Cutting and pasting — the ESC report

In Economy on 04/02/2010 at 5:38 am

What are the differences between the Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) report, the  February 2003 report by the Economic Review Committee (ERC), and the Economic Committee report in the 1980s?

Well the last two were chaired by one Lee Hsien Loong, the latest was by  Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Finance.

As Lee went on to become PM, could Tharman be the anointed PM in waiting? Could S’pore finally be ready for a non-Chinese PM, despite the recent influx of PRC people.  Remember the sage of Singapore, one LKY, told us that the present chairman of Temasek would have made a gd PM in the 1990s: the problem was that the Chinese majority was not prepared to have a non-Chinese as PM.

I never thought much of MM’s comments because many S’poreans thought (and still think) that the boss is one LKY.  Anyone else is irrelevant.

Sorry for this aside, back to the reports. What are similar? Same old issues abt productivity, seizing opportunities, lowering costs: you get the picture.  The civil servants  must be glad that in the 80s, there was already software programmes that allowed docs to be cut and paste.

So what shld we conclude?

One way (and a very generous way) of looking at these reports is that these issues will always be with us.  S’pore like the Red Queen in “Through the looking glass”, has to run to keep in the same spot. Life is tough.

Another take is that the governing party are incompetent. They  can’t solve issues that they flagged in the 1980s by 2003 and 2009, despite the chairman of two committees becoming PM. An example is the tinkering with the CPF system, not radical reform.  One could presume (not me) that SM’s comments about execution could be taken to mean that the PAP ministers, and civil service are incompetent.*

Yet another way of looking at the reports is to conclude that the government’s premises for prosperity have to be rethought. In New York city, home of Wall Street and mega-bonuses, housing is subsidised for middle class renters in certain areas. In fact GIC’s recent loss was the result of the courts overturning rent increases.

And below find something on how the most capitalistic country in the world has a socialist model in one of its favourite sports.

Now I am not suggesting we go socialist like the Americans. What I’m suggesting is that the premises of our prosperity have to be rethought. Now for all I know, we are like the Red Queen; we have to run to remain at one spot. In fact, I think this is the case.

But until S’pore is prepared to rethink its assumptions, we wouldn’t know would we?


American football is socialism that works

I mean if in the most capitalistic country in the world: “There are only 32 professional football teams in the United States and strict rules about who can own a team”,  the teams share at least half of their revenue from lucrative TV rights, merchandising and ticket sales; have salary caps etc

“As one NFL owner put it ‘we are 32 fat cat republicans who vote socialist’.”

As the BBC report goes on to say, “[I]n other sports leagues the burden of rapidly rising player salaries has broken smaller clubs, leaving larger ones to dominate the landscape. Think of Premier League football in the UK or US professional sports such as basketball, baseball and ice hockey.”

*This sentence was added on 5 February at ant 10.30 am.

  1. Yes, they have unemployment benefits and Obama is attempting to revamp healthcare after pure capitalism turned the system to what it is today. Capitalism operates best when it has to compete with socialism and as a result borrows the workable ideas from socialism such as worker’s rights, minimum or working wage etc.

    Singapore in some ways is more capitalistic that the NY the heart of capitalism. Worse still we have authoritarian capitalism.

    You’re right to say the ESC is a cut and paste…devoid of new ideas and trying to work the current model – like driving a truck further as it is falling apart – work hard, work longer, work forever. The main problem with the ESC is it does not put the economic well being of Singapore at the center of its strategies.

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