1/15/2006

singapore's golden years

it was a time when confidence was high. everyone was thinking of a better tomorrow and actually expecting it. pay rises were huge and frequent. year end bonuses were equally enormous. everyone was upgrading and every residential project was swarm by prospective buyers. other than house huntings, the other thing worth doing is playing golf all over. playing in singapore and malaysia is not good enough. australia, china, thailand and other distant golf courses were frequented by singaporeans. those were the good times. the golden years of singapore. when i was told that, i thought otherwise. there were more golden years to come. that was just the beginning. a peek to what more good things will come the singaporean way. but we also wondered whether that would be the end. and it seemed so. it came so fast and furious, only about 10 years ago and vanished in less than 10 years. now what happens? even hdb flats nobody wants. selling cheap also no takers. and the govt has to give out $1 billion to help 240,000 people, countables, who are in hard times. the number of not countables and facing hard times is unknown. but the rich are getting richer and faster. the ugly face of greed is popping out everywhere. a huge house build on weak foundation will collapse on its own weight.

11 comments:

Speedwing said...

Good times and bad times are like the two sides of a coin. When you toss the coin you can get either head or tail. If you toss it enough times you will find that the number of good times and the number of bad times will be almost equal. That is the law of probability. Singapore is on a high now and lets hope that this will last. However, only a few years ago you had a run of bad years, and before that period it was good again. With the flu pendemic and terrorism at our doorsteps, who know what will happen tomorrow? The economy of a country can be crushed overnight.

Your point about the rich getting the lion's share of the good fortune of Singapore is true. There are those who need handouts, even in good times. However, if you live in a place such as Singapore, you must expect such inequalities. That is what a "free" economy means. Only the fastest, most agressive, most cunning, most ruthless etc will win. If you do not possess these qualities you will be stepped upon and the best you can hope for are handouts and crumbs off the tables of the rich.

redbean said...

hi speed,

the saddest thing is that the nation has so much wealth that can make the society that much equal, a bit more to the poor and a bit lesser to the rich. but the craziness of greed has reached such a scale that the rich keeps piling on themselves when a few more millions would not mean anything to them but so much for the poor.

if the wealth of the nation is distributed a little more to the poorer group, it will be make the social fabric that much stronger. but greed is blind. even the wise can be greedy and blinded by greed.

to think that 240,000 are earning less than $1500, on record, and maybe another 100,000 not on record, multiply that into 4 a family, the problem of not enough is quite pervasive.

when so much can be done for the people in a nation of plenty. when policies can be implemented based on plenty, we choose to do otherwise.

Speedwing said...

You have painted a very sad picture of things as they stand. However, let us hope that people will be a little more generous in giving both in the material and non-material sense. Kindness and compassion cost nothing. I wish more people would recognise this and give a little more. Spreading kindness is something very close to my heart.

Anonymous said...

Hi, my name is elaine ko,
a reporter of a tv station in hong kong.

I am going to Singapore for the news special on the implementation of goods and services tax (GST), I would like to know how the indirect tax affect the living of the ordinary people in the city.

Hope to hear from you.

Here is my email address:
yl.ko@tvb.com.hk/tvb

Matilah_Singapura said...

redbean,

There is a Chinese saying: "The gold is all around you. You have to do what it takes to pick it up."

Whether the economy is up or down, there is still opportunity. Why? Because people have needs which have to be fulfilled and that can only come from other people.

I'm not a great believer in the aggregates of macro-economics, because in macro people are assumed to be the same, and act as if they were animals responding to a stimulus in nature. e.g. like a mosquito - it smells blood, it flys in that direction to feed.

Humans have free will. Some behave like the herd, and others behave independently because they think independently

However the macro picture - taken in context of individual agents - would suggest that there is far too much interference by the govt in S'pore.

In S'pore, the govt is far too big, too invasive and too powerful. They have all the power - and absolute power at that. The people get the scraps - whatever freedom they have is what the govt says they can have.

