7/16/2006

the poor lower middle income class!

There was this guy who is earning $2000 a month and seeking help from the community. He could not go on with this income. And his problem is compounded by the fact that he lives in a 5 room HDB flat. Compare this with a foreign talent who earns the same amount. The FT is going to pray to god to bless the Singapore Govt for the chance to be here to work. For the $2000 means he could probably save $1200 every month and by the time he decides to go home, he is going to be a very rich man in his village. Any FT reading this, please do not take it as an attack against FT. This is just a comparison to show how relative is the worth of money and cost of living. The $2000 Singaporean, although still branded as lower middle income, is a POOR man. A man who needs financial assistance. And for those who says he must cut down his other expenses like eating one bowl of rice lesser and drink one cup of coffee less, I find such comments very cruel and unbecoming. The cost of living here is high, disproportionate to the income of the people. So, ask him to sell his 5 room flat? Another arrogant and thoughtless comment of Singaporeans who thinks their own good fortune will last forever. Only thick headed Singaporeans would tell someone in such a plight to sell his 5 room flat. For the flat was bought by CPF contributions and he would not see much of it after selling as most of the money would still be retained by the CPF. We can keep on boasting about our people, lower middle income class as if they were really lower middle class. They are living near the poverty line if one takes away all the fixed overheads that they cannot runaway from. eg CPF, consevancy fee, PUB, telecom, TV, public transport, basic meals, GST, school fees, medical, pocket money for children, the little contributions to social functions like a wedding, death etc. How much is left? How much is there to squeeze further? And all the fees are still going to go up as sure as the sun will rise. Welcome to the good life of a lower middle class Singaporean.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

That guy should ask himself why he had bought a 5-room in the first place. Did he bite off more than he could chew. Blaming everything on cost of living is starting to sound like a broken record. Other countries also have high cost of living. You don;t want high cost of living, go and live in Somalia or Mozambique.

redbean said...

i don't think the 5 room flat eats into his disposable income. probably the instalment is fully serviced by his cpf contribution.

it is the all the living costs that makes $2000 barely enough to live on. that is the problem.

Anonymous said...

You never fail to amaze me with your fantasy. No sane person would ever think it is possible to service a 5 room flat mortgage with $2000 monthly oncome wholly on CPF. You want a high standard of living but low cost of living. That only exists in your make-believe world. What that effectively means is that you want high wages, but other people should not. Wake up lah. High cost of living goes hand in hand with High standard of living. I challenge you to name me a country that has a high standard of living but low costs of living.

TruBlu said...

I think placing the spotlight on FTs and comparing them to the locals is a bit unfair. Don't get me wrong, I am not an FT, nor am I being pro-FT. The way I see it is these guys have taken the risk to venture out of their own comfort zone in search of a better life, a life possibly not offered by their own countries of origin. Likewise, if some Singaporeans feel that their country can no longer offer them the standard of living they so desire, there is nothing to stop them from doing likewise. To choose to stay put in their comfort zones and then to keep on harping about high cost of living shows that such people want to reap the rewards without taking any risk. We all know that is wishful thinking. We also know the cost of living is not going down anytime soon so what is the point of staying put and not doing anything ? Feels a bit like treading water, don't you think ?

redbean said...

hi trublu,

welcom to the chat. let me answer anonymous first.

relatively, the malaysian standard of living is not that bad compare to ours. and if a malaysian earns $2k ringgit, i think they live a fairly comfortable lifestyle.

over the years we have jacked up our cost of living too much relative to our income. in 1974, my income was only $1.5k pm. my 5 rm flat cost me $27,500 equivalen to less than 2 years income.

today a 5 rm flat in the same locality cost $400k direct from hdb. a young grad's income is $2.5k. this is 13 years of income. and all other things have gone up as well.

as for the lower skill singaporeans to go overseas, it is not an option as no one will pay him what he is getting in singapore.

when comparing against a ft, let's leave subjective feelings aside. an ft from a country with lower cost of living can come here and benefit from a higher income which he can't get at home and also exchange rate.

only the relatively higher educated group of singaporeans have the privilege of chasing jobs overseas. but they also face the strong sing dollar problem. going to asian countries will not see a net gain in income. going to western countries, not many are marketable.

many singaporeans are caught in a bind due to these two factors.

Anonymous said...

"as for the lower skill singaporeans to go overseas, it is not an option as no one will pay him what he is getting in singapore"

if that is the case, then such people should count their blessings that they can still find a job in Singapore, don't you think ?

Anonymous said...

Serve Singaporeans right for the predicament that you're in. You were once arrogant during the good years of the 90s. Your leaders went around the region criticisng how other countries are run. Now the chicken have come home to roost. Your leaders bad karma has now come back to haunt you.

redbean said...

i think they are trying to. they will put on a bold front and be part of the 4 million smiles.

seriously, this is group of people that always bear the brunt of any crisis. they are the people living on the edges. they will try to cope, to help themselves but will never be. the group of people who are not too smart and not too stupid, the ignorant masses.

Anonymous said...

