How is this relevant to Singapore? What is the role of government? Read this article by Dr. Wong Wee Nam.
Role of Government
The poor will only get a fair share of the economic pie through a just re-distribution of income. The only way to re-distribute income is through public policies and laws. Unfortunately the problem is that most of the people who are in the position to influence, initiate or implement the changes are members of the tiny apex who have the largest share of the national income. Unless one is very altruistic, who would want to come out with an equitable system especially when it means affecting one’s self-interest? It is natural for anyone in this position to believe completely the virtue of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”.
Big businesses and corporations love to wave the flag of globalisation, free market and competitiveness. This is because the wages of the workers can always be kept low by making them compete against foreign workers that can be imported from the part of the world where many people are still hungry. They can easily wring concessions from workers with the threat of relocation. Conversely, no worker can hope to wring concession from the bosses with the threat of resignation or emigration.
The power of big corporations and businesses can also be be seen in Singapore. Thus when companies do not make profit, they can put pressure to cut the workers’ salaries so that they can still be profitable. If the profit is not attractive enough, they can exert pressure to bring down the corporate tax rates.
In the end not only do they pay lower taxes, the tax payers’ money that is used to produce skilled workers, good infrastructure and a safe environment for these companies will be raised through the GST that is paid by everyone.
In a just and equal society, the role of the government should be to act as a regulator to balance the needs of the people and the greed the big businesses. Its job should be to iron out any kinks that may give rise to injustice and conflict and to re-distribute wealth in a fair manner. Its policies should not favour one side or the other. It cannot play such role if it decides to go into business and become a Fat Cat itself.
For a just an equal society, a government must be able to control the greed of the Big Rats and trim the fat of the Fat Cats instead of justifying the necessity of their existence
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