Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Documentary : The One Per Cent...

Here's a documentary made by Jamie Johnson heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune. He explores the effect of the wealth gap on American society discovers how it leads to stratification and resentment.

IIn Singapore we often hear that that the income gap is the result of meritocracy. Nothing can be further from the truth. The wealth gap represents an unlevel field rather than the superior talents of some to contribute to society. The PAP govt exercise extreme parsimony in helping the poor, sick and disabled but gives handouts to big businesses in the form of low taxes, cheap foreign labor and pro-business policies. At the same time the govt reduced the benefits and protection of our workers and force them to struggle by importing cheaper labor to compete against them and making them endure the rising cost of living. This is how we end up with such a large income gap and an un-meritocratic system.

Meritocracy is destroyed by the advantages of wealth and an unlevel playing field. Workers at the bottom 30-40% in Singapore have the lowest wages in the developed world, live in a city that is 6th most expensive in the world, and have no independent collective power to improve their situation.  The system has so many obstacles in the way of people making their way up:

Mr Chan said the Government, however, does not have data to track relative social mobility, which is the proportion of people who have moved up or down the socio-economic scale relative to the rest of their cohort over time.

"This reflects the churn amongst income groups in our society. We do not have data on such churn as it requires longitudinal studies over a long period of time," said Mr Chan.
He added that while the Government has tried to track inter-generational movements for social mobility, it has not found any studies to be "particularly complete".  [Link]

The PAP often says that social mobility is one redeeming characteristic of its system. But when asked for data on this by an NMP, they admit that they have no data to track social mobility. They are actually in denial of the facts.
The Great Gatsby Curve is a chart[Link] plotting the (positive) relationship between inequality and inter-generational social immobility in countries around the world. It shows a strong correlation between income inequality and lower social mobility.

The PAP has tilted the playing field so much, Singapore is now a "haven for the rich" (see previous article). But we should not blame the rich for being rich and resent them for coming here -  most of us aspire to be ultra-rich too. If you are rich, you might do the same to move to a place the favors those in the richer classes over the other classes. They are only acting in their own interests and not here to disadvantage any of us - that is not their intention. However, we do expect enlightened leadership to act in a balanced manner so that the system is fair  If our income gap remains where it is, Singaporeans with lose faith in the govt and our society will become polarized as trust is eroded. That is a bigger threat to our society than the one we spend $12B to defend against.




132 comments:

Anonymous said...

Iam surprised that you make no mention of Christopbher Hayes` book Twilight of the Elites, reviewd in last Saturday`s ST feature column. It gives all that you mention and more in a scholarly fashion.

Lucky Tan said...

I've stopped my ST subscription for more than a year.

I will look it up

Anonymous said...

The Swedish, Danish, Finnish pay their ministers pay well, and a respectable job to serve their people.

Ministers' pay around $150K per annum, they have a good social program, they pay a bit higher taxes, but it is for their old age retirement, their wages at the lower end job which generally shun by Singaporean are well paid and were taken by the locals?

They have a good qualify of life, high birthrate, good health care systems, well taken care old age, less crowded, free educations till tertiary, low income disparity, they have less stressful life etc., work life balance?

Their economy produce high quality products for export and their products are well designed?

Should Singapore spend more revenues from casinos, returns from $260 billions of foreign reserves, to boost free education and birthrate, old age and develop?

Anonymous said...

Develop the SME?

Veritas said...

Develop the SME?

The Tech in Silicon valley did not sprout out of thin air. They are there because of government contracts. The private enterprise subcontractor trained many engineers.

Also Samsung, TSMC emerge due either to government contracts or government sponsoring of talented entrepreneurs.

Today, all government work goes to extremely politiking and inefficient companies like DSTA, DSO, ST, NCS. We need to close down all these companies in order for our entrepreneurs to grow.

All government tech job should go to talented contractors instead of quasi civil servant.

Anonymous said...

S'pore is a jungle. Do you see wild animals trusting each other? They are always on survival mode and very jumpy and 100% opportunistic --- any means to survive another day. If it means another must die or suffer so I can survive, so be it.

You die your business. Trust no one, only you can help yourself.

When my sister migrated to Netherlands, it was a total culture shock. It took her 5 years to slowly understand and adopt their culture and attitudes. But up till today, she still has traces of Sinkie KS-ness. Only her children are really 100% dutch in thinking.

Anonymous said...

To 12/3/13 11:52,

For the benefits of your own and your close ones, please abandon the main stream media. Dump the main stream media as if they are the dirtiest of the the century dirt.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that Singapore has garnered a mention in Wikipedia, under the search term 'meritocracy' (references removed):

"Singapore
"Singapore describes meritocracy as one of its official guiding principles for domestic public policy formulation, placing emphasis on academic credentials as objective measures of merit.

"There is criticism that, under this system, Singaporean society is being increasingly stratified and that an elite class is being created from a narrow segment of the population. Defendants recall the ancient Chinese proverb 'Wealth does not pass three generations', suggesting that the nepotism or cronyism of elitists eventually will be, and often are, replaced by those lower down the hierarchy."

This concurs with Lucky's thesis. However, I would hesitate to link wealth with the fragmentation of meritocracy as Lucky did – if we take political license and equate 'educated' with 'enlightened' (as in Platonic governance), leaders should be astute enough to circumvent this.

My guess is that meritocracy only applies to the formative stage of a government. The PAP has permitted it to evolve to something that approaches 'political rot.'

Anonymous said...

The PAP is a joke. See how Khaw Boon Wan twist and turn on his latest housing policy, looking after the interest of those who used their property for rental income instead of those who need that basic shelter over their heads. He should just go back JB, we don't need a minister like him.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 13.03 has summed up the Spore situation very accurately.

His sister is lucky she adapted to Dutch culture in just 5 yrs. Someone in the news recently has been here 20 yrs, but hasn't adapted. Fellow rushed back to his country of birth for support on his much-criticised ill-thought-out remarks.

Curious to know the main differences in the Dutch attitude from that of Sporeans.

Khaw Boon Wan is getting a ton of criticism being dumped on him with every housing utterance. And he deserves it. So he twists, turns and squirms, as he has no answers.

