In 1984-1986, we saw the dismantling of the last big unions in England - coal miners and trade unions on Fleet Street that had enormous power in the newspaper industry. I remember the bitter "battles" fought between these unions and PM Margaret Thatcher. The "Iron-Lady" eventually crushed the power of the unions. Her counter-part in US, Ronald Reagan did the same. Along with unions, marginal tax rates for rich corporations fell. That was a solution to the economic problems of that era. But how did the unions get so big in the first place? These unions were formed when workers were badly exploited and unionization was a way of giving workers some power. David Harvey so ingeniously pointed out that the problems we have today are caused by the solutions of the past.
When you look at the video, how do you think Singapore fits into the picture? Long before the Iron-Lady of England got rid of powerful unions, independent unions already disappeared a couple decades earlier from Singapore. Long before Reaganomics caused wages to stagnate as productivity rose, Singapore leaders used the simple trick of keep wage gains below productivity gains so that per unit labor cost kept falling to entice foreign investments. We never had much welfare in our nation's history .....and Reagan slaughtered the "welfare queen" only in the eighties. Wages as a % of GDP fell to below 50% in the West in the 80s[Link]. but in Singapore we never crossed the 50% level in our entire history.
Our leaders like to say that our income inequality is due to globalization - so they don't have to do anything drastic to solve this problem. But the truth is the problem for Singapore is the rest of the world became more like Singapore in the last 2-3 decades and our leaders stretched their old tired strategies further so that they can attract capital. The last card they are playing is to open the floodgates to foreign labor. A policy that has caused our income gap be to the worst among developed countries and the cost of living to shoot up. This policy has caused the wages of hundreds of thousands of working Singaporeans to fall belong what is needed for basic living - 400,000 Singapore workers have wages so badly depressed they are eligible for Workfare.
In a recent dialogue session, DPM Teo Chee Hean tried to present the case for more immigration[First hand account of the dialogue session. He wants to double down on policies that have failed to deliver positive outcomes for a vast majority of Singaporeans. The audience of Singaporeans who have already seen the outcomes of this policy were not so easily persuaded. We all know what the outcomes are if we give the PAP a free hand to import as many people as it wants. To even tell the audience that the PAP wants to import more people before the deep problems caused by the current influx is solved is simply unacceptable for ordinary Singaporeans. If the PAP imports more people, the problems will just get larger.
When the PAP started importing foreigners, they told Singaporeans that it will create higher paying jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans. It will improve our quality of life - more vibrancy etc. None of these promises have been delivered ...yet the PAP chooses to invent reasons to pursue this policy. This time Teo Chee Hean tried to sell to the audience the idea of importing people to solve our low fertility problem. This line of reasoning is simply flawed.
No other govt in the world has resorted to importing foreigners to solve a low fertility problem. The solution to low fertility is to find the root causes of low fertility and raise it. Also, the massive foreign influx that the PAP govt has allowed for the last decade has already over compensated for the low fertility rate - even if we had high fertility, we wouldn't be able to achieve the kind of population growth we had in the last 10 years.
Let history be our guide. If we allow the PAP to continue to pursue its policy to import people at a rate not seen anywhere else in the world, our problems will grow so large it will completely crush us.