Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Running Out Of Excuses

Early adopters of the first Apple had to pay $666

Paul Terrell, the founder of The Byte Shop - one of the very first computer stores on the planet - give Steve Jobs a purchase order in 1976 for 50 Apple-1 units at the price of US$666. It had a 1.0 Mhz Motorola MOS 6502 CPU, 4k RAM, composite video output at 280 x 192 resolution, and interfaces for keyboard and cassette storage.

Today the Raspberry Pi is available from Sim Lim Tower at S$55. It is a credit card sized computer with an ARM1176JZFS CPU running at 700Mhz, a Videocore 4 GPU capable of 1080p video playback, 512 MB RAM, USB and Ethernet ports, and SD card slot for storage and OS.

single-board computer developed in the UK by Raspberry Pi Foundation

Innovation and productivity makes it possible to be cheaper, faster and better.

According to one account, Lee Kuan Yew's salary in 1970 was $42,000 a year. Today a full minister like Grace Fu is drawing about $935,000 (her new pay grade after Gerald Ee's Ministerial Salary Review Committee recommended 37% pay cuts in 2012). To avoid embarrassing Barack Obama, courtesy demands that Lee Hsien Loong's remuneration will not be quoted.

Today, everything (houses, cars, education, health care) is more expensive, slower (queue for a flat, wait for a bus, appointment for a medical appointment) and worse off (over crowding, dilution of nation core, cost of living). 

Asked by Lally Weymouth of The Washington Post to comment on the key issues for Singapore, Lee said, "We have to negotiate a major change in our phase of development, from a rapidly changing phase to slower growth" because, "we can’t just expand our workforce without limit and constraint." He also said, "Previously, everything was orderly and predictable. Now there are many more voices, views and interests . . . ", an indirect jibe at the inroads made by social media in highlighting the many instances of misgovernance. Surely one can't blame social media for the 30.6 % plunge in non-oil exports reported today. So why are things not "Cheaper, Better, Faster (CBF)" as promised by labour chief Lim Swee Say in October 2009? It's not just the failings of innovation and productivity, the key is what Lee also said, "For a long time, we fought in principle against casinos. Finally, we were persuaded it’s big business..." When you forsake principles, the endgame can only be desultory.


  1. How do you know that Grace Fu, the daughter of ex-communist James Fu, is earning $935,000 p.a.? Are you not aware that office holders receive their 13month bonus and a performance bonus of up to 6 months`salary on top of that?

  2. Besides computers, I can think of only 2 other items whose prices have come down over the past few decades - air fares and eggs. For eggs, the prices have more or less been maintained at the same level, and thus real prices are lower now, after factoring in inflation.

  3. Poor Singaporeans pay income tax because of GST.

    Sick & dying Singaporeans pay GST tax on their hospital and Medicine bills.

    Children pay filial piety tax (maid levy) when they hire maid to look after old & sick parents.

    Parents pay children tax (maid levy) when they hire maid to look after their children.

  4. Red dot has long abandoned its ability to manufacture since 2004, the date of handover to the 3rd generation leeders. For the last 10 years, it has become an over-financialized economy where growth is driven essentially by more and more credit. While Korea and Taiwan will muddle through well without a credit bubble, Singapore essentially relied on easy credit terms to generate growth. The source of that easy and low-interest money was of course derived from hot money inflow, attracted by the MAS' "strong appreciation of Sing dollar" promise every 6 months. Same money which causes stubbornly high inflation on the sheeple despite repeated promises of "lower inflation in the near future" by MAS. Of course debt-fueled economies always end the same way - voodoo economics always plant the seed of its own destruction. Time to pony up sheeple, like Greece and Cyprus? Time to start thinking how to claw back the salaries from the scholars and princelings fu and lee and tans?

    1. Red dot's economy is driven by financial hot air bubbles and construction industry's hot air ballon. When they cannot think of other ways, F1 and casinos came into the picture.

      In manufacturing, we cannot compete anymore with China, Taiway and S. Korea. Even now, many everyday things also came from Thailand and Vietnam - printers, hair care products, cosmetics, baby products etc. Restructuring may bring in the higher value industries with investment in the billions, but they are almost totally dependent on robotics, not humans and so the jobs do not follow except for the few that is needed to mend the machines.

      They need to dig and build, underground, on the surface and up into the air to keep the construction industry going. When it ends, where will red dot go?

  5. So Grace Fu today is over 20 times more innovative and productive than LKY in 1970!

    "In a performance more reminiscent of recessions, non-oil domestic exports (NODX) fell 30.6 per cent last month from a year ago - on a par with the 31 per cent decline when the tech bubble burst in 2001 and the 35 per cent slide during the global financial crisis."

    Maybe a dose of recession is what is needed - this is the only event that can put a stop to Ah Loong's grandiose 6.9 million population plan. No more easy growth through population increase, but sustainable growth through innovation and productivity, a process more commensurate with this country's size.

  6. statistic does not lie, per se

    but data can be reviewed and adjusted to show the desired figures

    cum 2014 to 2015 ... will not be surprised to see a "remarkable" turnaround in those quarterly figures ..... yes under the astute and ability of the pap and her "reforms" singapore is on the road to another golden era

    oops .... general election is round the corner too