Wednesday, September 19, 2012

National Conversation : Need for major mindset change...and a clear vision

I spent the last 2 weeks waiting and listening to understand how this National Conversation will be conducted. The govt says that thousands will get to participate, govt will listen, hard decisions will be made. How do you "listen" to thousands of people and make sense of this massive feedback? After that are we going to craft policies that will satisfy as many people as possible (commonly known as populist policies)? How are coherent sustainable policies going to emerge from all this?  It is strange how the PAP govt move from a completely top down approach ignoring the voices from the ground and now turn around to conduct a broad conversation with the thousands. I don't want to get too cynical about the whole thing but I think the public just wanted a more balanced approach to policy making and for the govt to address the know existing problems.

At this juncture, I would like to detour a little to point out 2 noteworthy opinions by members of the  establishment. The first is an article by Han Fook Kwang, former editor of the Straits Times,  urging the govt try harder to understand the people on the foreign influx issue:

"The large majority of Singaporeans in the heartlands, who worry about their job security and the future prospects of their children, will have a completely different perspective, and will be much less sympathetic to the argument that Singapore needs these foreigners to grow and prosper.

Policymakers and political leaders have to bear this in mind and try harder to understand the mindset of this large group of Singaporeans who feel threatened. It is a real and deep-seated fear that has to be addressed." - Han Fook Kwang, The Real Fear : Being pushed out of home

If you read Han Fook Kwang's article, you will find there is nothing new in his article about the ground level sentiment  . The points he raised have appeared in this blog several hundred postings ago, in various Internet forums and other parts of the Internet. What is new is for someone who upheld the govt view on this issue for so many years as editor of the Straits Times, to turn around and tell the govt that it has been wrong on this issue.
A former chairman of the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) yesterday critiqued the "myth of meritocracy" at the core of the Singapore system.

Mr Nizam Ismail, 45, also took issue with Minister of State Halimah Yacob's National Day Rally speech, saying it suggested that the reason the Malay-Muslim community has not succeeded "as much as we can is because we did not work hard".

Her statement took a "very broad-brush approach" that ignored real problems, he said, adding that meritocracy glosses over social inequality. - [Link]

During an AMP dialogue on the National Day Rally former AMP chair, Nizam Ismail,  criticized the "myth of meritocracy".  He took issue with Minister of State Halimah  Yacob's National Day speech that suggested that meritocracy is alive and well in Singapore and Malays have not succeeded as much as they can is because they did not work hard[Link] and that  "meritocracy also breeds elitism when those who succeed think they deserve it and look down on those who fail". Similar issues have been discussed in this blog about one thousand postings ago. It is often argued by the PAP that the income gap in Singapore is acceptable because our system is meritocratic and social mobility exists. A high level of social mobility exists not with the possibility of people moving up from the bottom to the top - such possibilities exists almost everywhere in the world - but when such movement is common - it is seen when the middle class is healthy and expanding, when there prosperity shared  and the hurdles for poor to move into the middle class not too overbearing. Today staying in the middle class is in itself challenging. We have a middle class that is feeling insecure and those living in poverty feeling hopeless. We have 400,000 workers locked into the Workfare that keeps their heads just above water and a middle class lifestyle eroded by rising cost of living. The advantages of wealth and inherited wealth is protected by low taxes and pro-business policies while the disadvantages of poverty passed down to from father to child in the name of "self-reliance". In order to break out of this negative loop, we must look beyond what individuals can do and look at what we can do to the system.
If there is just one thing to look at and monitor to know whether we are in the right track and the socio-economic system we have is in a healthy sustainable state, it is the income gap. 8 months ago, I posted a video of highly respected Yale economist Robert Schiller explaining why this is the single most important problem to solve[Link] - more important than the deep financial crisis we have seen in recent years.

