Someone said that the selling of financial products, e.g. insurance, properties and investments, is necessary to create employment. Unfortunately, these activities are unproductive. They do not improve the outcome for the economy or lead to a better life for the people. They may create asset bubbles, which make some people rich. But, at a future date, the asset bubble will burst and many people will become poorer.
What are productive work? Here are my views:
- build houses for people to live in
- build roads and public transport
- more teachers to give proper education to the young
- more doctors, nurses and carers to take care of the sick and the weak
- more policeman to ensure security, law and order and reduce crime (including cheating)
- more people to work in restaurants and food courts
- more artists to provide leisure, culture, art, entertainment
- fewer bankers to manage the savings and investments for the economy
- farmers, fishermen, factory workers, retailers
We still need bankers, but we do not need an over-sized financial sector that is based on speculation and trading.
We also need to change the competitive system, and ensure that the available work is distributed more fairly. It is better to have more people working (for lesser hours), rather than fewer people working (for longer hours) while a high percentage is unemployed. We also need more people to have sufficient income, so that they can spend and create useful employment for others.
If people have more time and financial security, they are able to send their time on family, friend, art, culture and religion. They will then be willing to raise children for the future generation - a KPI that Singapore has fared poorly.
Tan Kin Lian
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