The chairman of the PAP, which sneers at populist policies, is trying to be populist. He should go out and shop for an $8 backbone. He and the rest of his party have yet to learn they should stop boasting and believing they know all. They now have to swallow ALOT of their words.

Small consolation that it's not fattening, as boy, does it stick in the craw.

Amazing what 15 years of poor planning and policies, and 2m more people, have brought us down to. Can you imagine what 6.9m will do to this country?

Anonymous said...

As far as I can see, PAP is really bochap as far as the poor is concerned.

It is plain crap for our Govt to first tax everyone for almost everything including GST, cars, housing, property, etc. and then later claim the credit to have helped the poor in the form of credits.

If successful companies like SIA, Starhub, SPH, Singtel, Capitaland, etc are already very profitable, why do they still need Govt's funds to help pay for their low or mid income workers salary increases just like why successful transport companies like SMRT & SBS need to be injected with govt funds to fund their capital purchase of buses ? All these shareholders must be laughing to the bank at the expense of everyone else being taxed.

PAP is a joke itself. Something is just not right somewhere ?

Anonymous said...

"If our income gap remains where it is, Singaporeans with lose faith in the govt and our society will become polarized as trust is eroded."
Lucky Tan

PAP still got 43% trust. So still not too bad lah, described how bad Lucky Tan described.


Anonymous said...

Can we petition for Khaw to step down? How many signatures required?

We do not have to look far in history to see how injustice, wide income and wealth gap will result in. It will result in creating human killing machines like Hitler and Mao.

Vote opposition to save Singapore and Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

PAP will always give the cream to the rich and haves and the crumbs to the poor and have-nots. Vote opposition for a more balanced society.

Anonymous said...

anon 14.19

Not making trouble, but most of the problems today are associated with the lack of critique on the new policies formulated with some "sciences" behind them, such as means testing etc. which has a statistically intimidating angle that says you dun question or you will be embarrassed. Without sufficient debate and examination, the fallout will only be seen years later, in huge public uproars over the policy failure. By then, the policy formulator will have moved over to a new office to start more screw ups. This accountability issue will be haunting us as long as the top brass remains complacent and quiet.

bond said...

12/3/13 16:51 - you are right. Can we petition for FM to step down? how many signatures required? Why should tax payers fund all these rich companies wage increases?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely nuts to pay rich companies so that they can give a pay rise to their workers . This is a total abuse of tax payers money

Anonymous said...

ANON 12/3/13 16:56: "PAP still got 43% trust. So still not too bad lah, described how bad Lucky Tan described."

My reply:

2001: 75%-25%

2006: 67%-33%

2011: 60%-40%

2016: ?

You can bet both your ma's and grandma's underwears it will be LESS THAN 43% in 2016, tio bo?

In fact, they will very likely lose 2-3 GRCs in 2016, tio bo?

Anonymous said...

After world war 2, Japan and South Korea, were devastated by the war and world poor, they struggled to produce their own product, many people laugh when at first their products, but slowly the kept improving and became advanced nations, Singapore kept thinking of cheaper and cheaper foreigners and local workers and cheaper foreign investments?

Anonymous said...

my colleagues said you are an idiot, they shud know they are wrong now if they are wearing any underwears.

Anonymous said...

"I've stopped my ST subscription for more than a year."
Lucky Tan 12/3/13 12:08

Only a year? I stopped buying more than 6 years already. And some more was buying on Sunday only.

What did I miss? Maybe some cheap sales advert lah.

Anonymous said...

PAP should not worry too much as long as:

1. Voters are Sinkies.

2. WP remain the best opposition.

3. Smart Sinkies can make lots of money.

Anonymous said...

I've stopped my ST subscription for more than a year.
Lucky Tan 12/3/13 12:08

No wonder lah, SPH going into REITs now, because property is the hottest money making thing now.

That's what smart organisations do and smart Sinkies also do.

Where got time to be better alternative to PAP? Be smart and make money.

Anonymous said...

Be smart, make money and also blog.

And don't just blog or attend Hong Lim rally only.

patriot said...

Sophistry in politics usually practise by despotic regime.

patriot

Anonymous said...

In an excellent new book, Twilight of the Elites, journalist Chris Hayes argues that what happened is this: Our ruling class failed us. Behind the seemingly haphazard pile-up of recent calamities he sees a pattern: In each case, a cadre of Very Important People succumbed to some combination of blinkered groupthink, deception, self-dealing, fraud, smugness, and self-delusion. And in virtually every case, they escaped accountability.

Or, as Hayes puts it: "All the $$smart people$$$ fucked up, and no one seems willing to take responsibility."

But why did the smart people @fuck up, again and again? Because, Hayes argues, America's mechanism for sorting the @gifted and @talented from the rest of us – what we proudly call our meritocracy – has broken down, to the point where it "isn't very meritocratic at all." And the consequence is that we're "led" by a grasping, status-obsessed elite class that's increasingly socially and economically distant and prone to @rigging the game for its own benefit, the public good be damned.

Anonymous said...

How does this explain corruption and cheating at the top?
What's insidious about meritocracy is that it countenances and tells a story that justifies the extreme inequality. Which is why you see these extreme payouts at the top. And those extreme payouts create tremendous corrupting influences. And the reason that I talk about Major League Baseball in the book and connect it to Enron and Wall Street is that if you have this vision of an institutional arrangement with huge rewards for performance, it's trickier than it looks to design a system that doesn't also have big rewards for cheating. And right now, the size of the payouts at the top are so big that you get a lot of cheating.

patriot said...

Khaw Boon Wan talk like Josephine Teo and Josephine talks like the rest of the PAP Members. Whether it is group think or birds of the same feather, they talk like birds. 鸟话连篇。

Anonymous said...

Don't think the guy offered a viable solution.

Observation, on the dot though.

Anonymous said...

Nothing new. All has been written before. People are just too blind to see it. And as it unfolds, there are more of course.

Coming to your nearest cinema ....

Anonymous said...

Lucky, Lucky.
You talk so much for what?

Vote Opposition first.
Get more voters for Opposition first.
Then, we engage the PIGS in a NATCon.

