Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus by Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh

By Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh

Singapore is altering. The consensus that the PAP executive has developed and maintained over 5 a long time is fraying. The assumptions that underpin Singaporean exceptionalism are not any longer authorised as simply and without problems as earlier than. between those are the guidelines that the rustic is uniquely weak, that this vulnerability limits its coverage and political concepts, that sturdy governance calls for a level of political consensus that standard democratic preparations can't produce, and that the country’s luck calls for a aggressive meritocracy observed via rather little source of revenue or wealth redistribution.

however the coverage and political conundrums that Singapore faces this day are advanced and defy effortless solutions. faced with a political panorama that's more likely to develop into extra contested, how should still the govt. reply? What reforms may still it pursue? This selection of essays means that a far-reaching and radical rethinking of the country's guidelines and associations is important, whether it weakens the very consensus that enabled Singapore to reach its first fifty years.

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John Maynard Keynes The debate on the Population White Paper has surfaced a number of myths and fallacies that seems to dominate the current discussion on Singapore’s population policies. Economics provides us with a very useful set of analytical tools to clarify thinking and to develop sensible, HARD CHOICES 41 evidence-based policies. 1 Myth #1: GDP growth, no matter how it is achieved, is an unambiguously good thing There seems to be an implicit and unspoken assumption that Singapore must continue to grow at a certain rate, and that if the growth does not come from labour productivity increases, then it must come from labour force increases.

America has a more dynamic and competitive economy with fiercer competition. Europe has more generous benefits, more solidarity, not so strong competitiveness but the Europeans believe that they have made a rational choice, a rational trade-off. In return for less growth, they enjoy more welfare, more solidarity and they felt that they were the happier for their circumstances. But it was not entirely as happy as that. In fact, Europe was living beyond its means. It took some time for the problems to show up but I think Judgment Day has been brought forward by the financial crisis.

Consequently, the argument in favour of a denser city with a larger population because of agglomeration effects does not really apply in this context. HARD CHOICES 45 Myth #5: Spending on healthcare and social services are costs that have to be financed by higher taxes, and are therefore a drain on the economy The final myth is that some parts of the economy—like healthcare and social services—are a drain on the economy, while others are productive, “value-creating”, and generate “exciting jobs”.

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