Friday, June 15, 2012

The TRUTH about taxes....and human dignity

Here is the Q&A session following PM Lee's speech at the ESS (Economic Society of Singapore).
The first question came from a Danish gentleman who took a swipe at his speech by saying the Danes are very happy paying taxes and surveys show them to be the happiest people in the world.

"I do not believe that Singaporeans would be willing to pay the taxes that Scandinavians pay, or that our economy could be competitive at such heavy tax rates." - PM Lee, Speech to ESS [Link]


You look around at friends especially those with talent who have immigrated to other countries. Where have they gone? Most of them have gone to Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc, countries with higher taxes and better social safety nets than Singapore. The most competitive economy in the world is Finland[Link] and it has a proper progressive taxation system that results in more equal society.  Highest income earners and corporations in Singapore pay low income taxes - under PM Lee as Finance Minister, he cut income tax for the highest earners and corporate taxes and raised the GST. He also eliminated inheritance tax when nobody called for it.  Companies pay low corporate taxes but we pay a lot at the worse times of our lives - when you're sick, when you're old and need support, when you're poor. The worse combination being old, sick and poor. When you have someone who is disabled that you have to support and you need a car to help him get around - that is when you really pay.

"We face a fundamental choice as a society - do we want low taxes and targeted welfare benefits; or high taxes on all and comprehensive welfare? Singapore has chosen the first; the Scandinavians the second." - PM Lee

Actually the choice is not between "high taxes for all and comprehensive welfare". PM Lee again puts up a false choice - most economists suggest progressive taxation i.e. those with the highest earnings pay more. What he has done in the past was to cut corporate taxes and income tax for those in the highest bracket and then later his govt did things like cutting healthcare subsidies for the middle and lower middle class(remember means testing?), The poor in Singapore ended up paying more taxes when he raised the GST. Parents with special needs children ended paying more[Link]   Many talented individuals have voted with their feet leaving Singapore. PM Lee claims that this "choice" is made by Singaporeans when actually it is made by his govt. PM Lee chose to do all this at a time when corporate profits as a % of GDP was reaching historic highs and our income gap was growing. 

What the PAP govt has done is amplify the inequalities in our society through the taxation system. It creates a big gap between the needs of the people and the ability to meet those needs. The PAP govt euphemistically calls this self-reliance:

"Whatever we do, we must uphold and strengthen the spirit of self-reliance that has enabled us to succeed. We will always give Singaporeans the means and the incentives to help themselves, for personal effort and achievement are essential to our sense of dignity and self-worth, and the means to achieve our vision of becoming a leading global city." - PM Lee....

By importing cheap foreign labor, he undermined the ability of a large segment of the population to support themselves and their family. His govt then implemented Workfare as workers' salaries fall to levels below what they need to subsist and this was not needed in the past when workers make enough to support themselves and their families. Workfare is in fact a subsidy for employers paying low wages and incentivise their low wage low productivity approaches locking the low wage worker in his menial job and a lifetime of poverty and eventually he will not be able to have a proper retirement. Today if you open your eyes when you eat the food courts and hawker centers, you will see our working elderly going from table to table to clean the mess you left them. Every day we see poor Singaporeans digging the trash for aluminium cans to eke out a living. You call this dignity? A worker who works a full time job and cannot earn enough to support his family because there is no minimum wage in Singapore....what does that do to his sense of dignity and self-worth?  By importing labor from developing countries to keep wages depressed and allowing our income gap to grow to be the highest among developed nations,  the PAP has undermined the Singaporean labor force that was once so proud to be named the number one workforce in the world. If the PAP govt keeps its policies, a sense of anger will soon overrun the sense of indignity. Singaporeans know that their self-worth comes standing together as a people to help those who have fallen due to bad govt policies. In an indirect way the PAP govt forces Singaporeans to close ranks, find our courage to stand up against their system. The sense of dignity will come when we find our voice as a people, regain our democratic rights and empower the ordinary people to bring about meaningful change in our society.




26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our personal tax rate may be low but we pay a lot of indirect taxes.

Anonymous said...