Anonymous said...

Funny they claim to be best talent available, and highest pay, yet their main strategy is keep importing more and more people and immigrants?

Anonymous said...

Don't worry for evry subscription stopped 5 new ones will come from the new immigrnts. Lucky should invests in sph to be the rich bitch.

Anonymous said...

oops sorry slip of tongue

bond said...

This ruling party deserves to be throw away like trash because they have betrayed your trust.

Anonymous said...

Which is easier?

Make more money or fight to throw out PAP?

Anonymous said...

Actually a better question should be:

Which is harder?

Make more money or fight to throw out PAP?

Because make more money is definitely not easy. It is hard.

Throw out PAP? Even harder.

Anonymous said...

Many foreigner marvels at Singapore success, but they don't know Singapore success is build on ever increasing populations of foreigners, from 2 millions now aiming to 7 millions, the bottom layers are more and more are, living in hands to mouths existence, with ever more cheaper foreign workers from third world to take away their jobs and depressed their pays?

Anonymous said...

so?? dun beat around the bush. just say what snake oil you're selling.

Anonymous said...

"Throw out PAP? Even harder."
13/3/13 00:19

What's so difficult?
Just vote Opposition in GE 2016.
Only takes 2 seconds to vote opposition in the polling booth.

Voting Opposition is like making love.
It gets easier with practice.

Anonymous said...

"Many foreigner marvels at Singapore success, but they don't know Singapore success is build on ever increasing populations of foreigners, from 2 millions now aiming to 7 millions, the bottom layers are more and more are, living in hands to mouths existence, with ever more cheaper foreign workers from third world to take away their jobs and depressed their pays?"
Anon 13/3/13 00:26

What to do?

Because PAP govt, despite causing this, is still considered the best available party to rule by majority voters.

And sadly, it is also true. Don't you agree?

Anonymous said...

What are so many PAPigs doing in Shanghai River?
Did somebody drop some money floating in the river?

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/03/11/thousands-of-dead-pigs-pulled-from-shanghai-river-prompting-contamination-fears/

Anonymous said...

Look at best alternative WP.

Seriously, do they have enough talents to form a shadow cabinet?

Is Low TK PM material? What do you think?

And why is their star MP Chen Show Mao not even in the party CEC? Why?

So you tell me lah, ready to be government or not?

Anonymous said...

Chen Show Mao is in the WP party CEC but only as a member, not appointment holder.

The list is as follows:

Chairman: Ms Sylvia Lim Swee Lian

Vice-Chairman: Mr Mohammed Rahizan bin Yaacob

Secretary-General: Mr Low Thia Khiang

Organising Secretary: Ms Ng Swee Bee

Treasurer: Mr Yee Jenn Jong

Deputy Treasurer: Ms Frieda Chan Sio Phing (new appointment; former council member)

Chair, WP Media Team: Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song

Vice-Chair, WP Media Team: Ms Jane Leong (new appointment; former council member)

Webmaster: Mr Koh Choong Yong

Deputy Webmaster: Ms Lee Li Lian (new appointment; former Youth Wing president)

President, WP Youth Wing: Mr Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap (new appointment; former organising secretary)

Council Members:

Mr Chen Show Mao

Ms Glenda Han Su May

Mr Png Eng Huat (former deputy webmaster)

Mr Pritam Singh (former vice-chair of the media team)

Anonymous said...

"Seriously, do they have enough talents to form a shadow cabinet?"

The ability to understand and represent Singaporeans.
That's the only ability that's required.
Any other academic qualifications.
We can always hire experts/foreign talents from the United Nations to help us to govern Singapore.

Anonymous said...

We have had 50 years of so called "well qualified" talents from PAP to govern Singapore.
And look at the mess they have brought us.
This is a well proven formula for continuing disaster in Singapore.

It's time we voted in Singaporeans who truly represent our values.
We can always hire foreign talents/experts from United Nations to help us formulate better policies for Singapore.

It's not as if existing PAPig policies have been very successful.

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Christopher Columbus

Prime Minister Low Thia Khiang.
Start getting used to it.

Anonymous said...

Swedish, Danish, Finish, South Korea, New Zealand, multi parties systems concentrated on developing the local populations, which lead to better products for export and a supporting social programs which lead them produce many leading products and innovators of the world? Which less inhibited in exchange of ideas? Many suggestions are neutral not pro any parties? They can't give excuses of failures?

Multi parties system, lead to heavy competitions of ideas from various parties, crack their brain, trying to bring the best ideas for the local populations? Which is less costly, lead to more innovatives and creatives solutions? More open discussions?

Single parties systems lead to more and more cheaper foreign workers or immigrants,which lead to take away local jobs, lead to break up in families and casinos problems? More and more and more handouts, less and less jobs for locals, which lead to brain drains highly skilled and qualified locals, which unable to complete with cheaper third world foreigners left the countries, wastage of tax payers money?

Anonymous said...

/// Swedish, Danish, Finish, South Korea, New Zealand, multi parties systems concentrated on developing the local populations ... ///

Exactly.

How do we "develop" and "improve" Singapore?
We do this by "developing" and "improving" Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

PM Sylvia Lim. SM can be Low.

Anonymous said...

Why is the best and 2nd best so much difference?

80 vs 7

A lot of difference, right?

Some more the best is also not that good in the first place, so you can imagine the quality of 2nd best.

So I don't blame the 60% or the 43% lah.

Because Sinkie politics is already hopeless.

Anonymous said...

I define smart Sinkies as those who can make lots of money.

Which of course includes Ministers.

And not to forget those Ah Beng multi millionaires.

So for these smart Sinkies, doesn't matter whether Sinkie politics hopeless or not.

Anonymous said...

With the whip system, not much the MP can do except go to the ATM to collect their allowances and bonuses and prepare to retire back to their directorships, when their terms end, they look so tired and run out of time, with their busy schedule running companies, can't even attend monthly debate on the future of the populations?

The forefathers' system is frugal and hardworking, the new systems is to fostering the handouts mentality with more and more handouts? With tax payers money?

Anonymous said...

The answer is;
Somebody dropped a 100 renminbi note into the Huangpu river.

