jump to navigation

What the elites (or rather, elitists) think April 30, 2011

Posted by laïcité in Politics, Singapore, Society.
Tags: , ,
trackback

This morning I woke up to a rather offensive post on my facebook newsfeed. It was made by an ex-schoolmate of mine who had gone to the same junior college as me. (If it matters, said JC had somewhat of an “elite” reputation, ahem)

80 percent of those voting for the opposition are ignorant hypocrites sour about their failures in life deciding to blame their inadequacies on the pap.

What was worse was the number of people who “liked” it within minutes, and the people who voiced their agreement. Not being able to restrain myself from butting in, I hastily typed out a reply and left for school.

By the end of the day, I saw that 17 people had “liked” the original elitist post. Unfortunately the original poster had deleted the post before I had the sense to screengrab it again.

So is this what the more privileged people in Singapore really believe? That they got where they are merely through their own hard work, and that those who are not able to live comfortably in Singapore deserve their fates as a result of their own stupidity and laziness? Are all elites elitists?

Now, before I end up shooting myself in the foot here, let me just clearly state that some people may classify me as privileged, and I wouldn’t disagree. I am fully aware that as someone who doesn’t live in public housing, whose family finances have never really come under threat, and who has the opportunity to do postgraduate studies abroad, that I am a very fortunate Singaporean. But that’s just it: I’m fortunate. Lucky enough to be born at the right place and time. I know full well that if I had been born into different circumstances: if I had to work after school or if I didn’t have the resources to help with my studies, I would probably be in a very different situation right now. Hard work and intelligence play but a minute role; even in our “meritocratic” society, the social and economic stratum into which you are born still plays a significant role in deciding how successful you are in life.

Which is why I found the initial comment so offensively elitist. If you are lucky enough to be born into a comfortable life and you can’t be bothered to try to fight for social equality or give back to society, the very least you can do is just shut up and be happy. Be thankful that you had the luxury of time to study and pursue your interests, be appreciative that you get to enjoy the fruits of your parents’ or grandparents’ labor, and be glad Dad’s business contacts or Mom’s law firm gave you the opportunity to do internships and build up your CV.

But a few (not all) elites can’t seem to simply be happy and shut up. Instead, comments like the above come about when one gains a sense of entitlement, and starts to believe the meritocratic myth that all successful people deserve their successes, and that logically, those who are visibly less well off are suffering due to their own personal failings. Being poor has become God’s (or Karma’s) punishment for being lazy and stupid.

Of course there are people who are unsuccessful in life because of laziness and/or stupidity, and of course there are many successful people who got there because of sheer hard work and ingenuity.  But to argue that the status quo is perfect and fair is simply naivety, and to accuse those unhappy with the status quo of being responsible for their own failures is simply elitism at its finest. The sad truth is that meritocracy in Singapore is imperfect. The sadder truth is that the disconnect between the average Singaporean and a privileged one is wide enough for the latter to make such comments and be proud of it.

Advertisements

Comments»

1. Kev - April 30, 2011

Hi Laicite, kudos for this response. This idea that the “poor ones” in Singapore are poor by virtue of them not having worked hard enough is a simply flawed premise. In perspective, meritocracy is flawed to begin with here as practised by the elites. Unlike what these people assumes, I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I had to work even when in graduate school to pay off some bills, and I got my scholarships all via diligent hard work, even choosing a cheaper housing alternative where I could(in lieu of cutting down on food which is an essential), and I worked a few jobs during summer holidays, including working for a professor in research and working as a photo lab assistant. I assume that for elitists like these, that I am not for the pro-status quo incumbent and am critical of its strategies and policies makes me “unthankful” and “ungrateful”, and I had been labelled as “useless” by former classmates from secondary school who could not understand that the person whom they used to bully in secondary school now has a PhD and is not what they assumed to be, ie. basically different. Surely our society has to learn a little more graciousness and realize that poor people are often not there of their own choosing and efforts, and that a lot of times, it is also because the circumstances conspire against them with the lack of resources (financial) they have.

2. sloo - April 30, 2011

The sad thing is it would be nigh impossible to change the mindset of these privileged elitists – its just too much trouble, effort and pain for them to show some empathy, to even lean out of their ivory towers once in world to see what the lower rungs live like. Statistics, facts and reasoning will be twisted around, brushed aside and ignored.

And that’s where the true divide in our society is happening – those that see the world without rose tinted glasses and those who cling on to their golden pedestals

3. Godwin - May 1, 2011

I think you are downplaying the role of individual abilities and responsibilities too much.

You may have been born into privileged circumstances, but if you didn’t have what it takes – both the inborn intelligence and the attitude and discipline to go at it – would you have been able to complete your postgraduate studies? Do all the people born into similar circumstances as your have postgraduate qualifications?

We all benefit or suffer from the circumstances of our birth, and we all hope to give our children a head-start or a leg-up. In that way we don’t start at the same spot on the playing field, but it doesn’t mean just because you are placed closer to the finishing line, you are bound to cross it first regardless of how fast or slow you run.

More importantly, meritocracy is not about who will do the best if all things were equal, but about who is the best person for the job.

If the person is the best person for the job, then he should have it regardless of whether he was a rich man’s son who had tutors and enrichment classes since the age of 5, or whether he was the son of a poor man who had to work his way through college. Meritocracy counts the results, not the process.

If our meritocracy is flawed, it is not because people are born into different circumstances, but because of things like nepotism or corruption, which allow people who are not the best getting jobs they don’t deserve. But in an environment where there is competition, an organisation that practises nepotism and corruption will eventually be out-competed by one that values abilities over connections and favours.

Let the elitists believe what they will – if they are not worthy, the circumstances of their birth will not protect them for long.

laïcité - May 1, 2011

Hi Godwin,

To a large extent I agree with you, but a common theme that I have noticed among my more privileged friends is that they are generally able to go much further with mediocrity.

In Singapore’s version of meritocracy, it is definitely possible for a stellar individual to succeed despite his background. We have heard all those rags to riches stories in which a taxi driver’s daughter manages to do well in school, win awards, earn a scholarship and become a doctor or a government scholar on the public service fast track. But that is only for the truly exceptional individuals.

What about those who work reasonably hard and are reasonably competent? If you are reasonably intelligent or to put it harshly, “mediocre” in comparison to the stellar individuals who truly deserve the accolades and awards, how far can you really go in society? If you get a bunch of Bs and Cs for your A levels, medical school is pretty much not an option for you. But if you have the same grades but have the option of doing your degree overseas and have the support of connections in the medical/legal/etc world, you can still end up becoming a doctor or a lawyer and keep your place as a member of Singapore’s social and economic elites. All because you could afford to.

