Thursday, September 8, 2011
What's Wrong With This Picture?
The IPS dog and pony show comes on right on cue after MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Lee Kuan Yew told NTU students that 20,000 - 25,000 immigrants a year is "politically digestible", but 60,000 is not. IPS director Janadas Devan, also associate editor at The Straits Times, highlighted the erosion of "potential support ratio" with net immigration assumptions of 0, 30,000 and 60,000 (Scenarios 1, 2 and 3). Scenario 4 is based on Total Fertility Rate (TFR) rising from 1.24 to 1.85 and zero immigration. It may be pertinent to point out that, unlike other First World Countries, Singapore has no welfare system to speak of, whereby the young contributes to a pool to feed or house the old. Here, you die, your problem.
The CPF savings, the last recourse at twilight years, is allocated a pathetic return of 2.5%, while the people at GIC playing monopoly with the same monies enjoyed 5% returns over the past 20 years, and kept the difference. To avoid spiking blood pressures, especially of senior citizens perusing, the subject of reserves built into HDB pricing will not be discussed here.
It would have been a better sell if IPS came up with data on how immigrants have contributed economically by virtue of their foreign talents, attributes presumably not available from the local breed. Or data on how TFR of new citizens is superior to local productivity. Maybe ICA should stipulate that new immigrants must be born in the year of the rabbit, or at least demonstrate capacity to reproduce at the same furry rate. It makes no economic sense if Mah Bow Tan brought in his aging father-in-law from a nursing home in Austrialia to add to the congestion here. If the current economic model of high-value activity is to be carried on to the nth degree, they might as well go for the Soylent Green solution. You know, the scenario when bureaucrats decide old people can be converted into edible wafers to feed the young.
Japan, like most mature countries, has had the silver tsunami for ages (pardon the pun). They have their share of foreign workers, but not to the extent of decimating social cohesion. Harajuku is still the place to feel young, but the old have their own place to stop by and smell the flowers. The notable difference there is social engineering has not been allowed to run wild.