Today in Singapore we have the highest income gap among developed countries. This "gap" is not spread across cities and rural regions but concentrated in an small island of 700 sq km. While other developed countries have in place safety nets, universal healthcare and higher progressive taxation, the Singapore system is build a different philosophy. It keeps taxes low and emphasizes self-reliance - you as an individuals shoulder the highest % burden of healthcare expenditure in the developed world, there is no national pension scheme and individuals take care of their own retirement. These schemes appeared workable and sustainable in the 90s.
If you examine the household income distribution of the last 10 years, you find that the bottom 10% saw income rising from $1332 tp $1580 about $25 per year while the top 10% saw income rising from $17,400 to $28K. The benefits of GDP growth has disproportionately gone to corporations and wealthy individuals. If you find it hard to cope with inflation, just imagine what it is like for the bottom 10% whose income rose by just $25 as the cost of living rose. By around 2005, it was clear a large number of families could no longer cope and Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) Scheme was introduced in 2007 to keep their heads above water. But Workfare does not address the root causes of the problem and perpetuates a system that is heading towards bigger problems. The large income gap also breaks the "self-reliance" model - with more and more people working full time jobs not earning enough for retirement and medical care. The PAP takes its self-reliance further by mandating that children have to be responsible for their aged parents (Parents Maintenance Act) - filial piety  is fine if you're in the top 10% but for lower middle income families earning $3000,  nursing home fees of $1K+ pushes these families into poverty. The system as it is amplifies the effects of the income gap.

Today Singapore is today the wealthiest nation in the world based on average income. Our average income is incredibly 10% higher than Norway.  Knowing this is little comfort for ordinary Singaporeans because our extremely high income gap means the median income which is a more accurate measure of what an ordinary Singaporeans earns is completely disconnected from our average income figures.

Mr Ghazali Salim, 42, who manages a cafe, said he doesn’t feel particularly rich on his income of $2,500.Said Mr Ghazali: “I’m not rich and there are still some Singaporeans who can’t afford their own homes as housing is so expensive.”
And that’s the thing about indices – it tells only one side of the story, experts say. - TNP, Is Singapore the richest and healthiest nation in the world?
How did income gap become so large in Singapore? If you go to a PAP MP and ask this question, they will give this standard answer that income gap is rising around the world.
"Globalisation and technology will widen income distributions all over the world" - PM Lee., Speech to ESS[Link
It is true that income gap has risen around the world. But that does not explain why Singapore has the highest income gap among developed countries. Norway for instance has a GINI of 0.25, roughly half of what it is in Singapore.  If you look at the data on this page : List of countries by income inequality, it lists the GINI index before and after taxation & transfers. If you compare the data, you will notice a number of countries have relative high income inequality before taxation & transfers but low GINI index after transfers e.g. Japan 0.46 pushed all the way down to 0.33. So there are only 2 ways to compress the income gap - tax & transfers or fairer/flatter  wages structure. If you don't want to raise taxes on the rich, make sure people get good wages when they work.  If you refuse to do either, you live with a rising income gap....history has shown that the masses will eventually reject such a system. In a democracy, they vote the govt out, in a dictatorship, they overthrow the govt.
So why do we have such a wage structure in Singapore? Our bus drivers are paid half the wages of a bus driver in Taiwan. Our cleaners and supermarket cashiers are the lowest paid in the developed world but our politicians still the highest paid in the world.
"Workers' wages account for less than half of Singapore's GDP. In contrast, wages take up more than half of GDP in developed countries." - Sue Ann Chia, 1st World country, but not First World wages?
Remuneration (wages) as a share of GDP relative to company profits in Singapore is the lowest among developed counrties. In fact the share of wages to GDP has never crossed the 50% mark in our history.
"Linda Lim said Singapore's economic growth model has tried to 'do too much, and achieved too little' in delivering returns for Singaporeans, relative to foreign firms and foreigners."[Link]
In an earlier article I explained that the large influx of foreign workers mostly from 3rd world will negatively impact wages[Link] - it is almost common sense, allowing hundreds of thousands of cheaper workers to come into Singapore gives businesses access to cheaper labor to make higher profits - this is in effect a wealth transfer from workers to corporatiions and business owners.
"The main reason for this sector’s low wages and productivity is the liberal import of unskilled workers in this sector. And it is not sustainable because the increase of such workers required to satisfy the growing domestic economy will be inevitably greater than the ability of infrastructure, such as transport and housing, to keep pace. This is now apparent to regular public transport users." - Ho Kwon Peng, [Link]

Ultimately, what is unsustainable will break and a socio-economic system with rising inequality will become polarised and fall apart due to rejection by the people. Today we see the old formulas breaking apart. The CPF Scheme and does not ensure that Singaporeans can enjoy a good retirement - it is projected that more than half cannot reach minimum sum requirements[Link]. The HDB no longer builds affordable homes - prices rising much faster than median income putting young families deeper in debt. Our healthcare system results in the heaviest financial burden for the sick and their families among develeoped countries.

