Anonymous said...

It is wrong for the government to liberalise the market and then blame singaporeans. Our leaders has never taken responsibilty for any of its mispolicies and actions.

Think of migration. Singapore is coming to an end. This country doesnt believe in human rights. We need to put a stop to this poor leadership.

Anonymous said...

How the hell can a cheap hdb flat where the government has not even sanitised it of ants, cockroaches and lizards be having you pay $300k to 500k? We Singaporeans are mad. Daft. Your hdb doesn't even come with a kitchen hood for cooking to vent out the smell of your cooking and you're paying this much? All the hdb flats look the same lah. And the buildings are cheaply painted, after 2 months are the paint on the void deck are smudge with markings 'cos they could have easily tiled it?

It's fucking cheap hdb and the government has make money of the people. WHy are Singaporeans stupid? Because they are stupid. and arrogant. Singaporeans are getting a bad deal with their hdb flat. Wake up lah you fuckers...why do you love to sleep so much and get the government fooling you with all the misrepresentation of the facts?

Why should singaporeans subscribe to a system that was designed to keep it ensalved to a 30 year loan? Why do they accept this? Are they fucking stupid? Yes they are!

Anonymous said...

Angmohs are too creative for their own good. They have embarked big time on their creative financial products that allowed financial services personals to strip and reap their customers and their very own companies/employers. The citizens and their countries will not be in the plight had they not splurged on borrowed money.

Of course, the political leaders of those affected nations are just as guilty. Most of them are in cahoot with the rogue businessmen running those business schemes. Even if they are not involved, they FAILED to rein in the schemers.

In the case of the US, its' presidents were/are happily arm twisting other regimes with military might. Americans went along with presidents misbelieving themselves to be the Worlds' strongest, richest nation and most superior beings. They had resorted to printing money to solve their economic problems, did it work?

Now Singapore stands to gain from the woes of the angmohs, more of their financial services experts can be attracted to work in Sin. They have been much 'desired' but too costly to engage in the past.
Our top talents in Sin will know how to make use of these experts to improve our GDP.

patriot

Anonymous said...

I notice most singaporeans suffer from inferiority complex from the way they write. Must be from years of too much ranking in schools that cause these posters to always put others down and appear intelligent in doing so.

Anonymous said...

Mr Lucky

U still believe in Obama which sort of demonstrate the IQ of sinkees.

Nah. Pinky can sleep well.

Hey ur Holy Cow will solve everything!

Anonymous said...

"Now Singapore stands to gain from the woes of the angmohs, more of their financial services experts can be attracted to work in Sin."

haha. do you still believe in these experts. ask yourself, do you think they are really value builder or destroyer. yeah, value builder for themselves only. the stimulus package is all at the expense of taxpayers.

a huge piece of the global consumption of the recent past was an illusion but consumption nevertheless giving the high growth. now, we know that it was all hyped up giving the world the comfortable feeling of growth (but without real fundamental support deep underneath). now which countries are going to pick up the slack when the illusion (bubble) burst.

a lot of countries have begun to master the art of productive capacity but is global demand huge enough to pick up the capacity @ the right price. a lot of countries & companies are always talking about lack of talent. It is not the lack of talent per se (the world is flooded with talent), it is more on the limited value that these talents can bring in from competition among themselves given product / service homogeneity in a more globalised closely knitted world.

Anonymous said...

"I notice most singaporeans suffer from inferiority complex from the way they write."

And why not. Don't you know that our leaders have always used words to talk down on their own people and sent out the message the how important foreigners are importan and more talented than us.

Do you think they would like to see normal citizens be empowered in a way they may become subordinate to the opinion / noisy will of its citizens who henceforth will build the sense of superiority (complex).

Anonymous said...

In the foreseeable future at least, Sin will prosper. It is all because, we have most talented men and women in charge who know how to make use of these so-called experts in economics, finance and security.

Me had posted at Lucky's Latest Post about China.

Like to add that any country that does more paper trading business than industrial production is destined to doom eventually.

patriot

Anonymous said...

"Like to add that any country that does more paper trading business than industrial production is destined to doom eventually."

Paper trading business without the itimate knowledge & involvment of how the companies are run are nothing but gambling.

Unfortunately, there are too many white collar & desk sitting analytical minds who can only make money (or make their living) from brokering, mediating or dealing in this type of paper trades - w/o getting their hands dirty needed for real brick-n-mortar down-to-earth hardwork which is again unfortunately being priced low in the value chain.

Anonymous said...

The Experts are experts alright, but they are not good enough to take care of their big(size) countries. They lack that capability.
To contribute to a tiny dot with their masters in Sin guiding them should not be an issue lah.

patriot

Anonymous said...

"To contribute to a tiny dot with their masters in Sin guiding them should not be an issue lah."

To contribute ? Do you mean that they don't the funds to play around & contribute to their own pockets.

On the other hand, why not. Win or lose, it is still not their money but others' (fund manager's joke).

Anonymous said...

http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2011/9/29/cornel_west_on_occupy_wall_street_its_the_makings_of_a_us_autumn_responding_to_the_arab_spring

OCCUPY SINGAPORE said...

http://www.facebook.com/occupySG

JOIN NOW

Roman said...

////// Some Singaporeans are really really too idealistic and naive. If the Americans don't go to wars and fighting everywhere and living in besieged tenterhook in their homeground and abroad, they will be beyond the reach of any other country. ////// You are the naive one. Capitalism cannot survive without expansion. War gain and loots are necessary in a capitalistic system. In Singapore, slave hunt and land grab are express in another form. The FT policy can be view as slave hunt. The land acquisition is the conquest of land by the elites against the people. In theory, upon the end of such conquest, capitalism will implode.