Archive for February, 2014

Watched “The Lorax” with the girl yesterday and we had a discussion about how the situation in Lorax, aka Thneedville closely resemble Singapore. Especially, the part on cutting down natural tree for artificial trees. But the movie is for another post, I feel Dr. Seuss is brilliant, he was able to write children story to hold such important values and lesson for everyone.

We digressed on to the topic of inequality in Singapore and the question was:

If given a choice of:


a. Follow our current path of low income tax rate but with no universal social welfare mechanism to prevent “Welfare Queens/Kings”


b. Follow the nordic model of high income tax rate but with universal social welfare mechanism, but comes with it individual who will exploit this system, aka Welfare Queens/Kings

What would your choice be? 

Would it be a.? Low income tax for me because I have no intention of funding those welfare queens?

Would it be b.? High income tax for me because I believe that the universal social welfare is a human right and it should be inclusive.

This is the reason why we will always be stingy, selfish and self-centered and no matter how much money the govt throw into rubbish like Singapore Kindness Movement will make much change to our thinking. This goes way more than just smiling at some random stranger.

We are conditioned to choose “a” because we are so ingrained that those free loader must never benefit from such system. Never mind the poor, they are the collateral damage and the thinking was to drill into our kids that you better study hard, never take risk and be obedient because no one is going to help you when you are down on your luck and poor.

Why would I say this? I am the generation of kids brought up on this thinking by our parents and society and I am not the last generation to be brought up this way.

I would choose “b”. Because option a is an exclusive system. In order to exclude free loaders from the system, we do away with a social welfare system. How is this kindness when we turn our back on the lowest of our society. To those in need being excluded from the system, it may means life and death. It may means the mother not able to bring home dinner.

But do we Singaporean care? No, we see low income people as deserving of their fate. You reap what you sow, quipped one associate of mine. Those old people working in food court got that coming, they should have saved more, quipped another. We have totally lost all empathy for our lowest.

I would choose b because of the end result it will bring about. in option b, if I am a top earner, I will be subjected to a higher tax rate, but end of the day, I will not die, I will not starve, I will still be pretty much be able to do whatever I want. But for the poor, this will give them helping boost. Will there be free loader? Absolutely! there is no system in the world that is able to help all poor and yet prevent free loader.

End of the day, we are still more interested in getting that new model of handphone or to get that latest car model with the saving from our low income taxes, this is why we will never address inequality head on and all discussion is just… discussion. Because unless we are willing to talk about the societal mindset and values, we will never go anywhere meaningful in the fight against inequality. 

in regards to the low income tax that we are paying, do remember to pay your taxes. It is the filing period now. And now, go wait for iPhone 6. 


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