Saturday, March 19, 2016

Message from Bernie Sanders

Sisters and Brothers -
I want to tell you about something that encapsulates so much of what is wrong with our economy, our government, and our corrupt political system. Then I'm going to ask for your help to stop it.
Pfizer is a giant pharmaceutical company based in New York City that has a history of overcharging Americans for prescription drugs. It's in the process of trying to merge with another company located in Ireland.
If the merger is successful, Pfizer would technically become a foreign company, meaning it could dodge around $35 BILLION in corporate taxes here in America.
Enough is enough. Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies cannot be allowed to evade taxes and rip off American patients who already pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
What Pfizer is trying to do is known as a "corporate inversion." In this case, Pfizer, an American company, is merging with a company based abroad. The result of the merger is a company with an address in another country – even though the majority of shareholders are still based in America.
Pfizer apparently doesn't want to pay the $35 billion in taxes it would owe in America. I don't think that's right.
No matter what, you can bet that Pfizer would continue to overcharge Americans for prescription drugs, too. Since 2014, the pharmaceutical company has hiked the prices of seven of its top selling drugs by an average of 39 percent.
Pfizer also charges 12 times as much in the U.S. under Medicare for these drugs as it charges in Ireland, where it’s claiming a new address for tax purposes.
All of this is the result of years of weakened tax laws, an abdication of responsibility by American companies to their country, and a corrupt political system that allows it to happen.
And I believe we can stop it.
Thank you for your support.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

Friday, March 18, 2016

Bernie Sander's website

I went to Bernie Sander's website, and registered. It asked for a ZIP code. I provided a dummy code to get through.

I receive several emails from the website. They were well written, easy to understand and professionally done. They are doing a great job.

Some emails asked me to donate to Bernie Sanders campaign. I wanted to donate. However, the website said that I have to be a citizen or green card holder, which I am not. I am also not allowed to donate through a US citizen, as that person has to certify that the donation is not on behalf of other people.

How to improve Medishield Life

Here are some suggestions on how to improve Medishield Life, while retaining much of its current structure.

1.  Pay 80% of the hospital bill in the eligible ward, and remove the deductible. The deductible is necessary to eliminate frequent and small claims. It does not apply to hospital bills, which are infrequent.

2. Impose fee controls on hospitals that wish to claim under Medishield Life. If the hospitals want to charge what they like, they cannot claim on Medishield Life.

3. Allow an option to cover B2/C, A/B1 and private hospitals at different rates.

4. Allow insurance companies to offer Medishield Life at the regulated rates. These rates should be adequate to cover the claims, expenses and a modest profit margin. It gives the customers a choice of their preferred insurer, based on their quality of service, rather than competition over different packages and rates.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Graduate find it difficult to get a job

I know of many young people who struggled to get a university degree and are not able to find a suitable job.
Many of them would be better off by working earlier and gaining the relevant experience, practical skills and good judgment..
The economy need more practical people with real skills. We have an over supply of people with paper qualification.

Get your condo ready for the next enbloc fever

This website allows the owners of a condominium to indicate their interest in participating in an enbloc sale. This particular page is for Thomson View condominium but other pages are available for other condos.
Click on [View Message] to see a special message that is addressed to the owners in Thomson View.
If you are interested to get your condo into this system, send an email to

Taiwan preferred not to follow Singapore's health care model

Singapore introduced Medisave, Medishield and Medifund during the 1980s. The government was extremely proud of our "3M" model and wanted to showcase it to the world.

Taiwan wanted to introduce a national health care system a few years later. They sent a study team to study the health care systems around the world. They also visited Singapore to study our "3M" system.

They introduced their national health care system based on the "single payer" government-funded model. They decided that the "3M" system was not good.

To my knowledge, no other country followed this model. It is complicated and confusing and wasteful. The health care providers, i.e. hospitals and specialists, had a great time to make a lot of profit from the system. Just look at the share prices of the listed medical groups.

Who pays? The people. Many people considered health care to be expensive and unaffordable. There is a saying in Singapore, "it is better to die than to be sick".

Each time I visit the public hospital, I get a bill to remind me about the wastefulness. The financial items, such as government subsidy through the various complicated schemes outnumbered the medical items.

