By Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh
however the coverage and political conundrums that Singapore faces at the present time are advanced and defy effortless solutions. faced with a political panorama that's prone to turn into extra contested, how may still the govt. reply? What reforms may still it pursue? This choice of essays means that a far-reaching and radical rethinking of the country's rules and associations is critical, whether it weakens the very consensus that enabled Singapore to reach its first fifty years.
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Extra info for Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus
We should not forget that a major factor in the downfall of the medieval Italian city-state of Venice was the diversion of entrepreneurial capital and energy into property as the small land-area drove rising rentals and land prices, leaving the city with beautiful buildings that today are but a shell for visiting spectators to admire. Beyond these economic considerations, an increase to the already absolutely and proportionately large numbers of temporary foreign workers and new immigrants has resulted in social pressures and political tensions that threaten to make Singapore less liveable and less attractive to foreigners turned off by the perceived hostility of natives, as well as natives who feel their livelihood, lifestyle and national identity undermined by the overwhelming presence of foreigners.
While this outcome may be difficult to accept, it is nevertheless the case that there are wide differentials in people’s ability and that these are reflected in wide income disparities. Attempts to reduce these pay differences—say by introducing minimum wage legislation—lead only to inefficient and rigid labour markets. Consequently, it follows that the best way to increase the incomes of middle and low wage Singaporeans is to increase their productivity. That their wages have been growing slowly in the last decade is the result of their stagnant productivity levels.
So long as my income is rising, I should be happy and should not begrudge my neighbour’s income rising at a faster rate. To do so is irrational, and governments should not pander to my irrationality or green-eyed envy by redistributing income from my neighbour to me. Parents should also teach their children to be satisfied with what they have and not compare themselves with those who have more. What the Evidence Says To begin with, conventional economics does not prescribe that distributional concerns should be subordinate to growth objectives.