"going to asian countries will not see a net gain in income"

redbean, you are very wrong on this count. I am living proof of this. I was retrenched at the height of the SARS crisis back in '03. I did some freelance work for a year till I managed to secure a full-time job at almost half my original pay. It was a disaster to say the least. They expected me to work my heart out yet were paying me a pittance. And to cap it all, the irony of the situation is that I was actually earning more when I was freelancing as compared to the job. After three months I threw in the towel, started cold-calling some old client contacts, friends, relatives basically anybody who I think will be able to help. A long term client at my old company put me through to his Malaysian brother who was just starting a factory across the Causeway. Went up there to meet him and the two days later, he offered me a position at his fledgling company. I am paid on local currency and on local terms, no fancy expat accomodation or international schooling for my kids but the strength of the sing dollar does
not bother me beacuse I am not living in Singapore. To me, it is a matter of having the drive. A lot of Singaporeans have been too molly-coddled. They want to enjoy the good life that Singapore can no longer provide but are unwilling to take the risks to venture out of their comfort zones. They complain about cost of living but still want to live in Singapore. To me, these type of people are like the proverbial frog in boiling water. They will be boiled alive soon if they don't come to their senses as to the reality of the world today.

Anonymous said...

forgot to add something. You by trying to justify the stay-put-and-continue-to-complain attitude are doing them a disservice. The way I see it, it is a choice that everybody has. You dont need to be an exceptional talent to be able to land a decent paying job in Thailand, Malaysia, China or Indonesia. Singaporeans work ethic are actually very well regarded in those countries. All it takes is a willingness to be different and to adapt to a different environment. I have proven that it can work so I have to conclude your justification is simply flawed.

redbean said...

in every group there will be the mavericks who triumph against all odds.

at the lower end, the worker and semi skilled level, many are not in a position to do what you have done. relocation is not feasible.

there are of course many who will also wallowed in self pity. and many who are clueless.

then in their midst there will be the successful entrepreneurs. i have also seen many who were millionaires, mavericks of their profession, but lost everything through a combination of many factors during the last few years.

my main issue, why can't a person survive and live without seeking help with a $2000 income? and there are many who earns less than this amount. their conditions are much worst. there is something seriously wrong with our income versus cost of living.

and if cost of living keeps rising, even a $3k income may have problems making ends meet.

the system has passed down to many costs to the people in the name of privatisation and profitability.

Anonymous said...

redbean, again you choose to justify inaction over and above doing taking charge of things yourself as I had done. it is not about being mavericks. It is about taking charge of your life instead of waiting in vain for the govt to make it better for you. You and many other Singaporeans whine about the high cost of living, I agree it is not a pleasant thing so what can you do about it ? The answer is not very much. You want to live in Singapore, you must accept that reality that goes with it. If it reaches a point where it becomes unbearable, where relocation is the only option, then that is what you have to do. Simple as that. Making up excuses will not alleviate anyone's plight. You either help yourself or be swept away by the tide. Remember the old adage: Where there's a will, there's a way. Inaction is neither an option nor a valid excuse.

redbean said...

i think i fall into the same category as mr brown, telling half truths or 1/3 truths. the fact is that not all singaporeans are suffering. many are having a great time here. relocation is nonsense. when they step out of singapore it is holiday.

we must recognised that our society is made up of several levels. people too, more complicated and more facets. you just do not know what motivates or moves them. some cannot be moved at all. maybe those in this group should be left to the law of natural selection.

Anonymous said...

"maybe those in this group should be left to the law of natural selection."

If such people refuse to help themselves, then they only have themselves to blame. Everyone has a choice. It's just most decide "No choice" to be that choice.

redbean said...

it is just like some got straight As and some straight Fs. and some earning millions and some selling kuehs and got chase around by environment inspectors.

to let them die or not to let them die?

Anonymous said...

Life is like playing poker. You make the most of the cards that you're dealt. Most of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world are not straight A students. Take a look at Li Ka Shing. So what's your point ?

redbean said...

for every successful entrepreneur like li ka shing, there will be a few million failures.
not sure if you have heard the story of a carrot, an egg or coffee seed?

throw all into a pot to boil. carrot becomes soft and limp. egg becomes hard boil inside. coffee seed changes the water to fragrant coffee.

the pressure of cooking turns a piece of hard solid carrot limp. an egg will be harden and bitter like the hearts of some men.

in the case of coffee seed, it changes the environment, and makes it better.

not all will react the same way to the trials and tribulations of life.

Anonymous said...

The important thing is everyone has a choice of whether to react to negative events in a positive or negative way. Most people choose to focus on the negatives because it is easier. Eg. You get retrenched, blame the gahmen for bringing in FT conveniently forgetting that the FT is a lot more productive and cost effective than you. Blaming someone else for your misfortune is a cop-out, a convenient method of denial.

redbean said...

i can share your views about not blaming the govt and everyone taking care of his own problems. but then again, when a govt is always meddling with the lives of people, telling people what to do what not to do, what can do, what cannot do, and supposingly to look after the people but ended up looking after foreigners, then you can't blame the people for getting angry for being displaced in their own country by foreigners.

and this will affect those people who really and sincerely believed that they are being displaced. how to tell them that they are not?

Anonymous said...

The govt meddles in the people's lives because the people allowed them to. If you think about it, isn't it true that no one can force you to do something you do not want to do ?

redbean said...

up to a point it is true. but can the people say no, short of a rebellion?

many legislations were passed, and can the people say no? or when the law comes down too hard on a citizen, what can the citizen do? the masses are always docile and meek and will allow themselves to be led. and the masses will always be led by the vocal and assertive minority, the so called leaders.

only when the pain is unbearable, when the threshold is breeched, then all hell will break lose. but to reach such a stage, it will take a long while and in the meantime the masses will have to be content to be kicked around.

why would people use the description of the straw that broke a camel's back?

Anonymous said...

The way to say no to all the crap that the govt dishes to you on a daily basis is simply to pack your bags and leave.

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