Aug 6, 2009

The First Question - Global Competition, Economic Growth and that Little Fellow on the MRT Train (You)

"High growth: Amid global competition, can you maintain Singapore's high economic growth and keep on improving our standard of living?"

The answer is - nope. Basically the world is too large and the economy is beyond any government's control. Over the past 15 years, the PAP itself has repeatedly told you so. Every time the economy runs into trouble, the PAP will unfailingly blame it on "external factors". The ailing US economy; the rising costs of oil; the ever-increasing competition from China and India, and so on. So it is quite clear that the economy is beyond its control.

(Of course, every time the economy is doing well, the PAP will claim credit and point to its own ingenious schemes and policies. But we all understand that. It's called politics - and PR and marketing are just part of the game).

To put it another way, a nation's economic growth and standard of living depend on a wide range of complex factors, and are way beyond the direct control of any single government, political party or human being (even if they occasionally like to pretend otherwise).

However, for the individual citizen, the first question can be rephrased into a more practical form - "Can you achieve and maintain a satisfactory income and standard of living, for yourself and your family?".

This rephrasing is important. It offers a more appropriate perspective. It allows us to move from feeling powerless, to feeling empowered. After all, it is not the individual's duty to compete with the world. It is not the individual's mission to defeat the planet.

The individual's main job is merely to learn how to look after himself and his loved ones. That is a much smaller and much more manageable task. It is also more sensible and more meaningful.

Remember that in the best of economic times, there are still poor people and there are still unhappy people. In the worst of times, there are still rich people and there are still happy people. In the most prosperous countries, there are still homeless folks. In the poorest countries, there are still millionaires (and billionaires).

Thus in the story of your own personal life, we may say that the state of the general economy is a sub-plot, but is most certainly not the main story. YOU are the lead actor in the story of your own life.

More later.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

Well said on the "individual perspective" aspect.

I guess that's what really happen here. That is individually about 66% or more are OK, recession or not. And it has been consistent throughout the years.

These 66% really know what need to be done for themselves and their families, regardless of recession, competition, national or global challenges or what not.

That's why Singapore is so politically stable and socially peaceful.

Anonymous said...

LOL, the poor Anon at August 6, 2009 11:00 AM has fallen for the "PR and the marketing".

Anonymous said...

"High growth: Amid global competition, can you maintain Singapore's high economic growth and keep on improving our standard of living?"


The statement makes some fallacious assumptions, that
1. high economic growth is desirable,
2. high economic growth will implicitly leads to improving standard of living.

As we now know, PAP's high economic growth model has lead to the highest income disparity for a developed nation. The rich is getting richer, the poor poorer. Of course this is probably not PAP's definition of "standard of living", lol.

Anonymous said...

Agree-

I attended a talk by Centre for Fathering - and the speaker mentioned to get unlimited riches - you either have unlimited financial resources, or limited wants.

That struck a chord in me - if I want a condominium, 4 wheels, an iphone and expensive tel package etc etc - I will be forever poor.

If I curb my wants, I can be contented and immediately feel rich.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

I seriously think you should join politics.

Cheers.

Physics Wizard said...

I agree with 'personalising' the question. What is good for the country is not necessarily good for the individual. Focusing on the important things to us personally is much more practical and achievable.

Anonymous said...

Every country that has gone though what Singapore is going through now, knows that stellar Economic Growth cannot always be forever and cannot always be for the benefit of only certain countries.

The UK had its period of glory but has been on a growth plateu for decades. Japan is coming to that stage or is already there, just positioning for flat growth henceforth.

What is so special about Singapore that makes its leaders feel it is going to be different from others? It still is highly dependent on others to proper, not dictating the pace like the US.

The other countries around us will eventually catch up, just as Japan did with the West. China, India, Vietnam and a host of others will soon be breathing down our neck. And don't belittle Myanmar. It is a country immensely rich in resources and, if they take the Chinese route, may yet be the leading light in ASEAN.

Anonymous said...

'If I curb my wants, I can be contented and immediately feel rich'

How true! Unfortunately this society will never buy into such wise words. This is a society consumed by materialism.

The moment a child is born, the media bombards him/her with all the wonderful must have gadgets, toys, designer clothings, shoes etc.

When he or she reaches the teenage years, trying to teach him or her the meaning of thrift is but a battle already lost. Not to mention the need to provide the spiritual guidance, which will definitely be brushed aside with disdain.

Anonymous said...

No - I disagree-

Catch them when young, and feed them the ideal of having richness without the riches.

I guess it is the parents that need to be sold on this idea, and then it will work in the next generation.

Really - who says you need to listen to the government leaders?

All they want is a high GDP to boost their Performance Bonus.

Onlooker said...

Question for a question
"High growth: Amid global competition, can you maintain Singapore's high economic growth and keep on improving our standard of living?"

Amsterdam?
At Least Now know why SoMe Wouldn't Go.

veii said...

It's interesting the way you end this piece... if the Government had their way, you would become a lead actor in your life story by joining the Navy!!

Anonymous said...

Agree. Paraphrasing GCT, how to maintain Singapore's high economic grow and keep improving the bonus for the Government.

still waiting for them to return their high pay and bonus due to the bad economy..

similar to the conservative government in US, our govt have been selling the "trickle down" economy to us for a long time. That a strong high growth economy will trickle benfit from the top dogs to low-income earners.

too bad, so many in SG are reciting this mantra as the absolute truth.

Anonymous said...

"That struck a chord in me - if I want a condominium, 4 wheels, an iphone and expensive tel package etc etc - I will be forever poor."

That thinking seems to be very restrictive. You can still have a condominium, 4 wheels, an iphone and still be very rich. You are what you think or what you limit yourself.

Anonymous said...

"To put it another way, a nation's economic growth and standard of living depend on a wide range of complex factors, and are way beyond the direct control of any single government, political party or human being (even if they occasionally like to pretend otherwise).

However, for the individual citizen, the first question can be rephrased into a more practical form - "Can you achieve and maintain a satisfactory income and standard of living, for yourself and your family?"."

there is some truth to your writing however, you make it sound as if, the government has no hand in the people and nation's wealth and success.

if the government had not laid the proper foundation for national growth and stability, mr wang, you probably would not have been a lawyer today?

perhaps we should try replacing the entire cabinet(pap) with the Myanmar rulers and see whether as "individual actors", we can reach our fullest potential?

Anonymous said...

"if the government had not laid the proper foundation for national growth and stability, mr wang, you probably would not have been a lawyer today?"

what about the bottom 20% and large majority of the sandwiched class that did not see their lives getting better in the past decade?

picking examples selectively to suit your own logic is disingenuous and a typical pap ploy.

Mr Wang Says So said...

LOL, the irony.

The real reason why I became a lawyer is that I refused to believe the government, when it told me that it was a bad idea to be a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

"picking examples selectively to suit your own logic is disingenuous and a typical pap ploy."

wouldn't it be the same with those who pick bones with the gahmen?

as for the bottom 20%, not all are defensible. some are at the bottom because of their doing or unwise choices in life. furthermore, this is a common phenomenon even in the best developed and governed cities

that said, no one will ever say our system is perfect. still, we can't say there is no public assistance for those at the bottom. despite the gahmen best efforts, cracks appear.

that's where you come in to give a hand in improving the system.

and as for mr wang, you need help :)