myth 15

'Greed can be satisfied.' I am raising this myth after discussing with some bloggers on whether it is acceptable to tax the poor. One thought so and considered it low to tax an income of $12k per annum at 5.8% or $700. But when I posed to him the question of who is in a tighter spot, someone who earns a million and pays $200k in tax or this poor chap who could not make ends meet with his $12k income and still have to pay $700 in tax, he backed off his position. Can greed be satisfied by keeping on paying more to the greedy? A technician who missed his $80 annual increment for losing a test meter could have his world shattered. He may need the extra $80 for his school going children's pocket money. On the other hand, a person who is doing sweet nothing and getting paid $1 million may still expect his 10% increment every year, with no caps, as if it is his birth right. And this is the trend, for the big earners to keep lining up their pockets in the millions and never say enough. Greed can never be satisified. The more one gets, the bigger the appetite and the bigger the delusion of grandeur and one's talent and ability.


Anonymous said...

redbean, are you defining 'poor' by that person's ability to meet his needs ? I think this needs to be established from the onset before any serious discussion can take place.

redbean said...

hi anonymous,

if you have 100 people, you will need 100 different definition of needs.

i put myself in the shoe of that poor chap and my need is a $10 million income or else it is not enough. and when i got that $10 million, my need will be $100 million.

not only that different people have different needs, the needs vary over time and is stretchable.

Anonymous said...

Is your poor chap a real person or just a figment of your imagination ? I know more than a few families who get by alright with $1200 a month. OTOH, I also know a family that is struggling to as you put it 'make ends meet' on a disposable income of $8000 a month. So, what say you ?

On a separate note said...

Perhaps we need to differentiate between needs and wants. We need to food, clothing and shelter to live. But we also want to accumulate as much money and toys before we go meet our Maker. Needs have to be met. Wants can wait :)

On a separate note said...

Perhaps we need to differentiate between needs and wants. We need food, clothing and shelter to live. But we also want to accumulate as much money and toys before we go meet our Maker. Needs have to be met. Wants can wait :)

Mickell said...

Yup. Greed can never be satisfied. Greed is insatiable. That's why the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Because the rich has tons of extra cash to invest and get returns on their investments while the poor has to live their hand-to-mouth existence, make do with their meager income, pay for all the bills, expenses, cope with the ever-increasing costs of living. It's a good thing people earning less than $22k a year don't have to pay income tax. But the 5% GST already more than enuff to their living costs ever high.

redbean said...

hi on a separate note,

welcome to the blog and thanks for the answer.

though there are many versions of needs and i think generally we can accept what are basic needs and what are luxury.

it pains me that i have to golf in malaysia. much cheaper there but a lot of hussle. but my pains will not be acceptable to any reasonable man who will see it as a craving for a luxury.

but then again, $8000 income can still be in deep trouble if one is laden with huge medical cost from a very sick parent or close one. this would be a specific case that needs to be looked at differently.

i have been told that this guy with a $100k income a month is in deep deep trouble because he over extended himself by grabbing too many properties at very high prices and is having difficulties servicing the mortgages. : )

Anonymous said...

Well, as they say there are only two things in life that's certain: death and taxes. Unless you're living in an oil-rich sultanate like Brunei or Saudi Arabia, you will need to pay some amount of taxes. Taxes will always be a shared burden, whether you're poor or not.

Income taxes in Singapore IS one of the lowest in the world. I've lived and worked in the States and Australia. If you think paying $600 in taxes on an income of $12K pa is high, you should really try living in one of these countries.

