We live in a community. Are we prepared to stand by and watch the weaker members of our society, including their children, go hungry or had a hard life? Or, do we want to help them, so that they also can have the hope of a better future?
Most people are generous and kind in nature, and will want to play a part to help the poor and the weak. This is where charity comes in, but there is also a selfish reason - if others have a decent life, there is no need to resort to theft or crime, and there is no need to have many criminals put into jail (which is also costly).
Mostly, people are poor as they do not get adequate wage and the cost of living is high. They will get into financial difficulty, if someone in the family falls sick and has to incur expensive medical bills. They may lose their savings through bad investments, or have been cheated by investment scams.
Some people are poor due to gambling, drinking and other vices - but they do not represent the majority of the poor. We can leave aside this problem for a separate discussion.
In a competitive world, we all have to work and compete hard to make sure that our business succeed. However, we have to balance competition with compassion. We should not push competition to the extreme, to the extent that other people (who may not be so smart as us) gets employed and helpless.
The European societies have a more proper balance in their lives. They pay adequate wages, have a shorter working hours and more holidays. They may be less competitive globally but they give a better quality of life to their people. They pay higher taxes, so that the ordinary people have better health care and old age pension. They may not be very rich, but they have better distribution of income and are a more caring community.
Recently, the Economist magazine carried out an online debate. 80% of the voters (probably from around the world) voted in favor of the European system of having more holidays. Many people feel that the competitive world force them to work too hard.
I prefer the European system (especially Scandinavia) of higher taxes, more social benefits, less working hours and a more caring community.
Tan Kin Lian
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12/27 - 01/03
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- A more caring community
- Singaporeans are able to see beyond racial lines
- Apply foreign worker levy to other jobs
- Treat immigrants fairly and well
- Community based loans
- Impact of December holidays
- Blind trust - there must be a reason?
- Pushing the buck around
- Morgan Stanley sued over failed $1.2 billion CDO
- Top priorities for the next decade
- Investment return, adjusted for inflation
- Financial institutions bet against their clients
- H1N1 - is it a scam?
- Y2K scam
- Approaching a new decade
- Affordable HDB flats
- Over production
- Expressing my views
- Loan shark menace
- Need for a minimum wage
- Hassle given to travellers
- Alternative to Travel Insurance
- A more responsive Government
- Bad experience with land banking plot
- The Talent Myth
- Talent and fat bonuses
- A good settlement mediated by FIDREC
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