"If the PAP govt keeps its policies, a sense of anger will soon overrun the sense of indignity."
Lucky Tan

The easiest and legal way to show
anger is to vote against PAP what, right?

So more votes against PAP is an indicator of more anger, right?

But how come PAP got more votes in Hougang BE 2012 compared to GE 2011?

Meaning people are not any more angry in May 2012 compared to May 2011, right?

Anonymous said...

PAP keeps at least 60% happy and satisfied at every election.

The 40% who are not happy and satisfied just follow law and vote opposition lah, that's all.

And because they follow law, that's why Singapore is so peaceful and stable with no protests on the streets, unlike other countries.

So what's the issue?

Anonymous said...

So what do you think?

Veritas said...

LHL is a wicked man hell bend to create dynastic wealth. The economic system in Singapore is not about self-reliance or competitiveness. Instead, it is on the principal of enslavement, parasiticsm.

In Singapore, there is almost no chance of becoming a self-made man, working on productive economy. Instead, most tycoon in SG are parasite sucking Singaporeans dry through property and usury (bankers).

The most hardworking Singaporeans slave hand to mouth. Many of my classmates, who do not even work seriously longer than couple of weeks, are enjoying life, just because their parents left them one of two of houses.

Singapore economy is one whereby productive people feed these rentier landlord. These landlords are able to live idling calling themselves man of leisure.

LHL is against work ethnic or self-reliance. He is a supporter of parasite, maggots and the most scumbag elements in the society.

Anonymous said...

lhl is very thickskinned. always say one thing but do another. tell him to show us how work fare had improve self reliance?

Ng Eng Hou said...

What the PM is saying is just lies. Low taxes and targeted benefits vs. High Taxes and comprehensive welfare.

As I see it, it is neither of this. Cutting income and corporate tax rates and increasing GST rates is not a lowering of overall tax rate, in the contrary, it just spreads out the burden of taxation to the poorer section of the population and the imposing of GST actually taxes the poorer ones more. In effect, this change in the tax structure has helped to boost government coffers substantially.

What we see is actually lower taxes and lower spending on the people. Did you still remember the PM's ridiculous excuse when he made his last proposal to raise the GST from 5% to 7%? He said it was to help the poorer ones?!

We only have ourselves to blame because most of us choose to believe in MIW lies!

Anonymous said...

Our PM sounded like my ex-boss.

Always claimed the business no good thus couldn't raise our pay. Strange he could change new car very often, once a new Lexus was driven less than 5 mths then came a BMW.

When I had enough, confronted him on these things his reply was ' My need must come first !'

Same same same.....

Stop lying to your own people said...

In any high tax countries, people can easily have big houses and big cars. How come in low tax Singapore, people cannot even buy HDB easily, this system is worse than communism.

Anonymous said...

"I do not believe that Singaporeans would be willing to pay the taxes that Scandinavians pay, or that our economy could be competitive at such heavy tax rates."

"We face a fundamental choice as a society - do we want low taxes and targeted welfare benefits; or high taxes on all and comprehensive welfare? Singapore has chosen the first; the Scandinavians the second"

We pay low taxes? My foot!
1. GST
2. Road Taxes
3. ERP
4. Taxes for new cars including COE
5. Patrol Taxes

These are unique to Singapore only

ah lian said...

What do the MIW -- especially the self-proclaimed 4th-gen leaders -- understand about DIGNITY?

Most of them are born into rich, well-connected families. Obstacles are conveniently cleared on the path that's mapped out for them to "guaranteed" high office!

To them, "dignity" means NOT TO BE A BURDEN to the gahmen!!! If you have to slog till you drop dead, that's just too bad. If you can't compete with cheap foreigners, or you can't pay your medical expenses, it must be coz you don't have the MERITS. The gahmen will only give you minimum aid, as too many "handouts" just make you lazier and more dependent!

This is their mindset. It's elitist, and it's also heartless.

So, this gahmen will NEVER think it's a better way to tax the rich MORE, much less to use the $ to help citizens in need. (O, but foreigners... maybe. Since, to the MIW, they help boost the GDP!)