4. This is Anfield - May 1, 2011

I can’t help but think the people who commented above are sons or daughters of our PAP MPs.

Wee Shu Min.

Remember her? She’s from the Raffles clan. Typical elitist schools, typical elitist parents, typical PAP running dogs.

sieteocho - May 11, 2011

I feel that it is understated how Rafflesians also produce more than their fair share of opposition members.

Vincent Wijeysingha. Not a Rafflesian but his father was RI school principal.
Michelle Lee of SDP – Rafflesian.
Jimmy Lee of SPP – Rafflesian
Ng E Jay, sgpolitics writer – Rafflesian.
Alfian Sa’at – dissident playwright – Rafflesian.

Would urge you to think twice before opening that smelly mouth of yours.

laïcité - May 12, 2011

I am not from Raffles, neither was my schoolmate (obviously), and not once did I mention Raffles in my post.

Elites =/= Raffles.

Intellectual elites =/= economic elites.

Please read properly before you make accusations at me.

sieteocho - May 12, 2011

Not talking to you lah. Talking to this is anfield.

laïcité - May 12, 2011

Whoops, haha. Sorry, my bad.

5. saycheese - May 1, 2011

Does anybody really believe that LHL is PM purely on meritocracy and that his father did not play any part in the cabinet? That he was there purely on his own merit and that LKY did not maneuver to have Wooden warmed the seat until he was ready? This is meritocracy Singapore style that Dr. Goh Keng Swee foresaw – “In advanced societies, it is not so much open nepotism which is to be feared but the insidious ‘old boy’ type whereby no legalities (sic) are committed but in which the pinnacles of power, influence and wealth are the reserve of those born into the right families.” So, can anyone honestly say that there is no inbuilt elitist advantage that is inborn to those who can afford to say “You die, your business”?

saycheese - May 1, 2011

“That he was there purely on his own merit and that LKY did not maneuver to have Wooden warmed the seat until he was ready?”

To attribute maneuvering to LKY is too much. I do not think he would consciously do that so I think it will be more reasonable to amend it to something like this –

saycheese - May 1, 2011

That he was there purely on his own merit and that the presence of LKY in the cabinet did not influence the choice of Wooden as seat warmer until LHL was ready?

6. Godwin - May 1, 2011

“you get a bunch of Bs and Cs for your A levels, medical school is pretty much not an option for you. But if you have the same grades but have the option of doing your degree overseas and have the support of connections in the medical/legal/etc world, you can still end up becoming a doctor or a lawyer and keep your place as a member of Singapore’s social and economic elites. All because you could afford to.”

Does that matter to you when you are a patient lying on the operating table?

All that matters to you is that the surgeon is competent and hopefully good – his background is irrelevant. When was the last time you asked your doctor how many As he got at ‘A’ levels?

Your friends may be mediocre to your eyes, but if they are where they are, then just as you are, they must have what it took to get there and to stay there. If their performances are not up to mark but they remain due to connections and influences, then ultimately their organisation will suffer.

I think you need to ask yourself if there really are a lot of “stellar” individuals out there who are not where they deserve to be due to circumstances of their birth – is this a reality, or a myth?

More importantly, what do you propose we do about this? That we increase “aid” to the lower-income families to help their children? Remember that this “aid” comes in the form of taxes from other citizens, which means they have less for their own children, which in turn means these children have less advantage in the race.

laïcité - May 1, 2011

I’m not saying that it should matter to the patient. All I’m saying is that in such situations, the mediocre rich kit gets a free pass into elite-dom, whereas the mediocre middle class kid is stuck toiling away at his middle class life.

I’m merely pointing out the flaw of meritocracy. Perhaps there is a solution, and perhaps there isn’t. But like I said in the text, if you are fortunate, the least you should do is shut up and be happy. The fact that some privileged kids are blind to the imperfection of meritocracy and can even have the galls to turn up their noses and judge those with “mediocre” lives speaks volumes about the divide between them and the average Joe.

LKL - May 1, 2011

I thought laïcité point in the example was about the particular individual being able to be a doctor or not given his mediocrity. Being poor requires one to be stellar in order to be a doctor, but being rich enables a mediocre individual to be a doctor. The point is not about the person lying on the operating table, it’s the person who has / doesn’t have the chance to be a doctor.

dZus - May 2, 2011

“More importantly, what do you propose we do about this? That we increase “aid” to the lower-income families to help their children? Remember that this “aid” comes in the form of taxes from other citizens, which means they have less for their own children, which in turn means these children have less advantage in the race.”

Oh no, god(win) forbid we help the lower-income families. Good save. Why should we sacrifice anything for anyone or society as a whole, but for ourselves? Nothing is less important than helping disadvantage children. Ain’t that right?

But alas, with such an outstanding parent (or parent-to-be) such as yourself, even if they do raise the tax to do the unthinkable of helping lower-income families, I am sure your with your exceptional genes (I’m assuming), your children will surely “have what it took to get there and to stay there” even with you having less money

Godwin - May 3, 2011

“Why should we sacrifice anything for anyone or society as a whole, but for ourselves?”

Yes, why should we?

You ask it in irony, I ask it plainly.

Why should anyone be compelled to sacrifice himself for society or any part of society?

What gives you that right to decide who should be sacrificed and for whom?

wonght12 - May 4, 2011

I think the author point is not this: As long as the person doing the job is competent why should we care how he/she got to that position. I think what a lot of people are saying is this: we are lucky and we should realise that what we have in life is not something we should take for granted. Most importantly, we should have the empathy, to feel and care for our fellow man who aren’t as well off as we are.

I think the flaws of meritocracy in Singapore runs so deep at times that it will take time to resolve it but if we were all to hold your viewpoint, then sadly I don’t think any of us will be moving on.

You seem to purport that the pure survival of the fittest. Perhaps I am wrong but I think humans have left that simple realm of competing for the best mate and leaving others to die. To pay 1 dollar to increase the fitness of someone by 100% by losing 1% yourself, isn’t that enough justice to tax the rich and help the poor?

laïcité - May 4, 2011

I wholeheartedly agree with you, wonght.

There may be no moral obligation for us to tax the rich and help the poor, but society would indeed be in dire states if everyone thought like Godwin. Part of being human is the able to empathise and help other human beings.

To Godwin, if you think that it is unfair for the government to take your hard earned money to use for helping the poor, then how fair do you think it is for a child to be born into a vicious cycle of poverty through no fault of his own and no public funds to help him escape this cycle? Surely your right to property must be balanced with an individual’s basic human right to a decent standard of living and equal opportunities in life.