The question is;
Why did so many PAPigs jump into the Huangpu River?

Anonymous said...

Single system lead to little competition, little competition lead to little ideas, and little creative, lead to more and more handouts?

More parties system lead to better ideas and developments, better programs for the local, bring out the best of the locals, lead to less leaving in the cages and streets?

Anonymous said...

Single system lead to more expensive to run, more expensive to run leads to more indirect taxes, more indirect lead to great handouts,great handouts leads to greater indirect taxes, greater indirect taxes lead to higher cost of living, high cost of living lead sleeping in the cages or streets?

Anonymous said...

Look for single seat Ward, the mp married, he or she is also good looking and not too old. Tailgate the private life for any Palmer style story that'll lead to opposition pulling another coup. This will drive creation of happiness for sinkie into a frenzy . Can hint only so much la

Anonymous said...

You got to get pass the sword. Is it possible to bypass the sword?

Anonymous said...

More expensive system to maintain the top lead, to more indirect taxes, more indirect taxes lead to more levies, more levies lead to more foreigner workers or less foreigners, which lead to less jobs for locals which lead to more excuses,which lead to more indirect taxes to pay the top, which lead to more casinos and broken families?

junko1 said...

Noted that many readers here like to compare Singapore with the Scandinavian countries. This is nonsense.

They are more egalitarian because it is in their culture. Singapore does not have this culture.

We view people with less education, people who get their hands dirty as a lower class - note the outcry to mandatory one day off for the maids.

It will take a long time to develop and cultivate this mentality.

Anonymous said...

Thousands of pigs drowned in Huangpu River in China.

Why we don't have the same pig problem in Singapore?

Anonymous said...

Because we have char siew leaders. They don't get drowned, they get BBQ

Anonymous said...

Junko said Singaporeans are by culture not "egalitarian". He or she cited the 1 day maid off issue and concluded

I have 3 points for him:

a. A key aspect in Singapore media is always knowing what the true opinion on the ground really is. The Punggol election folled many pundits right? What is reported in newspapers are often what the "authority" wants you to believe. And you yourself sometimes think that because you are adamant to give the maid 1 day off, therefore the majority would also do likewise. .

b. How a family treat the maid depends on 2 things: empathy for the subordinate and the society's social mood. I stress, this has ZERo, nada, nothing to do with "culture". After all, do Malays and Indians in Singapore share a same "culture"? Lucky is absolutely correct that the social mood today in Singapore is deplorable, and mutual trust between people is low, they tend to treat each other with guarded fear and slight provocation results in quarrel or fight. Was this the same 3 or 4 decades ago? Maybe you are too young to know. We were not always in foul mood.

Why is social mood foul? The answer lies in how the government treat the people? Are they stingy or generous when you commit petty offences? How does your boss treat you? How do principals treat offending students who spot long hair?

Think about it deeper and try to refrain from stereotyping and generalizing abpout Singapore culture. Its a big bombastic word, "culture" but what do you mean????

Anonymous said...

One party system get more from the bottom subsidising the top, multi-party system get more from the top subsidising the bottom?

Anonymous said...

/// Its a big bombastic word, "culture" but what do you mean???? ///

Singapore = PAP
So culture in Singapore means PAP's culture.
The way PAP do things.

Altho Singapore = PAP
And PAP = Singapore.

Singaporeans are people living in Singapore without a foreign passport to escape the clutches of PAP

Anonymous said...

The funny things is that get singaporean tax payer money to subsidising the boss, so they can employ cheap foreign, workers, the problems with Singapore the can complete with foreign workers and their children too, they will work at cheaper rate and longer worker hours because their cost is lower, Singapore need to complete in value make better product, got to slow reduce the foreign workers quota?

Sometime the leader make conflicting view, some said need lower quota, some said need higher quota, which is which?

Anonymous said...

Under PAP rule and their new changes to car policy rules, COE for smaller vehicle ended higher than bigger car COE. The latter literally plunged by tens of thousands - which is ridiculous.

Those who played by their rules should be very mad.

Weak leaders who bended by the whims of self serving populace have caused instability.

They should just let market regulate instead of making so many who played by the rules angry

Stupid leaders

Anonymous said...

There is no peace there is no stability in their rule. One day up, next day down. One day with job, next day no job. It all depends on who they decide to favor when they next get up from the bed.

But one thing for sure, they will have money much more than the average person

Anonymous said...

Big cars COE has always been the domain of the rich. How is it that rich people are paying lesser indirect tax than the poorer buyer's category in the latest bidding?

Anonymous said...

do I now persuade men.... or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be a servant

Anonymous said...

HDB flat already $1 million, why should cars be cheap?

Need a car for family but cannot afford one?

Just too bad lah.

That's why ordinary Sinkies don't want to get married and start family.

Anonymous said...

That's why ordinary Sinkies don't want to get married and start family.
Anon 13/3/13 18:33

It all boils down to money not enough.

The solution is to make more money to afford it, regardless of whether under PAP or WP government.

Anonymous said...

Please lah....a lot of flats can be had for under $400K ...if minimum $1M thn cn buy HDB...yes...you can KBKB ....

Anonymous said...

You cannot change PAP or WP or whatever.

But you can change yourself to be able to make more money. Isn't this also entirely within your control?

Anonymous said...

After kicking out the PAP government.
It will be easier to make money.

Anonymous said...

If cannot make more money, try to save more money lah.

Like taking public transport or have meals $3 or less. And bring your own lunch, if you have to.

And for entertainment, just surf Internet or go to Lucky Tan's blog.

Ultimately you must have more money by earning more or saving more.

Anonymous said...

Can earn PM's kind of salary hooooor...every one can do it...huat ahhhh

Tua Kee Lan said...

"...COE for smaller vehicle ended higher than bigger car COE. The latter literally plunged by tens of thousands - which is ridiculous."

It means that you and the rest of Singaporeans who are "not rich" can afford to bid that much to secure a car whose OMV costs less than the COE

That is even more ridiculous!

I can afford a 2L car... but I REFUSE to buy one. Why should I pay this stupid tax? $75,000 can buy 3000 UOB shares.Buying UOB shares.

