Taxi Drivers Freakonomics

In about two weeks, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam will deliver the Budget 2015 announcement.

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Here are some good ideas and not-so-good ideas of what we got while speaking to a group of taxi drivers at a coffeeshop one afternoon.

 

Question: What would you do if you were the Minister of Finance and have $1 billion?

“I will distribute the money equally among taxi companies to buy more vehicles so that there will be more taxis on the road.”

– Mr Lim Ah Siew, 56 years old.

Our thoughts: Right. If there are more taxis on the roads, it will be congested with the number of vehicles on the roads right now. Not very wise Mr Lim! How is your taxi going to move in a traffic congestion?

cpf

“If I got the money, I will put the money into the CPF account of every Singaporean.”

– Mr Tan Tee Hoe, 56 years old.

Our thoughts: Smart move Mr Tan! But you need to specify how you are going to do that. Not by asking every worker to increase their contribution we presume??

 

“I hope the Government can put more into pushing for productivity and innovation.”

– Mr Wee How Cheng, 45 years old.

Our thoughts: We agree with you! If we don’t improve on our productivity, we won’t have real wage growth among workers. We hope to see more being done for the push by the Government to improve productivity.

 

“I will build more neighbourhood parks around the island so that everybody can have a heathy lifestyle.”

– Madam Lai Feng Juan, 52 years old.

Our thoughts: We also say! But with limited land around the island now, we recommend you take a look at the URA’s Land Use Masterplan.

 

“I want more of my fellow citizens being upgraded in terms of their skills. So I will put more funds to have more facilities for continuing education.”

Ms Teo Siew Fen, 42 years old.

Our thoughts: Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s what we hope too! There are already 2 Continuing Education and Training Centres in Singapore, but we think that more won’t hurt!

 

“$1 billion not exactly a lot. So I will help to build more school for students to study in.”

– Mr Yong Guan Lian, 60 year old.

Our thoughts:  We agree! Our students are the workers of tomorrow, and if we invest in them, we hope that they can give back in terms of the good work they put in to build up our economy in future.

 

“I hope to see more funds channeled into re-employing mature workers.”

Mr Mohamed Firdaus, 38 years old.

Our thoughts: Let’s hope the Government will do what you suggest, Mr Mohamed. We are experiencing an aging population. So we hope that more can be done to make use of these group of workers to augment the workforce!

 

Question: Which area would you like to see the Government cut back its spending on?

defence

“I think the Government should spend lesser on defence equipment and assets.”

– Mr Chong Teng Wai, 56 years old.

Our thoughts: Singapore practices a right balance of deterrence and diplomacy. That being said, we build on defence assets to keep the country safe and peaceful so that our family members can sleep well at night. With the right defence assets, we can keep terrorism and aggressors at bay.

 

“I hope the Government can cut back its spending on building expressways.”

– Mr Lee Ah Yoke, 62 years old

Our thoughts: Mr Lee, we need expressways to help keep our moving. With more expressways, journeys can be shorter and smooth. That way, your own passengers can also enjoy a short and smooth ride in your taxi.

MRT Train

“I hope the Government can minimise its spending on building MRT stations.”

– Mr Wong Soon Huat, 63 years old.

Our thoughts: Mr Wong, we’re not sure what your agenda is. But the building of MRT lines and stations help to ease the journey of commuters and the public transport situation in our country. As we develop and more commuters take public transport, bus services and MRT lines have to be built to ease the travel load and time.

 

“I want the Government to reduce spending on building universities.”

– Madam Teo Lek Yen, 51 years old.

Our thoughts: Madam Teo, we’re a human resource-dependent economy and our greatest resource is our people. In order for workers to be better-skilled and trained to take on the working world, we need quality institutions that can prepare our workers of tomorrow.

 

 

“I think the Government should try to reduce spending on giving subsidies to poor.”

– Mr Tan Kee Fong, 56 years old.

Our thoughts: Aiyo, Mr Tan, subsidies need to be distributed to the poor to help them with their day-to-day living. Yes, we need to balance how much to give versus the lifestyle of the poor, but that should be left to the analysts and the Government to decide how much to give.

 

 

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Arthur Lee

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