Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Survival Of The Fittest, is this what we want?

I am not asking for handouts but as a matter of evolution and aging, most remain as 'fit as fiddle', able and capable whilst some aged, fall ill and become dependent.

Its a natural progression and definitely nobody's fault.

The young are dynamic, energetic, work hard, oblige the Laws and Regulations to serve the country and the economically able contributes to the national coffers in the form of taxes.

Subsidiary contributions come from GST, indirect taxes and other schemes in place.

All policies, likewise Communism, Capitalism or Socialism, when taken to extreme will have adverse ill-effects. It is imperative that constant monitoring, review, re-evaluation and  adjustments be made to make them relevant. Some re-tooling is necessary in the following:

1. Declining birthrate - The reality is that when the females are more educated, they are economically more mobile and independent and having more babies become secondary as time become scarce. You cannot turn time backwards nor forbid them to better and higher education.

Make medical and education free for children. In Dan Ariely "Predictably Irrational", it is empirically proven that charging cheaper does not always entice result against charging nothing at all, that is, when things are given free, the desired result is almost certain. This lessen the pressures in child upbringing yet produced a desired result.

2. Rising property prices - I agree its a function of demand and supply but the earlier benevolent practice of making affordable HDB homes available to first time, newly weds should continue. How can HDB prices be affordable if the tender for land is at or near market prices. If the cost of the factor of production is high, the end product has to be priced higher.

Make land available for low-cost (doesn't mean low class) public housing for first time, newly wed couples. A vibrant enclave can sprout out of this new town, laden with energetic, care free (read 'stress free') and ideals/ideas- filled citizens to experiment and create a world of their own base on their inspirations and forethoughts. Old and/or existing solutions cannot be applied; if it worked, the problem would not have existed!

3. Challenges from foreign workers and talents - When there is a sudden jump (from 3mil to 5mil) in population in a short period of time, problems inevitably arise. Humans are emotional animals and it takes awhile to adjust to changing environment. There will always some pockets of resistant and resentment especially those who find difficulties adjusting. Do not dismiss them as minority nor troublemakers. They have a belonging and a stake in the motherland too.

When animals in the wild find their territory encroached, they fight back. When humans find their territory infringed, they try to adapt. But, like in all society, some needed help to adjust.

It is also natural that when migrant workers/talents lay roots, they prefer people of their 'same kind'. Inevitably, some jobs will be given to their 'same kind' although there are relevantly qualified locals. These are not unfounded screams of the locals; it is a reflection that the societal fibres is under stress and snapping. Coping with changes can be scary at times.

Slowing down the intake of foreigners is only a fractional solution. There is a need to manage and prioritise employment. This is not protectionism neither is it a sign that we are weaklings! It is to demonstrate , in kind and in action, that ALL citizens' concerns are addressed and resolved first before others. Like any wholesome family, family members' well being come first; who wouldn't?

4. Greying population - Aging is as natural as day and night and it will happen to all; Japan, China, Singapore and others. Why call an aging population the 'silver tsunami' or equates aging to some negative pixel or likening it to a burden to society?

The elderly have contributed to the country and society, in one way or another, be it taxes, in kind or efforts, during their 'youthful' and healthy years. If nothing else, the elder countrymen have collective wisdom and experiences to share with their younger fellowmen.

It is my suggestion that the elders need to be taken care of (if not capable of taking care of themselves) and provided for in tax allowances (free from direct taxes if still gainfully employed) and enjoys free medical treatment. It is not to be viewed as welfare nor sympathy. It is to show appreciation and comradeship for their years of being with their motherland, for the better or worse. Will you leave your aged parents to weather in the wild? Filial piety extends to the State too.

Some may look at above as welfarism or with negative vibes, but allow me to say this; "the State and Society have roles to play and taking care of our fellowmen is not a choice but a necessity. If our fellowmen is as disposable as the plastic cup, then sooner, rather than later, we will disintegrate and disappear".

I have faith in our country and our leaders and I believe our fellowmen can distinguish between the 'empty promisor' and the 'deliverer'. Thinking out of the box is something, actioning it is quite another.

In closing, allow me to share this statement; "A State must act like a knife(), with the sharp end facing outwards and not like a sword(), cutting both sides".


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