I walk into any bank and pledge these shares, I can get a loan.
If I walk into any bank and pledge my car... the loan officer will laugh until die.

If you can afford to bid 75K for a piece of paper that means you can earn that amount of money. Its only $7,500 per annum or $625 per month. I really have respect for these people... they are truly hard workers working for the bank.. sort of contract worker.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you have the means and decided not to spend it, because you think it is ridiculous while many don't and are enjoying their purchases, which is the whole point, despite paying the sky, you can always request for your unspent monies to be used as hell money when you die

Anonymous said...

That's why $4K or less per month is considered low income. Low enough for PAP to help.

i believe this is also due to PAP getting many more high pay foreign talents than lower pay ones and this tilts overall income level to the high side.

So the income level considered as poor has risen up to the $4K per month mark.

Anonymous said...

I suspect many richer idiots will leave behind a lot of money for the next idiotic generation to spend

Anonymous said...

And if a lot of high pay and rich foreign talents are made citizens, there you are, PAP will get the votes.

Or maybe at least 43% of the votes.

Kiasi (scared die) Sinkies will provide 17%, giving PAP overall 60%.

Anonymous said...

Huat Ah. Wan Wan sway to pap

bond said...

"...COE for smaller vehicle ended higher than bigger car COE" -

Well done papists. The rich ruling class win again. Not only the working class have to pay for the wage credit scheme for very profitable state owned companies, now they are even worse off having to pay a coe more expensive than the rich ruling class. Must be laughing all the way to the banks while screwing up more working class people.

Anonymous said...

Vote opposition and scrap COE.

Anonymous said...

Scrap the high salary of leaders

Anonymous said...

Small car COE higher than big car COE!

Hahahaha. Ordinary Sinkies, who can afford or can barely afford only a small car, get screwed again.

But will they screw PAP in GE 2016?

But a lot depends on how many new citizens in 2016. Then 60% for PAP can be maintained.

Anonymous said...

The continue needs of 2 millions foreigner cheap workers, the cycle go on and on, need the levies to handout to low wages workers, this type of policy was called talented, why should this continue to happen, need to pay top high pay for giving many excuses, why other advanced countries, little or no corruptions, don't give excuses, and don't get high pay, which need lots of indirect taxes? Need to give handouts call economic sharing, why don't try help the workers directly, which is better don't need distort the wages calling in so many cheap foreign workers? Advanced countries lower end worker, which Singapore shun, the wages were quite high, We can't call ourselves a first world country, if there is 2 million low age foreign workers, in Singapore?

Why not reduced the foreign workers and try to develop the local workers, it take some time better take action now, then keep giving lower wages workers and kept giving handouts, as their wage were depressed by cheap foreigners? Will the lower wages workers wages distorted by handouts and productivity and efficiency?

Anonymous said...

If the ministers' wages is lower will there be so many foreign workers, which need the levies or other indirect taxes to support them? Why need so many foreign workers? Singapore is such a small islands? In the 70s and 80s Singapore don't need so many foreigners or foreign workers, so are most advanced nations?

Anonymous said...

Vivian Balakrisnan said HIGH DENSITY living is the most sustainable and green way of life on the planet and which Singapore can take the lead.

He said: "The most amazing thing about Singapore is that almost half of our land is covered in green. But equally, you realise that this has been achieved because we have been able to go high-rise. Because so many of us live in apartments, and that also give the fantastic landscape, cityscape of Singapore and the bright lights at night.

"So the point I'm making is we have to stop thinking in terms of zero-sum games, that I can only have this or that and not go, but to actually exercise imagination and to make it even better."

Anonymous said...

Use your imagination. When you are squeezed and sandwiched in shopping centers and food courts, imagine that you are the only one around. You can don't wear any clothes too if you imagine hard hard

Anonymous said...

QUOTE
Vivian Balakrisnan said HIGH DENSITY living is the most sustainable and green way of life on the planet and which Singapore can take the lead.
UNQUOTE

Really kah?
Vivian Bala live in HDB meh?
Why he no invite SMRT bus drivers to live in his bungalow with his family.
To help integrate foreigners into the Singapore way of life

Anonymous said...

Why need so many foreign workers? Singapore is such a small islands? In the 70s and 80s Singapore don't need so many foreigners or foreign workers, so are most advanced nations?


Perhaps the elitist desire to outperform the best has brought us to a sorrowful state of resorting to handouts to companies in order to up the minimum wages temporarily. As always, flimsy ideas like that usually get approved with minimal attention.

Anonymous said...

/// Ultimately you must have more money by earning more or saving more.///
13/3/13 18:44

If we vote out PAP.
Many of the government fees will be eliminated.
Definitely a good way to save money.

eremarf said...

@Lucky, I think I've put this link on another post of yours before, but I'll relink since it's relevant:

http://www.psmag.com/culture/the-evolution-of-fairness-45681/

Anthropologists even have specialized terminology for rich people who get rich at the expense of their communities - they are called "aggrandizers".

The evidence they have is that wealth accumulation among individuals (as opposed to the entire community) tends to occur with surplus production, which occurred among humans perhaps 10 to 12k years ago as humans settled down in permanent settlements (e.g. at fishing or farming sites).

Among hunter gatherer tribes - property is often communal. Nobody "owns" a tool - because the tool is necessary for the tribe's survival. Anyone who behaves selfishly gets condemned and thrown out.

Among settled peoples, some theories are that communities willingly allocate more resources to the wealthy, because the wealthy provide some benefits (e.g. leadership, organization, etc).

However, ethnographic studies among isolated peoples (Mexican aborigines) find that those with resources tend to act the opposite way in a crisis - for example, during famines, instead of organizing resources (e.g. allocating food, or irrigation water, etc) to maximize outcomes for the village, they would extort wealth from other villagers and drive others to debt.

So the facts now seem to support the theory that people get rich by being willing to exploit others.

There is obviously some self-selection involved - if you weren't an "aggrandizer" you wouldn't get rich, and you wouldn't further use that power to exploit others.

@junko1 - what do you mean they have a different "culture"? Define "culture"?