How do you explain why countries like Denmark and Sweden consistently score highest on the global happiness scale despite having some of the highest taxes in the world? Surely you must acknowledge the intangible benefits of helping the poor and striving for a more utilitarian society – lower crime rates, higher literacy, less dog-eat-dog competition, accessible healthcare etc

Godwin - May 4, 2011

“To pay 1 dollar to increase the fitness of someone by 100% by losing 1% yourself, isn’t that enough justice to tax the rich and help the poor?”

No. I don’t think it justice to take something from a man, however rich or poor he is, without his consent.

“There may be no moral obligation for us to tax the rich and help the poor…”

I’m glad we agree on that.

“how fair do you think it is for a child to be born into a vicious cycle of poverty through no fault of his own and no public funds to help him escape this cycle?”

It may not be fair, it may not be his fault, but why does it become my burden? If there are those who wish to help, they are free to do so – what I oppose is people being forced to help through taxation.

“Surely your right to property must be balanced with an individual’s basic human right to a decent standard of living and equal opportunities in life.”

It is fine to say that an individual has right to a decent standard of living, but who is to provide that right? If you trample over my right to my own possessions to feed the rights of another man, is that justice?

laïcité - May 4, 2011

But you did not earn your money and your possessions in a vacuum. You were able to attain these things in the context of living in a functioning economy and society. It takes tax dollars to ensure that society does not descend into a state of a large income divide resulting and pockets of poverty and ghettoes which would inevitably affect how much money you make, worth of that money, and how liveable it is.

Especially in the context of Singapore, most of us attained our wealth at the expense of others – we have the advantage that the wages of blue collared jobs are low for us to be able to exploit cheap labor in our business ventures and enjoy relatively cheap services. How is it fair that we have benefited from the low wages of others, and accumulate wealth at the expense of others?

On a semi related note, how much do you really deserve the wages you make? Market forces are a terrible way to determine how much someone deserves. Is it fair that bankers make so much money by gambling with other people’s money? Is it fair that nurses make so little when they contribute so much to society? Or scientists? Take a step back and judge if you really deserve the money you make. Just because the market decides that you’re worth that much doesn’t really give you a moral entitlement to that money. A lot of times those wages have nothing to do with your worth to society or even the skill and work involved. Are people even entitled to their wages in the first place?

wonght12 - May 4, 2011

Actually I have only one last word to say: Empathy. Clearly you lack it and what many deem to be important for humans as a society to progress. These ideals you seem to talk some much about Godwin, seems to belong to the stone age where running away from predators was our only concern. Clearly, social mobility seem to have little meaning to you.

Reading your comments only brings back one question to me, What is being human? Offhand I can actually think of some calculation by Maynard Smith which can justify where it is perhaps evolutionary stable for one to pay taxes. Perhaps I think you subscribe too strongly to nihilist ideals that it seems to be increasingly hard for us to convince you that taxing the rich to help the poor might not be an outright moral obligation for an individual but as a society, and by extension members of the society, there lies a slight implicit moral obligation to pay taxes.

7. Fearmongering | 乱世浮生 - May 1, 2011

[…] this, makes me even angrier! You mean after all the education that you received, this is what you think? […]

8. anonymous - May 1, 2011

i would just like to state that the original Facebook poster was not, in fact, born into the elite, as he explained in a later comment not screenshotted in time by the blogger.

however, the point of my reply was NOT to side with either party, but merely to rectify some assumptions made about the original poster. :)

laïcité - May 1, 2011

Thanks for the clarification. While that may be true, just because one has worked himself up the ladder to achieve success, it still does not excuse the the ivory tower perspective looking down upon the have-nots assuming that their inadequacies must be the only reason why you have risen above them.

Furthermore, what is more worrying was the level of support (17 likes) that such a statement garnered. I didn’t think to examine who these supporters were, but we can only speculate on what their actual backgrounds are (not that it really matters).

9. Mike - May 1, 2011

I’m sure you can make up better statistic given that you used the word “hetrono-whatever”.

So by your statistic we can surely say that 51.5% of the people voting for PAP are all of the above you say?

More than half? Really?

But I’m none of the above, so by your statistic, that makes me the 0.8% of the population going to vote for PAP.

Wow aint I special :)

Please, both side also have elites, you just happen to be on the other side, just admit you are one and move on :)

laïcité - May 1, 2011

If you look closely, at the end of my response I stated

See, I can make up statistics too.

My claims were meant to be as untrue, as absurd, and as fallacious as those made by the original poster. My very purpose was to point out what a gross unfair stereotype he was making by making a gross unfair stereotype myself.

10. SH - May 1, 2011

from what you have published on this blog, the way those “elitist” individuals (or at least in their minds) behave certainly leaves more to be desired. Like yourself, I am a fortunate person who is currently studying abroad. I too, can identify with your disgust at individuals who look down upon less privileged persons just because their families can afford things beyond the reach of others.

I think what is truly evident in the original facebook post is not just ignorance, but a kind of mind-set ingrained due to the way in which our society lives and breathes: that the PAP is the best and only way to go, all alternatives are out of the question.

For those who vote PAP, you are perfectly entitled to do so, for reasons you have no need to reveal. However, I can see the opposition speaking out on issues that actually matter to the average Singaporean such as a more transparent system, better accountability on the part of the government, our over-crowded trains and buses to name a few.

This is a stark contrast to the usual dangling of carrots, engaging in smear campaigns, making veiled threats and sliding in untested Members of Parliament through walkovers under the GRC system, as is wont of the ruling party.

Think about it. The psyche needs to be changed, and it needs to start from the fundamental issue of being down-to-earth. I wonder how high-flying government figures who are chauffeured everywhere with police escorts can even comprehend the conditions the average Singaporean encounter on a day-to-day basis. They can appear to be humble, but what makes you so sure they won’t rush to wash their hands as soon as they shake hands with you?

11. LL - May 2, 2011

Dear Sloo,

thank you for your viewpoints. I am the 4th poster on that comment u posted. Like you I had the intention of showing how alarmingly absurd it was to make such sweeping statements and elitist comments.

I believe you have read widely on various topics but I have two articles to share as these articles resonate strongly with me. I wonder if you have read them :

http://thinkhappiness.blogspot.com/2006/08/meeting-david-marshall-in-1994.html

http://www.theamericanscholar.org/the-disadvantages-of-an-elite-education/

Lastly, I would like to say that the poster of the above comment is human like all of us. His fault might not be that he is conceited and in an “ivory tower” but that he is mislead and underinformed, hasty and insensitive. More importantly it is obviously just a rant, he just forgot that a facebook rant nowadays is like a billboard message.

