Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Pain in the land of the pink tickets
It just tugs at my heart every single time I read things like this. This place I call my nation because I hold the pink ticket to it, bestowed onto me when I was born.
This pink ticket which once was quite sought after, now being given freely, easily, up for grabs.
Not that I begrudge the freely giving away of this pink ticket (or the blue one), because I do hope to see one day, a world where there are no boundaries; where anyone can be anywhere if that is where their dreams are.
No, I honestly do not begrudge the freely giving out of pink tickets, but rather, the way this place has become because of the ways certain beings high up in the hierarchy has things being done.
Call me an anarchist, but I do not believe for one, that any person in this world has more rights than any other, especially in the areas of governance and policy-making. In my dream world, every single person has equal rights and there is no kingship, no dictatorship, no hierarchy whatsoever. But of course, such state of affairs probably would lead to chaos in the real world and so I do settle for at least a democratic experience.
But what do you call a place which states that it is a democracy when in actual fact it is nothing but an autocracy in disguise, and not a very good disguise as such!
It pains me to think about fellow people who like me, has got their pink tickets bestowed to them upon birth, and finding, as they grow and make a life for themselves, that this place which gave them their pink tickets, doesn't seem to love them very much.
It pains me a lot, thinking about those who struggle just to make $1000 every month, not because they are not hardworking, good, conscientious people, but because they are just not the types who get very good grades in school or whose parents could afford to send them somewhere else to get their paper qualifications. And they are just regular people like me and you who perhaps didn't manage to think of wonderfully creative ideas or strike it lucky and manage a success story of rags to riches.
They work hard, they really do. And the jobs they do are just as crucial, or even more so, compared to a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant. But what happens? In this nation, someone up there decides that it is better to get another person without the pink ticket to do these jobs because they come at a lower price. You see, to these people up there, the amount of money this nation has is an indication of its success. Not its people. No. Just the amount of money the nation has. You know how a company is being run? You make money, you win. Yes, perhaps it's better to call this place a company than a nation.
So these people who hold the pink ticket have to struggle daily for their jobs, which is being threatened everyday because those people up there thinks why should they have to pay more when then can get people in to work at a much lower pay. It is the fault of these people if they cannot become a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant. If you cannot make it, it's not my job to look after you.
Well, let me remind and challenge you up there once again. This is a nation. Not a company. And remember, being the leaders means caring about the nation (which includes its people) and you're not the freaking CEO of a freaking company which is trying to make the most profits it can.
So back to these people who hold the pink ticket.
Every single time I think about these people, my heart really curls up in pain. Imagine when all that you see ahead in your life is bleakness. These people have dreams, have aspirations, have love, just like anyone else. Many want to get married, have a family, make the lives of those they love more comfortable. But buying a house (and I'm talking about PUBLIC housing) means emptying their entire CPF savings with debts of up to 30 years. And there are many who cannot afford even after emptying their entire savings. And looking at the state of affairs now, when the prices of the PUBLIC housing is still soaring like mad, how can they ever afford it?
Having children? How much money does one need? And most parents also wish to give the best to their children, people who earns $1000 per month included. But how can they be sure they could do that when it is very clear they do not even have enough to ensure a comfortable life for themselves? How many people put off raising a family because of such worries?
And then the people up there says, it's your fault our population is declining. It's your fault we need to bring in new people.
And to attract new people to come here, of course we need to provide them with enticing treats. They can get our public housing too. They are allowed all our privileges too. Oh, but they do not need to serve the two years of national service, after all, they are from another country.
I honestly am not begrudging any foreigners here. They are largely, very nice people. And if it were me, I will grab at the chance to spend a few years away from my own nation and make as much as I can, give myself a comfortable life, and then go home and retire. Who won't?
Don't you see, this is not the foreigners' fault at all. Don't you see where the problem lies?
And look at the income structure of this place we hold our pink tickets to.
The information was taken from Singstats but I prefer the link above because I love his graph.
Now certain parts of this information has me very very concerned.
First, look at the 1st to the 90th percentile of the population. How much are we earning?
Then take a deep breath and look at the 91st to 100th percentile of the population and what they are earning. Excuse me, what just happened there?
Now, if you have the time, pop over to this BBC website where they calculate the amount of money you earn and where you stand. Now, you can calculate your own salary, but besides that, what I like you to do is to key in the figure $3875 together with the name of our country with the pink ticket.
This gives you the exact 100% of the national average earning.
Alright. So what does this mean? Pop back to this link and take a look. If you earn $3875, that actually puts you higher than the 80th percentile of the population. But that only means you earn the exact average of the nation. What? What happened? Recall our Mathematics we learned in school (I hated hated statistics but hey, apparently its knowledge has now proven useful!), the average only means the pay of every person added up together and divided by the number of persons. So what happened here is that we get a very high average because of the extreme skewness of the high income earners. What it also means is that we get perceived to be a very affluent nation with high income when in actual fact, more than half the population may be struggling to make ends meet.
Even those with earning powers at the 80th percentile may just be comfortably well off, without much excess in their income. Is this an affluent nation? Is this an inclusive nation? Is this a nation with a high standard of living? If we were to adopt Bhutan's GNH or Gross National Happiness Index, where do you think this place with the pink tickets would fall?
Idealistic I might be, dreams I might dream, I do understand it is impossible as yet (who knows, it might become possible one day in the future, I like to dream) that poverty is eliminated. But at this moment at least, there is bound to be some people who are poor, some people who live in poverty. But my point is not the total eradication of poverty as yet, but rather, the affluence of a majority of the population. If only 10% or at most 20% of the population is affluent, aren't we still a Third World country?
And before people start to argue, I know virtually none of the people in this land are dying of malnutrition, or freezing to death on the streets or things like that. Kudos to the leaders for doing that to our nation. This is something I do sincerely agree they did well. But if we as a nation are already at this level, simply comparing our affluence to not starving or freezing to death is only a regression if you get what I mean.
We are fortunate enough to be at this level of affluence, we have to look forward to the next. Now how many people can feel secure they will not be terminated from work in the near future, how many people can be certain they have a source of income that will enable them to repay their loans for their houses, how many people have the security to decide to pursue further studies for their passion and not have to worry about being out of a job once they finish their studies? Shouldn't this be the next standard for us to measure our affluence?
We may have a job, a source of income, but if that source of income is barely enough to make ends meet, or if there is always the threat that inflation will grow much faster than our income, or if there is the persistent threat of losing that job and that source of income anytime, I do not believe that is considered affluent. I do not believe that is a good quality of life.
Every single time I think about the lives of so many people out there, just like you and me, holding the pink ticket bestowed to them upon their birth on this land, the fears, the uncertainties, the endless striving, the hopes for a better life, and the huge obstacles in front of them, every single time I think about them, I feel their pain. Pain.
PS: we of this nation hold certain coloured cards as identification, thus the pink and the blue tickets.