Switzerland is multi-racial, unlike Scandinavia. The Netherlands is not Scandinavia but they have welfare.

Anyway - it's a bit of a chicken and egg. Does our culture determine our socio-economic arrangements? Or do our socio-economic arrangements determine our culture? Surely they feed back into each other.

Contemporary Nordic culture emerged from particular historical socio-economic arrangements. Perhaps if we want to achieve that culture, we can't sit around waiting for it to occur - we should bring about the socio-economic arrangements that will foster such a culture. Ever thought about it that way?

eremarf said...

/// Ultimately you must have more money by earning more or saving more.///

Good point.

And how do you earn more? By getting a fair share of the profit your company makes, perhaps? And how to achieve that? Secure more bargaining power? How to do that? Participate actively in politics (I don't mean just voting - I mean being informed, being aware, working with grassroots, civil society, labour unions, putting pressure on your MPs by going to MPS, emailing them, etc)?

Don't be like Boxer in Animal Farm. The pigs define the game for him, and he naively plays their game, even unto and beyond death.

If you accept the PAP's theoretical framework of how society should be - you've already failed at stage one. Be critical - question! Are the PAP right? What are the alternatives we have?

For example, if you think people should earn more by working harder, or upgrading their skills or productivity - why don't you check and see if Singaporeans are already working longer hours than other people in the world? Or check if our skills are strong?

If we already work long hours - can we work even longer?

If our skills are already good - can we upgrade them?

If our skills are bad, should we examine closely our views about education, how MOE does education, etc? Are we spending our education budget on the "right" things? Should we increase the education budget? At the expense of which sector?

If our productivity is low - why is that? Isn't that linked to our surplus of cheap labour?

You need to grapple with reality beyond what the PAP offers. They will always offer you a lie, because that's the nature of politicians. They have vested interests.

Anonymous said...

http://www.worldsalaries.org/construction.shtml

eremarf said...

More cool links to share (pretty recent stuff I pulled from Naked Capitalism's daily links):

1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/research-ties-economic-inequality-to-gap-in-life-expectancy/2013/03/10/c7a323c4-7094-11e2-8b8d-e0b59a1b8e2a_story.html?hpid=z1

2. http://www.bostonreview.net/BR38.1/emmanuel_saez_david_grusky_income_inequality_taxes_rent_seeking.php

Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Singapore is discribe as the richest city but behind it, many old people collect cans and cardboards, life in hand to mouth existence?

Many had to work their whole life in Singapore yet end up this state, with the among the widest income inequality?

Anonymous said...

Many of these old people picking cans and cardboards for a living, spend their whole life paying the top, in the end, end in these ways, some lost their flats, due to losting their jobs possibly to cheaper foreigners and got to sleep in the street or the beach?

Anonymous said...

Many indirect taxes needed because, possibly to pay the ministers' pay which was 10 times the amount equivalent to the Swedish, Finnish, Danish, New Zealander mininsters' pays?

Anonymous said...

/// Ultimately you must have more money by earning more or saving more.///
13/3/13 18:44

Under a PAP government.
How much of your money can you keep?
e.g.
Using Medisave.
Your own money.
We still have to pay $3 to PAP gahmen to use our own money.

Then COE, ERP, "subsidized HDB flats etc.

The only way to keep our hard earned money is to vote Opposition.

Anonymous said...

@ eremarf

Thanks for your sharing as always, you raise good questions that elicit deeper thoughts. That is useful in any discussion and it raises the quality across the board.

The USA, and nations such as Switzerland have very deep and long histories with violence thrown in too. Singapore is but a baby within the idea of nationhood.

We believe we have arrived. The symptoms belies the truth. As such the economics, politics is very much evolving and it must until some stability is founded.

That is still some generations more to go.In the meantime, there will be violence, civil unrest. It is a process that humans and society must go through. Only the intensity and damage is unknown.

I concur that politicians lie or lets say, they withhold the facts.
Regardless, they do it consciously and conscientiously too.( oppositions or incumbent)

The wealthy will use whatever influence they have to steer politicians.. and surprise, surprise... they too are wealthy!! ( it is extremely rare to fins a poor politician.)

The wealthy and the politicians have the same goals.. and these are not aligned to those of us who are less well off.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wonder the $16k MP job should be a full time job?

Anonymous said...

We now don't have the facilities and infrastructures to support 5.3 millions people and possibly 20 millions tourists, we want 6.9 millions people?

Anonymous said...

It's not we want.
It's what PAP gahmen wants.

eremarf said...

@Anonymous - thanks for the kind words :-)

Re: political and economic maturity - I'm not sure if it is useful to use this concept of maturity. After all, mature states which were highly successful inevitably collapse as well, e.g. Roman empire, Chinese dynasties, Mayan, Incan, Aztec empires, etc.

Some of the guys I enjoy reading like Dmitri Orlov (he blogs under the same name), and Michael Greet (The Archdruid Report) talk about the inevitable fall of the US, and how the US is actually on a down-trend both economically and socially. (You see it in the wealth divide, social metrics like education rates, health metrics - longevity, infant mortality, etc, increasing spending on military and police powers...)

So I suggest maybe Singaporeans should not aim for an ideal "maturity". Then the question is - what should we aim for? That's what our National Conversation was supposed to be about - but lots of guys I meet who have been to the Nat Cons, they say people just want to come in with little anecdotes from their own lives, seeking to improve their own lot (costs are too high! We can't afford ___, ___, etc) without thinking of how Singapore can be a better society in the long run.

I am very naive about things, but if you ask me what qualities will help Singapore to be a better, stronger society in the long run, I will say: enlightened democracy. (I arrive at this conclusion by comparing societies around the world - and seeing that this particular quality seems very well-correlated with "success".)

To obtain that, we need a lot of things:

1. Citizens who are knowledgeable and aware, who think and reason.

2. Institutions that allow democracy, e.g. constitutions, government with checks and balances (transparent, accountable gov't), rule of law (not rule by law) (lots of things fall under rule of law actually), a free press, rights to protest, to free speech, etc.

3. The things that enable and support those citizens and institutions - leisure time to think, a culture of active citizenship, community action, the skills of thinking and arguing and debating (and the educations - formal or not - that enable this), etc.

