Saturday, December 22, 2012

The genius in the US Fiscal Cliff ....and relevance to Singapore...

USA  has borrowed too much money and worries about the size of its debt has led to a general consensus among law makers and the population that something  has to be done.  The US govt spends much more money than it collects every year so mathematically there are only 3 things you can do to solve the problem 1. Increase Revenues by raising taxes 2. Spending less money 3. Do a bit of both -  increase revenues and spend less. Option 1 is very painful for the Republicans because it involves raising taxes on the richer citizens by a lot and option 2 means deep cuts in social spending which is too painful for Democrats. Democrats have the White House and Republicans control the Congress so nobody can force either 1 or 2 on the other side. So option 3 seems to be the way to go and that is what the US public wants based on surveys done.

Option 3 requires each side to sacrifice something which is against ideological beliefs. There is also the problem of support base - the Republican support base will never support anything tax hikes while the Democrats' support base will never support any cuts in social spending. If they compromise, their supporters will feel betrayed because they are so deeply and stubbornly locked into beliefs. If they negotiate, no compromise will emerge because neither side will agree to any sacrifice and the whole negotiation will be deadlocked. So what does it take for both sides to give way? To bring both sides together and overcome their ideological hurdles, they have to see disaster or crisis looming to force them to act together to solve the problem. That is what the Fiscal Cliff is  - it is designed to be an artificial disaster  to force both sides to agree. In Aug 2011, after the acrimonious US debt ceiling talks, they agreed to create this man-made crisis in order to force both sides to come to a compromise:

"On August 2, 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 as part of an agreement to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis. The Act provided for a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the "super committee") to produce legislation by late November that would decrease the deficit by $1.2 trillion over ten years. When the super committee failed to act,[14] another part of the BCA went into effect. This directed automatic across-the-board cuts (known as "sequestrations") split evenly between defense and domestic spending, beginning on January 2, 2013. Also, theAffordable Care Act imposed new taxes on families making more than $250,000 a year ($200,000 for individuals) starting at the same time" - Wikipedia[Link]

The Fiscal Cliff consists of large increases in taxes and big cuts in social and military spending...and will likely plunge the US economy into recession. It demands heavy sacrifices on both sides unless they are able to compromise. It also provides both sides with justification to supporters that the compromises they make are necessary to avoid the Fiscal Cliff which has deeper social spending cuts and higher tax increases. Without the crisis or threat of crisis, political leaders sometimes find it hard to make changes that run counter to the beliefs and expectation of their support base. The compromise represents the middle ground that most Americans want.

"Our policies, our measures, those we must update, you must revise and look at it afresh....."

"We have to represent the middle ground of Singapore. It's because we have had a middle ground in Singapore, we are able to have a dominant party and consensus politics because more or less in Singapore, whether in a three or five-room flat, you are part of a country and your interests are the same and your identity is about the same." - Lee Hsien Loong to activists[Link]

PM Lee recently spoke to PAP activists telling them that PAP "has to represent" the middle ground in Singapore to remain the dominant party - you notice he chose to use the word "update" policies rather than "change" when he talks to his activists. In recently years, more and more Singaporeans have began to feel that that the interests of the PAP have diverged from their own. The middle ground is not only shifting it is thinning out. There is less middle ground to stand on as inequality in our society increases and for many issues, there is no middle ground left to stand on. PAP's problem is not just one of finding the middle ground but creating enough middle ground to stand on. Just like the Republicans and Democrats in America, its supporters want the PAP to stay the same and stick to the policy principles that represents the PAP ideology.

For years now, the PAP has pursued pro-business, trickle down economics and allowed the income gap to expand to be the highest (sometimes 2nd highest) among developed countries. Whenever possible, it spend money on tax cuts for the corporations and wealthy - these included corporate tax cuts and elimination of inheritance tax - rather than social spending even as income inequality expanded and poverty rose.

Despite a very pro-business and clearly lopsided policy to import foreign labor to the highest level per capita in the developed world,  minor changes implemented in 2012 by the PAP govt were greeted by resistance by corporations that have become dependent on foreign labor. Even small changes are resisted as certain groups feel they are entitled to hire workers from where-ever they want, hire and fire as they please sometimes paying wages that is insufficient for workers to live on. Today 400,000 Singaporean workers are put on Workfare[Link] just to keep them afloat and taxpayers are made to pay for the outcomes of these policies as corporate profits rise to record levels relative our GDP.

