Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Busting the myths about welfare states...

"The transformation from farming societies to industrial societies was accomplished with a high degree of equality not only with regard to income and wealth, but also in everyday life and in the workplace. The barriers between workers and managers are low. Consensus is the leitmotif. The labour force is actively engaged in innovation and efforts to enhance productivity. Why? Because there is a fairly even distribution of the fruits."  - Article Below on Denmark.

Welfare is not always good or always bad but it has been a dirty word in Singapore since our ex-Minister Mentor rose to power and led us based on his hard truths. My view is it is best to have an economy that pays people well for the work they do and there is fair distribution of wealth ...and welfare restricted to those who are sick, disabled, poor and elderly...the most vulnerable in our society. Unfortunately, we have the largest income gap (sometimes 2nd largest) among developed countries and many work full time and cannot make ends meet. The situation is so bad, even the PAP resort to the handouts in the form of workfare to help keep 400,000 Singaporeans and families afloat.  Although Workfare is a form of help for those who really need it, it helps to prolong this highly unequal system and avoid fundamental changes.

"Apparently the welfare system encourages people to start new enterprises and not the other way around or at least does not constitute a barrier for doing so. It is easy to get started and there are few psychological inhibitions; the Danes actually do it.

However, they do not seem able to turn new born enterprises into sustainable, growing enterprises. There may be many reasons for this, but a limited market combined with inhibitions about entering foreign markets may be one of them. High taxes underpinning the welfare system may be another factor preventing growth through limiting capital. Business organisations hammer away at this point, but there is little evidence to substantiate it at the moment."

The PAP has kept taxes for the wealthiest citizens and corporations low. The low taxes and the corresponding low social spending in a country where inequality is very high has deepened the effects of inequality,   They have told us this low social spending and low progressive tax model is the best way to grow our economy. Many Singaporeans have come to accept this as the gospel truth - among developed countries,  Singaporeans pay the most out of our pockets when we get sick, we spend the least on the most vulnerable, the poor and elderly, in our society.  If what the PAP has been telling us is true, Denmark should have a sickly and weak economy because it spends so much on welfare and taxes are high. But this is not true, Denmark has a vibrant innovative and productive economy and great homegrown companies such as Novo (world's most sustainable company) and Lego.

"China entered the global economy, labour arbitrage undermined Sweden's investment goods industry. A switch into other economic and industrial sectors was required. It was done faster than for similarly structured but larger countries such as Germany and Japan."

When China entered the global economy with its cheap labor, Scandinavian countries successfully restructured their economies rather than compete head on using cheap imported labor.

"Second, the Danes want to keep the welfare society. Over the years several political parties have offered lower taxes, but this does not strike a chord with the voters who smell the quid pro quo: lower welfare - and they do not want that."

They have also successfully reverse their low birth rates to a level closer to replacement level TFR.

While we cannot simply imitate these countries, we cannot always believe there is only one narrow road without any other viable options. The Danes have done things that are often the reverse of what in done in Singapore and achieved dramatic results. We cannot say we have nothing to learn from them and that the hard truths of one man and strict ideology of one party lead us to the best outcomes for our society.

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Busting myths about welfare states

Four Nordic countries, with Denmark in the lead, are showing that the social welfare system should not be vilified

Byjoergen oerstroem moelle

Staying afloat: The district of Nyhavn in Copenhagen; the Danish policy is to use social welfare to keep citizens inside society by offering a decent living standard through income transfers which gobbles up a sizeable amount of money but brings along a higher degree of social stability. - PHOTO: AFP

MOST of Europe and the US struggle to sort out the mess created by the 2008 financial crisis while watching in half-disbelief as four Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland) sail through the storm in good order.



Circumstances may have favoured them. Norway is an oil exporting country. Denmark is self-sufficient in energy. Sweden had its crisis in the early 1990s. Finland managed to restructure the economy with strenuous efforts after the shock when the Soviet Union collapsed.



All four have small populations making restructuring easier. When China entered the global economy, labour arbitrage undermined Sweden's investment goods industry. A switch into other economic and industrial sectors was required. It was done faster than for similarly structured but larger countries such as Germany and Japan.

These Nordic countries are historically homogenous, firmly anchored in the Protestant religion connoting certain ethical values influencing work ethics and mutual trust. Only recently has immigration taught them that the world is multicultural and it is not without struggle that they face integration of people with another culture than their own.

The transformation from farming societies to industrial societies was accomplished with a high degree of equality not only with regard to income and wealth, but also in everyday life and in the workplace. The barriers between workers and managers are low. Consensus is the leitmotif. The labour force is actively engaged in innovation and efforts to enhance productivity. Why? Because there is a fairly even distribution of the fruits.

