16 Aug 2006

social welfare

Singapore government's official policy is to have no comprehensive welfare provisions, based on the premise that welfare encourages dependence, reduces incentive to work hard, and saps a country's economic competitiveness. This makes the country very different from the "first world" where old age pension, medicare, child endowment ("milk money)", unemployment insurance, negative income tax, etc are familiar features. The argument is that whereas these countries have abundant natural resources making it reasonable for the government to guarantee a minimum standard of living to the people, Singapore is not in that situation. Where welfare assistance is provided, it is done on an individual case basis with people with demonstrable need seeking help from government or private welfare agencies.

I believe there is also a second consideration: the unwillingness to foster an attitude of entitlement among citizens, causing the government budget to be pre-committed to various social programmes leaving the decision makers limited room to invest in future economic development initiatives. In other words, the anti-welfare policy goes hand in hand with the wide control of the government over the national economy, rather than being paradoxial "why a rich government cannot give more".

I have no wish to start an ideological debate on this issue here, but would like to make a couple of points of a pragmatic nature.

First, we now live in a world where divorce rates are much higher than they used to be. A typical situation is that the husband gets involved with a younger woman, possibly starting a new family, leaving the wife to cope on her own with the earlier children. While in most cases the divorced wife and her children would have sufficient access to financial resources, such as the wife's own salary, division of family assets, and assistance from grandparents and other relatives, to provide for their own needs, a significant portion of such single mother families are badly off, and this number can be expected to keep increasing. Providing adequate financial resources in such situations not only alleviates current sufferings, but also generates future social benefits in giving the children a better chance to be educated and to develop normally.

Second, a social safety net makes it less likely that temporary economic setbacks, such as loss of job or major sickness, would lead to long term adversities putting people into desperate frames of mind. People would be less likely to go to loan sharks or engage in minor fund misappropriations, activities that have a tendency to snowball into more serious crimes in time. A small amount of assistance at appropriate moments can have very significant long term benefits by preventing small misfortunes from turning into major ones.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

You can dream on but remember the Singapore Dream was quietly laid to rest.

The only ones they will helping are their families and cronies.

Wake up Singaporeans.

yuen said...

I am a pretty cynical person, but social welfare is not really an issue of kindness, more one of pragmatism.

People who have money want peace to properly enjoy their money. People who have nothing to lose can be very troublesome.

Anonymous said...

I follow your argument yuen. however, you should have gone further. Despite celebrqating it's forty first birthday, singapore still has poverty despsite what they will be telling the gentlemen from the IMF.

A visitors only has to loook around some estates where the poor householdershave not got water, power or anything else because they have either lost their jobs or are too old to find employment. In the government's eyes these people do not exist.

people claim a welfare state develops scroungers. But the problem here in singapore is the simple fact, certain people are starving and living a third world life.

the uk possess a welfare system which has in the past been abused, now however, the system is being controlled tightly.

Here the original idea of CPF was to build a retirement fund for later years. Unfortunately the money was allowed to be used to buy over priced HDB apartments which are now slowly collapsing in value. So where does that leave the population, eaten away cpf money and property loosing its value by the day.

so when tshe CPF cash has disappeared, people are not working and they are living in properties only worth a fraction of their original value, they too become poverty stricken and desparate.

Youngtsters just beginning their first jobs told it is up to them to support their aging parents wikll also become disatisfied with the though of the terrible life ahead of them. Many will decide to quite the Island because they too with the present system can see themselves heading towards old age poverty.

On fifty years time more of the population will be retired than working. Not a pretty picture unless action is taken now to alleviate that long term problem, it will never go away.

If CPF had been retained to pay for retirement years only (a pension) the situation I have outliend could not occur. But them of course HDB housing would have had to be very cheap allowing people to pay their mortgages out of wages.

At lease they would have had something to enjoy in later years.

In the UK the size of morgage is based on a persons salary multiplied by three. TDhis means the average singaporean can only afford a mortgage of no more than one hundred thousand dollars. So two three and four hundred thousand HDB apartments would be out of the question.

straydog said...