When PM Lee spoke to his own activists, he felt that he needed to remind them about the middle ground because for many of the PAP supporters their perspectives have been shaped by the benefits the derived from the system. They feel the system is good because they have done well. Many benefited from generous scholarships, employment in GLCs or civil service still able to dish out various benefits not enjoyed by the ordinary Singaporean. Those who are part of the system (the PAs, SAF, NTUC etc) who enjoy good medical benefits and rising wages cannot see that the system that has worked well for them is not working well for a growing number of ordinary Singaporeans. It is always easier to argue that someone else should sacrifice and be the losing end of any policy trade-off...especially those without any power or voice.

The PAP govt- unchecked, un-moderated, dominant and armed with propaganda - evolved unbalanced policies but change is not going to be easy even as the problems pop up one by one and become painfully obvious to ordinary Singaporeans . Those who have benefited and want to continue to benefit from PAP policies now form their support base making change difficult....even as the middle ground shifts and voters swing away from the PAP.

Right now solving the main problems in housing, transport and healthcare has turned into almost intractable puzzles for the PAP govt. Another year has gone by and these problems have only worsened exacerbating the effects of the income gap. A home is less affordable now that it was at the beginning of the year.  A car is now less affordable for the middle class family some of whom now have to take the public transport and service quality for public transport hasn't improved.... but Minister Liu is now talking about fare hikes next year citing rising costs. It will be a bigger challenge now compared with the past to get people to accept a fare hike because real wages for a large segment of the population has remained stagnant and the public transport companies are still highly profitable.  Healthcare costs keep rising at a rate above median income increase and the lack of universal healthcare to ensure good affordable healthcare means there is rising financial risk for those who are under-insured, those who are uninsured due to pre-existing conditions or facing financial difficulties - the PAP govt's approach to shift as much financial burden to the sick and their families has led to ordinary Singaporeans having the highest %out of pocket payment and the highest % share of healthcare expenditure (vs govt healthcare expenditure) [Link]. The middle ground shrinks as the middle class shrinks due to relentless rise in housing, transport and healthcare costs.

We saw some sense of urgency to effect change shortly after the 2011 GE when the loss of votes provided a wake up call for the govt...however as time passes, the memories of the large angry crowds at opposition rallies start to fade, the PAP govt slowly falls back to its pattern of 'business as usual'.  The motivation for change fades and the PAP convinces itself their system works fine and all it needs to make some "adjustments" and tweaks and the system can again deliver the goods. It now conducts the National Conversation which seems to be going nowhere - a new Gallup poll has found Singaporeans to be least positive people in the world out of 148 countries. What we need is leadership not conversation to break out of our current trajectory. But in the absence crisis, real change is hard as  thick ideological lenses obscures rationality.

For the US Republicans, they feel that taxes for the rich is too high even it is at the lowest when it is the lowest since World War 2. They refuse any cuts in defense spending even though the US spends more on defense that the rest of the world combined. Their plans, vision and actions are checked and balanced by the existence of a strong political opponent and a president from the other side. The PAP has turned Singapore into the 2nd most militarized state in the world[Link] with its high defense spending that exceeds the combined defense expenditure of our 2 closest neighbors. Under the PAP, Singapore has the lowest tax rates in the developed world and more elderly workers  than you will seeany other developed country and sometimes people from developed countries are shocked by the number of elderly workers they see in Singapore. While this, along with inequality and  financially burdening the sick are intolerable for many of us, the PAP operates on another set of values and principles. Solving our public transport problem so the it would broadly benefit Singaporeans would require the PAP to put service quality and affordability above the need for public transport companies to generate profits but this is not something that the PAP can or will do easily.

In GE2011, Singaporeans sent a clear signal that they want change. If that signal wasn't clear enough another was sent during the PE when the majority of the people voted against the PAP endorsed candidate. In a BE (by election) scenario where people are not afraid of an abrupt destabilizing change of govt, they won't be afraid to vote to signal a desire for change hence it is likely that another clear signal will be sent in Ponggol East SMC BE when it held.... that is if the opposition avoids a 3 corner fight.  Unfortunately, all these signals will not be sufficient to move the PAP to make fundamental changes. Just like the National Conversation that started ambitiously with "no sacred cows" slowly become constrained and shackled by what the PAP cannot accept ideologically and started going in circles. In Japan,  LDP seriously reformed itself after its election defeat to engineer a comeback, in Malaysia, heavy losses in the 2008 election and the threat of a defeat in 2012 pushed the UMNO govt to make progress in areas of human rights and democracy. There are 10 more days to the US Fiscal Cliff and both parties are still holding out refusing compromises that is against their ideology. President Obama reminds them the middle ground  lies neither with the Republicans or the Democrats both sides needs to give up something that is fundamentally against their values and principles to reach this middle ground...and is only possible when both parties meet halfway neither side getting 100% of what they want.