Gender equality is high with participation of women in the workforce almost at the same level as for men. Add free tuition at universities plus generous grants to students (one per cent of GDP is used to support 287,000 students) and talent is rarely wasted because of gender, race, or lack of money. Equality has grown out of history, traditions, and cultural patterns over decades and is not easy to imitate elsewhere.

Social transaction costs - the costs of running a country or society - is often perceived as the public sector's share of GDP. This is misleading to say the least. It is a choice whether these activities are offered by the public sector or private businesses.

The US devotes 16 per cent of GDP to the health sector; Denmark 10 per cent. Is the US health system more cost-effective than the Danish system? A comparison made some years ago shows that publicly mandated social expenditure accounts for 20 per cent of GDP for the US and 24 per cent for Denmark with few people disputing that the Danish system reaches out to a larger share of population.

The main difference may be found in the attitude towards those citizens not capable or willing to take part in the productive part of society. The Danish policy is to use social welfare to keep them inside society by offering a decent living standard through income transfers. That gobbles up a sizeable amount of money, but brings along a higher degree of social stability with low enforcement costs. The US approach tends to turn them into outcasts leading to high enforcement costs. The US has 265 people per lawyer; Denmark 1,135. The US spends about US$70 billion on jails (0.5 per cent of GDP) and 7.3 million people are under correctional supervision, equal to more than 3 per cent of the adult population.

From 1980 to 2012, higher education costs in California fell 13 per cent calculated in constant prices while expenditures to prisons and associated corrective systems went up 436 per cent. California spends more on prisons than on its higher education system. Danish total expenditure for the legal system including prisons and associated corrective institutions is US$0.5 billion (0.2 per cent of GDP) with 4,100 persons in jail.


All comparisons are at best open for interpretation but evidence seems sufficiently solid to warrant the conclusions that overall it may be cheaper to run Denmark than the US, measured as share of GDP. And this only incorporates direct visible expenditure not taking into account negative effects from a recalcitrant or even hostile section of the population incurring security costs for business and individuals.

The social welfare system has been vilified and accused of making people less interested in initiatives, starting new enterprise and displaying entrepreneurship. A Danish study from 2011 reveals that 12 per cent of all Danish enterprises are less than one year old, among the highest for OECD countries. But the share of all enterprises growing to more than 10 employees over two years are below the OECD average albeit higher than for Sweden and Norway.

Apparently the welfare system encourages people to start new enterprises and not the other way around or at least does not constitute a barrier for doing so. It is easy to get started and there are few psychological inhibitions; the Danes actually do it.

However, they do not seem able to turn new born enterprises into sustainable, growing enterprises. There may be many reasons for this, but a limited market combined with inhibitions about entering foreign markets may be one of them. High taxes underpinning the welfare system may be another factor preventing growth through limiting capital. Business organisations hammer away at this point, but there is little evidence to substantiate it at the moment.

Learning society

In Denmark, people learn from their time in the kindergarten to almost to the time they die. Danes have a learning society. The kindergartens with an overwhelming share of children enrolled may be the crucial factor. Children are supervised by trained teachers. They learn to be creative, to use their imagination, they learn to learn, and to work in teams. They grow into human beings. It is a costly system financed by the public sector, but the investment may be one of the most profitable undertaken by any society.

After school, when the Danes enter the workforce in whatever capacity, they join lifelong learning.

The European Lifelong Learning Index comprises a total of 36 indicators. In addition to the main index, there is a sub-index for each of the four learning dimensions:

"Learning to know" looks at traditional formal education;

"Learning to do" covers vocational and job-related training;

"Learning to live together" summarises informal social learning activities during leisure time; and

"Learning to be" refers to independent learning for the sake of personal development and well-being.

Denmark scores highest in almost every category, edged out by Sweden only in the area of continuing education on the job. Denmark is top among EU with 28 per cent of Danes between 30 and 64 years of age participating in some kind of learning activity over the preceding four weeks. About 0.42 per cent of GDP goes into life-long learning compared to 0.05 per cent for the US.

The much lauded flexicurity in the labour market is anchored in life-long learning combined with generous unemployment allowances paving the way for enterprises to adjust the workforce without much restriction (unemployment rate 5.7 per cent). Many observers take it for granted that a welfare system is synonymous with an inflexible labour market. The Danish system shows it is the other way round with a genuinely flexible labour market where life-long learning channels unemployed people back to work, but in other functions than those lost to foreign competitors.

