atans1

Answering the PAP’s cock & bull about the “long term”

In Political governance on 05/06/2013 at 5:08 am

The head of the civil service’s defence of the infamous population white paper and the long game the PAP govt is playing over how to control the new media (http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/06/04/the-real-reason-behind-the-internet-crackdown/) reminded me that the PM, other PAPpies and their allies love to talk of the PAP (and allies)  being the only ones that think long term, and that only they can protect future generations, because only they dare take the unpopular decisions (Like allowing FTs to flood into S’pore while limiting the places in local unis for locals?).

No, the retort is not to say, like Lord Keynes,”In the long run we are all dead”.

No the retort is that long-term planning and decision-making must proceed with a clear understanding of the trade-offs between current and future generations. Thinking of the children does not spare one from considering the present needs of the hungry, sick and elderly.*

Let me explain what is meant.

Doesn’t: The Republican [looney right wing tea drinkers] line on fiscal policy is that it is unconscionable to saddle Americans’ children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt.

Only a gutsy, enlightened steward has the wisdom to thwart a future threat to the nation’s well-being by biting the bullet and calling for short-term pain to promote long-term gain. Only a statesman is equipped to make the tough decisions to set the country on a better course.

sound something that our PM or any PAPpy minister from our rational “left of centre” cabinet would say?

Here’s the crushing rejoinder:

But there are philosophical and empirical complexities at play in the “protect future generations!” line of reasoning. If we could avoid bigger trouble in the long run by assuming short-term hardships now, should we? Well, the answer depends on how dire things look in the long run, how much hardship is necessary to avert disaster, and how certain we are that the strategy will in fact work out in the nation’s favour. It would be irrational to opt for certain, indefinite-term pain now to purchase an unspecified amount of theoretical gain later. In any case, the moral calculation is quite a bit more involved than [what the PAP would say**] Government owes a duty to future generations, but it has a duty toward individuals living today as well: it would be perverse to aim to quell the indebtedness of Americans coming of age in 2050 by cutting food stamps for hungry children today.

The pursuit of solvency must proceed with a clear understanding of the trade-offs between current and future generations. Thinking of the children does not spare one from considering the present needs of the hungry, sick and elderly.[From Economist blog]

This idea of trade-offs is nothing new. When I studied the law on trusts, there were tomes of cases on the duties of trustees when deciding whether to cut trees belonging to a trust. The income beneficiaries wanted the trees cut so that they could get the income; against them were those who were not yet income beneficiaries. They didn’t want the trees cut, and the capital “squandered”: cutting the trees now would affect their income from the estate in the future. The trustees often found themselves in the Court of Chancery when one side or other was unhappy.

—-

*As Uncle Leong could have pointed out here,  thinking. planning and implementing policies didn’t do much for the average S’porean: low growth, wages and productivity, with high household debt and inflation.

**My addition to make it easier to follow the reasoning.

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  1. You make a great point on the tradeoffs. I would very much love to know, in regards to your point in the last paragraph about the trustees; how did the court usually rule i.e. in favor of current beneficiaries or future ones, and what were some of the guiding principles for the court?

    • Gd point.

      Part of the answer to yr qn is the cop out that depended on the wording of the relevant trust deed. But a lot depended on the court of Chancery’s view of “equity”. Google up the term.

      Got to go to someone’s law library to refresh memory on the details of these principles before I dare blog on this cheem matter. Might take some time. Don’t hold yr breath. ))))

  2. CI

    The problem remains of too much debt at USA, further the definition of those eligible has vastly changed from 1980s to now.
    Further, if you do not see a problem when more than 50% of the populace need government assistance, than what will.
    I believe the intention of the cut-off which was bi-partisan (ie both democrats and republicans) was to ensure overall reduction in the departments, however since the present “Democrats'” administration decided to score political points but including food stamps, well , let me put this way both are partisans likewise with some of your points above.

    Further, the definition of what short term pain remains as always a trade off, yes, in the long run we are dead,the problem is that the present children may rue and curse the problems than as what occurs now, see present day Europe and also the riots even in Sweden(utopia?)

  3. […] Network: Licence scheme: Answers not very good leh – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Answering the PAP’s cock & bull about the “long term” – Holly Jean: Crying Foul over MDA Licensing Framework for News Websites – […]

  4. In past generations, PAP told them that they need to suffer & make sacrifices for the next generation, and the next generation were told to do likewise for their next generation and this next generation must do the same for their next generation.

    Today, we’re the ‘next generations’ that the PAP said would enjoy the fruits of the past generations. But no, PAP is still telling us that we need to sacrifice for the next generation.
    So who & which generation is supposed to enjoy the fruits of the past generation labour???

    It seemed that only PAP & its cronies are eating these fruits. As for the rests of singaporeans, all we must do is to accept that we must …again….make sacrifices for the next generation. Good ness

  5. Love this article.

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