In Singapore we have a dominant govt and a one party system. We have been under this system for more than 4 decades resulting in extremes not seen anywhere else in the developed world.  In the past, with propaganda and control of the media, the PAP govt has been able to persuade ordinary citizens to accept its approach. However, in recent years, as a result of the Internet and increasing number of ordinary Singaporeans now understand how unbalanced PAP policies are and the middle ground is shifting steadily away from the PAP.  However, with its ideology entrenched among so many of its supporters, change is not easy without a crisis. Without demonstrating the ability to make fundamental changes, the PAP tells us there is no need for a 2-party system or a multiparty system..the PAP can find the middle ground without a strong opposition presence. Listening to the National Conversation, listening to what the PAP and its supporters are saying and looking at the changes the PAP govt has been willing to make...I think they are very very far from the middle ground and the growing frustration will lead to more support for the opposition until a sense of crisis if felt by the PAP and its supporters....only then will you see real changes that will significantly benefit ordinary Singaporeans and their families.








67 comments:

Lye Khuen Way said...

A well argued piece that spelled out the similarity between the US and us. We need a Big crisis. Signs of it are appearing.

sgcynic said...

For a PM who even has to dawdle over a by election for a single man constituency, grappling with the national problems must be an insurmountable cliff to him. The presence of opposition MPs in Parliament must be a source of paralysis to him and he has to divert his not considerable intellect to thingking of ways to fix them and not just the problems Singaporeans face.

If things are bad, good luck when 2016 comes. Over the next few years, as more car owners and businesses come to the end of their COE life-span and baulk at the $100k piece of paper, we shall see the full blow of inflationary pressures parsing through our economy.

Already we have seen fissures in our housing, transport and local workforce. Now cracks surface in the exploited low wage foreign labour segment. How will the PAP manage this potentially unruly group vis-a-vis the employers? The PAP while going to extremes in not wanting to breed a crutch mentality among Singaporeans, have done exactly that for the employers. Cheaper, better, faster. That's what the PAP must do to survive and avoid a hollowing out of their support base and that's as practicable as getting the Republicans and the Democrats to break out of their ideology. Just waiting for one more fissure - that within the party ranks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous sgcynic said...

For a PM who even has to dawdle over a by election for a single man constituency, grappling with the national problems must be an insurmountable cliff to him.


So you think you are smarter?

sgcynic said...

Yes, definitely smarter than an anynomous clod.

You will not get my vote said...

The co-driver has slapped the driver twice already. Yet, the driver responded only once and has gone back to sleep at the wheel.

The 3rd slap is in progress. But as the arm swings to contact the face, the driver may simply duck his head ( not calling a BE).

If the driver keeps ducking, no slap will be delivered, driver returns to sleep mode.

2016 will require a 2 handed slap one on each cheek... and they must be hard enough to get the driver not only to wake up but to vacate the seat.

They are unfamiliar with so many voices talking against them and do not know how to deal with it. As such, they revert to old techniques.. muzzle the voice, distort and discredit.

But these techniques are employed using old tools. They do not work anymore. Let them grope.. the demise will come. We just need to remain steadfast and resolute. No amount of goodies will work for me.

Anonymous said...

You are right.

The fiscal cliff is man-made. And there is nothing to worry about. Dont let the news agencies blow it out of proportion.

Only the american tax payers will be affected and there is tons and tons of money floating around. From New York to Beijing, Singapore, Sydney and London... even in Greece!!

The money is all in the bank's books and they are most happy to lend it to you. The markets will remain buoyant, with cash.. any market: stocks, properties, commodities,metals,COE,M&A.

No one dares to pull out the plug and risk political failure and economic misery. Even Greece was given money ( and lots of it was free, no strings attached and even written off!)

No one has the guts to increase interest rates

No one has the guts to impede labour import

No one has the guts to stop the music.

singapore_researcher said...

one of the following 3 scenarios will occur soon:

Scenario A) Singaporeans become so frustrated that over the next 10 years, most that can leave will leave the country for pastures they think are better. Singapore will become like a Bali in Indonesia - a party place for foreigners and nothing else

Scenario B) The current PAP CEC, the government of Singapore, will suddenly, miraculously, awaken to their misguided beliefs, and change radically, believing that a caring, compassionate Singapore is much more important than money. singapore goes back to 1990s prosperity and well-being

Scenario C) Singaporeans become increasingly frustrated, they become so angry, that laws are broken openly, violent rebellion occurs, and current PAP leaders are put into courts or violently removed from power. PAP leaders continue being obstinate to the very last end, until they find themselves either having to flee the land or one by one getting assassinated

Anonymous said...