The priority of any country's government cannot be JUST to get rich -- AT THE EXPENSE of even AVERAGE citizens!!! It's no use the PM saying it isn't so. He, like most of the MIW, have already shown they're totally disconnected with the ground.

And surely the mass import of f-trash as the ONLY way for growth is UNSUSTAINABLE! Have the MIW elite scholars NO BETTER IDEAS?!

ah lian said...

Aiyo, to the guy who keeps harping that PAP got more votes in the Hougang BE...

Pls lah, it's only ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY odd more. And that's AFTER the Yaw saga!!! Also, after DPM's "attack" on Mr Png!

Like dat oso feel damn proud meh?!

Anonymous said...

The most wicked act was to elevate all top senior civil servants into the super high income brackets, ie those earning 10x or more than the median household income of $55k. Once you have done that, no policies, whether social or economic, will ever become socially "progressive". The rich protect themselves, and the rich now includes the policy-papers writers (ie those wet behind the ears scholars earning super scale salaries and running MoF and MAS), the policy tablers (ie the directors, DS and PS), the policy deciders (ie ministers, GIC and TH). So those 60% who make silly comments here who think they have "understood", all we can conclude is "ignorance can occasionally be bliss", but they should not expect their suffering children to take care of them.

Anonymous said...

# 1 We chose Capitalism

# 2 The PAP chose Capitalism

# 3 We Chose the PAP

# 4 Since then, (1963 ) we have no other option.

Witness said...

"The sense of dignity will come when we find our voice as a people, regain our democratic rights and empower the ordinary people to bring about meaningful change in our society."

Dream on. This will not happen as 60.1% of Singaporeans are essentially have a rat's DNA makeup.

Until you realise that being a keyboard samurai ain't gonna impact things significantly; you're waasting your time.

Meaningful changes comes from meaningful action.

Not meaningful typing.

The era of "the pen is mightier than the sword" is cliche'.

In today's world, organising oneself is the way to go.

And until you realise this, nothing will change and I will just be amuse when I read your articles.

You speak of courage but you clearly don't know what you're talking about. Courage is not an intellectual point.

It is an act.

Anonymous said...

Don't put your expectation too high that the PM will be voted out of office come 2016. By then there will be another 30% of grateful foreigners who would have just been given citizenship. You bet whom these new citizens, who are so grateful to the PAP for their citizenship, will vote?
Over the same period, another 30000 disgruntled families, or 100000 disgruntled born-in-Singapore citizens would have voted with their feet and left Singapore for good.
So, DREAM ON, MY FRIENDS. There will never be any change of govt. for the next 100 years.

The Pariah said...

Pay And Profit (PAP) = Progressive Corporatism where Govt serve the interests of Big Biz, NOT THE PEOPLE.

Puke, Pui and Phooot (PPP) = Public Private Partnership is when Regulators kow-tow to Corporations.

Over last 30 years, starting from 2G PAP under Goh Chok Tong to present, Singapore's governance model is what Economist Jeffrey Sachs described as "THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM 50%".

- Corp tax rate just a shade above the rate to escape being classified as "tax haven".

- Personal tax rate for top income earners amongst the lowest in NIEs, thus attracting the wealthy tax-unwilling nationals from the US, Australia, etc, to take up Singapore citizenships.

- Estate duty for the super rich abolished so that they also die wealthy.

- Yet 7% GST on even the poorest when they buy rice, medicine, etc (then rebated via GST refunds which may not end up being GST-neutral if the person's profile is atypical).

Anonymous said...

After the estate duty was removed, we saw a radical jump in the number of millioaires in Singapore. At the same time, corporate taxes were severely cut and to make up for the lost tax revenue, a new tax called the GST was introduced and later increased. The burden was passed onto the Singaporean consumers.

All these measures were planned and Singaporeans are still in the dark; toiling away at an overpriced HDB public housing.

And the government sang its own praises and justifications for a million-dollar lifestyle and many believe they truly deserved it.

The middle-class lifestyle in Singapore has numbed the critical faculties of a large portion of Singaporeans. While this is status quoing, a middle-class squeeze is taking root. It is a matter of time before the trials and tribulations that the policies impacting Singaporeans would hit the middle class.

