Oxfam report is flawed and irresponsible

Not everything that has words such as “Ox” or “Bridge” or “Institute” or has statistics and printed in a book is correct, intelligent or even logical.

The Oxfam report says we are not doing “enough” to fix inequality. By their standards, we ought to be doing two things:

  • Taxing the rich more
  • Spending more on society

This is their benchmark. And this is the equivalent of a nuclear bomb. It is devastating and destroys everything in its path. Rich and poor.

This is why we are ranked amongst countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Even Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam is higher up on the rank than us. 

The ironic thing is, amongst all the signatories to the Oxfam report, I doubt even one has travelled to Singapore. Our Western counterparts love their travels to exotic Asian destinations where poverty is abound…so that their bias of a “poor Asian country” remains in their mind.

I doubt they have come to places such as Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to actually understand how these societies help their poor.

Fact: Those countries mentioned prior have been more effective to lift more people out of poverty, in a shorter period of time than any country ever had.

You see, there are two ways to close the income gap. Either you make the rich poorer, or you make the poor richer. The Oxfam method suggests the former. This is both economically and intellectually unsound. 

Instead, we have a system of “reverse taxation”. Our people are required to have money locked aside for their own spending. Any taxes collected from the wealthy is put to work and supplemented by investments through government investments (Temasek and GIC).

Instead of a nuclear bomb, Singapore has developed surgical weapons to attack and treat the problems where they are. Complex welfare, housing, medical and social programs take the money to where it is needed most. 

People routinely prove their bias under the cover of “science”.  The Oxfam report is one such example. If we use their system of benchmarking, we would become universally poor.

Oxfam claims to want to help people out of poverty, but these benchmarks are irresponsible and making their beneficiaries worser off. They may have the heart, but the route to hell is paved with good intentions.

If Oxfam is genuine about eradicating poverty, they need to come to our countries, study how we have managed to lift millions out of poverty in less than a generation and then publish those findings.

The following are other inaccuracies in the Oxfam report:

  • Insufficient social spending

“Spending on education, health and social protection is well below countries such as South Korea and Thailand.”

The report studies only direct government spending. It leaves social transfers, compulsory savings and social price pressure out of the picture. This makes the observation incorrect and shallow.

  • Singapore does not have minimum wage

This is flat out incorrect. The Progressive Wage Model incorporates both a price floor and a wage ladder that is sector specific. 

  • We don’t tax the rich enough

The report suggests that we have not taxed the rich sufficiently. To us, this is akin to killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. We do tax, but not so high that we lose our competitive edge.

  • Our taxes hurt other countries

Then that would be too bad for the other countries. Every nation wants to attract investments and wealth. Because what follows is industry and jobs.

The corporation is not the enemy. Poverty is. Think about that.

 

About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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