Actually, if Lucky Tan says things are very bad in Singapore, it was already very bad in 2011!

In fact it was already a crisis!

Yet PAP could still win 60% majority votes in GE 2011!

The opposition also did not get any stronger since GE 2011!

In fact the PAP did not get worse since GE 2011. Slightly better, judging from PAP votes in Hougang BE 2012.

So despite the bad things Lucky Tan said, PAP will most likely continue to be in power in 2016 lah, tio bo?

And if there is BE, most likely PAP will also win Punggol East lah. Because besides WP, Desmond of SDA and son of JBJ from RP also want to join in what.

What do you think?









Anonymous said...

"Because besides WP, Desmond of SDA and son of JBJ from RP also want to join in what."
Anon 22/12/12 11:28

That's the main reason why opposition will never win elections to become govt.

PAP although no good, is still the best available, like it or not.

Unless Lucky Tan makes himself available.

Anonymous said...

5-reasons-why-worker’s-party-may-not-win-punggol-east-election

http://therealsingapore.com/content/5-reasons-why-worker's-party-may-not-win-punggol-east-election

Anonymous said...

Or more anonymous buggers come forth, tio bo?

Anonymous said...

I am taking offense that my SMC is call Ponggul and not Sengkang east

Anonymous said...

The pap is DOOM. Incapable and unable to change. Talentless. Entrenched vested interests. Rotten mess all over they system. The only way to stay in power is to abuse the military. Even that will be short term only. The Arab Spring will come to Singapore in a different way.

Anonymous said...

I had been hoping for Kuan Yew's death - though I think the man Was Once a good leader and thank him for our many trees - as the event that would really shake up the PAP and the people, and do good for our country. That it would open up fresh routes, galvanise real leaders to step up.

But these days, you look at who passes for ministers/leaders; you listen to the absurdities they spout; you are appalled at their incoherence in thought and speech; you are disgusted with their pettiness, inability to change, lack of ideas and moral and political fibre; and you Know this country is in Bad Shape and his death will not help much.

Kuan Yew did too well in encouraging the belief that only Money and Me matters.

Spore needs a major disaster to get it back on track.

Even die-hard PAP supporters I know are telling their kids not to come back from their studies abroad. That says a lot.

The poker game that is the Spore situation needs more people to call others' bluff loudly and clearly, the way Obama is trying to call the Republicans' bluff.

Anonymous said...

Even after Lee Kuan Yew dies, I don't think the opposition can become stronger.

Because the smart ones will continue to make lots of money, whether got Lee Kuan Yew or no Lee Kuan Yew.

If they can makes lots of money, they will be happy and satisfied so will have no motivation to join opposition, tio bo?

So the opposition will remain weak, like now.

And PAP will therefore continue to win elections, for sure.

Anonymous said...

It is much easier to make lots of money than to become a better alternative to PAP.

That's why there is no better alternative to the PAP.

Anonymous said...

PAP will continue to win elections. That's if you continue dreaming that they perform as bad as in the past. But we all see the increasing screw-ups. So they gonna lose, tio bo?

Anonymous said...

If they were doin a good job, they wouldnt need to ponder about whether to hold the BE or not. The water in the stream has been muddied, and many downstream cannot drink from it anymore.

Anonymous said...

Daddy, Daddy!
Punggol East SMC by-elections how ah?

Anonymous said...

"That's why there is no better alternative to the PAP."

Your standards are too low.
You are too easily satisfied.
And you can't recognize talent even if it's stuck up your arse.

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Anonymous said...

As if that after imported 2 million foreigners to Singapore in recent years is not enough, we continue to see and hear SME bosses keep on pressuring the PAP to open the floodgate even wider to more cheap foreigners to Singapore.

These SME bosses, being the hard core PAP supporters, have clearly benefit from PAP pro foreigners policies. These SME bosses know that by mass importing cheap foreigners to work for them, the SME can cut down a lot of labour cost. Besides, through employing of large number of cheap foreigners by SME, SME bosses can depress the salary of Singaporeans, thereby further cutting down on Singaporean labour cost.

Knowing that PAP is pro business, these SME become more daring. SME bosses use despicable actions to exploit the cheap foreigners like receiving money kickback from foreigners when SME bosses hire these foreigners, SME bosses cut down on foreigners salary using nonsensical reasons, SME bosses threaten the foreigners to work like animals in environment where safety regulations are not followed, etc.
These cheap foreigners, being too helpless to defend for themselves, have to subject to these SME bosses exploitation.

All these cutting down on labour cost and exploitations translate to higher profit for the SME businesses. Higher SME business profits translate to
higher SME bosses salaries,
higher SME bosses bonus,
higher SME directors fees for the SME bosses,
higher SME directors benefit in kinds for the SME bosses,
higher dividends for the SME bosses if they are the shareholders of the SME.