The PAP government really loved to make a political issue out of every health care bill. They don't care about the waste that they are creating.

I prefer to see a total revamp of our health care system. We should get rid of the 3M model and follow Taiwan in introducing a national health care scheme.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Is anyone keeping track of bus punctuality?

On reaching the bus stop this morning, I checked the MyTransport App for the arrival time of bus 163. I was surprised that the next bus would arrive in 14 minutes and the one after that in 24 minutes.

I decided to take bus 86 which was expected to arrive in 4 minutes.

Two minutes later, I was surprised to see bus 163 arriving.

I suspect that the GPS tracker on this bus was not working and its existence was not captured in the app.

I had noticed on a few occasions during the past year that a certain bus was not being shown in the App, most probably for the same reason. I wonder if it was the same bus.

I wonder if anyone in the bus company or the Land Transport Authority monitor the movement of each bus to check their punctuality. Surely, if a bus is not transmitting its signal, it should have been noticed and the fault in the GPS tracker should be fixed right away.

I suspect that the nobody monitors the GPS locations, reflecting the low standard that exists in many parts of the Singapore system in recent years.


I prefer a government funded, single payor health care system

Will a health care system run by the government under a single payor system be more efficient than a system run by private insurance companies that compete against each other?

Evidence around the world suggest that the competitive private insurance model is less efficient and less effective. It lead to higher costs and inferior results. The system in America is an example of how bad a private insurance system can be.

Here are the reasons:

a) The private insurance system imposes additional cost in marketing and advertising. They spend money to attract consumers to move from one insurer to another. This is a negative sum game. It leads to higher cost and wastage.

b) The insurers do not add any value through their underwriting practices. They try to avoid the high risk customers and to push them to their competitors. They do not aim to find the most cost effective way of looking after these high risk consumers.

c) The insurers aim for a high profit margin. This margin adds to the actual cost of the health insurance coverage.

d) They find reasons to deny coverage to consumers, even though it should fall within their scope of cover, The consumer are usually ignorant or unable to take legal action against the insurer for breach of contract. This practice allows the insurers to increase their profit. It is their aim to get away with as much profit as they can.

The argument against a government funded model is that government officials are inefficient and the bureaucracy does not aim to improve the efficiency. This argument is largely untrue.

Most doctors and nurses will do their best to improve the outcome for the patients. They should not, and usually do not, prescribe medication unnecessarily. If some do, they can be easily spotted through the medical audit.

The consumers, or patients, may have high expectation from the government funded system. This expectation can be managed and handled through consumer education. The risk of waste is largely a propaganda by those who prefer a private model where they can make a good profit.

There is another argument that a private insurance system can offer more choice to consumers to find the coverage that best meet their needs. In practice, consumers do not know how to make a wise choice. So, this choice is unnecessary, wasteful and costly. It is also an avenue for the sales person or insurer to get consumers to pay more than necessary.

I am in favor of a government funded, single payor system. I doubt that the insurance companies can play a useful role and contribution to the health care system.

The disappointing results for Bernie Sanders could be due to the colleges' Spring Break

The results of the primary election on 15 March has been somewhat disappointing for Bernie Sanders. He was expected to do well, but lose quite heavily to Hillary Clinton in a few states, notably Florida and Ohio.

There was some prediction a week or two earlier that the elections will be bad for Bernie Sanders. This is the week that most colleges are on their Spring Break. The college students, who were strongly in support of Bernie Sanders, would be travelling on holiday and would not be voting. In earlier voting states, Bernie Sanders capture over 80% of the votes of young people.

At first, I thought that many of the young people would somehow vote, but it seems that many of them did not. This could be the reason for the unexpectedly poor results for Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump achieved great success in the primary election on 15 March. It will be a big disappointment for Bernie Sanders.

Quote from CNN:
Hillary Clinton will win the Illinois Democratic primary, CNN projects, on a night when she, Donald Trump and John Kasich scored major victories that reshaped the presidential race.

A big loss in Florida prompted Marco Rubio to drop his White House bid.

Clinton took big strides toward the Democratic nomination by winning Florida and North Carolina. And in a crucial victory, she stopped Bernie Sanders in his tracks in the industrial Midwest by taking Ohio.