I believe at the depths of every persons heart is just goodness and a desire to be good. More importantly, every person has a right to be who they are, and while I do not respect “elitists” I recognise their contributions and abilities in other areas. They might not be able to relate to a different social class but in that case it is up to people like us (who arguably can relate to both) to harness these “elites” energy and potentitial and channel it to the greater good.

Thanks for the blog, I enjoy reading it

12. the good elitist-free life in Sweden | Sunshine in Umeå - May 2, 2011

[…] sweet azuki, sugar-free “ekologiska müsli” (Swedish isn’t that hard to understand after all!), “ekologisk mjölk” (ecological milk), walnuts and Turkish yogurt.  Soul-searching as i made my lunch, after reading about polarizing views in Singapore. […]

13. James - May 2, 2011

I agree with the original Facebook poster… And no, I am not born privileged. My father never finished primary school, my mum is not educated… I started working during school vacations since 15 yrs old, never had tuition or a maid, needed to get financial aid during my school days, supported myself through University, lived in HDB all my life… but now, I earn a decent and comfortable living…

laïcité - May 2, 2011

The funny thing is, I can sometimes understand why those born privileged look down on those who aren’t so lucky. What else can you expect from people who have been shielded all their lives from the social inequalities and economic disparities. Their worlds are so different from the average Joe’s that it is reasonable if they do not understand the problems that the average Joe faces.

People like you, on the other hand, should really know better. Even the original poster had subsequently claimed that he wasn’t from a privileged background. More than anyone, people like you, who have risen the social and economic ladder despite your backgrounds, should know how difficult it is, and should have the ability to empathise. I don’t know if it is naivety or arrogance, but knowing what life was like on the other side makes it even less justifiable to judge those without the luck/talent/sheer stamina to climb out of a lower social-economic class.

James - May 2, 2011

I think it is because I only ask for two things from a government:

1) Everybody gets a chance to be educated, because education is the only way out of poverty

2) Political stability; so that whatever I achieved would not be taken away from me because of some civil war, military coup etc.

I remember when I visited Myanmar, the tour guide told me that in the last 20 years, Myanmar had demonetized their currency at least three times. Each time the currency is demonetized, people lost a large portion of their savings.

When I visited the S21 museum in Cambodia, I witnessed how the Khmer Rouge wiped out one quarter of the population in a short span of three years.

All these are extreme cases, but they really made me appreciate the importance of political stability. As long as the government can provide each citizen a chance to be educated and a safe and secure environment to fight for their dreams, I don’t ask for much.

And I don’t think having a co-driver is necessarily good for the country. Just look at Taiwan (Kuomintang vs DPP) and America (Democrats vs Republicans)… Sometimes they oppose each other for the sake of their own political agenda, not for the good of the country…

Btw, I used to be anti-PAP… when they increased my NUS tuition fees by $600 a year for two consecutive years… It was extremely hard for me because I was seeing myself through uni… and I felt helpless because there’s nothing we could do… I think we merely signed a petition which was most probably ignored… I know PAP is not perfect, but you can’t deny they’ve done a reasonably good job… and honestly, I don’t most of the opposition parties are far-sighted enough to lead our country yet…

laïcité - May 3, 2011

Perhaps your standards are too low? True, the PAP is excellent if we compare it to the governments or Myanmar or Cambodia or North Korea. But there is so much left to be desired, and there are so many ways that it can improve. There is still gross income disparity, illiberal policies that compromise personal freedoms, and not enough rights for the working class to demand better pay/hours/conditions.

Scandinavian countries like Sweden or Denmark illustrate how it is possible to achieve political stability and economic wealth whilst maintaining a happy population with sufficient safety nets. And contrary to what the government has been telling us these countries show that it is possible to be extremely liberal in terms of freedom of speech and personal liberties whilst still maintaining social cohesiveness and political stability.

If the PAP were to remain in near political monopoly, what is the incentive to improve? PAP and their supporters already think that the status quo is perfect. With no pressure from the opposition, and no one to voice the concerns of the middle class citizen, how is the average Singaporean’s life going to improve?

Your concern of political instability is not valid as it is extremely (EXTREMELY) unlikely that the PAP will lose its 50% majority in parliament. After this elections, our ruling party will without a doubt be the PAP. What is the aim, though, is to deny them the 66.6% majority so that there can be sufficient debate in parliament before the PAP attempts to amend the constitution on their own whim. (Which they have been doing for the past years – tell me which other country in the world amends their constitution so freely?!)

14. LL - May 3, 2011

Haha! I thought this post was a post on elitism, but I guess not many people can avoid linking it to the GE.

Wonder if you all have read the article I posted (http://www.theamericanscholar.org/the-disadvantages-of-an-elite-education/). Now before I seem like a crazy guy who just wants to post his articles again and again.

James: you are either very lucky, VERY hard working, or probably a little of both. In any case you deserve everything you enjoy and I respect you for your determination.

Here lies the problem: the social divide is not just in terms of economic status. As meritocracy is ingrained in our very soul, our judgement of our fellow Singaporeans are based on money, money money, education education education. Someone without a uni degree and without the 5Cs is to someone with a degree and 5Cs, in every sense of the word. a FAILURE. Someone from ITE? Poly? To many of us they are simply people who “cannot make it”. I have had friends whose siblings got into the polytechnic of their choice and my other friends go “aiyooh what happened??”

Making a decent living doing a job that isn’t criminal, with pride in one’s work is no longer enough…

I concur with LKY on the point that genetics play a big part in everything including intelligence amongst other skill sets that are valued in Singapore. As such, not everyone is blessed with the talent to crawl up the ladder as you did, or even be born at the top as I was (but they would be born with the talent). Others have other talents not as recognised in Singapore (arts), or have less opportunities for development (sports). Oh unlucky them, for if they were born somewhere else they might be famous and recognised and us elitists would respect them mainly because they are rich! But in Singapore they are naturally not rich, and we elitists choose to say they are “failures in life”. They are simply unpolished gems.

EVERYONE has inadequacies. We are just lucky that the skills we were blessed with are applicable in climbing up the money making ladder in Singapore.

What do we do when we reach the top? Shall we happily laugh at the mere mortals below us? We have worked our way up and we have every right to enjoy what we earned: MONEY. Buy all you want, but do not say those below you are inadequate, for they would most certainly be superior to you in another way.

And so why are they complaining and we are not? Because Singapore and the Singapore government has made a society that is so strongly meritocratic that we have forgotten that a human being’s worth goes beyond that. More importantly, it seems that the policies they have benefit the rich more than the poor.