While these gain in income by SME bosses is despicable, what is even most sickening thing is that: in all these years, PAP continue to open floodgate to more and more cheap foreigners and knowingly let these SME bosses to continue the exploitation of these cheap foreigners.

Play angry Birds said...

Great Place for visit singapur...

Anonymous said...

The "welcome cheap foreign labour" for the supportive bosses coincided with the "no crutch mentality" for those out of the game. Brilliant masterpiece.

Kojakbt said...

One of the best articles from Lucky Tan :)

Have also published on TRE:
http://www.tremeritus.com/2012/12/22/the-genius-in-the-us-fiscal-cliff-and-its-relevance-to-spore/

Anonymous said...

"people from developed countries are shocked by the number of elderly workers they see in Singapore."

For many years already, even those from 3rd world countries are shocked at so many elderly poor working in S'pore.

My office has tons of cheena, ahneh, peenoys, burmese etc thanks to the open-legs policy. ALL of them expressed shock when seeing all those old uncles and aunties cleaning foodcourt tables and public toilets.

But after just 3 months in S'pore, the foreigners all become numb already. Some will even scold the 70 yr-old ah peks and ah mas for being slow to clear the table, or not cleaning the toilet clean enough. The foreigners simply follow the example set by Sinkies. They see Sinkies disrespecting these old workers, and they also follow.

How many readers here have ever scolded or imperiously ordered an oldie Sinkie to quickly clear their foodcourt table? I bet got 75%.

And how many actually stop to think that such a situation of having old folks being forced to do back-breaking labour for miserable $600/mth in order not to starve is actually a failure of S'pore society and as a country?? I bet at most only 5%.

Anonymous said...

Good article. Those well paid civil servants will never understand the pain that others are going thru at the moment. Americans have always been spending big so they more or less bought it upon themselves. Singaporeans have always been frugal in spending so pussy action party more or less bought it on them due to excessive greed on the top. After the great depression, we see WW 1 and 2. I will not be surprised to see WW 3 coming as that is probably the only solution for the massive debt accumulated.

Anonymous said...

For 2 terms, president obama cannot get the huge debts fixed due to lack of cooperation from the congress. we will see next term dominated by republicans and they only have one solution - war.

Minghui Kuok said...

One of the biggest problem behind a two party rule is that we cannot assume the other end to stay the same way. This is eerily similar to how the PAP now is different from the PAP of Dr Toh Chin Chye, Dr Goh Keng Swee, S.Rajaretnam and a far younger LKY.

In fact, I believe the only factor preventing such a situation bar the most obvious ones will be that only very few of our Opposition leaders have the certified credentials to lead.

Which now comes to a damned either way kind of scenario we might be seeing here. SG's only reason for it's current 1st World status is down to a stable socio-political platform, but it can be very likely that 2016 will change everything for better or for worse. We don't need to look to far away because M'sia is the best example of how the Opposition managed to gain a stranglehold onto the parliament.

At the end of the day, while I don't believe in a perfect government, such a logic shouldn't used as an excuse. It's just like saying "oh, we don't see any decent chances of success in saving the fella, so just let him die".

At the end of the day, what we're seeing here is far more of a monster created by a regime pre-GE 2011 and it will take quite some time for PM Lee to fix this mess and things didn't seem that optimistic if we're just talking about mere words spoken from upstairs.

But yet, any further concrete plans on a positive scale won't really matter to the people if PM refused to call for a BE within the upcoming weeks for the Punggol-Pasir Ris GRC.
The entire vacuum left behind by a decent MP (bar the most obvious of course) will be the greatest test for the Government. Even far more than the 2011 GE because the impact will be felt all the way to 2016.

In fact, the biggest failing any given regime can be guilty of is to overestimate the people's need for stability and a gross underestimation towards whatever rationale perceived from the people.

Anonymous said...

//// ... only very few of our Opposition leaders have the certified credentials to lead. ////

Another Sinkie brainwashed by too many years of Lee Con-You propaganda.

What are "certified credentials to lead?"
If really got such things, you think PAP will not already use it to identify their future Leeders in their tea parties?

The only qualification you need to lead is a strong sense of social justice and the determination to work with people to make it happen.

You think Nelson Mandela got "certified credentials to lead"?

Anonymous said...

It won't work. Think harder

Anonymous said...

My dear Singaporeans, our calls for a by—election for Punggol East will
fall on deaf ears, our civil rights will continue to be trample on, only a concerted civil movement to raise awareness and publicity will compel the PAP to hold a by—election as the constitution dictates.