The drama is still unfolding in tight races for Democrats and Republicans in Missouri.

The Republican Party veered closer to a historic contested convention after Kasich, the Ohio governor, held his own state and deprived Trump of its 66 delegates. That makes it more difficult for the billionaire to reach the 1,237 delegates he needs to capture the GOP prize.

Trump did, however, prevail in the biggest contest of the night, taking all of Florida's 99 delegates. The real estate tycoon also won primaries in Illinois and North Carolina.

Trump was already looking forward to the general election on Tuesday night as he urged party unity. But in a speech that served as a thinly veiled rebuke of Trump's campaign tactics, Rubio warned that the politics of division will leave America a "fractured nation."

Sen. Ted Cruz praised Rubio warmly and appealed directly to his supporters: "We welcome you with open arms."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Medicare for All vs Obamacare

Mr. Tan
Can you explain the difference between "Medicare for All" proposed by Bernie Sanders and Obamacare, which is the signature legislation of President Obama.

Medicare in the USA applies to seniors above age 65. All the medical fees are paid by the Federal Government, except for prescription drugs, which can be covered separately by private insurance.

Bernie Sanders want to extend Medicare to all eligible persons. Their medical fees will be paid by the Federal Government. This will be funded through a payroll tax.

The Federal Government is able to negotiate prices and fees with the hospitals, doctors and drug companies under a "single payor" system. The government is the single payor.

Bernie Sanders expect that the "single payor" system will reduce the cost of health insurance, similar to the experience in other industrial countries.

Obamacare is provided by private insurance companies. In theory, the buyers can shop for the best deal through the competitive private market, but in practice, the cost is higher than a "single payor" system due to the cost of marketing and profit margin of the insurance companies.

In short, the key difference is:

a) Medicare is run by the government as the "single payor"
b) Obamacare is provided by private insurance companies

The system in Singapore is similar to Obamacare, as it is largely provided by for-profit insurance companies.

Making a bus transfer and taking a break for breakfast

I missed Bus 163 (which goes direct to my office) this morning. Instead of waiting for the next 163, I decided to take bus 86. I dropped off and changed to bus 162 to my office.

As the transfer is made at the same bus stop, it was quite convenient for me.

Actually, I took a break to have breakfast at Ang Mo Kio before taking bus 162. The two legs are considered as the same journey, so I only paid a maximum of 90 cents for the two legs of the journey.

Singapore has to learn from America in its next stage of development


Actually, Singapore has been following America in many aspects of our governance and economic development.

Here are some of the positive aspects of "following America"

a) We achieved good economic growth and prosperity under the global economic system and free trade promoted by America.

b) We achieved a high standard of living and benefit from the modern lifestyle made possible by technology.

We also suffered from the bad aspects of "following America".

a)  We have high income inequality, among the worst in the word.

b)  We have a high cost of living which is too costly for most of the workers.

c) We have high cost of health care and high cost of education, but perhaps not as bad as America.

Bernie Sanders, a leading Democratic candidate, wants to introduce the following policy changes, if he is elected as President.

a) To reduce income inequality by introducing a minimum wage of US $15 an hour over a number of years.

b) To require the top 1% high income earners to pay their fair share of tax by removing the tax loopholes.

c) To introduce a universal health care system and free college education, largely paid for from tax revenues

Singapore should take the steps that are proposed by Bernie Sanders, to overcome the problems faced by the people of Singapore. These problems are similar to those faced by the people of America.

ZIP and postal code

A large country, the USA, has a 5 digit ZIP code. Singapore is a small country with with only 2.5% of the population of the USA, has a postal code of 6 digit. We are really #1. Hahahah.

Monday, March 14, 2016

More convenient to take a bus, rather than to drive

I have scrapped my 10 year old car and will not be buying a new car. This will save me a lot of money, but really money is not an issue for me.

I do not want to buy a car because I find it a hassle to drive and to park. I prefer the comfort of taking a bus and let someone else do the driving.

I will have to walk a longer distance from the bus stop to my office. It is a good exercise anyway.

Will the government relax the property cooling measures in Budget 2016?

The government faces a difficult challenge. Should they relax the property cooling measures? These measures have hurt the property developers and the banks and slowed down the property market considerably. Many property agents and conveyancing lawyers have also seen their incomes dropped sharply. A large number of property agents have left the industry.

