7/24/2008

Myth 186 Foreign talent and cosmopolitan city

We need the vibrancy of a cosmopolitan city to prosper like New York or some big American cities. We also need the foreign talents, given the few and limited talents we have among ourselves. The American formula is the way to beat the world. But the American formula comes with other terms. A big country with abundance of resources and opportunities, a lawlessness culture with a can do attitude. Then the contradiction of a strong constitution and a legal system. The fourth estate and a people who are ready to challenge the highest office when the law is broken or undermined. There are many other conditions to add on, not just the influx of foreigners to make America a great country. And obviously an authoritarian culture with a submissive or dismissive population are not compatible to what makes America what it is today. Then there is that big American Dream to look forward to. Actually America is an aberration. Not many countries can survive a mixed bag of communities and continue to be the number one super power, the number one economy. If foreign talents is the prerequisite to making a nation great, there would not be any German Empire, Dutch or Spaniard Empires, the British Empire or the Japanese Empire. All these empires rose to prominence because of a strong sense of nationalism and homogeinity. If the American formula is right, we can forget about the reemergence of India and China, both relying heavily on indigenious talents and resources. On the other hand, the former empires like the Brits are falling apart and fading into oblivion with a huge influx of foreigners into the countries. But the homogenous countries like Germany and Japan are doing exceptionally well. Is the American Dream sustainable? Or is the American formula the way to go? Before we get near to our Singapore Dream, there may not be a Singapore to talk about in the future if we no longer become a people built on some shared values and history. The broth is too small and too little and will not be able to retain its originality when too much new ingredients are added into the cooking pot.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Old man should take a look at what is happening in Britain. Britain is host to a large number of eastern europeans due to EU rules. Britons are leaving in large number as they see the country is no longer theirs. Just ask any Briton you encounter.

Mockingbird said...

i doubt Singapore will ever be able to achieve the same level of vibrancy and creativity that flows in New York.

It's a certain X-factor about New York that makes it thrive. It's certainly this X-factor which Singapore is so sorely lacking in.

Anonymous said...

Some Singaporeans are already living the American Dream. Spend, spend, spemd. why worry about tommorrow. The problems will always come after tommorrow, like what the Americans are experiencing now. But who cares?

redbean said...

new york or other american cities are vibrant because the bulk of the migrants were from the higher intelligent european stock. and even the asian stocks were the better ones that got there to contribute to the vibrancy.

the kitchen boys and cooks don't add that much to the vibrancy. so were the south americans or the mexicans.

if we want our city to be as vibrant as new york, we need to consciously attract the europeans here. true or not? attracting the asians and southeast asians will contribute more to the already huge pools of labourer/worker pool. the vibrancy will be in the foodcourts and geylang.

Anonymous said...

'If we want our city to be as vibrant as New York, we need to consciously attract the europeans here'

Do we have the western style democracy to attract the europeans?

Our style of democracy is suitable only for labourers/workers from asian countries, who probably have not even heard of vibrancy or x-factor. In fact there is no problem in attracting them here, take on 2 jobs, earn their money and return home. In the end nothing changes and back to square one.

Anonymous said...

I reckon the melting pot model is widely acceptable in the US insofar as they have institutionalized comprehensive welfare and unemployment benefits to incumbent Americans before they open the gates to the foreign workers. Their state system extends monetary support to displaced Americans, willingly. Also, they didnt use terms like "foreign talents" to justify their policy to embrace foreign workers; it would have been laughable otherwise.

When we first open our doors to the boatloads of foreign cooks, waitress, clerks, sweepers, factory workers, fish farm attendants, painters, daily laborers and some managerial and executive professionals etc, the catch slogans that "singaporeans are not afraid of competition" and that "we welcome the foreign talents" incessantly found its way into our ears. It confuses me insomuch as I wasnt sure that was what everyone really felt at all. And with the often repeated label of "foreign talents" being used by the govt media to describe those that came from offshore to help repair our erroreous policies on population and restrictive education quota controls, I thought it effectively made all the non foreigners in the country felt small and belittled.

We didnt copy the American safety net system but went around it instead with another killer slogan, that "crutch mentality is dangerous"

In retrospect, I sometimes wondered if this FT policy have been better managed from the start, how different it would have turned out today....

redbean said...

singaporeans are working towards their second independence. to be rich and become citizens of the world. the rest, good luck.