4/21/2007

revisiting means testing

Revisiting Means Testing Of the many reasons behind means testing is the assumption that family is the core and all family units are functional. In the Singapore of today, when many are trying to make ends meet, the family unit that is intact is probably the parent and small children. The parents will often sacrifice for their children, paying and giving without asking for anything in return. Unfortunately this only holds true when the family is young. When the children have grown, it becomes to each his own. An extended family or a bigger family may look good on paper, with household income of $5k a month, but 5 or more mouths to feed. And bet you, this is not a large sum and a lot of tightening is still required. And when it comes to a big lump sum to be paid, many do not have the spare capacity to do so. A $10k or $20k hospital bill is going to turn their lives upside down. The premise that children must pay for their parents, when children have children to pay for, is stretching the ability a little too far. But of course, when children are earning a million a year, filial piety is a given. For there are a lot of spare cash flowing around. Thinkings of people earning millions are definitely different from those earning a couple of thousands a month. Even husband and wife may not be on speaking terms or on the verge of a divorce. So would a cash rich husband or wife be forced to pay for a spouse that they would not want to see for the rest of their lives? We may have laws to enforce such payments. But if the paying party just refuse to oblige, the problem is still with the patient. What can the law do? Or can the hospital says, your husband or wife or children must pay. Otherwise the bill is still your problem? How I wish all the Singaporeans are all earning a million dollars and their family units are functional. The reality is far from it. And paying hospital bills can break up family ties and strain relations.

3 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

On the topic of "moral hazards"...i.e. when the "moral" are "punished" for the benefit of those who act irrationally.

This kind of govt "assistance" encourages people to be less responsible and behave accordingly, will full knowledge that there is a "safety net" to protect their family.

In fact, the responsible parents are PENALISED to benefit the less responsible ones, when in fact the more responsible parents should be REWARDED if the "system" was really fair and just.

People just don't get it, that EVERYTHING which happens to them is their own RESPONSIBILITY.

I'm very surprised if not DISGUSTED that a govt so interested in promoting PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY is actually acting against the "talk" they are supposed to "walk" and lead by EXAMPLE.

Weak bastards!

redbean said...

i agree that those who are suffering are because of their wrongdoings. and many are totally irresponsible in their past.

what to do?

look at it another way, they give you a chance to give and to be charitable, to feel for a poor and useless bugger.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Some people are struck with misfortune that they didn't have any control over—like earthquakes, tsunamis, getting hit by a drunk driver, being molested as a child... etc. OK, they are still responsible for the way they choose to look at their situation—although it is not their fault, but they do deserve the help and support from others to repair, and hopefully get back on their feet again.

Still, that doesn't give them any special "rights" to make a claim for help on someone else. But I do believe that man is essentially GOOD and most (free) people who are responsible for themselves naturally help those in GENUINE need.

The other type of "hard luck" cases are those who bring on the misery in their lives themselves—people who do drugs, choose crime, lie, are lazy, are rude and intolerant and fuck up their relationships, people who manipulate others and subsequently lose their friends, people who beat-up the weak etc..

These folks deserve no help at all, and if people fuck them off, these "louses" are getting what they richly deserve.

...however, all is not lost for even the meanest arsehole on earth. He can choose to admit the error of his ways, and you will find the goodness of humankind come to their aid.

Every reasonable person I know has a forgiving spirit, but for most people it is CONDITIONAL (and that is their choice)—that one has first got to face up and admit one's mistakes.

When people make "wrong choices" they don't just harm themselves—they also fracture relationships they have with others.

Human nature is such—we tend to esteem the people who treat us fairly and kindly. Afterall, we do learn by experience—if someone treats us well we "anchor" a "good" experience, if they are cruel or unkind to us, we learn from that too.

As I said before, I observe lots and lots of old people—they've taught me a lot, let me tell you. I started this "people watching" when I was doing community work in nursing homes in Perth.

Imagine being 60, 70, 80 years old and still not having a "mature" and "rational" outlook and being fucked up. Just think, in ALL THAT TIME, these suffering folks failed to get their shit together and to nurture and foster good relations with others.

and then you experience other old folks who are so totally LOVED by their friends and family—and I don't care who it is EVERYONE "problems" right through their life. Some have the spirit and the courage to deal with it, and some simply choose not to , and blame something or someone else for their "bad luck".

In a way, these people are right—other people will help you live a good life, or a miserable one, and that choice is solely up to the individual to decide on how he conducts himself with others.