Friday, October 1, 2010

Wait, It Gets Betterer

In his classic deaf-frog mode, Lim Swee Say ignored the arguments for a minimum wage posited by economist Hui Weng Tat and ambassador-at large Tommy Koh, in particular former's point that a minimum wage would force employers to invest more in technology to raise productivity. Which was exactly what Lee Kuan Yew did years ago by railroading capital intensive manufacturing over low tech and low wage cottage industries like textile production. By making printed circuit boards instead of sewing jeans, the workers earned more and the nation's GDP improved by leaps and bounds.

London Business School professor Lynda Gratton may have inadvertently touched a raw nerve when she said companies had to stop paying top executives "500 times" more than its lowest paid workers to ensure the building of fairer societies. During the 2006 elections, opposition leader Low Thia Khiang presented a very good suggestion of pegging the minister’s pay to 100 times those of the bottom 20 percent as incentive for ministers to improve the lot of the poor. Heck, make it 500 times, 1000 times even, so long as the economically challenged are not left further behind as the select crowd relentlessly pursue monetary goals at the cost of social stability.

Gratton cited the example of a firm that pays its top management 20 percent more than its lowest compensated employees, and asked Lim if more companies would do so in future. Predictably, the minister repeated his party's mantra that "top dollar would have to be paid for top talent". This coming from a specimen that gives talent a bad name. The same who mouthed that "to reduce the number of low-wage workers by having a minimum wage, the number of workers with no wage will go up". Don't be surprised this clown will come up with a "betterer" solution, turn the clock back, and reinstate slavery.


  1. A very good article. The idea of pegging the salaries of the higher ups in proportion to the lower income group makes a lot sense.

    The problem we face is also one of values. Folk from the lower income group seem to think that their lot in life is to serve those who are "very clever" i.e the elite. And the priviledged elite believe they have a natural right to their big salaries.

    There was a time when the prestige and priviledge of being a minister more than compensated for the so called loss of salaries in the private sector. A genuine sense of serving the common folk made one sensitive to social and financial disparities.

    It was an embarrasment to think of salaries without factoring the earnings of the lower income group. The reasoning was clear: the elite and the less endowed shared a common citizenship. We were supposed to look out for each other and to SACRIFICE for each other be it in the battle field or in the office. We were one people, one nation, one Singapore.

    At the end of the day, its not a crime if the monthly income of politicians include salaries and remunerations from directorships and positions in parliament and the cabinet. The "crime" is the total lack of sensitivity to the trials of the lower income group in the name of greasing a system which appears to benefit a group of people who've seldom had to delay their sense of gratification for the common good.

  2. Best or worst part of it is the "blood" money "earned" off the backs of those who do the real work...who bleed blood, actually sweated with the labour of it all and the painful tears of always not having "enough" to care for their loved ones.

    And these "elite/'top' talent" thinks they "deserved/earned" that "absolute" right.

    Seems humanity is de-evolving back to the grasslands of afrika again...except in this case the weak/handicapped/mentally challenged are "thrown" away...

    But as history has proven, man survived and thrived in the grasslands of africa and migrated beyond the land...because of the communal ties to each other whether the fellow tribesman/woman is weak/handicapped/mentally they can do other tasks because they have developed alternate strengths which contribute to the well being of the whole tribe...

    It is a pity this is not true we "fake" intellectuals and "talents" who only see themselves as number one...forgetting that once you have too many "red indian" chiefs and no more "warriors" around...who will up keep or "admire" your number one "status" and "position".

    Foolish mortals these are indeed.

  3. pay ministers 1,000 times more if they dun leave the bottom 20% behind? tt's contradictory.

    as pecos reminds, ONCE UPON A TIME, the Prestige and Privilige of being a minister more than compensated for money one could'v earned in the private sector. those things, as the ad goes, are priceless.

    for one, none of us could ask for a plane from an airline to be turned into an ambulance at the snap of the fingers. ONCE, those of us who could, would rather die than make the request.

    there is also the Power of being a minister, of being able to effect change to improve the lives of millions of people, to shape the future of a country, affect the direction and thinking of the world, rather than just make money for yrself or a company. how do u put a price to tt as well?

  4. The elite have tried to identify with the "masses" i.e dressing up like Zorro, singing in public events and trying to be hip. Its kinda embarrassing. The rakyat dont need this sort of silly condescension.

    The real work is at the meet-the -people sessions where needs are meet. Thats where the speeches stop and tough ADVOCACY takes place. Is an MP only interested in taking care of the system or will he do his best for the needy constituent. It would be interesting to gauge the effectiveness of an MP's intercession for the down and out.

  5. If LSS can raise the standard of living of the masses, I will not begrudge him his obscene salary. But his easy solution of getting in cheap labour is hurting our poor. Just as society is bursting at its seams with foreigners pouring in, our poor are getting more desperate and our older workers /retirees getting more anxious. They are really getting out of touch with reality. A good dose of opposition votes may wake them up.

  6. Having gallivanted for four years in the Local Socio-political Blogoland, me has only one conclusion. And that is, the State is more than able, after about 20 years of developments to provide the people a good happy living.

    It is most unfortunate that in the Last two decades, the Leadership have created so much unhappiness for no valid or good reason.

    It is very depressing now to visit the Sites.