The great mystery isn't how we can continue but how we have not already fallen apart with such a system. One aspect of PAP rule has been to keep information  and the mainstream media controlled so that the system appear healthy and the deep problems masked from the public. Take housing and healthcare as examples, we have been told repeatedly by the govt with the help of the mainstream media that they are affordable and everyone is taken care of - the 3Ms of our healthcare system ensures that everyone is okay under the system. If you're not looking to buy a home or get seriously ill, you can completely unaware of the problems. The PAP's ability to control information is now eroded by the new media/social media. Awareness of the problems have increased over the years and once people gain a better understanding of the system, they find it hard to accept and support. Take Han Fook Kwang, the ex-Straits Times editor as an example.The article he wrote so accurately reflects what is happening on the ground but we did not see such articles in the Straits Times when Han Fook Kwang was the editor...his vision suddenly cleared up once he left his position in the Straits Times.

There is a reason why the PAP is unable to perceive the problems in our society the same way as the rest of us. The man on the street calls it the "you die, your business" ideology.  The PAP thinking is highly elitist and sometimes, when convenient, influenced by market fundamentalism. For years, as the wages of the bottom 20% fell due to imported labor, they would argue that it is just demand-supply. If you can't take the competition, "you-die-your business" . When "shock therapy" and minimum wages were suggested, the PAP say that it is not good to interfere with market forces. However, when businesses, including GLCs and TLCs complained that they cannot get workers,  the PAP did not tell them it is demand-supply, they would have to pay more for workers....the PAP govt intervened by opening the floodgates to foreign workers.

What brings the PAP to this National Conversation is not their concern about the income inequality - this has been growing for years - or our beleaguered middle class but the willingness of Singaporeans to vote against them. If you go back the the early articles I wrote in 2005, there was more than enough data about the widening income gap and low wages in Singapore for the govt to be concerned about these problems. But once they received a strong mandate in the 2006 elections, the PAP govt raised GST and cut corporate taxes and taxes for high income earners. They also raised their own salaries and flooded the labor with more foreign workers. Common sense will tell you that these are not the type of policies to make when income gap is rising and there is enormous stress on low wage earners. But through their ideological lens these are not big problems. Their elitist views also drove them to believe they deserve the highest salaries in the world - this is hard to swallow in a country where kindergarten teachers, cleaners, bus drivers get the lowest salaries in the developed world. It is the PAP's own ideological extreme that make what is painfully unacceptable to ordinary people  okay for them.

Han Fook Kwang's advice to the PAP is go and understand the concerns of ordinary Singaporeans and not to dismiss and trivialize the challenges they face in their lives. The PAP should stop using the conversation to promote its thinking - they have had ample opportunity to explain their policies in the mainstream media and there is no lack of understanding of what they are doing and the outcomes of their actions. The more they explain why they needed to do what they have done, the less support they will gain on the ground because the last thing ordinary Singaporeans want to hear is justifications for going in a direction we have been going in the last 10 years - more and more people are willing to vote against this.

At the end of the day, what Singaporeans want is a clear vision of what the govt will try to achieve in the coming years and a concrete plan to get there. If this vision is aligned with what Singaporeans want for themselves and their families...and they are convinced the govt is serious about it, there is no reason not to support it. But to craft such a vision, the PAP needs to get out  ideological box, come down and really listen and understand the people...make the difficult tradeoffs that may run against vested interest linked to its power structure....the only way to motivate the govt to move in this direction is to indicate that, we too, are serious about change and our support cannot be taken for granted.


Anonymous said...

Hahaa.. well said. Especially the last line. Say NO to PAP!

Anonymous said...

"Today in Singapore we have the highest income gap among developed countries. This "gap" is not spread across cities and rural regions but concentrated in an small island of 700 sq km."
Lucky Tan

Exactly. That's why PAP can get 93% seats in Parliament with only 60% votes.

Not possible if spread across cities and rural regions like in other large countries.