"Second, a social safety net makes it less likely that temporary economic setbacks, such as loss of job or major sickness, would lead to long term adversities putting people into desperate frames of mind."

This significant of this point goes beyond the safety net. People will be more risk adverse when it comes to decisions in their career or business. A small impact maybe, but nevertheless contributes to lack of entrepreneurship here.

Matilah_Singapura said...

There is no "right" without someone having to fulfill an "obligation". A right to social welfare means someone else has to fulfill an obligation.

This means those who "have" have an obligation to those who "need".

Just because someone doesn't "have something" (in need) doesn't automatically guarantee him a "right" to make a claim on the property of others.

Social welfare is always a really bad idea. What is more suitable is private charity given on a case-to-case basis.

Any program which discourages self-responsiblity is disasterous to individual freedom. There is no such thing as individual freedom without individual responsibility...

...and no, democracy in itself does not automatically guarantee "freedom". In fact, more often than not, democracy will almost certainly end up as a means where (the requirement for) individual responsibility is diminished.

Why should I worry about my choices if the adverse consequences to my choices could be borne by "society" instead of myself alone?

Anyway the welfare state is already in Singapore. Just look at public housing. State welfare encourages dependency. WRT public housing, it is the political carrot and stick, which favours the politicians who wield them.

More state welfare, less individual (especially economic) freedom.

Anonymous said...

This would be a lot less of a problem if the HDB flats weren't so overpriced. For Marlboro Tan to claim that they are heavily subsidized is a joke and an insult to the intelligence. He couldn't even give us a complete breakdown of the cost of building one unit, yet had the audacity to claim that the HDB is not overcharging us.

Recently Wong Cunt Sing came out and told people to accept wages of a few hundred dollars. With the cheapest public housing still costing anyway upwards of $100K, how does he expect people to live like this?

Anonymous said...

with a government always hunting for money, HDB land had to be overpriced as did the battery chicken like apartments with their grills e way overpriced for the salaries peosple are earning. The government could not bare to see its people saving money and possessing reasonably priced housing. it was a case of building the cpf pot with one hand and taking the money away with overpricing with the other.

the land had een owned by the people until it was compulsorarily purchased and sold off at vast profits.
so if the cpf fund had been kept as a retirement fund, the government would not have been able the vast profits which of course went into tamasek coffers, instead of building a retirement fund fir it's people.

let me paintd a picture of the not too far distant future: unemployment, no money, not able to pay power bills or medicine, younger relatives have left the Island because they feel it's up to the government to look after it's people. Poverty leads to communism. I will leave the rest to you to work out.

Anonymous said...

yes I have left out one point, the jos market becomes so tight, nobody over the age of thirty five will ever be employed again.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there are still lots of jobs people refuse to take up; dish washer, road sweeper. toliet cleaner, security guards, taxi driver, and prostitution

Anonymous said...

If you suggest your old folk spend their fional years cleaning out shit houses, and sweeping the road, they would be happier if they died on their day of retirement. even tyhinking people should be forced to scrape a livingc in this fashion suggests a third world.
But maybe the singaporean with his new merc running about in vest and flip flogs comes from a third world, or maybe he has justr climbed out of his banana tree because he is rude to the extreme believing he owns the world, what world shitty little singapore, a festering pimple what will not go away.

so anon when you begin your work in the local shithouse remind me to come along and piss all over you.

Anonymous said...