Singaporeans are very short in many of these areas, so we have a long way to go to build this up. In the past we were lucky because in spite of this lack, we had a PAP that was on the whole benevolent (in spite of a number of malevolent actions, e.g. political repression).

That's my layman take on things anyway. For what it's worth.

(And re: stability - it seems to me that every generation is continuously engaged in a balancing act, working hard to keep things (looking?) stable, until/unless they fail? In that case - stability is the result of people's continuous efforts, not an end-state society can achieve before resting on their laurels. Well - if you think of institutions as being durable across generations, then yes you can build stability with strong institutions - but these institutions have to be maintained too - or they will erode and collapse.)

Re: rich people influencing government, making government undemocratic, etc - this should be obvious to all thinking people - that money is power and influence, so concentrated wealth is concentrated power, which is undemocratic. Look at early ideas in America's history (esp. Thomas Jefferson) - they were very aware of the problem of how rich people undermine democracy.

But I'm not against people being rich per se (and I recognize the incentives issue) - I'm more against their undemocratic political influence, which allows them to rent-seek and leverage on their wealth/power to concentrate ever greater wealth/power.

I think the Emmanuel Saez interview provides a very good discussion on this. Highly recommend it, and here's the link again:

http://www.bostonreview.net/BR38.1/emmanuel_saez_david_grusky_income_inequality_taxes_rent_seeking.php

eremarf said...

Typo! The Archdruid is Michael GreeR! (not Greet!)

I highly recommend the Archdruid Report for its insights into democracy too... many highly readable posts. So, do check him out:

thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com

He posts once a week - but the archives have good stuff. You can use google to search for keywords within his blog too - to zoom in on topics of interest.

eremarf said...

And re: my comments on National Conversation... it strikes me that Singaporeans are afflicted with short-term-ism. We need a good dose of long-term-ism here.

Dmitri Orlov has a funny piece about this: http://cluborlov.blogspot.sg/2013/02/monkey-trap-nation.html

Fixes to COEs, to stop public transport fare hikes, to reduce maid levies, etc are all short-term-ish fixes.

The long term perspective would be - how many people do we want in Singapore, how transport arrangements should be (what proportion of cars to trains to buses, in what configurations, are most efficient?), do we want maids looking after our children and old folks, or do we want more leisure time to do it ourselves, etc.

The funny thing in Singapore is that our government (under the PAP) claims that they have a monopoly on long-term insight. Well they did until they introduced the National Conversation (kind of admitting they didn't?). The sad thing is, the way Singaporeans are talking at such events, they just confirm the PAP's hunch that the people don't think long-term, that everyone is just trying to collect some short-term benefit.

Let's not be Orlov's monkeys. (And let's also not be Pavlov's dogs the way PAP thinks we are too.)

Think harder, friends. We can build a better society for ourselves. :-)

eremarf said...

Sorry for multi-posing, but something just struck me. I said: "Singaporeans are very short in many of these areas, so we have a long way to go to build this up. In the past we were lucky because in spite of this lack, we had a PAP that was on the whole benevolent..."

On thinking harder, I'm afraid I've been brainwashed by our white-washed histories.

If you look at early Singapore, you find that Singapore had plenty of the necessary criteria for democracy. We had a free press at the start. We had citizens who were actively engaged in governance (organized themselves into labour unions, into community groups, etc). Citizens protested actively and in large numbers.

It's over the decades of PAP rule that such cultures and institutions have been lost, or in some cases ruthlessly exterminated. This must count as one of the tragedies of PAP rule (whatever benefits it has brought as well).

patriot said...

@Eremarf.

Your correction above was timely and more importantly, to have the facts right.
There were much more freedom and welfare during British Rule.
When the Locals took over, most social, labour and political activities got regulated, curtailed or outlawed.
And when conscription was enforced, all healthy young men were and are enslaved for two to two and a half years with some killed in training.

patriot

Anonymous said...

But I'm not against people being rich per se (and I recognize the incentives issue) - I'm more against their undemocratic political influence, which allows them to rent-seek and leverage on their wealth/power to concentrate ever greater wealth/power.


Like the Wall Street lobby groups in the US except that over here they are on steroids without the slightest pressure or counter influences since all useful opposing forces have been fixed and neutered.

Anonymous said...

@ eremarf

I'm more practical.
I'm of the view that the PAP government is a very expensive government.
I don't think Singaporeans can afford a PAP government anymore.
We simply can't afford the PAP ideology anymore.

They want to buy the latest and unproven fighter jet, the F35.
They want to invest in space technology through a new Singapore space agency.
If it wasn't for the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster, Singapore would probably be building our first nuclear reactor.

But simple things like affordable food in a hawker centre.
MRT trains that don't break down.
These simple things, the PAP government don't seem very interested.

Anonymous said...

We must do NS to look after the well to do and the aliens; and we must do things freely but not expect free things in return except praises and encouragement.

Anonymous said...

You can go to an expensive restaurant to watch the violinists or you can got to a cheapo food center to rub shoulders with the uncles... either way you can be fully satisfied.

People who say they offer you expensive services becos they are special and different.. you must be careful of them. Wake up.

Anonymous said...

You can go to an expensive restaurant to watch the violinists or you can got to a cheapo food center to rub shoulders with the uncles... either way you can be fully satisfied.

People who say they offer you expensive services becos they are special and different.. you must be careful of them. Wake up will you?

Anonymous said...

Poor must subsidize the rich.
This is the PAPig ideology.

Anonymous said...

Not happy? Vote Opposition or Emigrate. Emigrate is an expensive option. Voting opposition is the cheaper alternative.

Anonymous said...

Vote Opposition for a more affordable government.

Anonymous said...

Bodoh Babi

eremarf said...

@patriot - yes, and to be more precise, not just any locals, not the Barisan Socialis, not Labour Front, but the PAP. All the repression took place under PAP's care. So the PAP must bear the burden of destroying Singapore's democratic infrastructure and democratic institutions, of re-shaping Singapore's culture away from democracy-friendly ones.

And they have not yet acknowledged that.

