Phil Ebersole's Blog

“Yves Smith” wrote an important post on her naked capitalism web log about the claim that economic incentives can be a substitute for ethics and morals.

Economics as it usually is taught considers moral values only as one of the factors that influence free choice.   A few make a specialty of writing books and articles purporting to show that acting on moral intuition always does harm, and that self-interest always works to the greater good.

It is true enough that good intentions can backfire if there is no reality check.  That does not mean simplistic economic goals such as “maximize shareholder value” are a substitute for a moral code.   In our complex economy and big organizations, actions and decisions are so far removed from their consequences that it is impossible to design a set of economic incentives that will automatically generate the common good—especially when the structure of economic incentives…

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Phil Ebersole's Blog

President John F. Kennedy famously said in 1962: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” His words, if not his actions, were wise and inspiring, and I thought of them in connection with the Arab Spring and the Egyptian coup.

Thousands and thousands of Egyptians conducted peaceful—relatively peaceful—demonstrations in order to replace the dictatorship of President Mubarak with a democratically elected government.

The result has been set aside by the Egyptian military, which receives more than $1 billion a year from the U.S. government to buy military equipment which has been used mainly against Egypt’s own people.   In return the U.S. Air Force gets to use Egyptian air space and the Navy gets to use the Suez Canal.

If the U.S. government were genuinely interested in promoting democracy and helping the Egyptian people, and winning their good will, we would spend $1 billion a year to…

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The tide has turned. Today in Singapore, the Workers Party has won over the constituency of Punggol East.

One more opposition Member of Parliment to represent the voices of the man on the street.

For overseas readers, a bit about the politics in Singapore, the country is run by one main party that has been in power for almost over 50 years. So much so that they have lost touch with the ground. Imagine the ministers are the best paid in the world, the PM is paid even more than Obama, how can that be possible? When our population is only 5.3mn. If you want to serve the people, you got to serve with heart, and the last thing on your mind should be renumeration.

In football (soccer in the US), there is a group of fans that would support ABU – anything but United, and todays vote was somewhat like that, anything but PAP. Even if the WP did not run in this By-election, some other opposition party would have won it.

I’ve got to state this again, I am not a WP supporter, but I am a supporter for a better, fairer Singapore. I love my country and the people have finally wizen up. No more having spurs stuck in our hides, no more threats of withholding welfare for the people.

More changes are to come, history has been written tonite, and the writing is on the wall for things that are to happen in General Election 2016.


Once you start measuring GDP as a way of gauging social welfare, people will start to figure out ways to make GDP go up without improving social welfare (say, by swapping dirty financial derivatives).
Goodhart’s law: on not going by the numbers.


Yee Jenn Jong

This piece was written for the NUS Students’ Political Association The Diplomat publication. I was a panelist at their Top Gun Forum held on 17 October 2012 which had discussed government-citizens engagement since GE2011. I had contributed this article in October at their invitation. This issue of The Diplomat will only be distributed in January 2013. The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Workers’ Party or the NUSPA.


Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, minister for the new Ministry of Communications and Information, said in a TODAY news report that more ministries and statutory boards are stepping up efforts to make their presence felt online by having Facebook and Twitter accounts. The government has also started a National Conversation with citizens. Since GE2011, the government seems to have a renewed zest to want to be seen to engage.

It is good that the government wants to engage with…

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This is a comment taken from:-

In his 1996 National Day speech, then Prime Minister Goh said, “People often want the government to assume the full burden of the cost of medical care and provide treatment free to Singaporeans. Because of the painful lessons learned in other countries we have not done this. All the countries which have done this—Britain, France, Germany, Canada, and Communist China—have failed. Their systems break down as people overuse so-called ‘free’ health care, which they actually pay for indirectly through higher taxes. Their health services deteriorate. Waste and inefficiency become endemic. Now these countries are forced to cut back on services, introduce cost controls, and reform the system.

This is the biggest lie that Singapore leaders have repeatedly spin about Universal Healthcare.
Canadians are proud of the country’s healthcare system. It has been functioning well for decades with no signs of failing. The notion that Singaporeans pay one of the lowest tax in the world is a myth to fool Singaporeans. In reality Singaporeans pay much higher taxes than other developed countries like Canada.

Consider a person making $6,000 a month in Singapore and a person making a similar amount in Canada. Let us say the person in Singapore pays zero tax and the person in Canada pays his maximum without any deduction of 29.7% tax. Assuming both have a working life of 40 years and a life span of 85 years.

The person in Singapore pays nothing since we assumed his tax to be zero.
The person in Canada would have to pay based on annual salary of $72,000 at 29.7% = $21,384. Based on a working period of 40 years the Canadian would have to pay a total of $855,360. It should be less if deductions are taken into consideration but we give the advantage to Singapore to minimize arguments. The Canadian tax does seem high to Singaporeans. However when all the cleverly hidden taxes are taken in consideration, Singaporeans are paying more in taxes but not getting the social benefits enjoy by Canadians.