If singapore's retired are destined for the scrap heap, useless because they are unable to earn money and be useful to island, truly this place is third ors even fourth world.
the whole situation reminds me of a famous hollywood science fiction film soylent green with charlton heston, who discovers euthanasia is compulsory at the age of sixty, the bodies are cut up into green food slabs and fed to a starving nation. maybe singapore should adopt a similar scheme.

yuen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
yuen said...

there are still lots of jobs people refuse to take up

which shows welfare is not responsible for this...

actually, the social/economic issue is more complex than I am willing to delve into; certainly one reason against welfare is that higher minimum wages would be needed to get people back to work, which is both good and bad

another issue I did not want to raise is welfare pumps money into poor neighbourhoods and indirectly helps HDB shops, hawkers etc; this too is more complex an issue than the two points I discussed

geneticthinker said...

great piece of analysis yuen.

by the way, some people that I know who refused to accept jobs like cleaners and road sweepers are because the pay is too low for them to survive. they think that if they accept the jobs, they would not have the time to look for other jobs and go for interviews. that is why they hold on to the hope that they can get a better offer.

rench00 said...

i agree that we have to do something to help those who cannot afford even a minimum standard of living. by which we mean that this person ought to have a roof over his head, enough food with sufficient nutrition. should it include having a housephone? internet access? perhaps. but perhaps no handphone. tv also optional. i do agree that this person ought to also be given the opportunity to improve himself and given upward mobility.

i do agree that the state ought to help. and i think it is already doing so, to a certain extent. various schemes under ComCare are in place.

of course, many who have commented, including the author of the post, would like more. let's ask ourselves then, where are we going to get the money to finance your social welfare programmes? taxes? while IRAS has indeed gotten a record haul of $10 billion, do we really want to spend that money on a social welfare system?

of course, one might say that that's a better way of spending our money than letting Temasek not so well manage it. however, then we get to the other 2 questions.

firstly, would having a social welfare programme really solve the problem? or would it only perpetuate it? the chronic poor in Singapore is, i feel, symptomatic of 2 deeper social problems. firstly, there is a group of people who are not equipped for the knowledge based economy. compounding this problem is the second problem of a generation which consumes more and does not save as much as the previous generation. the latter problem results in people spending more than they should, landing themselves into debt and thus becoming poor.

can we solve these 2 problems by a social welfare programme? depends. it's hard to speculate, and i shan't attempt to do so here.

the final question that i would like to ask... why should we wait for/depend on the government to do something to help these chronically poor? why can't we do it ourselves? i give private tuition to this kid from a single parent family in financial difficulty (my 'market value' is easily $300 a month for private tuition). that's my way of aiding to the social welfare programme. and i take care of my own parents. i find gigs for a group of breakdancers, most of whom are from poor families, so that they can earn a bit of cash doing what they like to do. i'm sure that if all you people who commented here really care about the poor, you should think of what you can do to help them. watch one less movie a week, buy one less item of clothing a month, talk less on your mobile phone, drive around less, all that would let you save up enough to help one chronically poor person. then start a movement. get more people involved. and that's where you get your social welfare.

it's the gotong royong spirit. we help our neighbours ourselves. not divest this responsibility to the government, and only complain when the government is not doing it. the author of the post talks about increasing divorce rates. social welfare isn't the way to solve the problem. the problem we should solve is not of either divorcee not having enough money, but rather that people are getting divorced, that family networks are failing. those are the real problems that we have to solve. implementing a social welfare system not only does not help, it worsens the problem by lulling us into thinking that we are solving the problem, when in actual fact, we are solving the wrong problems.

yuen said...

just an example: an old age pension of 100$ per month for the oldest 5% of citizens would cost 15M$ a month or 180M a year, which would hardly impact the budget; however, if such a scheme exists, the old people would be constantly complaining that the amount is inadequate, the age limit is too high, etc, and their children would be saying "you got pension; dont need money from me" etc; so welfare is indeed a complex issue; I merely wish to point out some issues that others may not have thought of before

Anonymous said...

"........the problem we should solve is not of either divorcee not having enough money, but rather that people are getting divorced, that family networks are failing..."

However, FINANCIAL PROBLEM is being listed as one of the main reasons for divorce, often highlighted in some TV programmes featuring on social issues.

Anonymous said...

"........the problem we should solve is not of either divorcee not having enough money, but rather that people are getting divorced, that family networks are failing..."