Anonymous said...

but the pay in australia and the states are also much higher.

redbean said...

i think we should not use selective comparison to demonstrate a point. and neither am i saying that our system is bad.

what i am saying is that we can fine tune our system to suit the different layers of our society's need. we can afford it. not that the govt is running on a deficit and the reserve is empty.

we cannot operate like nkf, running surplus after surplus to keep for tomorrow and tightening the belt even on those who needed help badly.

we should not be discussing on extremes, like doing away with the whole system, if one of the car's wheel is not properly aligned, condemned the car and get a new one.

i rather we approach issues by trying to improve on any shortcomings and make it better than to run down everything.

redbean said...

very true. and you also said brunei and saudi do not have income tax. so why choose oz and the states and not brunei or saudi?

if we adopt to argue on this basis, then there is no end to it.

our discussion should be focussed on what is best for society and the nation. and the govt must not forget that they have an obligation and a heavy responsibility to look after those less fortunate people, and not those who can look after themselves. those who can let them be.

we are discussing and sharing ideas and not in a debate to win or to lose.

Anonymous said...

I work where my job takes me. It's not like I can choose. If you ask me why I don't choose to go to Brunei or Saudi, you should also put that same question to your imaginary poor chap.

I am a believer that one should always look out for one's own interest. You cannot trust the govt to do that because at the end of the day, the people who make up the govt live by that same mantra too. They will help themselves first before they will help the people.

redbean said...

yes and no. we too did not choose to be born here. but we shouldn't argue it this way.

we are a democracy. the country belongs to the people. the govt is elected by the people to look after the people's interest. otherwise why should the candidate go to the people and promise to do this or that?

you are right to say that everyone looks after their selfish interest first. but we are here discussing about the interest of a group of people and not our own private interest. so we can afford to be objective about it.

the govt will have to go back to the people for a mandate. if they keep doing what they are doing, and if the people decide enough is enough, then we will have a change of govt. in this you agree that the govt is answerable to the people as well. they need to look after the people's interest as well as theirs.

Anonymous said...

"but the pay in australia and the states are also much higher."

Yes, pay is higher and tax is higher too, so it all evens out. What's your point ?

Anonymous said...

redbean, redbean, are you really that naive or just pretending to be ? You show me a govt that really looks after the people's interest and I'll show a prostitute who's still a virgin. I wouldn't trust anything that comes out of a politician's mouth even if my life depended on it.

Anonymous said...

You did not choose to be born in Singapore but you can choose not to continue living in Singapore. And don't give me the crap about not everyone can leave. Where there's a will, there's a way. If you want something bad enough, you will find the way to get it.

redbean said...

singapore is still one of the best place in the world. why want to leave? we have one of the best first world govt that looks after the people, staying together, moving ahead.

we know this is a good place. there is no need to run away. people are running to be here, paying and getting themselves into debts just to be here.

the things that we asked the govt to change are minimal, fine tuning. just because we are not agreeable with the govt over certain issues does not mean that we are against the govt. this is what maturity is all about. we understand that no one is perfect, no system is perfect. and we live with whatever we have. but it does not mean that we cannot seek to change some of the things which we do not agree.

singaporeans are increasingly trying to participate in the affairs of the country by getting themselves heard. some may say this is whining. is it whining, or is this a way of feeding back to the govt?

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, do you really mean that or are you just being your plain sarcastic self. I'm sure you know the track record of this first world govt on feedback. They said they were still gathering feedback on whether to build a casino while in the same breath already preparing tender documents. That's double-talk at its finest. So, why bother ? Want to live in Singapore, accept all the 'staying together' bullshit. Don't like it send an envelope with no return address containing your pink i/c and red passport to the ICA together with pictures of a spider and a kite. See, it's a very simple choice.

redbean said...

politicians are as human as anyone of us. so there will always be self interest and interest of the people competing for attention. it is only the ratio in question. it can be 70:30, 50:50, 30:70 etc.

no politician can just think of his own interest without taking care of the people. once the ratio is 70:30 or worst in favour of the politician, it is about time for game over.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering whether you studied politics when you were younger.

Anonymous said...

I am also wondering whether you failed in that subject. Perhaps that's why you did not rise to the higher echelons of the political business and are instead running a political blog here.

redbean said...

actually i only completed o level.