List of Singapore hidden taxes that Canadians do not pay::

1. COE – $60,000 every ten years assuming that a Singaporean changes his car every 10 years.
40 years needs to buy 4 COE = $240 ,000.
2. Cost of car like Honda Civic – $75,000 in Singapore vs $25,000 in Canada.
4 cars in forty years at the difference of $50,000 = $200,000
3. Road tax – $1,300 per year for 40 years = $52,000
4. Higher petrol price – $100 extra a month for 40 years = $48,000.
5. ERP – $100 extra a month for 40 years = $48,000.
6. Maid levy – $300 per month for 20 years (assuming a family only has the maid for 20 years
instead of 40 years or more) = $72,000.
7. General medical bills for 85 years at $1,000 a year = $85,000. (less than $100 a month)
8. Cost of housing, the difference between a similar house in Singapore vs Canada is $300,000 to as high as $1 million and more. We shall take the lower end of the difference = $300,000.
9. The water/gas/electricity bills are only one-third of Singapore’s making a savings of at least $102,000 based on a saving of $100 per month x 85 years.
The total savings for a Canadian is at least $1,147,000 or more depending on how many cars, maids and children he has.
This amount is more than adequate to offset the Canadian tax of $855,360 at 29.7%.

In addition the following is a list of social benefits that Singaporeans do not enjoy::

1. “Milk money” of $250 each child receive a month from the government from the day the child was born until age of 18 years – $250 x12 x 18 years = $54,000 for one kid. Two kids = $108,000.
2. Old age pension plus assisted income for retirees without any income, a retiree gets $1,250 or more a month until death. Assuming the retiree lives for 20 years = $300,000.
A couple could get a combined retirement income of $2,500 a month. even though they may not have been working. The total receivable for 20 years would be $600,000.
3. Retirees travel for free on all public transportation with limited black out time on weekends, i.e. trains, buses, ferries. Some of the ferry rides cost more than $100 per trip. Assuming a retiree saves $150 a month for transportation – 20 years of retirement = $150 x 12 x 20 = $36,000.
4. Retirees can study in universities for a token fee of less than $100 per year.
5. Unemployment insurance which a citizen can claim when he/she is out of a job. It is common for a person to be out of job for 6 months in his 40 years of working life – $36,000.
6. Free treatment of severe illness like cancel, liver or kidney failures – $200,000 or more.

Depending on the choice of lifestyles and individual health conditions, the Canadian tax system has a much better advantage when compared with the Singapore tax system even though Singapore tax rate is low.

It is common knowledge that an average Singaporean cannot afford to get sick because the medical bills would bankrupt his/her entire savings. This should never happen to the richest country in the world!!!

In Canada, Healthcare service providers will do their best to guide and help patients without asking for payment as all citizens and permanent residents are covered by the government.
In Singapore, it is the opposite, the service providers will make sure that potential patients can pay for their services or treatments. It is typical “kiasu” Singapore culture.

The moral of the story is that we should not be fooled by statistics and world rankings. Singapore is ranked the richest country in the world with the highest per capita vs Canada at eleventh place with a lower per capita of $39,033. Do Singaporeans really feel richer when most Singaporeans have constant anxiety over inadequate savings for retirement, medical bills, being homeless, etc.

Most Canadians enjoy their retirement with peace of mind of having Universal Healthcare and retirement benefits. Canadians can walk into clinics or hospitals without any money in their pockets and be treated. On the other hand Singaporeans must have adequate funds before they step into clinics or hospitals.

Wing Lee Cheong
Vancouver, BC.

Before you answer that question, I think that everyone, sons, especially sons, and parents included should visit one site in Singapore.

How often we take our freedom – though we are not complete free right now, with all the thumbing down coming from our so called parents – for granted.

This generation, never had to have to ration food, eat tree bark, grass, and if you were lucky enougn, you get tapioca. Smell the smoke of burning houses, see wood splinters from the neighbours bombed out house piercing through the side of yours. See fires burn for days.

So where is this place?


I recently heard a story of how some Singaporeans were trying to get out of a neighbouring country, military checkpoints were everywhere, fires were burning, even the trip to the airport might be unsafe if you ran into mobs of unruly looters. But once you got there ticket or not, your pink ic or red passport gets you up the SQ flight back to the safety of this small island we call home.

So where is this place again? Its the Kranji War Memorial.

The inscription on the wall says:

1939 – 1945

These souls in life fought for the freedom of lands that did not belong to them nor for people they even knew. What more of us, if this our home, our land.

Remember to serve, is to serve your Nation, not the party that is the flavor day. To serve, is to defend your family, our land, do not let the service be tainted by the failure of Government.

So should we serve? Go there and find your answer.