However, FINANCIAL PROBLEM is being listed as one of the main reasons for divorce, often highlighted in some TV programmes featuring on social issues.

teck soon said...

Visit any food court or hawker centre in Singapore, and you won't find any young people working. They're too busy doing their "National Service" where they also don't earn enough to live on. Running around cleaning up after everyone's mess (since Singaporeans don't clean up after themselves at food courts) are these sweet old folks, hunched over, hard-of-hearing, and very poor. The government wants to make sure that older people can find jobs. Why is it that in Singapore older people must work so hard? In the West, old people rest and play bridge. They rest after a life full of hard work. And they get a minimum living standard and medical care. But in Singapore, they work until they die. Is this what mentor Lee Kwan Yew was talking about when he implied that Asian Values are superior to Western Values?

Anonymous said...

It's not always one or zero. We don't live in a binary world like the matrix.

Any system will attract abuse. I dare say the current Comcare system has been abused too, by some quarters. Here, welfare is a political tool and the various distributors attract duplication when they try too hard to please their masters.

I was earning a 6 figure income. I leave Singapore because I felt sad my taxes paid are not used adequately to help the old age. We will all grow old one day. With fewer children for each couple, I don't mind some assistance when I'm old so that I can enjoy the last few years of my life sans worries.

I pay high taxes in Australia now which I don't mind at all (actually, contrary to most believed, the net effect of all taxes, direct and indirect, is about the same for me in both countries!). The indirect taxes in Singapore are quite high and coupled with a lousy social contract, Singapore is really not very attractive.

Anonymous said...

my question still awaits an answer; why should old singaporeans be forced to work until they die? this is third world mentality. so from our day of birth just what have we got to look forward to?

Anonymous said...

Our current system of CPF only works as a retirement fund if we sell off our properties and downgrade or live on rental housing and hope that sales proceeds (assuming there is a market for the old 20-30 year old apartment)is sufficient to fund our living expenses and rental.

To effectively retire well, we have to take the painful measure of setting aside savings from earned income in excess of mandatory CPF contributions. That means fewer luxuries for a better financial position for retirement.

Unfortunately, the cult of conspicuous consumption and easy credit helps promote consumerism and hence many today still do not set aside additional savings for retirement outside of mandatory CPF contributions.

To provide for more social welfare, we need to cut spending on items e.g. defence. This is one of the sacred cows. One of the questions we should ask is, are Apache Attack Helicopters a necessity or luxury? Are F16 a necessary or luxury? Is the new primus Self-Propelled artillery a necessity or luxury. If you cut even one of these major arms acquisitions, it will fund many of ComCare type of programs or even can set aside Endowment funds to generate income to fund social welfare. No one disputes that we need a strong SAF. But how strong is sufficient? Apaches are deployed against serious armoured opposition. Not many of our neighbouring countries have powerful main battle tanks. So are Apaches necessary? You, my dear taxpayer, decide (with your vote). As the recent Israeli invasion of Southern Lebanon shows, even with F16s and other top equipment, Hizbollah was not defeated. Are there lessons to be learnt by SAF? How can be establish what is the best "bang for the buck" in terms of cost-effective weapons systems?

There is plenty of taxpayers money sloshing around in Temasek/GIC/Statutory Boards. Is this being deployed efficiently and effectively? You, our dear taxpayer, decide.

lunatic_fringe

Anonymous said...

singapore armed forces are always happy to buy more expensive toys to play with. we all know our army will never ever go to war, at present they are untried and untested. I would hate to see the little singapore national service man fight against the telaban or hesbolah, they would be canon foder, that is why the government will never ever send our troups to help UN in a peace force capacity. the government also realise if one thousand body bags containing singapore soldiers were sent back to the Island, it would be the end of the PAP.

so that leaves us with pots of money spent on an army that will never fight, would it not be more prudent to spend the money on the people in the form of retirement help.

you will now cry but its up to the people to help the people.scenario: family, father retired broke, apartment worthless, nothing in cpf pot, sons married, but out of work also broke unable to help father.
the circle goes on, if there is no money there is no money, the end poverty and third world. and yhes the younget generation now planning to leave the island as soon as possible becaused they can see no long term future. this is basic economics.