The PAP do not value our words and it's ignored and it will not get any attention or respect becos we are boxed in and not thinking out of the boxand becos we allow the PAP to box us in.
To generate that attention, the only proven way to gain greater publicity and support is to seek and show it publicly, the recent strikes is testimonial that action speaks louder than words.

For a small start, to start the ball rolling, I'm calling for a civil movement to raise awareness by way of wearing a white shirt/Tshirt on the 24/12/12, 25/12/12 and 31/12/12.
Show your support and solidarity by wearing a white shirt/Tshirt on this 3 days as a sign in support of a call to the PM for a Punggol East by—election asap.
Spread the message, by facebook, twitter.... on this symbolic action to be seen to be believed.

Do you want to be heard and taken seriously, then you need to be seen to be heard, not boxed in.!
I'll be wearing a white shirt/Tshirt on the 24/12/12, 25/12/12 and 31/12/12 and
looking out for yr support, Spread the message, make it happen.

Joshua Chiang

Anonymous said...

//// ... only very few of our Opposition leaders have the certified credentials to lead. ////

Ya lor!
Only Opposition Leaders certified by PAP and Straits Times can be considerd to be qualified to lead.

Anonymous said...

/// ... only very few of our Opposition leaders have the certified credentials to lead. ////

Your supporters and voters provide the only certification you need to lead.
Don't listen to Lee Con-You.

Anonymous said...

THE WRITER IS WRONG about this:
>>For years now, the PAP has pursued pro-business, trickle down economics and allowed the income gap to expand to be the highest (sometimes 2nd highest) among developed countries. Whenever possible, it spend money on tax cuts for the corporations and wealthy – these included corporate tax cuts and elimination of inheritance tax – rather than social spending even as income inequality expanded and poverty rose.<<

THE PROBLEM is that PAP has allowed the Singapore dollar managed exchange rate leading to multidecades of low local interest rate, causing SGD to be printed exponentially, and bidding up property prices. The reason why cost of living is so high, is because property prices are high and rentals are high. More SGD being printed (as the result of trade surplus) to maintain the exchange rate to keep pace with the devaluation of foreign currencies. Local banks are flush with cash, so interest rate very low, and local banks lend out money to property developers to earn easy money.

In essence PAP/MAS SUBSIDIZED the exporters using TAX PAYERS' savings. DON'T YOU GET IT LUCKY TAN??? ARE YOU SO BLIND??? WHY DO YOU WANT TO TAX THE RICH?? They have lawyers and accountants to plan their taxes, so you think you can get their money so easily? Ordinary people do not, and higher taxes only hit middle class worse off. Higher taxes also won't reduce the high commercial property rentals. TAKE AWAY THE IMMORAL SOURCE OF MONEY: THE CORRUPT BANKING SYSTEM. THE BANKERS AND PROPERTY DEVELOPERS ARE KILLINGS US. SECONDLY, MAS IS ALSO KILLING US.

patriot said...

Will give You my full support and get friends to do likewise.

Great job and kudos to You!

patriot

Anonymous said...

@ Joshua Chiang, 22/12/12 20:32

Wear white T-shirts may not be as effective as a car honking campaign?
See below.

The campaign to impeach USA President Nixon
------------------

Public reaction was immediate and intense, with protesters standing along the sidewalks outside the White House holding signs saying "HONK TO IMPEACH," and hundreds of cars driving by, honking their horns.

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Watergate_scandal

Anonymous said...

// Local banks are flush with cash, so interest rate very low, and local banks lend out money to property developers to earn easy money.//


It seems like absolute top heavy wealth distribution with all the actions and big monies going to the few property tycoons in town. Check out the who's who to find the new kids and billionaires wannabes on the block.

Anonymous said...

"The reason why cost of living is so high, is because property prices are high and rentals are high."
Anon 22/12/12 22:20

Agreed.

But most important is:

1. despite the high cost of living, the opposition has not and is still not a better alternative to the PAP.

2. 60% are quite happy and satisfied despite the high cost of living, and so they think it is better to vote PAP than to vote opposition.

To win elections, you need not be good but you need to be seen by majority voters as the best available.

Remember, in the kingdom of the blind, the one eye jack is King!


Anonymous said...

"Local banks are flush with cash, so interest rate very low, and local banks lend out money to property developers to earn easy money."
Anon 22/12/12 22:20

That's why under PAP, you need to be smart to make lots of easy money.

So be property developer, property agent, property speculators, etc to make money lah.

Definitely easier than to change or replace PAP govt, tio bo?

Anonymous said...