The international debate must not be allowed to overlook the debate inside Denmark. The rest of the world may fall into a swoon, but the Danes are not carried away; they voice scepticism and criticism looking for weaknesses, flaws, and shortcomings.

The Danes find the model exorbitantly expensive with half of GDP going into the public sector and total taxes running at 48 per cent of GDP. Nevertheless the public sector manages to run a decent budget deficit (3.9 per cent of GDP) and debt/GDP ratio is at the low end among OECD countries.

The question is whether such a large public sector is sustainable. Employment in the private sector generating the wealth to keep society running is falling. The response is interesting.

More for less

First, the administrative part of the public sector has been modernised and made more efficient. The number of bureaucrats can be estimated to 20 per cent of publicly employed people. Some 80 per cent perform services in demand by the rest of society. More for less has been achieved by a variety of means. The basic administrative framework for local communities has been recast over the last decade.

Second, the Danes want to keep the welfare society. Over the years several political parties have offered lower taxes, but this does not strike a chord with the voters who smell the quid pro quo: lower welfare - and they do not want that. But they are ready to trim the welfare benefits to preserve the core functions. From a record 60 per cent of GDP, the share of the public sector has fallen to 52 per cent. A consensus is growing that the limits for how much the productive part of society can shoulder has been reached.

Going back five or 10 years and mass media reports were about social losers and how they were let down. Today, the attention is about whether society does too much to help those not really wanting to help themselves. If a seminal shift occurs, the welfare system will become less generous.

Third, the Danes are a bit slow on the uptake, but it has gradually dawned upon them that the survival of the welfare state depends on the ability to turn welfare activities into export industries. Hitherto the angle has been to provide services to the Danish society.

Unless the Danes can combine high quality, but expensive welfare benefits to their own citizens with a flourishing export business of the same services, it is highly doubtful that such a costly creature can survive the onslaught of a comparatively low growth pattern.

But if successful, it will be one of the masterstrokes in economic adaptation and position Denmark and the other Nordic countries in an enviable situation generating money by exporting welfare services channelling those money back into keeping the system going.

The writer is visiting senior research fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, and adjunct professor, Copenhagen Business School and Singapore Management University

54 comments:

Plucky Tam said...

I don't think it's fair to compare Singapore to First World countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Please compare apples with apples.

Anonymous said...

Plucky Tam wants to compare Singapore with Nigeria after his master? The universe is in constant movement. If you do not go forward, then you go backwards. With the current situation, we are definitely going backwards and hence we need to study and emulate the Scandinavian countries. However, we need to wait till 2016.

Anonymous said...

The PAP is good with selective comparison with use of selective statistical figures to suit their agenda.
Lucky Tan here is much fairer. The dafts don't wake up soon,Singapore will be just a place you can't call home.
It is a transitional land for making money and then get out. A place devoid of soul.

Anonymous said...

Plucky Tan,

Singapore is far behind other developed countries when it comes to quality of life for ordinary citizens. If we continue to refuse to learn we will be left further behind.

gm . 绿效精神 said...

Time for Singapore to have a serious look at CSR and Sustainability - Understanding ISO 26000: Principles for Social Responsibility

See also Guidebook for Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility http://www.fccsingapore.com/fileadmin/template/documents/Publications/CSR_Guidebook_2012.pdf

eremarf said...

Guys, Plucky Tam is just being sarcastic lah!

Great article BTW Lucky. It's a bit long so you should do a TLDR version that summarises the benefits of a welfare state in bullet points.

We need to keep Singaporeans informed!

Anonymous said...

Nordic countries are overrated. Who wants to go there? Bloody horrible weather. SE Asia countries are much better country if not for the corruption.

Anonymous said...

Unless singapore merge with malaysia, we will never achieve quality of life. COE and highly priced 99LH flats are a form of slavery. It has no living standard to start with at all.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Denmark is a wonderful country full of happy people - just as long you are also happy with garbage collectors earning almost like lawyers.

Everyone taxed to the mean. Everyone middle-class.

http://www.npr.org/2010/11/28/131571885/how-to-thrive-dan-buettner-s-secrets-of-happiness?ps=cprs

Anonymous said...

Don't talk about Denmark. If Singapore can achieve the quality of life in Malaysia where people work shorter hours, can afford to have families, a car, good public health service and buy a home as well as retire...I think many of us will be much happier.

The PAP should set a goal of catching up with malaysia in some areas.

Anonymous said...