So small island of 700 sq km is very good for PAP to win elections and rule what.

So highest income gap no problem because everywhere in Singapore - north, south, east, west is about the same, about 60% are happy with PAP.

That's why opposition no hope.

Anonymous said...

Major mindset change?

Tell that to the 60% who voted PAP.

Tell that to the opposition.

Anonymous said...

IMO, it is not possible for the PAP to 'think out of the box' to understand what issues that ordinary Singaporeans are concerned with - PAP has enjoyed a single party dominated form of governance for decades and this form of dominance resulted in a self-perpetuating reinforcement for selecting in-group members that think alike, creating a groupthink effect.

You can see this when all PAP MPs regugitate the same explanations and ideas over and over again despite contrary evidence.

It is not that Singaporeans have gone soft as claimed by LKY, it is the PAP, through the lack of challenges from an effective opposition, fails to develop adaptation to change.

Seeing an opposition as a nuisance rather than a form of check-balance for PAP's ideas, is partly the reason for PAP's inability to adapt to current changing sociopolitical scenary.

I am afraid the only way is to vote the PAP out to form a minority in Parliament before any effective changes can be implemented.

Anonymous said...

Another talk cock piece that leads to no where except more "conversation"

Anonymous said...

Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I think I'm entitled to them.
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!
Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
Jessep: (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.
Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
Jessep: You're goddamn right I did!!

Anonymous said...

A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me
Satisfy me baby

Elvis Presley - A Little Less Conversation

Anonymous said...

Why should the rain fall on a piece of junk?

Go turn to your lawyers for answer or the vision you seek!

Anonymous said...

It appears that the government is practicsing N Korean type of government, and allowing the companies to punish the citizen instead of the state.

Anonymous said...

60% is the BOSS.

Not the PAP govt, not the internet, not Lucky Tan, not National conversation, not foreigners, not North Korea type, not clear vision, not whatever lah.

Know who is the BOSS. Because only the BOSS matters. Unless you are your own BOSS.

ah lian said...

CLEAR VISION. Haha. You know those comic illustrations where they draw $$ signs over the person's eyes? That's EXACTLY the way our gahmen are.

They did (and still do) have a vision. V clear one, to them: that of turning Singapore into Singapore, Inc.!!!

After so many failed policies, I have to say the National Con is actually a "brilliant" idea from the PAP coz...

1) It lets them appear caring.

2) It lets them steal good ideas, so they don't actually have to think of them. And the stealing will be glam-up as "adopting feedback from the ground"! Some more, if any idea flopped, it's not THEIR fault.

3) It lets them have their way even more easily! They can push through whatever they ALREADY want before the National Con, in the guise that it's what the majority want.

Haiz. The gahmen, mostly BORN elitist, won't change their mindset, UNLESS they suffer a setback, like losing BIG in an election.

I only hope more from the 60% can change THEIR mindset and see through the bad acting of our gahmen, and see them as the conmen they are.

ufo said...

The best way for pap to understand what is happening on the ground is to take a huge pay cut. if they have a plate full of food, they will not understand what is hunger. take out all the food, then they will have hunger, understanding and wisdom.

fumanchu said...

"The PAP thinking is highly elitist and sometimes, when convenient, influenced by market fundamentalism." -- a GEM for the ages

The root of the problem might be their political ideology, but they have powerful allies - a bunch of self-serving top civil servants and greedy (yet short-sighted) business people who monopolize the views on matters of employment, government spending and taxation.

The PAP never does anything without reasons, those who cynically saw through the crocodile tear in GE2011 would agree. And so the fact that they have this "dog and pony conversation" suggest that the probability of a regime change in the next 2 elections looks high enough, but I wonder whether the new regime might be able to rid itself of the influences of these 2 powerful allies of the MIW.

Get Rich or Die Trying said...

Wow..I can't imagine the day where our income will be $137k GDP per capita. Looks like there will be many more million dollars HDB flats, and $3000 dishwashers jobs transactions to go. Will my CPF be any where close to that level by the time I get there? One word -- Get rich or die trying.

Anonymous said...

There can be no new vision with the same old people in charge.

We need to vote in more Opposition MPs into parliament before any real conversation can take place.
Otherwise, you know and I know.
It's all just wayang.