There will always be a spectrum of income in every country, just as it cannot possibly be that everyone goes to uni. Everyone has a part to play, to make it tick, but I firmly believe that the ideal situation would be that everyone can play their part to their best abilities and still get by reasonably (by Singapore’s standards, not Ethiopia). The current unhappiness is probably because quite a number of people are unable to?

In any case, I will not reply again about politics, as the issue that interests me is elitism.

Cheers guys, all this discussion is for the greater good of people around us :)

laïcité - May 3, 2011

Hi LL,

I couldn’t agree more with you. I’ve been making the same points to my friends (those that can bear to listen, anyway) so many times that it is not even funny.

Singapore and Singaporeans generally have a very narrow definition of success. It’s all about getting a degree, getting a good job and making money. Granted, those are very important goals to strive for, but there is so much more to a human being’s worth than that. People become defined by their social status, their occupation and how much money they have – not how happy they are and the happiness that they bring to others. As a result, we see elites (deserving of their status or not) making unfair judgements about those “below” them because they have not achieved their narrow definition of success.

For example, I made a conscious choice to go to NUS (for a number of reasons) – to do science, no less – despite being able to qualify for other more “prestigious” courses or universities. During my undergraduate years, I observed and tolerated a lot of flak directed against students from local universities – as if that automatically makes us less smart or capable than overseas undergraduates.

I don’t agree with some of the suggestions of increasing university places for local students or letting more people read medicine or law or all the other “respected” fields of study. What is more important is that the pay and the status of polytechnic graduates and vocational schools be improved – so that everyone, no matter what profession, can live their lives with dignity and respect. There needs to be a real change in perception. There is no shame in being a plumber or a mechanic or a technician, and their wages and societal perception really needs to reflect that.

James - May 3, 2011

I agree that I am lucky, not because I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to strike it big, but because like you mentioned, I happen to have some of the skills that “are applicable in climbing up the money making ladder in Singapore”.

I always respect people regardless of whether they are rich or poor, uni graduate or school dropout.. my parents were poor before.. but I look up to them… I know someone who can’t solve a basic Math equation at Sec 4, but who can draw so well… I envy and admire her a lot, cos I can’t draw to save my life.. When I said I agree with the poster, it’s more about the blaming of the government that I hear so much of.. but I don’t think people who vote for the opposition are ignorant or inadequate… they just need to stop blaming and believe more in themselves…

15. James - May 3, 2011

I agree that my standards are low, because I believe that with education and political stability, anyone who’s determined can succeed. I believe in depending on myself, not the government or my parents or anyone else.

Denmark is an amazing country, but of course it has one of the highest taxation rates in the world. In terms of freedom of speech, I don’t think it is valid to compare us with Denmark. 90% of Denmark’s population are Danish, whereas we are much more diverse in terms of race. With freedom comes responsibility, and not everyone is responsible enough to think before speaking.

I understand the desire for oppositions’ voices in the parliament. If I stay in Aljunied GRC, I may even consider voting for WP. But I cannot agree with some voters who are willing to vote for any opposition party, just for the sake of opposing PAP. That’s totally irrational, irresponsible and taking things for granted. There are some opposition parties that I definitely would not want to see voted in.

Ian - May 3, 2011

You must be living in wonderland, James. As someone who comes from a fairly privileged background (I say emphasise fairly, because a Marxist would not consider us full-blooded members of the property owning or bourgeois class), I assure you, at least anecdotally, that meritocracy in Singapore is largely rhetoric. It is ideology, and it has impaired the social consciousness of many a Singaporean (myself included), especially many considered to be part of the upper and middle-upper classes. What is required is a critical, reflexive attitude: and this is what is lacking in Singapore.

Singapore is an unabashedly capitalist country, and elitism is merely a function of capitalism: it is the social institution through which unbridled capitalism can continue to operate, willy-nilly. The reason why getting rid of, or at least introducing some political checks and balances on the power of the PAP in Parliament is important is because the system is set up so as to allow a complete monopolization of capital by the upper classes (myself included). To be sure, let me repeat the age-old Marxist manifesto – a monopolization of capital means that non-property owning classes will always be trapped in a vicious cycle of abuse and exploitation. This is a very high level of abstraction, so let me give a concrete illustration. Ever so often, the government decides to lower direct taxes and estate duties while increasing indirect taxes. What this means is the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer. I think we can all agree on this. The upshot is that big businesses get bigger and bigger, giving business owners more and more power to drive wages down, as the cycle goes on in a recursive pattern. In the long run, I think we can all foretell what happens if this goes on unchecked.

I am no advocate of Marxism. I believe that all should be allowed to reap the fruits of their labour. But we do not deserve our talents, our background, and least of all, our inheritance. Any unequal distribution of social goods (money, opportunity, welfare) should only be allowed if it results in a consequent benefit to the least privileged. This means elitism, and by extension, the unbridled sense of capitalism that pervades Singaporean society must be tempered. I stress that I do not advocate the destruction of the PAP system. It has succeeded in what it set out to do, but the PAP can no longer justify its stand by an appeal to utilitarian arguments. We need strong left-leaning pressure in Parliament to bring our nation’s priorities back into perspective.

So, James, you may be right – blindly opposing the PAP borders on being silly, but then again, the alternative is not all that rosy. One cannot blame those trapped between a rock and a hard place for rolling the dice.

16. Godwin - May 3, 2011

“But we do not deserve our talents, our background, and least of all, our inheritance. Any unequal distribution of social goods (money, opportunity, welfare) should only be allowed if it results in a consequent benefit to the least privileged.”

Why?

Why should a man who has earned money not be allowed to leave it to whom he will when he dies? What gives “society” the right to his possessions once he dies?

“We need strong left-leaning pressure in Parliament to bring our nation’s priorities back into perspective.”

I think we need a government that doesn’t think it is its right to redistribute wealth it has not created. It is easy to demand more welfare and subsidies, but we need to look at where all that money is coming from. That money is taxed from fellow citizens who have earned it – what gives us the right to take a disproportionately large percentage of their income?

17. Godwin - May 3, 2011

“I don’t think people who vote for the opposition are ignorant or inadequate… they just need to stop blaming and believe more in themselves…”

I think I get what James means.

“Society” may have a very narrow definition for “success”, but it really is up to each and every one of us to decide for ourselves what “success” in life is.

If you choose to define success as that held by “society”, and for whatever reason you cannot achieve it, is it really that helpful to anyone if you become “sour about [your] failures in life” and “blame PAP” or anyone for that matter?

“There is no shame in being a plumber or a mechanic or a technician, and their wages and societal perception really needs to reflect that.”