@ Plucky (PAP Prostitute) Tam
/// I don't think it's fair to compare Singapore to First World countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Please compare apples with apples. ///

The only fair apples to apples comparison would be Singapore and Nazi Germany.

eremarf said...

@all the Anonymous talking about Denmark

I lived in Copenhagen from January to June 2005. I lived near Flintholm Metro, in Frederiksburg.

It's a very good place to live. I shared my room with a socialist Philosophy grad from California doing his law degree (we were both on exchange) - he had a soviet flag over his bed.

My friend went out to party one night and didn't come home - and I thought he'd got lucky - but turned out he'd slipped on ice and broke his nose. And all his medical expenses were paid for by the government. Mine would have been too if anything had happened to me (I was on a study visa).

The Danish people are very generous with everyone. They are still new to immigration though, and it was an election year I was there. There was an anti-immigration party campaigning, and my Danish friends were calling it the racist party. Immigrants often consume more welfare in the short term than they contribute taxes (most of the consumption is to help people stay productive in the long-term though, if you can see?) - but most Danes believe in integrating new citizens into Danish life.

And about garbage collectors earning as much as lawyers - that's true. But garbage collectors, bus drivers, supermarket cashiers behave like lawyers too! Everyone is well-educated, friendly, and happy. Instead of seeing lawyers, doctors, etc being relegated to a "lower" level in society, living without privilege - think of it as everyone raised to a higher level. Everyone enjoys good social status, regardless of occupation. Everyone gains dignity and respect. Nobody loses (almost). Only people who think like Yishun MP Lim Wee Kiak would think that they have lost "dignity".

I don't see it as a loss to Denmark. I think it's better than going to cities with glitzy skyscrapers beside gritty slums.

There is a slum in Denmark - Christianshavn. But they're there by choice (they're hippies), and can rejoin Danish society anytime they wish to. In fact, it's a sign of how tolerant the Danish people are to allow this hippie community to exist within the larger Danish one (basically hippies started squatting at Christianshavn and refused to leave - so people started moving out, and in the end, the city administration just cut-off water and electricity and the hippies continue living there).

Weed was easy to get. The lobby of our student flat was always "buzzing". Me (thanks to NS) and my room-mate (graduate degree) were older than the kids in our block and didn't participate much, but we were always offered stuff.

In spite of easy access to marijuana (like in Holland) - crime was non-existent. There was one murder when I was there which shocked everyone and appeared on front pages (Copenhagen's population was 1.5 million). My friend would walk home from the Metro station through a dark alley, and he said "This is crazy. This girl was just walking in front of me, and she had her headphones on all the time. Nobody would do that in the US."

(to be cont'd)

eremarf said...

(cont'd)

I know Singapore is also very safe generally - but we also know suicides and murders are on the rise, and we don't have petty crime figures. Prison figures for Singapore are also very high - almost like the US. This is very expensive for society - people in prison are people who don't contribute by working. They also cost society indirectly via broken homes and families.

You guys will ask why I don't choose to migrate there. Migration is a big decision - and Singapore is after all home. Samantha Chia expressed this sentiment very well in her speech at Hong Lim Park.

However good Denmark is - it's different from Singapore. If it's possible, I'd rather reshape Singapore, than move to somewhere else. After all - life is bigger than myself. I'm reshaping Singapore for my family, my friends, our children and descendants.

Even if you're a rich or aspiring person in Singapore - think about your loved ones. You might be successful today - but luck is a fickle master. How can you be sure your children will enjoy a good life? Will they be wiped out by an accident? An illness? Retrenchment? Etc.

Social welfare is just social insurance. It means everyone shares the bill for bad luck. You would happily pay insurance premiums to know that if something happens to you, your loved ones will not be helpless. You are happy to pay for the sense of security and stability it brings. Why then aren't you willing to pay taxes for social insurance?

Anonymous said...

Even our forefathers are immigrant at that time it only less then 2m it is still ok, at that time, we experience water rations, job shortage, schools shortage, shortage of facilities, shortage of infrastructures etc, our parent go to queue overnight to get a place for us to study, with a fast growing populations, so the restrictions people borning babies?

It is a much different senario between less then 2m and 7m?

Plucky Tam said...

"Plucky Tan,

Singapore is far behind other developed countries when it comes to quality of life for ordinary citizens. If we continue to refuse to learn we will be left further behind. "

But a lot of white and blue PAP supporters seem to think that Singapore is on par with these First World countries.

Plucky Tam said...

"Unless singapore merge with malaysia, we will never achieve quality of life. COE and highly priced 99LH flats are a form of slavery. It has no living standard to start with at all."

