You know how the whole CPF debate has been centred on the theme of “my money is my money” and therefore Government has no right to lock it away.
Even the Government, in its attempt to convince citizens of the goodness of CPF is bent on explaining CPF is really citizen’s money.
But who can deny the paradox. If you say it’s mine, give it back to me. Why can’t the intelligent Government get it?
But if we could just chew on it a little bit more. Is it really “my” money …
The problem with the idea or concept of money is that people tend to think of it as something that is static, like a piece of stone – if i keep the stone in the drawer, it’s there and when I open the drawer the stone can be taken out of the drawer. It doesn’t move, and it’s there for me all the time.
But we could also think of money as like a tree. Because unlike the stone that stays the same in the drawer, money doesn’t stay the same.
The value of money erodes over time, like a tree will wilt in the sun if it’s not given the right nourishment. The value of money is also subject to the elements of the economy, much like how a tree has to weather the elements of nature.
We therefore need to “nourish” our money if we want it to grow well, stay healthy, and produce fruits for us. Our money has to be able to withstand the rigours of economic changes.
And as with all things in nature, there is a time for everything. For e.g. we should not pluck the fruits when they have not ripen.
There is no point blaming the tree for not producing the fruits fast enough. We can’t actually blame the tree for poor yield when there are conditions it cannot control, like draughts or floods.
We most certainly should not uproot the tree, unless we are sure we’ll be gone before all the fruits have been consumed.
And if we are unable to finish all the fruits in this lifetime, is that really a bad thing? The tree will continue to benefit the next generation.
With the CPF scheme, the Government has given us the plot of land to grow our trees, and tends to the trees so that they can consistently produce 2.5% and 4% yields.
Government also tells us how we can enjoy the tree so that it sustains itself. E.g. the notorious minimum sum, is really like the minimum portion of the tree we should keep in order that it can sustain.
So can I say that the tree is truly mine? Well, yes, it’s my tree, but it’s not a tree I can pluck out and keep in the drawer. And I shouldn’t want to.