Anonymous said...

We have a government that has been using the poeples' money to get rich and make itself rich. We're a lousy country that is becoming dirtier by the day - look at the many litter on the ground as are the number of foreigners on this island. Quality of life? Singapore? The only people who are enjoying that is the government and the government's rich men and business. The people of Singapore are short-changed.

Just ask yourself, can you retire in Singapore? When you fall sick from cancer, etc. can you pay your hospital bills? Can you have much spare cash after you pay flat that doesn't belong to you?

Many Singaporean husbands are suffering. It's a burden to them. And it shows.

Singapore is just a city-state company. This is not home. If you hold freedom as your highest value in life, Singapore is not the place for you.

It's a criminal offence to sell bubble gum here.

Anonymous said...

why sg corporate tax so low, but most working ppl's pays like dirt? and yet the shopping centre goods so ex, service and healthcare cost so high?
don't make sense

Anonymous said...

@veritas
i used to read your blog but now even i sign in , i still a blocker.

Veritas said...

////
Re: i used to read your blog but now even i sign in , i still a blocker.
////

I am going to tidy up my blog a bit. As you know, my blog attack racist especially FT Indians and that make me in awkward position because PAP imported so many racist that many became my colleagues.

Everyone know Singaporean Chinese are divided and we brothers attack one another. I was also being labelled "racist" by racist.

So, I decided to close my blog for a while.

And those real racist who marginalize Singaporeans especially fuckers in Citibank call them talent call all other real talented Singaporeans stupid.

I will reopen my blog somewhere around early next year.

Its time we stop fighting one another. Stop backstabbing one another. Its time we join hand in hand against racist. We should give fuckers FT Indians in Citibank a kick in their racist asshole.

Anonymous said...

You guys must be on drugs if you think Singaporeans will accept higher taxes for social welfare. No political party in a sound state of mind will tread this path. It is one thing to say we should have more equality in society but the people who have made it to the top by making the right decisions and took the required risks and sacrifice will not be willing to subsidize a massive middle class.

And by the way what good is it when you finally get that cheap car to drive around but it takes you hours to get anywhere because the roads are clogged?

we do not live in a perfect world and neither are we prepared to become the 'people's communist republic of singapore'

Veritas said...

Today, PAP tag team with racist against Singaporeans. Not only we are despise by Indian, PRC, Ang Moh, but even Pinoy who run their own country into shit despise Singaporeans.

Our clever sons and daughter are deprive a job because their own the senior manager (foreigners or local) practices racism against Singaporeans.

Over the years, PAP created a culture that the most useless and selfish political animals become managers while the true talent get despises.

Today, I am here to provoke Singaporeans into anger. I am here to wake them up. I am not pretending I am spreading gospel of peace. I am not.

I am to spread message so that Singaporeans can become a proud people. I want to rid all the lies that PAP used to inculcate guilt and fear among Singaporeans

Veritas said...

////
You guys must be on drugs if you think Singaporeans will accept higher taxes for social welfare. No political party in a sound state of mind will tread this path. It is one thing to say we should have more equality in society but the people who have made it to the top by making the right decisions and took the required risks and sacrifice will not be willing to subsidize a massive middle class.
////

You are really a fucking liar. Singaporeans middle class already paid the highest taxes in the world in the form of 99 years HDB, usury interest, COE, GST and to those blood sucking GLCs that are making tonnes and tonnes of rentier profit.

The rich are paying close 0% tax. Reasons
1) Income above $5000 not CPF-able
2) 0% estate tax
3) GST and COE neglible to rich as they hoard most of their income.
4) 0% dividence tax
5) 0% capital gain tax

It is liars and maggots like you who impede the advancement of society.

Anonymous said...

LHL keep whining singaporeans must live by their own means and continued self sacrifice to the PAP...

Question i have here for LHL..are you and the maggots cum parasites sticking like glue to you doing the same?

Look carefully in the mirror...you expect others to do that while you are living off their blood,sweat and tears of others...Who is the real human being here?

Do you think you are a wise man...or just another meat pupper for others to pull their strings to you on their behest?

Are you really a leader..or just full of shit air.

Sad.