The problems afflicting Singaporeans stem from a high population density rather than the lack of land per se. And who's responsible for the overpopulation in Singapore? The government whom WP regards as "competent". The people of San Marino and Liechtenstein enjoy a very high quality of life despite their countries being much smaller than Singapore. Lack of land is no excuse for any government worth its salt.

Anonymous said...

Just by virtue of the fact that they have participated and contributed to the growth of the nation, the citizens of the country (not new citizens) should be entitled to free medical care and social welfare.

The money should be funded by the enlarged revenue from the 2 to 3 fold increase in the foreign population. Weren't the mega windfalls and huge profits meant to benefit singaporeans and not just the money spinners?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bursting another pap-myth.
Lee Kuan Yew n his pap have created many more myths. Top of this list now is the one that importing foreigners to spur growth improve the lives of ordinary Singaporeans. Another top one is that an ageing society will lead to economic catastrophy.

Anonymous said...

Singapore Fairy Tales
======================
1. PAP is on the side of Singaporeans.

2. PAP is here to serve Singaporeans.

3. HDB flats are heavily subsidized.

4. PAP politicians are the most "qualified".

5. We should vote our politicians based upon their qualifications. This is good for us.

Anonymous said...

http://www.teenink.com/nonfiction/academic/article/413707/Climate..

Climate Change: Our Overcrowded World
Image Credit: Chris M., Marblehead, MA
Overpopulation and human habits have led to climate change, wreaking havoc on Planet Earth. New York Times writer Arthur H. Westing wrote, “Population is a double-barreled environmental problem—not only is population increasing; so are emissions per capita.” The overpopulation and amount of emissions per capita are leading to serious climate issues. According to Professor Ben Santers, the earth’s surface warmed by about .74°C per year over the last 100 years making the 20th century the warmest in the past 2 millenniums. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) increased by roughly 30% since the 1850s and is now at higher levels than at any other time in the last 650,000 years (Santers). As Santers said, “there is natural a fluctuation in climate on Planet Earth, but humans have greatly sped up the process.” Greenhouse gases and fossil fuels damage the environment and pollute the atmosphere. Air pollution is a prime contributor to the climate change. Humans release greenhouse gases and fossil fuels just by engaging in routine tasks such as driving a car. Professor Santers said that “we have dug ourselves a hole” in the air pollution department. However, the damage can be undone. He says that if the world can become smart enough to “do the right thing,” future generations could inherit a cleaner and healthier planet.
As time progresses, scientists are beginning to understand more about how climate change affects Earth. The majority of the heating of the earth takes place in the northern hemisphere. To make these discoveries and observations, scientists are using what is called “fingerprint evidence,” meaning compiling rigorous statistics and making data comparisons (Santers). For example, over the last 35 years, the annual temperature rise in the sub-Arctic area has been three to five times as great as in the world as a whole—up to 5 degrees (The Change in the Weather 132).
Much of this heating is attributed to greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are gases in the atmosphere that allow most solar, short-wave radiation to pass through. They trap much of the long-wave radiation, causing the atmosphere to warm (Population Matters). Because the same process occurs in a greenhouse, this phenomenon is referred to as “the greenhouse effect.” The New York Times reported that “In 1970, when worldwide greenhouse gas emissions had just begun to transgress the sustainable capacity of the atmosphere, the world population was about 3.7 billion; today it’s about 6.9 billion — an increase of 86 percent. In that same period, worldwide emissions from fossil fuels rose from about 14 billion tons to an estimated 29 billion tons — an increase of 107 percent.” In an article in Scientific America, David Biello writes, “greenhouse gas is our biggest pollutant,” and blames the gases for the planet’s rapid heating. As the evidence of overpopulation effecting climate change came to light, scientific media originally called the process “global warming.” Today, the more accurate term is “climate change.”
The subject of “global warming” carries a lot of weight. It is often a sensitive topic. Detractors claim it is a fraudulent idea and, more or less, a myth. However, countless studies have revealed that global warming is a serious issue. During the studies, scientists determined that, in addition to the constant warming, “sea levels have risen by an average of 1.75mm per year over the last 100 years (Population Matters).” Satellite image measurements suggest that the rising sea level rate has increased to about 3.1mm per year (Population Matters). Thermal expansion of water causes the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, resulting in rising sea levels. Many environmental scientists conclude that the relatively recent spike in climate change is due to human activity and overpopulation.