Anonymous said...

There is a reason why the PAP is unable to perceive the problems in our society the same way as the rest of us.

In a mathematician plays the stock market, the author mentioned about the natural behaviour known as confirmation bias. Why would the entrenched incumbent ever change or need to? What is taking place is a mere play of words, a temporary shift of focus or a timely distraction to make you feel good. Yes, a leopard changes its spots and an old dog learn new tricks when the sun sets on the east. Bats no matter how smart, are blind.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lucky.

Love your previous post stating how other countries such as Australia have their dishes washed despite not having cheap labour... that really hit home!

Hope millionaire business people see it too.

Thanks for vocalising our many thoughts, anger,confusuion and disgust.

All the best on your well earned vacation.. without internet?


Anonymous said...

Lucky, it is easier to change the government then to change the DNA of the pap.
So long as the leadership of the pap remain the same, it is impossible for them to change. That is why the pap is DOOM. Any bright and talented young person better avoid the pap.

Anonymous said...

I really love your articles Lucky.

All this National CONversation is a joke -- we really have to vote out the PAP else it's the end of our country. I can't imagine being more expensive and souless than our current state...

DanielXX said...

bluff one la. You tell them to use the median income and see what you get.

To be fair, there is this saying about democracy: it's not the best, but it's the best of the rest. You could say the same about PAP today.

However, increasingly people have come to realise perhaps having somebody to complement (to use a nice phrase) the PAP may be more constructive than what they would have us believe. Just because something is 60% does not mean the other 40% is not achievable. They would not like it, but hell, who would?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lucky!! Your articles are getting sharper and more incisive. Really appreciate you taking the trouble to pen down your thoughts. Looking at it, I know you must have done a lot of research and put a lot of thoughts. Its not easy and takes time. Thanks for taking the trouble. I for one, really do appreciate it and pls keep it coming!!

Anonymous said...

excellent piece. even better than usual.

dun think that the PAP doesn't have a clear vision. it does. however, its not people oriented and not geared to suit the times or the situation.

the social consequences of its policies have not been considered too.

in fact, most things have not been properly thought thru at all. its a result of the insistence on obey, don't ask questions, and a number of other past policies.

pity some commenters keep blaming the 60%. it's such a loser attitude, and so typically PAP - just claim it's someone else's fault if things don't work out.

Anonymous said...

There is this well known classic case of the conversation between PAP's Lim Boon Heng and a middle age Singaporean lady reported in April 2008.

A middle age Singaporean lady said to
Lim Boon Heng that she is facing competition in sales from young PRC beer girls and said she is already working 2 jobs to make ends meet. She is afraid having such foreigners work at her coffee shop will undercut her earnings.

Lim Boon Heng told her that the China co-worker was drawing men in droves to the coffee shop. This in term mean brisk business which in turn help local, in turn helped the local drinks, lady keep her job!

This conversation represents the classic of PAP's mentality. In essence, the PAP is handing the bright future to the foreigners in golden platters while ordinary Singaporeans' future are really going down the drain.

Anonymous said...

Claps claps

Superb article. Arguments perfect, but a tat bit long; a shorter article may better catch the short attention span of the short sighted 60%.

However if the read this through, I am convinced their faith will be shaken.


Anonymous said...

Joke! Han is a joke. You think what you said people in the middle level and below didn't know.

you yourself have written for a long time on this.

any thing changed?

Just vote PAP out and things will improve.

Anonymous said...

Until we kick out PAP, we will never have a true National Conversation. A true democratic country free of dictatorship never have a National Conversation, only National Debate in parliament regularly.

Anonymous said...

I think there are two sets of Singaporeans that will vote against the pap in the next elections.

One will be the lowest-income.

Two will be the retirees and the about-to-retire that will do that. The can see what that regular 4 to 5 percent yearly inflation and low cpf payments are hurting them and their children who have to support them one way or another.

Anonymous said...

"So highest income gap no problem because everywhere in Singapore - north, south, east, west is about the same, about 60% are happy with PAP."
Anon 19/9/12 12:37

That's why in Singapore elections, either you win big or lose big.

No such thing as "in between" one.

Vote opposition to make them win big?? Boleh?

Anonymous said...

