Wednesday, 26 November 2014

E-Cownomics - the Singapore amendments

Singapore e-cow-nomics - the amendments

You have 2 Cows. The Government says we need 5. They bring in 3 Pandas. They aren't cows and can't produce milk. So 3 Brahma Bulls are brought in. Right genus, wrong gender. You try to cut your losses by slaughtering the bulls but are stopped - You can't slaughter the sacred bulls.


You want a cow? But you bought a COE. Now you can't afford a COW.


You have 2 cows. Your neighbour has 10,000. He hires workers to look after his 10,000 cows. Some are "Cowboys". They ride horses. The rest are cowherds. They don't get horses. Welcome to Singapore!

GUTS 1: Moving towards Singapore 2.0. Part 1 Singapore Today

The Grand Unified Theory of Singapore (GUTS) today 
and what We need to move to SG 2.0

Part 1

A Grand Unified Theory of Singapore (GUTS) is probably a little grandiose, and there is probably some hyperbole in that. But it got your attention, I hope.

In any case, this is just the first "Unified Theory" (working hypothesis) of Singapore.

The GUTS 0.1 is intended to explain the problems of Singapore today and what might need to be done
to get to SG 2.0. Or maybe just GUTS 1.0.

In part 1, we do a brief stock-take of Singapore.

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Persistence of Inequality

Inequality is unnatural. Sort of.

Really. In a fundamental way, the universe tends toward equality.

Left to themselves, concentrations of energy will dissipate. Energy will move from high concentration to low concentration. This is called entropy. Or heat death. It is in a way, the equal distribution of energy.

Life, on the other hand, is fundamentally about inequality. It is about creating inequality.

Every living thing accumulates energy to grow, to live, to reproduce. It creates a concentration of energy and resources, in order to struggle or resist entropy (a.k.a. "Death").

And life is persistent. And so inequality is persistent.

But we are more than just living things. We are social creatures. We are political creatures. And we are moral and ethical creatures. Well, some of us are.

And because we are socio-political moral-ethical creatures, we have values. Like equality.

But if we value equality, why are we moving towards greater inequality? Particularly, in Singapore?

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Rant of a Young Singaporean (TV Character).

From a Facebook post (13 Nov 2014) by ChannelNewsAsia Singapore:
"Taken from Episode 15 of "118", Channel 8's 7.30pm drama.
A translation from one of our viewers Gavin Neo :
Do you think I'm the only one anxious to earn money?
Go ask around among the youngsters today, who isn't anxious?
After serving NS, graduating from university around 23-24 years old, we'll turn 30 at the blink of an eye.
During this short period of time, we have to get married, get a house, have baby(babies), can we do all of these without money?
The cost for a HDB is at least $300K-$400K now. Let's talk about the most basic need for spending, if we were to work in the city(town), a trip back and forth via MRT is $5-$6. Sometimes we take a taxi if we're rushing for time, ERP alone is $6-$7. Having lunch, we need at least $5-$6. Grabbing a cup of coffee from a cafe (I'm guessing he's talking about Starbucks and/or Coffee Bean etc) is $6-$7!
As if that's not enough, we have to follow what the government want us to do, to get married earlier, to have baby(babies) sooner. I have to get a girlfriend first. If I don't grab a meal, have a drink, watch a movie and go overseas occasionally with her, plus gifting a few branded goods to her, even if I have the face of a superstar, no girl will want to be with me.
Some of us still want to further our studies, what about loans and helping out with the family's finances? And when it's time to get married, it cost at least $1000 per table. A wedding photo shoot will cost at least $3000-$4000, and all of these requires money money money!
My generation of young adults don't demand a quality lifestyle. Is it even possible to not earn some money now, even if we were to live a life of the absolute basic? You don't want to have a son to have to ask you to pay for his wedding and his house, do you?
Yes, I admit that what I did to earn money is a little extreme (I don't know what he did). I've made mistakes and I'm at fault, but my fault is because of what this society has made it to be!"

Sunday, 16 November 2014

What will you defend? What will you fight for?

There is a lot of cynicism in Singaporeans today.

It is understandable.

They find the place they grew up in changing faster than they can imagine. Faster than they can cope. Faster than they like.

Until they cannot recognise their country, the place they were born in, grew up in, the only home they know.

Languages are lost, fading away as the last speakers of dialect grow silent. Replaced with new bewildering, unfamiliar, unintelligible ones, surrounding them on the trains, on the bus, in the shopping mall, in the food court, and coffee shops, and in the hawker centres.

And in the hawker centre, the food is not as good as they remembered, and old favourites disappear, never to return, replaced by new, unfamiliar foods. Or the names may be the same, but the taste is not - a pale shadow of the bright shiny memories they hold in their heads, or on their tongues.

And the crowds. The unavoidable, inevitable, undeniable, irrepressible, unrelenting crowds. Everywhere.

And of the crowd, 40% of them are not citizens. And even among citizens, 1 in 3 (?) were not born here.

So some NSmen have been asking, "why NS? what am I defending? What am I fighting for? Why should I fight for foreigners?"

Monday, 10 November 2014

AFTERNOTE - Facts, Values, and Logic - why compromise is getting more impossible (The Religious Element)

The two examples from the previous post feature issues affecting the animal welfare lobby. The examples were most recently in the media at the time of this blog piece, and so were the most germane or contemporary. Not that clash of values are only likely or possible with Animal Welfare Groups.

There are other examples of challenges to authority, and the increasing improbability (if not impossibility) of compromise and consensus.

Lawrence Khong and his challenge to the law is an example of a conflict of values. Khong dismissed a staff on moral grounds when the woman was pregnant. This was against the employment act. His position, (he claims) was informed by Christian "morality" as the woman had an adulterous affair with another church staff who was also married. Khong felt that he had the moral authority to dismiss the woman on moral grounds. He was affronted to learn that the laws of the land had precedence and primacy over his religious "morality", especially when it came to protecting the secular rights of employees. He initiated a court action to pursue his position (that the church has independence to act on moral grounds).

His question about how moral values and secular values should be resolved, is not a new one. It has been covered by the Bible.


Monday, 3 November 2014

Facts, Values, and Logic - why compromise is getting more impossible

In a recent article (Sept 2014) , Kishore Mahbubani highlighted the fracturing of Singapore Society - the loss of "political unanimity", the rise of "contestation" over consensus in our society, - and suggested that the solution was compromise and consensus.

Unfortunately, I believe he is wrong.

In the current zeitgeist, "compromise" is a dirty word. "Consensus" is an euphemism for "conforming" or "capitulating".

In his next article (Oct 2014) in his series of Big Ideas, he proposes to "future-proof" Singapore and Singapore society. How?
"To help a well-educated citizenry make well-informed decisions, I would like to propose that we "future-proof" Singapore by creating a treasure trove of well-researched and well-reasoned policy papers on all the major challenges that Singapore will be facing in the next 50 years."
His idea is that with a well-stocked "treasure trove" of well-reasoned papers on major challenges that Singapore would face, Singaporeans would be able to learn from these "thought leaders" and understand what must be done.

Unfortunately, Mahbubani is an intellectual...