The new sandwich
While we are seeing the fading away of the old sandwich class, it is surprising to see the emergence of a new sandwich class. Is this new sandwich necessary? The old sandwich came from a period of adject poverty, when educational level was low and many were caught in the low income trap, from parents to children. The short job cycle and the formula of retiring at 55, which was necessary in many hard labour jobs, resulted in many with little savings. The children would have to continue to provide for the old folks and their own children. Today, has the picture changed? Many with families are likely to own a flat, have some CPF savings and with children that are having bigger income. Relatively the people today are much well off except for the dysfunctional families, the remnants of the illiterate and ignorant generations and the squanderers. The problem is or should not be pervasive. Why the need to legislate laws today to create another sandwich class by compulsion? What went wrong? One possibility is the breakdown of the family and family values. The children do not see it their responsibility to look after their aged parents. Of course this is only a generalisation and may not affect too many. Then there is this ‘heart willing, pocket not willing’ situation when the cost of living has made caring and looking after a small family that much more costly financially. And to pay for and look after children and parents simultaneously is not an easy option for many. Law or no law, if the pocket is empty, there is not much that can be done. Isn’t it an irony that in today’s context, with so many levels of protection and provision, the oldies should be happily retired without having to be a burden to children and society. What causes this failure to see our olds retiring to the sunset amply provided? Or retiring to the sunset is a fleeting dream? How many will turn into sour sandwiches, unable to look after their own families and legally bounded to look after their parents? I think if this is becoming such a problem, we have failed as a society to give the people a better life. Too much money and resources are wasted in maintaining a costly lifestyle and with little left to look after parents. Can we then blame the new sandwiches for failing to be filial or were they the victims of circumstances that were promoted as the good life?