Anonymous said...

What is this first world vs third world rubbish? Can't everyone see that it is that dirty illusionary carrot as myth dangling in front of you which you will never reach? To reach first world status, people are compelled and motivated internally and once reached, the story changed. Now we have to maintain that, so yes, please work harder to keep your bmw. If you want to be a citizen of the first world, please also be prepared to live the first world when someone cheaper and more energetic comes our way. Hopefully, you become as one of "our" by your time, and if not, please step aside. Yes, that's right, old people in the west play bridge in their beach front retirement homes till they die. Well, maybe in romantic hollywood movies. You only see what you saw because of the selective press coverage of the "first world"!

To compare anything, indeed, anything, to defence or military housekeeping is both foolish and naive. What is welfare when your soil has been ceded to others? If defence requires, and can justify dumping dollar notes into the sea as a military strategy, the state can starve as long as it does not rebel and cause internal instability.

At the end of the day, you either believe that you live in a society founded upon deep human values of care, love and humanism, or one founded upon the calculative utilitarianism of economical dollars and cents. In the former, there is welfare already. My experience in Singapore has shown me that even though the power that be as a whole functions through the mentality of the latter, there is still alot of social trust and care in the society itself, even after the NKF debacle. If the latter grips all of us, then read Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal". That's the type of insanity concluded for all utilitarianism.

Anonymous said...

I suppose a obligation based (or rather insurance based) welfare system would be good (as opposed to first world free for all welfare where one who never work can end up better off compared to one who works at low wage). So, basically, everyone who works get some 'points' and when they became unemployed, the are entitled to say 1/3 of the length of the time they were in employment (e.g. work for 3 years, will be given a basic $400/month stipend for up to a year etc).

Also interestingly, welfare state in the west is actually encouraging divoces (as this no consequences to do so, the state will pick up the child care bills etc).

Also, if african are human, british are human, singaporean are human, why when a first world citizen is not living comfortable deserve welfare handout, while an African dying without food or water is left alone ?

The other thing about welfare is that it is a one way street. No single government in the west dare rolling back welfare state. A decision that one can never ever back track is a very bad decision indeed.

Anonymous said...

"People who have money want peace to properly enjoy their money. People who have nothing to lose can be very troublesome."

But yet no authority in the world would say to a robber, drug dealer, extremist, right, how much more do you want before you will leave us in peace.

Anonymous said...

not a good analogy; helping a struggling single parent family or old folks without savings/children able to support them, is hardly like bribing criminals to not commit crime

Anonymous said...

> welfare state in the west is actually encouraging divorces

similarly, sex educatio might encourage teen sex, and old age pension might make children less responsible to parents

simplestic thinking does not work with social policies

teck soon said...

An anonymous commenter above chided my comment about old folks in the West playing bridge while Singaporeans work until they die. It is certainly not from a "Hollywood movie". Consider this: in Singapore, once CPF is exhausted, that's it - you can die or beg your family for money. Or sell napkins at foodcourts and beg tourists for money. And if you were poor, you may not have enough CPF to live on even when you retire. Now compare this to the American system, one of the LEAST generous welfare states in the West:

Americans (except those who are disabled) who work at least 10 years fully qualify for social security/disability and medicare at retirement. Those who are disabled or become disabled have reduced requirements. Upon retirement, a monthly income based progressively on your lifetime earnings is paid. A poor person will receive much more as a percentage of what they paid in over the years than a rich person, so the system is geared towards helping low-income people. The check never runs out - you get free medical care and a monthly stipend until you die. It is sufficient to live on, and old people who choose to usually keep their houses. As for my comment about playing bridge, retirees in the West can do as they please. Some don't like bridge. Some like golf. In Singapore only the rich play golf.

Anonymous said...