I don’t think there is any shame at all in being a plumber or a mechanic or a technician – in fact I have respect for a man who is good at what he does and takes pride in his craft. You cannot change societal perception overnight or by fiat, but what you can do is to thank your plumber and express your admiration for his professionalism the next time he comes over to fix your faucet. I do.

As for their wages… well, that’s a more complex issue of demand and supply, isn’t it?

laïcité - May 4, 2011

Wages are not simply dependent on demand and supply. A purely capitalist economy is not humane to impose on society – people have basic needs and deserve a decent standard of living and these factors are not accounted for when we use simplistic economic models. Wages can and should be influenced by bargaining power of the workers and by the imposition of a minimum wage. When people are at the mercy of free market economics, it is inevitable that the small fry (the individuals and the small businesses) will be exploited and overwhelmed by those with greater power (both economic and otherwise).

Blue collar workers need better representation and bargaining power if their wages (and hence status) are to be improved. In the UK where I am currently living, the “workmanship costs” of these plumbers and electricians could be defined as exorbitant back home, but these wages enable them to make a decent living to support their families. One of my classmate’s boyfriend is a plumber and there is no embarrassment there at all. I honestly couldn’t imagine a Singaporean university graduate back home telling all her friends about her plumber boyfriend. There’s just so much of a social stigma attached to blue collar and technical jobs.

Kev - May 11, 2011

Hi Laicite, I agree with your views mostly and think that whether the elite came from a humble beginning or from a privileged background, some larger degree of sympathy or even empathy can be shown towards those who “complain”, for lack of a better word. Sometimes, like you said, it is not just hard work, but simply the environment conspiring against a person to show how he or she is not as “welcome” in society, in other words, think of the painter and the sportsman. In the same way, there is also a strong social stigma attached to blue collar and technical jobs here in Singapore which I do not see as much in the other developed countries like Canada, USA and so on.

Our meritocracy is in itself flawed because it assumes that everyone has an equal chance to strive best for what he or she desires in terms of progress. But to begin with, the chances were never equal. In today’s competitive society, we are not just competing to have a university education, but we are competing to see who earns the most amount of money, who is in the highest position possible. And do not forget, those who are seemingly “poor” and yet having talents which society here does not accept as much, such as those working in the theatre arts, those who are sportsmen and have to work on top of their sports to make ends meet, might not be as high up on the corporate ladder but they might not be that “poor” in other areas, such as the artist who has a capacity to use his art to express his views towards society.

The real problem is that perhaps, our meritocracy has indirectly or directly created an increasing disconnect between people and the reality of things as they are, that people were never born equal and that some people, no matter how hard they are working and trying, just do not have the chances or circumstances working to their advantage. I came myself from humble beginnings in a family of hawkers, and my family had no shame at all in their work, because they worked hard. They saved enough to send us all (the children) to university or polytechnic, and yet, in the process, did they ever advance per se on the social ladder? No, we were still considerably stuck in our place in Singaporean society here. But do we not work hard? of course we all do in our family, and as such, the inherent problem lies with the way our society has forgotten the real root of the problem, that meritocracy is flawed and there will always be people left behind.

18. Hayden - May 4, 2011

Hey Lacite!

I was directed here through a facebook post and I say, GREAT POST!

I’m just really relieved that there is actually a Singaporean out there that shares the same beliefs as me.

Although, at the end of the day, the Singaporeans who are able to understand your post are most likely to be privileged. The average middle class Singaporean won’t be able to comprehend more than the very basics of English. Seriously, the standard of English in Poly is a huge joke.

The ones from privileged backgrounds will never understand the idea that you are trying to put across. I would say the ones who are aware of it are most likely to be cynical by now.

=(

laïcité - May 5, 2011

Hi Hayden,

Thanks for your comment. :) I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the ability of average Singaporeans to comprehend such views. Being from poly does not preclude one from understanding not-so-basic English, and more importantly, it does not mean that one does not care about such matters or hold opinions about them.

Don’t be so cynical yourself, I’ve learnt that the way to make people understand what life is like for people who are not like them is through empathy and humanizing the “other”. This is not just true for elitists, but also for homophobes and misogynists. I think most people hold judgemental views mainly because they haven’t taken a step back to thoroughly examine why and how they came to that view.

Brandon Ngo - May 5, 2011

You have to understand that while you call the elitists people looking down from a ivory tower, you are also looking down on them from a moral high ground. There is no such thing as the correct morality. Is it right to kill? Is it right to steal? All these morals are defined by society, and to look down on others from such a high ground is elitist as well.

There might be a civilization that sacrifices its people. To us, it would seem barbaric, but to them it would be normal.

Back to the point, would it be moral to force every single individual to provide for the unfortunate and the poor in the form of taxes. Yes, to you it is moral to do so. But do all people want to adhere to your set of moral values?

Regarding elitism, why are the rich rich? In Singapore, it is likely because they were hard working or talented in the past. This is not the aristocracy we had in France and England. This is a society where you will be rewarded if you are good.

Regarding the mediocre not being able to study university. If he is mediocre, he should get a mediocre job and mediocre pay. That is the way meritocracy works. What is abnormal is the parents sending their children to overseas universities. But what matters is whether they can serve as a doctor. If they cannot, they will not gain the patient recommendations and be stuck as a low tier doctor.

Ideally, we ban people with overseas universities. But this is real life, dealing with real people. We don’t even have enough doctors, and banning these doctors who can help out isn’t ideal, but is pragmatic.

We can sit and argue all day about the ideal society, but in reality policy making is about making sacrifices. If I sacrifice this demographic, will there be benefits?

laïcité - May 6, 2011

My point was not that mediocre people should not be able to study overseas simply because they can afford to. Neither was my point about giving all mediocre people entry into university.

All I meant is that some people are luckier than others and some people have more opportunities than others of the same calibre. Given the same grades, same motivation, same intelligence, some people move further in live simply because of privilege. All I am asking of these people is empathy.

“This is a society where you will be rewarded if you are good.”

Fair enough. But this is also a society where you may be rewarded if you’re not. And this is also a society where you may be good but never be rewarded. I ask again: what is the the rationale that nurses, scientists, teachers and social workers make so little money in comparison to bankers and lawyers? Is the former group not as hardworking, skilled and contributive to society? And why is it that, as others have mentioned above me, only a certain set of skills are rewarded and not others?

The least we all must do is recognize that meritocracy in Singapore is not perfect. Not everyone deserves what they get and it is naive to assume so.

