19 Oct 2006

Will Globalisation Set You Free?

Singapore - The Great Exception

AT Kearney and Foreign Policy magazine

With all the recent talk about spreading democracy, we revisited the question of how globalization and democracy fit together. Comparing the index with Freedom House's annual rankings of political rights and civil liberties in countries worldwide, we found that they work together quite nicely: There is a strong positive relationship between globalization and political freedom. Globalization may also be one of the best ways of keeping politicians honest, as more globalized countries have far lower levels of perceived corruption, as measured by Transparency International.

Engaging countries at the bottom of the globalization index such as Iran and Egypt may help foster increased political rights and civil liberties for their citizens. Furthermore, increased integration may lead to the adoption of higher international standards for transparency, which in turn would discourage corruption and increase government efficiency.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Singapore, the world's most globalized country, is home to a modern, open economy that exists alongside tight government control over media and limited individual liberties. On the other end of the spectrum, South Africa has a relatively high level of political freedom but a mediocre globalization ranking. Going global does not offer any guarantees but it clearly can give countries a leg up.


soci said...

I am currently having problems with the side bar. I will have it back up and running as soon as my complete lack of IT training allows.

i.am.singaporean said...

i wonder if any country in the world would be able to attain a win-win relationship with globalisation, democracy along with freedom of speech.

i dare say if there is such a 'perfect' country, Sg might just think of modelling themselves towards there

Matilah_Singapura said...

It is important to define the context of "freedom". There are many "freedoms" — economic freedom, political freedom, individual liberties (freedom from govt interference) etc. However, I take it that in this article "freedom" is taken in the general case, which means freedom from unncessary govt meddling so that one can speak freely, publish freely, no censorchip etc.

Globalisation's power an influence rests on the global division of labour, such that countries trade with each other to mutual benefit. Everyone gets wealthier if they trade with one another. Those who don't trade, or don't trade enough don't get wealthy.

Therefore, to have "freedom", one must be able to trade freely, which is why FREE MARKETS are essential to freedom and liberty. Free markets work on voluntary associations between individuals, the respect for the rule of law and property rights and above all PEACE btween peoples and nation states — despite cultural, regional or religious differences. DIVERSITY is a key in the operation of free markets because if we all are the same and produce the same things, there would be no reason to trade. No one can produce everything he needs to live as we all have limited resources — especially time — all of us have the same 24 hours in the day to get things done.

Thus the reason trade occurs is the demand for goods and services in order to live. FREE MARKETS are consumer driven — i.e. a DEMAND economy. We are all producers AND consumers.

Contrast that with a COMMAND and CONTROL economy: less freedom and liberty. Therefore oppressive regimes like Burma, Africa, N Korea et al generally cause widespread POVERTY in their populations, whilst fostering a ruling class of corrupt elites. There is very little private ownership of the means of production, nealry everything is "nationalised".

There is a myth in S'pore: that it is a free market economy. No such thing. Look at who is the LARGEST owner of property and you'll find that it is the government/state. GLC's are not private companies in the true sense, but they are NATIONALISED entities with a "nicer sounding names" — as if the govt was playing in the free market.

HDB is nationalised housing. CPF is nationalise savings. Both of these are inseperably tied to each other. You "own" your HDB, but you don't really own it. You are forced to "save" in your CPF, but you don;t reall have control on you "own" property.

Add to this the politics and the machinations of the state, and you have a govt in total control of the political economy, supported by the fact that people in S'pore keep voting the same govt in election after election.

Singapore,like many other "free" states, operates thru a MIXED economy. Free markets occur in some areas, socialist markets in others, BUT the fact remains that it is the government which determines what should be free and what should be under COMMAND and CONTROL. Of course not having any worthy opposition in parliament and a closed judicial system — in fact no seperation of powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary means the govt can do as it so pleases, and it does.

The end result is free-markets for some, and state-imposed socialism for others. So if you are fortunate to have the skills and resources, you can have a bloody good time as a "globalised cosmopolitan". If you are poor, you "eat cake", whilst watching your wages shrink as you lose your job to a favoured "foreigner".

More than 80% of the voters live in HDB, hence the iron fist of the govt is constantly squeezing the testicles of the population.

If you look at HK, the amount of public housing is less, there is more private ownership of property, and the population rarely put their hand out for state help.

In Singapore, almost EVERYONE is looking for a govt hand-out: be it for healthcare, education, housing, transport, the arts, aged-care....

When you have >80% of people in "public" housing, you have a welfare state, which means the govt can bring anything under central control.

My prediction remains: a total failure of the S'pore state within one generation, due to the absolute powerof the state, and the lack of liberty for the people. So far, so good — S'pore is well on track and schedule for an Apocalyptic Finale.


soci said...

"i wonder if any country in the world would be able to attain a win-win relationship with globalisation, democracy along with freedom of speech."

yes there are. they happen to be the countries on the far right and top of the picture.