Teck Soon,

Please don't spew superficial comparisons. If you know any thing real about the present american system, you wouldn't have used a social security check as the sole reliant of a retired life. You would still be living on the streets with such checks (i.e. if you need them in the first place, you are possibly those that have either elected or been forced to live on the streets). At least in Singapore, you have polyclinics or religious organizations to turn to and perhaps, you won't die of either extreme heat or cold on the streets!

If, however, you have used examples from Sweden or Norway, I may have less problems with your comparison. But as things have turned out, they will be facing problems in the coming years from an imbalance of the young paying for the elderly. Sure, it is nice for the old folks now, but I am not too sure for the younger ones who still have 30 years to go before those supposedly golden years. I don't think you have a case by comparing to other untenable cases.

Rubbish again about the rich playing golf in Singapore. Golf has long gone to the middle class and it is foolish to believe that only the wealthy can enjoy this game. Anyone today can pay some money to take lessons, and then hit the green. Of course, one won't be paying money to pay golf if he or she needs that money for food first?

Anonymous said...

not much point comparing singapore with some idyllic scenario; the issues government grapple with is whether to implement a specific programme that would make an incremental improvement, e.g., is it better to spend 200M a year on old age pension or MIT research centre?

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that you will be doing charts, figures and data-sets for an assortment of proposals for a tiered review by all who matters, and at the end of the day, whatever these charts, figures and data-sets indicate, a decision is made based on someone's blind bias.

Is the choice of $200m on pension welfare improvements over a higher education venture ever so clear or commensurable? I certainly hope that accompanying a thinking brain, a heart goes along also.

Anonymous said...

quite so; public policies are not rocket science, meaning it is both simpler and more difficult

because the public is so passive, policy makers sometimes are not aware of problems/needs, e.g., only people demanding more welfare are opposition party guys, while people demanding more research have MIT degrees, so...

Anonymous said...

We have made public policies longer than we have worked on rocket science, but I don't think we have done very well at all.

To me, the opposition guys demanding more welfare or the MIT guy demanding more research is the same to me: each is seeking to satisfy some constituency of preserving their own power. Of course, dispersed in this crowd is hopefully, some who truly seeks the public good on one hand, and on the other, some who truly loves knowledge as an end. Without this naive hope, it would be hopeless, wouldn't it?

The society is not one founded upon an advocative "town-hall" system so even if the public is vocal, so what? There are a million and one ways where public sentiments can be placated e.g. 'goodwill' packages. If there are no previous tradition of such kinds, the dissenters do not know how to pursuit persistently nor those in charge are truly willing to listen and change. So only some superficial tongue fights are allowed, dispersed with many 'sorrys' and sometimes, apologetic gifts for every lash incurred.

Anonymous said...

anons you have all mised the point. eventually singapore will become a poverty island. we are not producing enough babies so in the year 2065 our local population will have dwindled to aroun d 1.6 million. So by the year 2110, singaporeans as we know them will come virtually extinct. ythe population will become very few people will be working.it is the same circle, parentsw living in poverty, offsprings unable to help them, and the newest generation departing the island like rats leaving a sinking ship.

LuckySingaporean said...

Oh come on. This is rubbish!!!
Singaporeans do not need welfare and the PAP has a very good solution for the low income. It is only great leaders such as ours who can think of such a fantastic idea.

You can read about how the PAP has brilliantly solve the money problem of low income earners in my blog:

http://singaporemind.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

lucky singaporean, my friend you are talking out of your arse my brainwashed silly little prick.

tell me just how the poverty stricken moap are being helped, it is going to be intereting to watch the IMF delegates reactionw ehen they see the old ladies pushing barrows full of cardboard and half crippled men begging by the MRT stations, that is of course if they are not all shovelled away out of sight.the pap are doing the best they can, but unless actual money is handed over, it' a lost cause.

Anonymous said...

Talking about begging, it is getting really prevalent everywhere in Singapore. You see people begging in MRT
stations ,coffee shops, shopping centers, and sometimes along pathways where you meet these poor soul asking for a few dollars to get over their hunger pangs.