19. Alas, The Tragedy of the Commons « ~Notes from a Not So Young Mind~ - May 4, 2011

[…] the comments to https://laicite.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/what-the-elites-or-rather-elitists-think/ reminds me of the tragedy of the commons. It does not have a direct impact on the issues a certain […]

20. Shae - May 6, 2011

I am a little late to the game but I just managed to chance upon this post. To be honest, when I had read your previous post of foreigners and Singaporeans being xenophobic, I had written you off as probably one of those snotty Singaporeans who think they are so cool and liberal because they “made it” overseas and look down on other Singaporeans and think that everything Brit/American/Australian/Canadian/European must be better than anything Singaporean. After reading this post, I have had to revise my opinion completely and re-examine my own motivations for reacting the way I did to your previous entry on foreigners and xenophobic Singaporeans.

Thanks for the great read and I must say that your above reaction to Godwin in particular resonate with conviction and persuasiveness.

laïcité - May 7, 2011

Hi Shae, thank you for your response and thank you for giving me a “second chance” despite the first impression that I may have made on you.

To be honest, growing up I never felt fully accepted by either side: I wasn’t heartland enough for the heartlanders, neither was I elite enough for the elites. In reality, things are never really that black or white anyway. A common theme seems to be the importance of being able and willing to see things from both sides of the fence. A social divide between the two and a lack of mutual empathy and understanding only leads to animosity.

21. Godwin - May 11, 2011

“How is it fair that we have benefited from the low wages of others, and accumulate wealth at the expense of others?”

People who take low wages do not do so for my benefit – they do so because they are unable to command higher wages.

“Market forces are a terrible way to determine how much someone deserves… Just because the market decides that you’re worth that much doesn’t really give you a moral entitlement to that money… Are people even entitled to their wages in the first place?”

So who will decide, laicite? Will you decide how much I can earn? How I should spend the money I earned? How much I am allowed to pay for something which I want?

“Actually I have only one last word to say: Empathy. Clearly you lack it and what many deem to be important for humans as a society to progress.”

But you don’t want my empathy, wonght, nor does society – you want my money.

“Clearly, social mobility seem to have little meaning to you.”

You, who believe in narrowing the income gap by taking from those who have earned and giving it to those who have not accuse me of not believing in social mobility? That’s rich.

laïcité - May 11, 2011

Again Godwin, you fail to see the point that you never deserved 100% of what you earned in the first place. All the odds have stacked in your favor: you may have been born into an environment conducive to your education and career, you may be born with the right skills that our society favors (for example the skills to do well in school instead of technical skills), you were born into a society with a large income disparity such that the white collared workers make a disproportionate amount of money compared with the blue collared workers, you were born into a society where low wages for technical jobs kept the prices of goods and services low enough for you to be able to accumulate wealth. How can you say you are truly entitled to all the money that you earn when it is earned under such a situation – at the expense of others?

In essence, you were born into a society where you were allowed to “steal” from the poor and from those who were born into less lucky circumstances.

So you should not be complaining when one attempts to correct this inequality.

wonght12 - May 14, 2011

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pray/
Pray has more than one meaning. Before you throw people’s arguments away, know what is being suggested, don’t equivocate. Since you love to throw questions: What gives you the right to lord over others? Who gave you the right to your own money? What confers upon you the right to a high pay? Who is to decide what job gets paid more? If you are going to say because of your innate talent, then why aren’t scientist paid as much as a banker? There is no moral obligation per say looking at an deontological or consequentialism approach. However if you consider that of a CBA using John Maynard Smith, we can be very sure that it is an evolutionary stable strategy to care for others in your species. Then of course you could belong to something other than Homo Sapiens. I truly feel sad for your lack of empathy and am very thankful that our policy makers are not all of the likes of you else our society will be fragmented and lack any form of inclusiveness. So what then is the RIGHT reason for one to draw a high pay? The defense on high pay falls on the proponent not us.

wonght12 - May 11, 2011

I have no need for your money. Yes I am probably indirectly taking money from you without you knowing or not. I need not your empathy but I think that there are echelons of the society is severe need to an empathising and encompassing society.

Social mobility is somewhat taken to be as someone being able to move out of the situation they were born into. Now without social support of a society, can one seriously hope to move up the social ladder? Can someone poor without access to education deserved to be condemned forever? Based on your logic, do Africans deserve their plight as of now?

I am not saying lower income gap only. WHAT I AM SAYING is help those in need of financial aid. I pray hard that you will find enlightened when you are down in a financial dump. Stop committing straw man fallacies…

Godwin - May 12, 2011

“Now without social support of a society, can one seriously hope to move up the social ladder?”

What do you mean by “social support of a society”, if not forced “charity” through unequal “progressive” taxation?

“Based on your logic, do Africans deserve their plight as of now?”

I don’t know enough about the whole continent of Africa to say if the people deserve their plight, but I am pretty sure I shouldn’t be forced to give money to them.

“WHAT I AM SAYING is help those in need of financial aid.”

By all means do so, wonght. Why do you insist that you have a right to make me do the same?

“I pray hard that you will find enlightened when you are down in a financial dump.”

Ah, prayer – another way of making oneself feel useful by doing nothing more than asking others to help…

22. Godwin - May 11, 2011

“Again Godwin, you fail to see the point that you never deserved 100% of what you earned in the first place.”

So how many percent of what I possess do I deserve, laicite? Give me a number. By what criteria do you decide? By what criteria do you decide who decides?

“How can you say you are truly entitled to all the money that you earn when it is earned under such a situation – at the expense of others?”

I do not earn my money at the expense of others; I earn my money by exchanging something of value I have.

“In essence, you were born into a society where you were allowed to “steal” from the poor and from those who were born into less lucky circumstances.”

So it’s wrong for me to “steal” from the poor, but OK for society to “steal” from me?

“So you should not be complaining when one attempts to correct this inequality.”

Sure. I will quietly take my place against the wall come your glorious revolution.

23. Godwin - May 11, 2011

Did you delete my reply?

laïcité - May 12, 2011

No

Godwin - May 12, 2011

OK, there it is.

So tell me, laicite: how many percent of what I possess do I deserve? By what criteria do you decide? By what criteria do you decide who decides?

laïcité - May 13, 2011

It doesn’t matter what the actual percentage is. If you are suggesting a world where none of your taxes contribute to social welfare at all, then obviously that would be an undesirable society to live in. On the other hand, no one is suggesting that all of your income should be used to help the poor. We are talking about a middle ground here, which is definitely desirable to either of the extremes.

It all boils down to this:

You do not have a moral obligation to give money to the poor. Even if it were, the government has no right to impose that obligation onto you.

