When Singapore first started, it wanted to attract businesses. Low taxes, both private and corporate, sweetened the deal. The Government’s idea was to ask citizens to put money away for themselves. CPF was a kind of “self taxation”, so that you look after your own needs.
This served well for a country that was emerging from a third world. The cost of living was cheap, because we were a cheap country. Families were large and the bonds were strong. People got married younger and sadly, also died earlier. Society was different, the national dream was “1, 2, 3, 4” – one wife, two children, 3-room flat and 4 wheels”, it shows us what was attainable at that point in time.
Today we are not like that. Property is expensive; you will be financing this until retirement. Then you’ll have to pay for eldercare and childcare. Healthcare is expensive, maybe not consultation, hospitalisation and drugs, but certainly preventive medicine, consumables, tests and outpatient treatment. The barriers to car ownership is high price, you decide if you can afford it. And to cream it off nicely, we have become an extremely competitive society.
All this is fine for those of us with a job.
For those of us with a job, our motto is: “every man for himself”. Because of our low taxes, we have lost the understanding of what taxes are for. We now become selfish and self-centred.
We have our own CPF accounts, we have our own private savings and our own insurance. The attitude is always “why should I look after someone else who didn’t look after his own life”?
That sort of thinking is wrong.
There are a lot of people without sufficient savings through no fault of their own. Single parents, unmarried individuals, people without children. People without opportunity, people that may have been dealt a bad hand by life. Fate can chose to strike anyone, anywhere with a bit of evil and that is all it takes to send a person into a life of sorrow.
As a country, can we really look at them in the eye and say “why should I pay for you”?
The Government has a duty of care. They were voted, given power and they have an obligation to help its people – otherwise, what the hell did we give them power for?
But without income, how can any government render such help?
The primary, most sustainable source of money is through taxes. Without sufficient tax, they cannot build the infrastructure and pay the services. All the things that make life better to live: Pensions, eldercare, healthcare, child support, free transport etc, all this needs money. Not possible without higher taxes.
Yes, it’ll make the business of governing very difficult – but again, that’s what we voted them in for isn’t it?
We’re proud to be a low tax destination, but that comes at a cost and the cost is borne by the people of Singapore whom didn’t have a cushier job and an advantaged life.
The cost is sanity, the cost is a life spent in tears. The cost is decreasing birthrates, rising unhappiness, divorces, misery and suicides.
If better welfare can wipe away tears and bring some joy, is it not worth some consideration?