Baby elephant from tied tied to small rope. Grow up into a huge bull also tied by small rope. Small mind already locked, tio bo. Eat spit from young, spew spit when old. Never tasted anything else, think only shit good, tio bo. Somemore try to invite others to join in, lagi best!

eremarf said...

Hi Lucky Tan

I agree with your assessment of how a two-party system can "force" a compromise whereas a one-party system does not. More or less I'm a believer that if strong democratic institutions and processes are in place - that's the best way to run society.

At the same time - I must say that the fiscal cliff seems either very misunderstood, or is a deliberate smokescreen, set up by the Democrats to shift towards the right (under the guise of compromise). Politics in the US are not a perfect example of democratic processes because moneyed interests wield too much influence.

I know the US is a famous country and everyone's talking about it - and that's why you use it as an example of something to aim for in Singapore's political discussion. But we can do a lot better than to follow how the US does things. (And in fact - you always have ready critics who say - look at how badly the US is doing - you want Singapore to be like that?)

For e.g., in the UK, the press is much more independent of moneyed interests, and there is a lot more pressure from them to punish bankers over the Great Recession, LIBOR fixing, etc - and indeed the Bank of England has taken steps - proceeded with criminal charges, reformed regulations, etc. You see NONE of that in the US. In Iceland, people completely turned around after their banking crisis and refused to bail out their banks - that's a democracy that's free of the influence of bankers. In Greece and Spain and Italy - I think politics is quite influenced by neo-liberal thinkers/economists - which I don't think represent the people. If people had their way - what with all the riots - I think these countries would have left the Eurozone or at least fought harder before accepting such punishing austerity. (And we have also very strong democracies which are not touched so much by crises - Scandinavian countries for example.)

Democracies aren't perfect - and they will make mistakes. But at least they are mistakes made by EVERYONE, not just by narrow elite powerful interests (which are different in different societies). I think Europe - in terms of economic decisions to pursue austerity - they have made a mistake. I don't have a lot of information on Europe - so I can't analyse why they pursued this kind of economic actions - whether it was democratic or influenced by elite interests or what.

But okay I digress too much. As always, thanks for writing - appreciate it very much. Hopefully we can make a real difference with the punggol BE. Cheers everyone. Majulah Singapora!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, braveheart.

Joshua Chiang

Xianlong said...

>>For years now, the PAP has pursued pro-business, trickle down economics
------------------

There is little if any trickle down economics.

What we are seeing are trickle UP economics:
- $1.1B from taxpayers to buy buses
- Up fares from masses

Common folks are made to pay (trickle UP economics) for the blunders made by the brilliant scholars in white.

If there is trickle down economics, we wouldn't be seeing more & more charity shows.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2220 - Low interest is not a reason why cost of living went up. in fact, low interest will cost cost of living to go down provided others stay statue quo.

The main reason is greed. Super greedy people on the top flooded the islands with aliens with no proper housing plans, allow aliens to buy public housing, allow aliens to sell public housing without taxing them.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this world is cursed. Super greedy people are always the people end up on the top. People at the bottom are usually the most easily contented people. Super greedy will never share things with others cos they are simply super greedy. If anyone thinks that these super greedy people on the top will help others, they are simply being manipulated, misinformed or mislead.

eremarf said...

@Anonymous 01:35

You're right you know. Research studying tribal societies from archaeology and anthropology find that people are on top because of greed, not because of their ability to benefit the group more greatly. Researchers interviewed primitive groups in Mexico and asked them if they had had famines before, and asked them whether the rich people stepped up to help organise resources so everyone benefited during the famine. Instead they found that the elites would price-extort others (force people into debt, for example) during such crises, rather than helping the group survive.

Archaeologically, you find that this kind of inequality begins only when humans started accumulating excess stuff (e.g. at fishing grounds with abundant fish catches). In hunter-gatherer tribes, this didn't happen, because every bit of food, all tools used to obtain food, everything was needed for survival, so people were forced to share (even selfish, greedy ones) - if they didn't share they would get thrown out. (e.g. Australian aborigines don't own tools - tools belong to the tribe, not to individuals)

http://mathbabe.org/2012/12/06/unequal-or-unfair-which-is-worse/

My point is - sometimes greedy individuals do harmful things to society. I think it's justified to stop their greedy and selfish behaviour if it harms the society we live in together with them. We can vote for laws which prevent wealth accumulation which in the end harms society (but it's a complex topic - not so easily settled).

(In the past, the more common solutions are peasant revolts, together with land reforms (and cancellation of old debts), or everyone becomes so poor they becomes slaves and society collapses - e.g. Sparta. In more modern times, we had socialist revolts in old Russia. Those were so scary it made the US business tycoons wake up their idea in the Great Depression and agree to giving up some wealth via Roosevelt's New Deal, which laid the foundations for America's prosperity post WW2)

Anonymous said...