Anonymous said...

http://legalservicesindia.com/article/article/consequences-of-over-population-in-india-562-1.html

Consequences of Over-population in India ( Save as .pdf )
Published : February 26, 2011 | Author : nazneen_fakir@yahoo.in
Category : Environmental Law | Total Views : 8876 | Rating :


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nazneen_fakir@yahoo.in
Nazneen Abdulsamad Fakir. Age: 18. City: Satara. State: Maharashtra.
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Consequences of Over-population in India

Overpopulation is one of the hazards & serious problem, which creates a great obstacle in the way of national development. It has direct effect upon the society and development of nation. The overpopulation creates or results into some problem which can be stated as

The consequences of overpopulation are as follows :
1) Pressure on food, clothing & housing : A country with fast growing population has to face a serious problem of scarcity of necessary food, minimum clothing & proper housing facilities, which are basic needs of human life. Thus, it affects the life style and results slum areas, starvation etc.

2) Unemployment : The overpopulation aggravates the unemployment & disguised unemployment problem. The vacancy rate is negligible as compared to wants of employment, which ultimately results into low income groups and large families depending upon single earning person (earner).

3) Standard of living : The overpopulation creates or give rise to large families with low income reducing the standard of persons living therein. The slum areas, starvation and frequently epidemics are the results affecting health and standard of persons within such nation.

4) Decrease of forest area : The basic made of the growing population is of residence and shelter. To construct houses and place of shelter, man is greatly cutting and reducing forest to make a place to live.

5) Environmental pollution : Over populated passion creates a large affect on the environment by exhausting a large proportion of waste. On the other hand reducing forest which results the growth of pollution.

6) Education : The low income of large family dose not afford to provide education to their children. Which results into creating a problem of illiteracy and again none awareness among the class.

7) Energy crisis : Population explosion accompanied with rapid industrialization and urbanization has led to greater demand for already deficient energy (fuel wood, fossil fuel and electricity).

8) Hygienic condition : More people in a small area breed unhygienic condition which has ill effects on human health.

9) Eco-degradation : Overpopulation leads to eco-degradation by increasing air, water, soil and noise pollution, unhygienic condition, deforestation leading to flood and soil erosion. So rapid human population growth is creating increased pressure on the infrastructure, economy, environment, availability of primary health care and nutrition.

With the Reference of Book:
INDIAN ECONOMICS - Dr. S. R. Myneni.
& INTERNET SEARCH

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of alternatives besides this Anglo Saxon model of more debt, more property bubbles and more immigration, lower corporate taxes and higher GST. Its plain as crystal that aking in 40% new immigrants in 9 years since 2004 is suicideal, unprecedented in mankind;s history, and just irresponsible and midboggling dumb on the 3rd generation leeders. People shud know that this started in 2004, see Lucky's previous post with the chart showing population vs productivity. What happened in 2004? Wasn't there a transition to this 3rd generation PAP and civil servants that year? Yes, this 3rd generation leeders bought the Anglo Saxon model - high debt, high immigration, high property prices, high inflation, low corporate taxes, and starve the government. By now, the US and UK (and soon Canada and Australia) are paying up for their excesses, but bankers and corporate leeders are still using taxpayers to fund their obscene salaries. Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan's Pax America is long dead, but somehow is surviving in Singapore because this 3rd generation of leeders cannot admit they have messed it up and the Singapore system does not have a check and balance to reign them in.

Anonymous said...

eremarf .. Thanks for your comment. I like your statement that social welfare is like social Insurance, everyone shares the bill for bad luck.

I think that resonates very well. I am glad you will come back to Singapore to make our home a better place.

Anonymous said...

Shall elevate eremarf to PM status?

Anonymous said...

I rather have good people in Singapore than smart people. You see, good people help others while smart people bully and take advantage of others eg. PAP and all their smart but evil people. Please for Singapore get rid of everyone of them.

Anonymous said...

Red dot wants to conquer space now. Next, conquer God

Anonymous said...

ANON: 21/2/13 10:13
/// I rather have good people in Singapore than smart people. ///

I fully agree.
A well qualified candidate is the goodness of the person.
Not his paper qualifications.

How do we know if a person is good?
Observe the company he keeps and the political party he belongs to.

Anonymous said...

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21570835-nordic-countries-are-probably-best-governed-world-secret-their

Anonymous said...

Somebody please get simon tay off the payrole . This kind of analyst, a janitor can also do.

Anonymous said...

It difficult to understand how come need to increase more and more people, to replace those old people who had died with one or no child?

Why don't you said want to increase the people due to economic purposes?

If you bring in people to replace those, who had only one or no child, who are dead should be around the same population? How come it kept increasing?

All these year, blame people don't born babies? So import people to replace low fertility rate.