But you live in a society in which certain things are provided to you by a government: stability, a functioning economy, infrastructure. These are public goods that the government provides to you in return for your taxes. The absence of ghettoes, slums, the reduction of the number of homeless and unemployed people, the education of poor children to bring them out of the poverty cycle… all these things are also considered public goods. If you wish to be amoral and purely pragmatic about things, what the government does to help the poor would affect society, the economy, the crime rate, the quality of life in singapore, foreign investments, international perception of the country… which will ultimately affect the rest of us. Even if you didn’t give a shit at all about these poor people, the government is not wrong in any way to help them, because the reduction of poverty is ultimately a social good, and one of the functions of the government is to make sure everyone‘s needs are considered. Not just yours.

Or look at it this way. “Stealing” from the rich to help the poor may be injustice, but it is the lesser evil compared to perpetuating a world where the the rich get richer at the expense of the poor.

24. Godwin - May 13, 2011

“You do not have a moral obligation to give money to the poor. Even if it were, the government has no right to impose that obligation onto you.”

““Stealing” from the rich to help the poor may be injustice, but it is the lesser evil…”

OK, at least you acknowledge those facts.

wonght12 - May 14, 2011

I see no injustice in collecting tax. And I doubt that in any normal legal system, perhaps save monarchies, is there a legal basis for taxation to be called stealing. Perhaps your fundamental principles are so disparagingly different from the author that meaningful debate has more or less ceased with you.

Godwin - May 14, 2011

There is taxation, and there is taxation, wonght.

Taxation can be for collective purchase of common goods, social engineering, or “redistribution of wealth”. I call the last “stealing”.

Almost invariably, taxation for the purpose of “redistribution of wealth” is also “progressive”, which means the tax burden falls unequally on the populace. I call that unfair.

I think laicite agrees with me on those points, but considers them a lesser evil than not doing them.

laïcité - May 14, 2011

No form of taxation is going to be equal for everyone, and it is unfair to expect it to be.

Citizens are not going to uniformly benefit from what the government spends on for obvious reasons: we do not use roads, healthcare, the police force etc to the same extent as everyone else. So it is petty to complain that the poor (or whoever) are “unfairly” benefiting from certain policies when those policies were designed to equalize disparities in the first place.

Furthermore, I find it inaccurate to describe progressive taxation as unfair. The reason for this is that the value of a given amount of money is not the same to people of different income levels. Suppose you make $10,000 dollars a month. What is $100 to you? You probably already have enough for your mortgage, car loan, daily expenses, power bills etc. That $100 has less value to you than to someone who makes $500 a month, to whom $100 may mean the difference between eating and going hungry.

Even when we talk about taxation as a percentage of income, 10% of a rich man’s income is not of the same value as 10% of a poor man’s income. The drop in take home income from 10,000 to 9,000 has less gravity than the drop from 500 to 450. While the former involves some reduction of luxury, the latter involves compromising the quality of life.

Therefore, the reverse of your claim is true: it would be unfair to tax the rich guy and the poor guy at the same amount, because this amount of money has a greater value to the poor guy, hence it would cause the poor guy to bear the greater burden. Progressive taxation is a much fairer system because it is the only way in which everyone feels the same “pinch” regardless of income level.

25. LL - May 14, 2011

What an interesting thread. Its quite interesting because i always thought it was the right thing to help the less fortunate. Maybe I have had a bad upbringing and I am confused as to how a good person should live. Now that you question it I really wonder… is it right that I should help the less fortunate?? HAHAAHAHAH

If we tax everyone to build things like roads isnt it unfair to the poor who have no cars?. Hmm…. If we tax everyone to build things like lights isn’t it unfair to those who are blind? If a poor mother gave birth to a disabled child and she cannot work much as a result… is it unfair for the government to take money from someone blessed with health and wealth to help her?

This thread has become very pointless… All I can say is that I believe it is the responsibility of the well off to help the less well off. Kindness always pays off in the end, and charity is not a zero-sum game. You can check out the paradoxical commandment if you wish to get inspired lol. (http://www.paradoxicalcommandments.com/). Trying to convince others on this message board to be more understanding etc is pointless. There must be selfish people for there to be selfless people. There is no point trying to convince 1 person, laicite.

laïcité - May 15, 2011

You’re probably right, LL. :)

But then again, discussing something like this is better than not discussing it at all. As much as I may disagree with Godwin, I appreciate that he is willing to hear my view on the matter. More often than not, the disconnect in the real world between the haves and the have nots may very well boil down to the lack of any mutual discussion at all.

26. Godwin - May 15, 2011

LL, I am not saying that people should not be allowed to help the less fortunate, but there is a difference between helping someone yourself, and forcing others to help through taxation.

Frankly, laicite, I am appalled at the blase way you ask “What is $100 to you?” – well, that is $100 which I earned myself, which you have no right to.

I think the fundamental difference between our views is that I think a man has the right to his property, whereas you think that that does not apply to the rich, who made their money at the expense of the poor, and therefore people who are morally superior have a right to take that money and use it the way they see fit.

You are more of a libertarian socialist, and I am more of a minarchist libertarian.

I don’t think we will change each other’s point of view in the short term, but I want to thank you for providing a platform where we can have this discussion. Keep blogging.

laïcité - May 15, 2011

Thank you Godwin for participating in this discussion too.

But I would just like to disagree with your description of my position. There doesn’t have to be anything “moral” about it. From a purely pragmatic perspective, it is in society’s ultimate interest to eliminate poverty. So taxing the rich to fund social welfare is no different from taxing the rich to build roads and overhead bridges. If you don’t believe in taxation at all then that is a whole other issue. But choosing to spend tax dollars on helping the poor and less fortunate is no more unjust than using it to build roads (even if it only directly benefits motorists) or the fire brigade (even if it only directly benefits those who are victims of emergencies).

27. reservist_cpl - May 16, 2011

It seems like most of the responses (other than yours) were sarcastic.

Funny you couldn’t tell that. Sure you’re all that elite and privileged? :P

laïcité - May 17, 2011

Who exactly are you talking about?

28. sghunk1976 - May 20, 2011

hello. i am a singer. and a famous blogger, just like u. i think u ppl are too young to noe anything bout politic. dis video say wat i want to say about politic. very important! must watch!!

29. sghunk1976 - May 21, 2011

Why u delete my post? Wat kind of politic blog is dis when u delete ppl’s post when u cannot argue back? Lousy discussion. U r being selective, only showing the views that support ur post. I losing my respect for u..

laïcité - May 21, 2011

I did not delete your post. I just had not gotten around to approving it. -_-

And you only have to read a sample of the above comments to know that alternative viewpoints, debates and arguments are welcome on this blog.. Much more so than self-promoting videos at least.

wonght12 - May 24, 2011

Please phrase thing properly before calling others sarcastic, Steven Lim or a wannabe.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: