Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Parable of a Rich King & his Poor Peasants

Reading the parable led me to think about the situation in S'pore whom many knows is under control by a family. Wikipedia describe S'pore as a hybrid regime which is between a flawed democracy & authoritarian regime.
The rich king lived in his castle surrounded by gold while his subjects lived in relative squalor. 1 day, a peasant realised that robbing the king would relieve the peasants of much pain & suffering so he proceeded to plan a revolt. Anticipating this from his subjects, the king decided to buy guard dogs & hire expensive bodyguards. Peasants continued to suffer & the king had to think about paying more $ for security as the peasants became even more desperate. Soon enough, despite all his secuity measures & contingency plans meticulously put in place, the king was overwhelmed by a revolution as there always would be more poor peasants than miserly kings in this world.

An enlightened king will look at the peasants & realise that all his $ spent on security can be given to the peasants instead, perhaps not in the form of cash but in the form of education or investment in their well-being. Smarter peasants can farm more efficiently using better agricultural tools & their children can even become royal advisors or generals.
S'pore is described by some as the Switzerland of the East in terms of banking & financial services. ex-PM Goh talked about attaining swiss standard of living to inspire citizens. More than 15 years had passed & what we have now is the highest income inequality in the developed world instead.

Govt's policy of massive influx of mostly cheaper foreigners had depress & suppress the wages of much of the population in its effort to boost profits for many of its govt controlled companies. Productivity has taken a hit so the growth in gdp is from immigration (GDP = Population growth + productivity growth).

With rising income inequality as indicated by GINI coefficient, how long can the stability of S'pore be sustained? Stability is 1 factor that attracted foreign investors to S'pore. As we all know, foreign capital can flee the financial markets quickly as evidenced during the 90s Asian Financial Crisis. Grow gdp at all costs, grow like cancer also good. More & more people have woken up to the fact that the grow at all costs path the present administration is pursuing is unsustainble in the long term.

No comments:

Post a Comment