@anonymous 17:15 - Do you think the PAP has a monopoly on long-term solutions? Do you think only the PAP can come up with long-term solutions? Of course not!

I'm not defending the PAP at all. I'm just saying ordinary Singaporeans OURSELVES need to think long-term. And that long-term picture need not involve the PAP.

Right now there's a lot of well-justified anger, frustration, and strong emotions among Singaporeans. That's good because that is a strong driving force for action.

But I think we need to think about what actions are good for us in the long run. Don't blindly trust the PAP - of course! That doesn't need to be said. But we still need good plans, plans which will help all Singaporeans rather than just the elite few. In the long-term. And Singaporeans aren't doing enough of that.

So - how to think long-term? I think the answer is to use democracy to surface good ideas, to create an environment of many competing ideas, to find the good ones.

I think Singaporeans should channel their anger not just into short-term quick fixes repairing our broken standards of living. We should ride this wave to rebuild democracy, rebuild the cultures, attitudes, social technologies and institutions, necessary for democracy etc in Singapore - because we have many examples all around the world that the more democratic societies are - the better they fare in the long run.

Maybe I oversimplify. I also wonder if democracy alone will be enough. But if it's not a sufficient condition, I think it's at least a necessary one.

patriot said...

@Eremarf.

Not surprising that PAP will deny and or dispute any claim that it has done any damage to democracy. On the contrary; it will say that the Party has uphold the Pledge to its' every letter, be it democracy, equality and others.
Btw, most netizens do claim that there was once a old good PAP despite the fact that It(PAP) had systematically taken away much of the peoples' liberty and freedom

Political activities was curtailed and some political factions were outlawed the very moment PAP assumed power. However, other than those affected directly, other Singaporeans were fine with it. In fact many even supported PAP till today and likely to the days they die.

Me am boggle by the many bloggers and netizens that are highly critical of PAP for ONLY it's recent deeds of the past one or two decades but overlooked PAPs' more heinous beginning which is the cause of the woes we face today. Had the people not supported the PAP POLICIES,, Singaporeans might have enjoyed multi-party rule for some years under a better system with check and balance.

Sad that it was not to be and 2015/16 will be the Last and Final Opportunity to do so.

patriot

Anonymous said...

It was never good from the beginning. The price to pay is simply too for the purported good services provided.

If I want to do sports to stay healthy, a clean Road/space and safe natural environment will do. Do we need to let the "rich architects" to indulge in their hobbies at our expen$e?

They sell, you eat it all up like pigs because you think like pigs

Anonymous said...

.... simply to high. .

Anonymous said...

Living in a cold man made environment basically glorifies the "talents". Power to the ones who build it. If you want to look good in your nike wears, and be seen, then buy into it.

Ultimately, someone will have to pay to look good on the outside and lots of religious garbage to patch up the rot on the inside

Anonymous said...

"Right now there's a lot of well-justified anger, frustration, and strong emotions among Singaporeans. That's good because that is a strong driving force for action."

Because a lot of things have reached or going to reach their critical point. With our pressure-cooker environment, more of such critical points have yet to be materialized.

Those elites have put a lot of ingredients into the pot without really knowing what the final dish is going to come out.

Anonymous said...

This post of yours got me thinking...that I'd introduced it to an acquaintance of mine. My main concern is that the LKY era has crippled a nation with fear so badly that Singaporeans a generation later have become politically unconscious; because to be politically unconscious is less painful than to participate. It doesn't help at all that all organisations have became instranparent to sustain the trust level that they are riding on. A cab ride one afternoon, whose driver was an elderly Singaporean apek, told me something that I'd figured I would like to share. He said starkly, "We have created a generation of kiasu and kiasi of a people that have become primarily concerned about themselves and do not care about society. They are trying somehow to work with the system, if not, play with the system to get by and celebrate doing so as minor victories of an acute intellect. Our society is a disunited one and the White Paper is facilitating that as agenda to disempower the people further...At the rate that we are going, sons will be less kind to their parents, wives are concerned about securities and children will be estranged from and by their parents...as they are struggling to attain sustaining happiness through a financial baseline...they are struggling to keep up...realising that money is always not enough as inflation was left unchecked...we have begun to treat each other like the very marketplace we have turn this country into...My son sees NS not as a duty...it is a burden, a pawn...and I've encouraging him to leave Singapore for a more politically conscious society because we don't have a critical mass here at all that would in fact care for society..."

It was sobering ride that afternoon.

Anonymous said...

I bet your mom must be proud of you, Mr. Tan.

Anonymous said...

Rge radical solution is to take 20% from the top 20% and give to the bottom 20% to cope with the high costs of essentials here.

patriot said...

The Policies starting with highrise living have destroyed family bonding about 40 years ago. And as public housing gets smaller and parking lots get lesser, more are destroy as we move on.
Interpersonal relationship is worse than wild animals as space is diminishing, time is insufficient and pressures from rising costs and competitions in jobs and material affluents have all contributed to the stress and damage the spiritual(emotional/psychological) welbeing of the people.

The horizon is gloomy and a dark era for Sin is on the way.

patriot

Anonymous said...

They came and destroyed PAP. They are now destroying the people and the country.

The Pariah said...

What arms-dealer Adnan K said at around 26-min point ...... very similar to what Spice King Modi who took up Singapore Citizenship is doing by giving "feedback" to our Pay And Profit Government.

Wonder if HDB relaxation to allow Singles aged 35+ to buy BTO is in response to Modi's reported spiel that HDB BTOs should be available to all youngsters (even below age 35) so that they could all fornicate and produce babies. Modi also said that no young woman in their 20s is a virgin in Singapore these days.

The Pariah said...

About PAP Govt NOT tracking social mobility - Lucky Tan, do check out Written Answers to Parliamentary Questions, 12 Nov 2012. It is IDENTICAL to what The One Percent documentary featured at past the 60-min point.

In reply to MP Ellen Lee's questions about en bloc law and the sustainability of redevelopment and the propensity towards speculation of "en bloc potential" at the expense of owner-occupiers, Law Minister Shanmugam basically expressed disinterest by replying that "we don't track such statistics".