I don't get where this notion that the lowest income are anti-PAP came from. From my own observation and analysis, most lower-income earning citizens are PAP supporters and here's why:

Fear. Most of these people fear that the PAP is the best hope we have and alternative parties may actually make their situation even worse.

Fear out of ignorance, that the government will find out whom they voted for and be vindictive.

Ignorance of the fact that it is the government policies that have kept them poor.

Lack of critical thinking and buying the government propaganda (thru the MSM) that the government is doing a fantastic job and their lives could have been worse off if not for the policies.

Gratitude towards the government for the measly handouts they receive (workfare, CHAS etc).

The 40% anti-PAP supporters consist mainly of the middle-class caught in between and idealists amongst the well-off who care for the notion of democracy and who don't benefit from the government policies.

If it's true that the 40% are the poor, then Hougang SMC and Aljunied GRC must be the poorest parts of Singapore, but that's not the case. The poorest Singaporeans (surprise, surprise,) live in the Northern and Western parts of the island, where the PAP enjoys its strongest support.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lucky Tan

I really enjoyed this article. It summarises a lot of things (reality and sentiment on the ground, PAP's hypocrisy and true intentions) very well in a really sincere and heartfelt way.

I think politics is the best way to change society (not just through elections, but through activism to improve the political climate, our freedoms of speech, our people's knowledge of political issues, etc). But I don't really know where to start doing something concrete. I'm not sure if anyone can do anything (the National Conversation doesn't seem to be doing it), but I think there're a number of us who do want to do something to improve our home.

Just putting this thought out, to let people know there're those of us who want to act but are not sure where to begin.

Thanks for always writing; I think you're doing a lot for all of us here in Singapore. Thanks. :-)

Anonymous said...

Great! the GDP per capita for singapore is $81,000!

keechiu, those who make this amount in a year!

for those who don't, remember to vote out PAP in 2016. your standard of living depends on it.

Anonymous said...

Lucky, another excellent article, thank you for that.

In my opinion, none of the MIW holds a candle to you, they are just parrots and words that come out from their mouths really have no substance. You should be the one sitting in Parliament speaking for us.

Xianlong said...

hi anon 11:54,

Your analysis of lower income being pap supporters seem reasonable. I notice that 2rm flats has highest % of hanging flags. As flats get bigger-->% drops. 5rm flats has lowest % hanging flags.

Anonymous said...

"Globalisation and technology will widen income distributions all over the world" -- PM Lee

If our country is fully globalised, we will be able to do the following

1. Buy subsidised patrol from JB without three quarter tank rule
2. Buy cars from JB and drive them in Singapore.
3. But cheap cigarettes from JB and bring them into Singapore without incurring import taxes

Anonymous said...

Why need a Conversation. For decades we have this so call Feedback Unit right? Unless of course our feedback goes in one ear and comes out the other or never even goes in!!!

Anonymous said...

@Anon and Xianlong

Would agree that there is broad truth in the observation about poverty and eventual political obeisance (You still get some tough nuts that will not break from being oppressed though, kudos to them).
When one is straining to make a living, one does not have the time or energy to think about higher order issues like political freedom or challenge. It is not to the advantage to the party in power to deliver a lifestyle where Singaporeans are so comfortable and free enough from the daily struggles of life to ponder about higher order issues. Keeping you struggling also weakens you and increases the power of the government to buy your support or silence through dispensation of little goodies from time to time.
Their challenge is to press your nose close to the ground but to calibrate it and not too close that you would have an outright peasant revolt.
This is probably one of the reasons why they resist the lowering of HDB prices to a more affordable level even though there is an obvious correlation between high property prices and low fertility rates. Yet they bleat again and again about how concerned they are about the reproductive rate.
A wise man once said, look at what they do, not what they say or in more verbatim form, the fruits they bear.
The idea of keeping the peasants busy can be spotted from time to time when one reads the speeches etc of the founding fathers.

Anonymous said...

The nursing home fee is not $1K+, it is at least TWICE that amount now. The opportunistic private nursing home operators are milking us dry and high.

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Hi, I am just suprised that we dont have a minimum wage act, which makes the minimum wage SGD$10 a hour or even $8.50 a hour. The problem being faced is more by the lower demographic than the middle class, so why dont we focus on that first.

Anonymous said...

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