Thursday 16 September 2021

The Net Is About To Come Out

I refer to the Straits Times article published on 14 Sep, "Time to Consider Wealth Tax for Singapore".

As the Parliament debates proceed during the week, I thought the above couldn't have been a coincidence now that Singapore is on the way to economic recovery while tackling many rising social issues. Key areas are aging population, income inequality, foreign manpower, education pressure and job security. I mean, these are so prominently featured that one can't possibly miss them.

To sustain or improve the situation, there's one matter for any government to solve, that is, where to find money to fund the programmes.

This piece is not about the merits or demerits of a wealth tax but rather, point out the purpose behind it. As the article noted, it's about "addressing significant wealth polarization" because "Singapore's wealth is distributed in a highly skewed manner". Where in the initial years of nation building, the government put forth meritocracy, justice and equal opportunities as a societal leveler. Now, it has to calibrate measures to help those on the lower rungs of society to keep them afloat for example via GST vouchers or differentiated subsidies. I think there's nothing wrong to that. It's the natural order of things that occur as a result of a developed nation. It's time for the wealthy to show how civilized and compassionate a society that we can be and be a good example if this comes into reality.

It may sound counter-intuitive but China is also in a similar situation. Its government handles this is a different manner. By banning cryptos, censuring big corporations, curtailing young people's game time and hitting "bad" industries such as tutoring. These hard and patriarchal measures serve to protect society by keeping the wealth gap from expanding, creating homogeneity and improving quality of life instead of the intense focus on study or work success. The good news for China is the economy is still growing and will continue to do so for many years, therefore money is not the big issue, unlike Singapore. Both countries seek to achieve social harmony through regulations and interventions when required. The wealth tax is just another tool, along with many other tools, that may help the less abled to live a meaningful life.

Tip: Yuzu juice with soda

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