11/03/2008

Foreign workers indispensable?

Shanmugam is emphasising on the importance of having foreign workers again, as if they are indispensable to our growth and viability as a country. Yes, I agree, we need foreign workers, at least to upgrade the depleted and poor gene stocks we are having today. Then the question is how many and how fast? We are not a continent like Australia or the US. We are just a little piece of rock. We cannot keep filling this rock with more people. When shall we stop? 5m, 6m, or 10m? And when we reach these numbers, will we keep adding on? Don't get too ambitious about how big we can be. Just like our financial centre, it has limitations because we are just small. I wish I can type this word small in size 1 to emphasise how small we are. Don't get carried away by pushing for more foreign workers and growth and growth. There is a very heavy price to be paid.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

We are small but we are wearing big shoes you know. Don't pray pray hor.

Matilah_Singapura said...

He right, but this unfortunate oaf keeps tripping on his own shoe-laces to make a point.

Work has to be done — everywhere there is human life, without exception — so that our civilisation can continue. Someone has to do the work. So it doesn't matter whether those somebodies are local or foreign or mechanical or digital. Even if they are mechanical and digital, somebody has to operate the levers and software.

Entrepreneurs, guided by the wants and needs of their Sovereign consumer-masters decide how they, the entrepreneurs are to organise the factors of production in their various enterprises and firms.

If the entrepreneurs discover that they can use their capital more effectively by using foreign labour or foreign locations, so be it. The entrepreneurs job is not to "exploit" cheaper foreign labour, but to deliver the most value-for-money to their customers.

This is not a matter for govt to decide, except to maintain OPEN BORDERS so that goods, capital, labour and ideas can be exchanged freely on global markets, and basically peaceful people can come and go as they please.

Anonymous said...

constipated.

redbean said...

you are absolutely right again matilah. that is what an entrepreneur or a MNC will do. go somewhere where factors of production are the cheapest.

but you must not confuse entrepreneurship with the role of govt. they are not necessary the same. if the govt confused their roles and sacrificed the interests of the people, then they will know that it is time they be kicked out.

Anonymous said...

After forty years, still depend on FWs. Shame on them, still can't solved this problem despite the highest pay in Earth. If there are cheaper FW in other planet, my believe fw from the earth would then be eliminated. Ha Ha,If so the greedy may want to up their pay to match that of Universe.

Matilah_Singapura said...

redbean:

The best thing the govt can do is to get out of the way of private citizens, and allow the market to organise itself.

Entrepreneurs don't go where the factors of production are cheapest. They go where the return on their investment is best, and long-term security is more or less a given. That's why there's no mass unemployment in rich western countries. In fact poor countries (where there is cheap labour) have demonstrably HIGHER rates of unemployment.

Anonymous said...

re: matilah_singapura

"This is not a matter for govt to decide, except to maintain OPEN BORDERS so that goods, capital, labour and ideas can be exchanged freely on global markets, and basically peaceful people can come and go as they please."

But opening our borders doesn't mean that other countries would reciprocate the gesture. So what should be the 'optimal' policy under these set of conditions which governments imposed?

e.g. if we are open to foreign workers, and this gesture is not reciprocated - then the poor in Singapore would have no option but to squirm in poverty.

Matilah_Singapura said...

To anon:

The best policy is always a "hands off" policy.

Foereign workers come to S'pore because there are people who are willing to employ them. It is demand driven, not as you have suggested, a huge influx of foreigners just coming for a look-see and decide to stay. If they want to stay, they'll have to work — which is good, as there is always work to be done to better our existence.

Local workers, all workers in fact, now compete on a global scale. Why not? The goods we buy are mostly globally competitive, so why shouldn't the factor of production used to produce those goods be globally competitive too? The alternative doesn't make sense at all.

Let us suppose yur proposition exists: that the other countries might NOT have open borders.

If that is the case, it is to their detriment that they don't open their borders. Most of these countries are POOR. To become rich, the first thing to do is to allow freedom — "open up to the world" so to speak.

If not, it would be very difficult and unattractive for high-value foreign workers (e.g. Singaporean in this case) with the EXPERTISE to develop INFRASTRUCTURE, finance, systems etc to help these countries become rich.

Don't concern yourself with nation states who close their borders. Fuck em. Let em starve to death!

Anonymous said...

I think economic growth should keep pace with the growth of the people. I agree with Redbean saying, "Don't get carried away by pushing for more foreign workers and growth and growth. There is a very heavy price to be paid." Who pays? Singaporeans who cannot keep up, lah! The leaders cannot be running so far ahead when the followers are lagging so far behind.