This is not a make up story if you are a person who moves around and will believe what I said is true.

Anonymous said...

Yes, just few days ago, met an elderly lady in her 60s who asked me for few dollars as she said that she had no monies to buy food. She even wanted to pick up some packets of rotton carrots which the supermarket at my place had discarded.

rench00 said...

you have not seen begging. UK, with its oh-so-wonderful social welfare system has many beggars. usually one outside a major supermarket. those are true beggars. and they aren't always elderly. in fact, many of them don't make it to become elderly.

further, i find it odd that no one thinks it is a problem that our elderly have to beg for money from the family. isn't it the family's OBLIGATION to take care of its elderly? why then should the elderly have to beg? isn't that the bigger problem? that the family cannot/is not willing to support the elderly that the government has to become the surrogate family?

of course, there are those families who cannot afford to support the elderly. there are many causes of that, some more 'legitmate' than others. some reasons include: spending too much (i.e. consuming more than they need to... i've seen families which can easily cut down their utilities bills by half, thus saving enough to support one elderly member of the family... but choose not to do so...), having more kids than they can support (no... i'm not promoting eugenics... but if you have a family income of $2000 a month... any sensible person would tell you that you probably shouldn't have 4 children...), and some, really just cannot afford to support their parents because of truly unfortunate circumstances.

do we help everyone of the above cases? what kind of signal does that send out? "oh... it's alright for you to live irresponsibly... the government would take care of you..." isn't that ironic? on one hand, we are complaining about a paternalistic government, on the other, we want the government to provide us support us from cradle to grave. how unreasonable can we get?

Anonymous said...

well, in sg, there are some who are true beggars, there are some who are just "fake" ones, wrapping their legs or hands with bandages.

there are some who truly need financial help but in view of the strict regulations set by the ministry, they do not qualify for the social welfare funds.

casper77 said...

And yes, there are plenty of homeless in UK. As it is not possible to be free for all, the welfare state becomes selective and ultimately those who knows how to play it (e.g. single parent with lot of kids) get the most out of it and leave nothing for the truly needy (say a 20 year old with some mild mental problem).

Do you know that every winter there are many old people in UK who died because they turn the heating down to minimum because they cannot afford to pay for it (and yes, while those who knows how to play the system get plasma screen TV without ever having to work).

Long ago before the welfare state, lots of local friendly society take care of the needy, and there is very little fraud because your next door and the leader of the friendly society live close to you and your reputation is finished if you get caught not working while you can work. In a welfare state, it is your right to the money, and no one can say a thing about it. It is your RIGHT.

Ultimately, when government is the one spending the social money, it has no accountability. While a private charity will have to do it more carefully, else no more donation to them.

Unless there is a way to produce so much automatically that human race can feed & house everyone whether most of the population choose to work or not (like the startrek world, where people work because of personal satisfaction), there is no way to eliminate poverty completely, welfare state or otherwise.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Well, it seems that the welfare state is a popular concept in current Singapore political-sphere.

Actually, I predict that S'pore will be a full blown welfare state just before its collapse in 10-30years time (the reason behind "Matilah_Singapura"). Of course, the welfare state will one of the causes of the annihilation of Singapore.

BTW, all the talk about welfare in this thread has to do with "helping the needy, less fortunate folks". This is fallacious, because no problem can ever be solved by constantly throwing money at it.

Money doesn't solve problems. People using resources (like money) intelligently solve problems.

The other side of state-welfare is of course corporate welfare. If either corporate welfare or social welfare comes into the picture (my prediction: it will), one will set the precedent for the other, and a full-blown welfare state will evolve.

Be prepared to be taxed at an effective rate of 80% or more.

Well biys and girls, my suggestions is for you to enjoy those cheap iPods, cafe lattes, cheap airfares, $50 china-girl "massages"... and other frivalous novelties whilst you still can.

When you are taxed 80+%, you'll be thinking about whether you can afford even a $1 upsize at Burger King.