In praise of Greed

68 medical specialists left the public sector to go into private practice. And the lure is a ten fold increase in income. Current income of public sector specialists ranges from $12k to $60k pm or $160k to three quarter of a million as compare to a million to 5 million in the private sector. And with COE hitting the $100k mark soon, these poor doctors would not be able to buy a decent car to drive. Nothing is wrong with the specialists wanting to earn a few millions a year. What is fearful is that the next round of salary increment in the public sector for medical specialists would push medical fees out into deep space. But that is the price to pay for a booming economy when there is so much money to be made and with a price tag of a few millions for anything as only small change. The way it is going, all the specialists should soon end up in the private sector, and more private hospitals can be built to reap more profits from this life and death business. The public sector can never hope to compete with the private sector on money alone. If they do, it will create a continuous domino theory with every other professional expecting to earn more than the doctors, starting with the politicians. We now have a great trend going in the property sectors when everything is for sale for more profits. And the foreigners are not short of cash with liquidity flooding the world’s financial system. The Chinese, the Indians, the Europeans and Americans are all pouring their petty cash here to sweep up every available property left. The recent announcement of Caldecott Hill being available for good residential properties could see more being built and sold off. And the GDP numbers are going to look very good indeed. Everything is for sale, for profit and for money. For those who fall into the CBF category of workers, tighten your seat belt and trouser’s belt. The ride is going to be exhilarating. We are in the best of time of our economic boom. The big cars are selling fast even with $60k for a piece of COE. The good times are here.


Matilah_Singapura said...

There is nothing wrong with making a profit. In fact, it is one of the highest of moral virtues - as long as you make it voluntarily and don't cheat or steal.

Doctors spend years training - expensive training and the opportunity cost of not earning while learning. They are entitles to earn as much as they like simply because they are saving the most precious of all things: human lives.

It is all very well to chide these people when they are not giving the care they are "supposed to", but no one asks the question: who cares for the care-givers?

It is common to label doctors as "greedy", but when some one is sick they are thankful that there is a doctor - doing science-based medicine -- to attend to them, and not some clown with herbal smoke, feathers in his head, dancing around praying to the moon.

For me, I want my doctor -- the one saving my life -- to be rich and happy, and as stress-free as possible. He will be golfing as often as he wants, his family will be secure, he will feel good about himself and about his choice of profession, and proud to maintain his high personal, professional standards in delivering the best care he can at all times. This is the type of person I want treating me, and I will gladly pay his bill.

Who I don't want is some butcher working for a falling-down government health system -- stressed out, tired and underpaid. Pissed off that he is only earning a faction of what his contemporaries are in private practice. Fuck that -- keep this potential killer away from me!

Public health systems are untenable. Eventually they run out of money and fail (see Canada, UK, Australia) or get "saved" by seeing the light and converting to private.

Everyone alive will get sick or injured and require medical attention. It is part of life. Why should the state get involved?

Since it is part of normal human life, and everyone gets sick sometime, getting sick or incapacitated doesn't give anyone an automatic claim on someone else -- neither the state, society nor a doctor.

Healthcare is a "good" just like any other good. It costs resources to produce, and people who work in it do so for a living. There is no OBJECTIVE basis for it to be free or subsidized by the state.

Why should doctors be cajoled or bullied into making less money than they personally want?

Do I sense jealousy, envy, a chance to get "cheap" (under market price) health care?

Wally Buffet said...

Reading between the lines of the report of specialists leaving for the private sector in today's Straight Times, I have the impression that the situation is:

1. The economy is picking up and these specialists now dare to take the plunge into the unknown.

2. There is no shortage of specialists in our restructured hospitals due to the departures.

3. Everything is hunky-dory and Sinkapooreans are still getting the best care.

Maybe so, but maybe not.

The exodus actually took place years ago mainly for two reasons. Sinkapooreans are basically money motivated individuals. To them, the idea of an altruistic calling is beyond their understanding. The hospital training to be a specialist is merely a stepping stone to a more ambitious career path and it is definitely not in the public sector. Next, the workload of a typical specialist in a public hospital is far from ideal mainly from an under staffing situation. Seeing 30 to 40 patients a day is a typical workload. In such an environment, they do not function as "specialists", more like a quack because there is really no time to give much thought to each individual patient's medical circumstances.

As with the shortage of lawyers due to poor foresight planning, not much local medical students were probably groomed to become specialists to make up for the shortfall for those that left. Again, probably due to poor anticipatory planning as what happened when we extolled couples decades ago to stop at two.

There is no shortage of specialists as claimed because most of these positions are now filled by foreigners. The cardiology centre in TTSH as well as the Private Children's clinics at the KKH are now staffed mostly by Indian and Pakistani specialists.