MATILAH SINGAPURA!

redbean said...

hi elaine,

nice of you to drop by. the gst issue is one of transfer of taxation from the rich to the poor. many of the poor use to get by without paying any tax. many of the not so poor had to pay some taxes. and the rich pays more.

our taxation system has changed to the lowering of individual taxes and taxing everyone, including the very poor, through gst. the poorer section of the population now has to pay tax in practically everything they consumed. this is fair in a way that everyone now pays tax, but unjust from the point of not burdening the lower income group. now, no matter how poor one is, many basic essential items are also subject to tax.

when you do your interview, the grassroot leaders and govt views would be similar, spreading the burden of tax to as wide a net as possible. then they will probably tell you there are many assistance schemes which the poor can seek help.

and many of the poor would not even know that they are being taxed. some even claiming that we have the lowest tax rate in the world with many not having to pay tax at all. they forgot about gst altogether.

let me know if you need assistance. i can't promise but i will assist whatever i can when you are here.

regards.

redbean said...

on the macro level everything becomes a digit. even $1 billion will be watered down to a few hundreds each. and people are very wise in making use of numbers when there is a need to and not when using it will not be to their advantage.

there are many areas where money can be made. and some are also able to make them easier than others. those in the bandwagon never have it so good. some even uttered in shock that they lost track of where and how much money were flowing into their coffers. some also complained in jest that they did not know what to do with the money being thrown at them.

it is easy when one is at the right place and right time. but not easy when one is not in the right place and right time. some were in the right place and right time, but people changed the place or time. and they ended either in the right place but wrong time, or wrong place and wrong time.

what i found wanting is for a govt that can do so much good by being less generous to the already filthy rich but continues to feed them and at the same time creating so many poor in the midst. this is really inconceivable as one of the roles of the govt is to distribute the wealth more equitably to provide some form of social justice.

they have the means and time and resources to do it. if they miss this golden opportunity and fail to uplift the general population, then they deserved to be kicked in the arse.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Every "sensibly corrupt" govt will lick the arseholes of their richest citizens. The richest citizens pay the most taxes - perhaps indirectly because thier capital produces many of the goods and services in the cuntry (which are taxed) and employ many workers (who are also taxed). The rich have lots of property and cars and luxury goods - all taxed.

Hey, you have to look after your cash-cows :-)

As for the poor, fuck 'em. "Let them eat cake".

Many folks resent the absolute power of the govt, and also the fact that S'pore is the highest paid govt in the world (executive salaries)

I think its time to introduce the guillotine. The revenge of the masses :-)

redbean said...

singapore has looked after the rich very well indeed. and when i ask to look after the poor, i am not saying that the rich must be neglected. the rich shall remain rich. but no need to keep shafting money into their already full pockets.

it is time to share the wealth with the lower income group. agree with you that we must make love with the rich. but with so much spare cash, why keep giving it to the rich and not the poor? the majority of the voters are the poor. the rich always remain a small minority.

Matilah_Singapura said...

The way to look after the poor is to stop screwing them.

A removal of all taxes and tariffs is a good start.

ALL taxes, excises, monopolies, price-fixing and tariffs hurt the poor more than they hur the rich or middle-calss. There are no exceptions to this economic principle. The poor spend every dime they have on staying ALIVE. But they are heavily taxed. Many of them smoke, and drink and gamble (and a significant proportion of their income goes on this as compared to a richer person) - all this is monopolised and taxed. They are prevented from owning old, cheap cars because there is no such thing in S'pore. They are prevented from cheap housing - because of the price fixing of HDB. They are indirectly taxed when they use public transport because of the monoplies (you need govt approval to run transport) and the taxes on vehicles and fuel.

If all these excises and monopolies were removed, the average poor person would have 30% more money to spend - and probably "Workfare" subsidies would be uneccesary. BTW, these subsidies are paid for - you guessed it - by tax.

By giving welfare subsidies the govt runs a scam - it gives with one hand and takes back MORE with the other.

Do the math.

redbean said...

matilah,

what you said is completely the same as what i am looking at. well, we are seeing the same light on this.