Excellent observations, eremarf.

Interesting to read your interpretation.

Anonymous said...

pap = anti-Singaporeans, anti-Singapore.

Time to start a movement against the papist.

Anonymous said...

In any society, it is impossible to make 100% happy and satisfied.

But if the government can make majority happy and satisfied, it is very good already.

And what % majority? 60% would be good enough if can get 93% seats in Parliament.

Anonymous said...

Any opinions regarding the recent spat between Aljunied Town Council and AIMS - the shell company with start up capital of $2, helmed exclusively by former PAP MPs?

Getting sick of PAP's way of defining meritocracy, especially the way they take care of their own members, disregarding all sense of meritocracy. Even if they covered their tracks, it is still a form of legalized corruption.

Anonymous said...

I think as govt, they can do what they want, or be what they want to be, including being greedy, as long as they can win elections with 60% votes.

And those netizens who criticise are cowards for not daring to come forward to contest elections.

So to hell with what they say. Even if they say million times also no use.

Anonymous said...

@23/12/12 10:15
//// So to hell with what they say. Even if they say million times also no use.////

So PAP internet troll, why are you still here?
How much are you being paid by the Pro Alien Traitors?
Is your salary coming from S'pore taxpayers or from the Pro Alien Party?

Anonymous said...

Actually I don't understand why:

1. during elections, the crowd at opposition rallies was so much bigger than at PAP rallies, and

2. the internet blogs and commments were much more anti-PAP than pro-PAP,

but yet when it came to the vote, PAP won majority votes.

Why ah?

Lucky Tan, with your knowledge and wisdom, can you explain why?


Anonymous said...

Only stupid trolls ask

Anonymous said...

PAP-MIW Joke - Typical Sexual Transaction between two PAPigs
------------------------------
One Monday night, after a Meet-The-People Session at an SMC;
A young PAPig man and his hot PAPig date were parked on a back road some distance from town.

They were about to have sex when the PAPig girl stopped. "I really should have mentioned this earlier, but I'm actually a whore and I charge $20 for sex."

The PAPig man reluctantly paid her, and they did their thing. After a cigarette, the PAPig man just sat in the driver's seat looking out the window. "Why aren't we going anywhere?" asked the PAPig girl.

"Well, I should have mentioned this before, but I'm actually a taxi driver, and the fare back to town is $25..."

Anonymous said...

PAP-MIW Joke
-------------
Tomorrow is Monday Night!
Time for "Meet-For-Sex Session" at all GRCs and SMCs.
I mean "Meet-the-People Session"

Do you know what your PAPig wife/girlfriend will be doing on Monday night?

Anonymous said...

Greed is lust. But people tend to associate lust with sex.

And be distracted by sex to pay much attention to the message or completely missing the warning

Anonymous said...

Today, they don't call it greed. Instead, it is meritocracy .

Anonymous said...

23/12/12 10:25 but yet when it came to the vote, PAP won majority votes. - the reason is the people involved in counting the votes are from pussy assocation, the person who read the election result is also from pussy association.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 01:35 - what really matter is inorder to stop them from becoming evern moRE super greedy, we have to vote alternative irregardless of their credentials or past records (anon 1132). think of doing them a favour so they do not need to suffer so much in hell. think about the greater good and achieve the power balance in singapore. the alternative parties are there to reduce the sins of the pussy action party. just vote any alternative party. greed which is an evil sin has to be suppressed.

zwz said...

"Despite a very pro-business and clearly lopsided policy to import foreign labor to the highest level per capita in the developed world, minor changes implemented in 2012 by the PAP govt were greeted by resistance by corporations that have become dependent on foreign labor. "

besides the above-mentioned. i can't help but to guess that as pap are too intertwined with the business partners and their party members, they probably holding dirts among one another. that make it hard for them to change.

Anonymous said...

No lah, only 60% of the coporations resisting changes tio boh?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 23/12/12 10:25
// Actually I don't understand why:


Becos the play safe ones, alot of the girls voted without bothering about who said what. They are the so called "daft" ones as someone commented becos you can kick them and they will still salute you back.


Anonymous said...

Hey Lucky,

I got another idea. Imagine PAP runs the US govt and they pass the bill that raised taxes on the very rich and cut excessive entitlements. There are howls of protests from all interest group but PAP just steamroll them and execute this ruthlessly. Within 5-8 years, the deficit is reduced to 0 and the U.S govt have a surplus. With that they don't have to print money, can easily restart their manufacturing base and unemployment fell to 0%

Sometimes middle ground just don't exist. You have to create them.

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