Already, when one walks into a polyclinic, it is akin to visiting a third world banana republic because the names on the staff board are mostly foreign.

The current situation is far from ideal. To consult a local specialist, one now has to go to Mt. Elizabeth or one of the many mushrooming "medical centres" and pay more so that these mercenaries can earn their millions. For the majority of Sinkapooreans, they would have to make do with mediocrity because if these foreigners were any good back home, they would not have come to this dot in droves.

Hippocratic Oath? More like hypocritical oath.


Wally Buffet said...

Point taken about having to buy everything you enumerated from 1 to 15 but I sure as hell will bargain it down to the pits, if possible, pay nothing through deceit or other dishonourable means to conserve my funds to see a good local specialist at Mt. E. if the need arises instead of those half past six quacks masquerading as such in our government hospitals.



Matilah_Singapura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

My next article will be about pirates, slave merchants and drug peddlars and knighthood: )

Matilah_Singapura said...


> I sure as hell will bargain it down to the pits, if possible, pay nothing through deceit or other dishonourable means to conserve my funds to see a good local specialist at Mt. E. <

Sure. why not. You are behaving in your own self-interest. market exchanges are negotiations: bid, offer...bargain, bargain...ah! Final settlement price.

That's why it is voluntary exchange -- no one is forcing any of the 2 parties -- they have to work it out between them. (tell the state to fuck off and don't come into the deal, as the uninvited gate-crashing party- pooper).

WRT "dishonorable means": that is a definite possibility (but not a certainty) in all market exchanges. Therefore the idea of caveat emptor applies -- to both buyer and seller. i.e. the seller has to beware too -- make sure he gets paid!

Matilah_Singapura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matilah_Singapura said...

pirates, slaves, drug peddlers and knighthoods are all resultants from the formation of states i.e. with the exception of "knighthood" only a state can "outlaw" these activities and turn them into "evils".

"Knighthood" is yet another state-monopoly: the state gets to claim who is morally superior and awards those persons some form of "accolade". The state has the monopoly on definitions of "good" and "evil".

If you didn't have governments and states, these would just be simply "market activity" and in time they will live or die NATURALLY according to demand and resistance.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Defending the Undefendable - by Walter Block


eBook - PDF

Wally Buffet said...


Thanks for sharing. At 6.8 mb pdf file and 280 pages, this sure will be a good read on my Ipad to pass away the awful flight time when I take those cheapo tiger flights on my regular regional jaunts.

Thanks again mate.

Anonymous said...

In praise of red dot:

As a gambling hub, second only to Macau.

Is now the best place in Asia for property investments.

I wonder how we ranked as a sex hub in Asia? The ranking must be going up judging from the occasional comments elicited from readers of this site.

Matilah_Singapura said...

wally: Enjoy! Safe trip!

Funny story about Block's book: I found it in the Bedok library. It was in the Chinese section -- translated into Mandarin!

The China-Chinese are learning more about free markets, liberty and capitalism, whilst most of the English educated in Singapore and elsewhere are screaming for "more government intervention" and a "welfare state". Go figure.

anon 147

The more free market commercial/ private exchange, the better.

At least be thankful, even though you may not participate: commercial sex is legal in Singapore -- away from the political influence of the meddling, moralists of religious dogma.

Wally Buffet said...

I don't know about Sinkapoore being a sex hub but I sure as hell know that it is a LOAN SHARK HUB.

Today's Straight Times Page B10 reported that a Vietnamese man, one Nguyen Van Thanh 25, was convicted of harassment and sentenced to 16 months imprisonment and 12 strokes of the rotan. This scumbag had the cheek to ask for a lenient sentence as he did not know that such a crime would attract a harsh punishment.

WTF! He should be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole and given the maximum 24 strokes of the rotan as a deterrent to his other countrymen of coming here to put the local population in fear and trepidation. Coming here as a foreign talent stealing jobs is already bad enough. To engage in such activities is a treacherous abuse of our country's hospitality and must not go punished lightly.

Mr. Nguyen, count yourself lucky that the punishment meted out to you is to the minds of many Sinkapooreans, just a slap on the wrist.

By the way, I am still scratching my head as to why only the little farts of ikan bilis are caught and not the sharks.


Anonymous said...

The sharks are not caught because they have been discouraging the consumption of sharks' fin.

That being the case, I think it is hardly surprising that we are becoming a 'loan shark hub' and that will ultimately foster a top 'crime hub' ranking as well.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

You are right. Sharks are protected by the environmentalists. There are very safe. Only ikan bilis can be caught.