atans1

NS and the welfare state: two sides of the same coin in the first world,

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 19/09/2013 at 4:55 am

including Switzerland and Israel

S’poreans are rightly asking why they should do NS to defend two-timers like new citizen Raj who openly boasted on how his son will avoid NS, while still getting his PR status. (Related post on two-timer Raj)

In return, the govt has been moaning that S’poreans no longer believe in the value of NS. It tries to make NS more “valuable” for us via gimmicks rather than hard cash (“Money talks, BS walks”) and addressing the the issue of defending someone like new citizen Raj and his family.

Apart from addressing the issue of defending people like new citizen Raj and his son, methinks the ministers and ESM should reach for a 6th September article in FT (behind a pay-wall). It is an opinion written by Mark Mazower, professor of history at Columbia University and author of ‘Governing the World”. It is entitled, “The west needs a replacement for the warrior spirit”.

Cutting to the chase, I quote the following:

The late Charles Tilly demonstrated in a series of brilliant sociological studies the extent to which warfare and welfare have historically been tightly connected. Rulers who wanted citizens to fight learnt the hard way that they had to give them something more concrete and appealing to fight for than the privilege of dying in their name. That is why the advent of mass conscript armies, unified around allegiance to the nation, coincided with the dramatic 20th-century transformation in the nature of the state and the swift post-1945 expansion of social rights in the shape of public housing, healthcare and schooling.

During the two world wars, military service resulted in the percentage of the population in uniform in the UK and the US approaching an extraordinary 10 per cent. This kind of warfare accustomed entire societies to new egalitarian norms and demonstrated the indispensability of the state itself as mediator in industrial relations, and as economic strategist and planner. The lessons were learnt and applied after the war as well, underpinning much of the west’s managed capitalism in the years of the post-1945 economic boom.

Get it PAP govt? NS and the welfare state go together. Israel and Switzerland, countries still with NS, have gd welfare systems, BTW.

Maybe, since the PAP doesn’t want a welfare state, scrape NS? Has the additional benefit to the PAP of getting rid of the issue of us defending new citizen Raj and his family. We might be willing to be more amenable to more two-timing new citizens, like Raj.

Get it PAP govt?

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/where-ns-leads-to-successful-high-tech-start-ups/


  1. They want the cake, and eat as well..leaving nothing for the NS boys….Look at the promotion of the SAF regulars..and instead of paying the NSF boys the regular pay..they transfer it to their own SAF regulars…

    Are the NSF boys doing less and subject to less hazards compare to the SAF regulars.

    • I think its fair to pay the SAF regulars their due, ie they have responsibilities of keeping up to date with latest military technologies, news and war-fighting capabilities and tactics.

      However, i also agree that our NSF boys/NS men are paid peanuts for their conscription service. With the excuse of defending our nation running dry slowly due to an expanding non-core SG population, defending the MBS structures (come-on man Lawrence…), I believe its hard to maintain the moral amongst our reservists and NSF.

      That’s why they say SAF, serve and f-off … haha. apt.

      But remember your duties boys, for when war come, they people you are defending are your families and love ones, not those FTs and their silly structures. Make sure your action are for the right reason.

      • Dont think they know what to do in a crisis, and they will depend on the NSF men lah. I have seen regulars who act like “blur king” in the camp.

  2. […] – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: NS and the welfare state: two sides of the same coin in the first world […]

  3. Unless you are a scholar, you aren’t treated that well either in the SAF.

    Let’s face it, any genuine reform of Singapore will need to look critically at the side effect of over three decades of meritocracy ala the scholarship system. Rather than grooming true leaders, we seem to be grooming people who like to plan the talk, talk alot but cannot execute.

    • I did my NS between 1973- 1976. Scholars were only coming in. Let me tell you shumething about the system. I was a corporal, with A-levels but I was running a Formation’s tpt pool, and co-ordinating batalions’ tpt needs. The officers had O-levels and when it came logical thinking, many of those in admin and logistics had serious problems. Sending LHL into logistics shook things up for the better.

      • The crux is not that the SAF should not induct good and talented soldiers per se but rather the almost guaranteed success pathways once you’re selected as a scholar at 18 years of age.

  4. I would like to relate one episode on how the Govt (MINDEF) treats the Singaporeans. This year, MINDEF informed all govt bodies NOT to call NSF for scholarship interviews except during a 3-day window. This 3-day window was not well thought out because it assumed that the govt bodies can get their CEO to be free during that time, NSFs did not many multiple interviews and the policy maker forgot that there are normally many sessions for one interview.

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