The correct reason is to tell?

Anonymous said...

Because too many pigeon holes and still building. Too many Pigeons die, pigeon holes will burn one big hole in treasuries and your pockets, you tell me how not to die?

So we need rats to occupy pigeon holes now

Anonymous said...

So the read purpose of importing people is economical?

The excuse to import people is low birthrate?

If low birth rate is the real reason, the population, should be constant?

How come population every year kept increasing?

Anonymous said...

You kept the CPF and bring in people to take away old people jobs?

Anonymous said...

You kept others CPF, so that you can pay yourself and your associates, much more then other countries, the equivalents of your counterparts?

Anonymous said...

Any form of lifestyle is not substainable here unless you are one of familee. You may have housing and savings now but things will change and they will be soon gone. Malaysians are doing much better than singaporeans as atated by 1751. Our gov have failed us terribly.

Anonymous said...

Now new citizens are smart already, don't vote for them, if they vote for them they will bring more people in to replace them?

Anonymous said...

New citizens are not stupid, they know they come here to milk the system, then go back, they know the 7 millions people is not sustainable, they will be in future will be replaced, as they replaced the old citizens jobs, after that they go back to their own countries?

Anonymous said...

"Singaporeans pay the most out of our pockets when we get sick, we spend the least on the most vulnerable, the poor and elderly, in our society."
Lucky Tan

But at least 43% of voters are still OK with it. And that's because it's only a by election.

And I agree with WP Low Thia Khiang that in a GE, majority voter will not vote out PAP for sure.

Reason? Because best alternative WP is not ready, as spoken from the horse mouth.








Anonymous said...

Instead of forming a better alternative to the PAP, Sinkies can only complain, blog and gather at Hong Lim Park.

How many times they did that already since 2000?

Got use or not, you tell me lah.

Anonymous said...

Our government is the most stingy in the world. This year got huge budget surplus again which is 4x higher than estimate. During budgeting time always say not enough revenues lah, and cannot help the low income lah - or else become Nigerian scam. When in reality, suck from the people more than helping the people. And all surplus end up in the civil servants pockets. Collect more taxes (direct and indirect) from the people than helping the people. which country in the world is so stingy with helping its own people? And got so much tax revenues, and yet only prepared to spend on free education on foreigners. i always feel ashamed when our govt brag about the budget surplus. Since when is it a good thing? it means you collect too much taxes liao lah and is not using your taxes to help the people.

Anonymous said...

And during budgeting time, always tell us only budget a little bit or surplus or even deficit. Say use their tax revenues collected to help Singaporeans. BUT when actual numbers is revealed, end up HUGE SURPLUS which got transferred to reserves and disappear from accountability. And Singaporeans end up paying taxes without getting anything in return. The elderly in SG are the worst off. No benefits at all. YET, our government kept saying need to import people to help the elderlies. But in the first place, the elderly do not receive any benefits, so why would importing foreigner help the elderlies? In fact these foreigners fight for low income jobs with the elderlies. Every year huge budget surplus. buay pai seh? Why marksmanship so lousy?

Anonymous said...

And Singaporeans end up paying taxes without getting anything in return. The elderly in SG are the worst off. No benefits at all.

it is book keeping and distribution according to what they like and as the elderly are relatively less productive so what do u expect.

Anonymous said...

PAP spent the least on the most vulnerable, the poor and elderly, in our society simply because such Sinkies don't give the returns PAP want on the spending.

Because when you spend money, you also expect something in return, right? The returns not necessary in terms of $ lah.

Just like if you spend money on a girl you like, what is the return you expect? Not necessary $, because you already have $, right?

l'ingénieur said...

@eremarf:

The problem with the Danish model is that the regimentation in an Asian context is discordant with a lively democracy. I cannot imagine how we can steer the use of a large pool of tax funds with words when Parliament is now about finding fault with opposition party MP's points in a petty manner.

It is really all about mutual respect. And to really live it out - not even the use of domestic helpers at pittance wages should be tolerated by society. We are at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Anonymous said...

Who benefit from the human Pronzi most?

Anonymous said...

For a govt, the most important return is to get the vote.

So far PAP is still getting enough votes of around 43%, despite how stingy Lucky Tan portray PAP.

If PAP is so bad as Lucky Tan described, it should even lose its deposit. But no, PAP still get a respectable 43%. Even the PAP loser also said not bad. I agree.

Anonymous said...

Not enough babies, you kept importing adults to grow old, any logic?

Anonymous said...

"Not enough babies, you kept importing adults to grow old, any logic?"
Anon 21/2/13 23:22

Because you are not PM, that's why you cannot see any logic.

