Growing pains

In Money, News Reports on June 9, 2012 at 4:44 am

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the Prime Minister’s economic strategy. Reading the ST page 1 headline: Growth the way to improve our lives, makes it sound that someone is asking for NO growth. But that isn’t the case – its what rate of growth that can ensure we’re still stable as a society. Growth has already slowed, so I suppose the question is whether we want it to go even slower – deliberately? Or counter the slow growth and grow faster? Very hard for me to understand leh…

I think it’s more productive to discuss HOW we want to grow. The things we will do to grow the country, and the things we won’t. So I found other parts of what PM said rather more illuminating. Like whether the Nordic example would work for us. There was a helpful box on their tax rates (my goodness!) and some explanation of their cultural attitudes – the willingness to pay high taxes to keep a strong social safety net. Then there was a bit more on Singapore’s economic rankings – Singapore looks good country-wise, but not so when cities are compared. So do we really think we’ve made it into the top league?

One figure also stood out – $200K worth of equity in HDB flats that the lowest income have. I was wondering what point was being made about this, so I turned to BT. He’s talking about how we shouldn’t be looking at nominal wages of the poor as an indicator of well-being. The Government emphasises boosting assets more than incomes. He also said that this equity wouldn’t be captured in the Gini co-efficient on income equality. Can some economist work out the maths please?

  1. Artificially inflating our population on a system that cannot cope under the logistical/social stress and riding on booming nation economies such as China ,where population decline is already evident, seem nothing less than walking straight into economic suicide.

    Singapore has been over-reliant on growth, both internal & external, to keep the nation running. The govt fails to realise growth is NOT prosperity. The real test of prosperity is to keep in the black without resorting to simply running on ever increasing people here or abroad; growth is an economic evolution that will plateau due to constraints. We already face land and birth rate constraints. Globally, resource constraints are already beginning with commodity prices rising against an ever decreasing global population with the end of the baby boomer generation .

    We need to wake up to the reality that population growth, here and overseas, will NOT be the end-all answer the government thinks it is to be in the coming future. China’s slowdown will be replaced by the rise of Indonesia within the next 3 years but we are all locked against all those constraints above which can and will grow in complexity.

    We need to evolve yet again, from the manufacturing heyday of yesteryear, to the service-oriented industry today, into the next phase in Singapore’s development. We need to upgrade our economy to a highly efficient, wireless, technological society that can really stave off the need for physicality and human labour in order to maximise efficency, instead of just service industries running off cheap mass imported manpower.

  2. There are about 6 million cities in the world. The top one is Hartford,USA.followed by Oslo Norway,New York is ranked 11.

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