Once you become PM, just like PM Lee, for sure you will then see the logic.

Anonymous said...

Because when you spend money, you also expect something in return, right? The returns not necessary in terms of $ lah.



Yea you spend money and expect something in return is right.

Anonymous said...

For communities, inadequate shelter and overcrowding are major factors in the transmission of diseases with epidemic potential such as acute respiratory infections, meningitis, typhus, cholera, scabies, etc. Outbreaks of disease are more frequent and more severe when the population density is high.

Other public structures such as health facilities not only represent a concentrated area of patients but also a concentrated area of germs. In an emergency, the number of hospital-associated infections will typically rise.

Anonymous said...

this year is 10th year anniversary of sars outbreak. uk already has a few patients with sars symtoms. overcrowding day in day out is suicidal.

eremarf said...

@l'ingénieur:

That’s a pretty cynical perspective – especially when you diagnose the problem but don’t suggest how we can overcome it.

It’s similar (to say Singapore has unique circumstances) to the Economist article cited by Anonymous (http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21570835-nordic-countries-are-probably-best-governed-world-secret-their), which attributes Scandinavian success to “sui generis” factors:

"Yet it is hard to see the Nordic model of government spreading quickly, mainly because the Nordic talent for government is sui generis. Nordic government arose from a combination of difficult geography and benign history. All the Nordic countries have small populations, which means that members of the ruling elites have to get on with each other. Their monarchs lived in relatively modest places and their barons had to strike bargains with independent-minded peasants and seafarers.”

“The combination of geography and history has provided Nordic governments with two powerful resources: trust in strangers and belief in individual rights. ... Economists say that high levels of trust result in lower transaction costs—there is no need to resort to American-style lawsuits or Italian-style quid-pro-quo deals in order to get things done. But its virtues go beyond that. Trust means that high-quality people join the civil service. Citizens pay their taxes and play by the rules. Government decisions are widely accepted.”

I suggest that the Economist (neoliberal apologists that they are) is fudging causality here. They claim Scandinavians can have successful government because they have high social trust – they ascribe it implicitly to “culture”. As if Scandinavian culture alone explains their success (just as you try to suggest Singapore culture explains our status quo).

Doesn’t that downplay how social equality created by a welfare state might lead to more trust? The fact that people come from similar economic and social class backgrounds (and this is maintained by the welfare state) – won’t that in itself promote trust (the Economist compares things with America, Italy, Russia – places of historical and present deep inequality!) Doesn’t it create a narrative that culture (rather than policies) determines the shape of society?

Where does such a narrative lead us? That the Scandinavians are unique – they succeed because of unique cultural traits – so it’s hopeless to emulate them? They describe how ancient Scandinavian societies built social trust – they don’t tell us how modern Scandinavian societies continue to do it.

You say Singaporeans don’t respect people enough: we hire not just domestic help but all kinds of workers for a pittance (and the PAP is implementing policies to deepen this trend!); Parliament is occupied with petty bickering, etc. (And you seem to suggest we can’t emulate Scandinavia too when you say “we are at the opposite end of the spectrum”, when you “cannot imagine how we can...”– hence the comparison with the Economist)

But where do we go from here? Let’s move beyond just describing Singapore’s problems, and leaving it at that. What actions can we take to build a better Singapore tomorrow?

Lucky Tan has posted quite a few articles about wealth equality, its deleterious effects, how it violates our evolutionarily developed sense of fair play, etc. (I’ve also heard Donald Low speak on this topic – and it was very insightful.) Popular, accessible, literature on its benefits (or rather on inequality’s costs) are widely available – The Spirit Level (Wilkinson and Pickett), The Price of Inequality (Stiglitz), etc.

Instead of dismissing Singapore’s chances to succeed Scandinavian-style by just ascribing things to “culture” (call it what you will – “regimentation in an Asian context”) – why not look at which policies will get us a more successful society, will build a better tomorrow? Put another way – which policies will help Singaporeans become more respectful of other people? Policies which promote social equality, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Singapore aborted around 12k babies every year. Massive effort need to reduce it and keep the babies, more support more incentives the keep the babies and adoptions etc?

It would be a big waste, if these babies are aborted?

More effort and promotions, to help those who want to abort their babies to give to those, childless couples?

Anonymous said...

"The PAP has kept taxes for the wealthiest citizens and corporations low. "

Yep, the papies wants us, ordinarily citizen, to "bite the bullet" and "tighten our belt". Who was that Ministar that says that??

Anyone can recall?