If the cooling measures are relaxed, there is the risk of renewed speculation in property, leading for a further runup in prices. Already, these prices are at levels which are beyond the reach of most working families.

My guess is that the government will introduce measures that will help people to buy their homes, but will still want to see the prices maintain at their current levels. No more run off in prices, but no serious drop in prices either.

The government has helped the sale of HDB flats by increasing the grant for first and second-time buyers. This grant is also available for buyers of executive condominiums. Perhaps they may extend the grants to buyers of private properties.

They may also introduce some measures to help developers to tide over the difficult period. They may allow a longer time for developers to sell their new developments by reducing or removing the penalties for not meeting the deadlines for the completion of their developments.

Whatever action is taken by the government, the recovery in the property market will be slow and painful, for the developers and existing home owners.

Scrap a 10 year old car

I scrapped my Nissan Cefiro which reached the 10 year COE expiry date. I obtained $0 as the scrap value, as there is no demand for this model. It is quite sad, as the car is still in good condition. How wasteful.

I wanted to renew the COE for another 5 years at a cost of $25,000. However, I would lose the PARF rebate of $13,180, so the actual cost was $38,000. The government gave a PARF rebate if the car is scrapped within 10 years, but do not give the rebate if it is extended by another 5 years.

I approached two workshops to buy my scrap car for a few hundred dollars. Both of them on separate occasion, offered $13,000 for my car. This was lower than the PARF rebate.

These workshops are not honest by offering me lower than the PARF rebate. Fortunately, I was aware of the PARF rebate and declined to sell my scrap car to these two workshop.

It is wasteful on the part of the government to force the car, which is in good condition, to be scrapped. It is dishonest of the two workshops to offer less than the PARF rebate.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

PM Lee should think of the interest of the country

The elected MP for Bukit Batok, David Ong, had resigned unexpectedly due to a "personal indiscretion".

PM Lee said that he would hold a by-election in the constituency "in due course" and that another MP, Desmond Lee, would look after the constituency "in the meantime". Apart from looking after his own constituency, Desmond Lee is the senior minister of state for two ministries. Surely, he has enough on his own plate? Why burdened him with the task of looking after Bukit Batok?

It sounds like the by-election will be delayed for several months.

It is a simple matter and the right thing to do for the prime minister to instruct the election department to hold the election as soon as possible. After all, it is their job. The election department does not have anything else that is pressing for them to do now. So, why the delay?

If there is a burst water main pipe and the water is overflowing, we would expect the engineers to start work immediate to fix the pipe, rather than to stop the leakage "in due course".

If the PAP does not have a standby candidate, it must be a shameful state of affair. But they do have many standby candidates who lost the election in Aljunied and Hougang. Any of them would be suitable to contest the Bukit Batok by-election.

Is the prime minister trying to arrange some goodies to buy votes for the by-election? How deplorable! Does he think in the interest of the people in the constituency and of the democratic process in the country? Should he be playing politics at every opportunity?

I know that he has many pressing things to do in the country as the prime minister, for example, to deal with the forthcoming budget and the economic challenges.

But surely, arranging an election in the job of the civil servants and fighting the election could be assigned to any other leader in his formidable political party? He does not have to be personally involved in this matter. His job, as the prime minister is to set a date for the by-election.

The prime minister should do his job, and set a early date for the by-election without delay.

Members of Parliament and extra marital affairs

When the PAP leaders unleashed the mainstream media to attack Yaw of the Worker's Party over his extra-marital affair, they made a bad judgment that would come back to haunt them for a long time with its unintended consequences.

Why do I say this?

They could have asked the mainstream media, which is under their control, to downplay the episode, and said that it is a personal matter that should only concern Yaw's family.

Instead, they held the moral high ground and said that the lawmaker should be whiter than blue. Maybe, they did not realize that playing politics is never a good strategy for the long term.

They did not foresee that the same pressure and temptation would hit their own lawmakers. First, it was Palmer, now, it is Ong.

Why can't the lawmakers resist the temptation of the extra-marital affairs? Perhaps, it is the pressures that they have to face. It is quite demanding to be working day and night, to hold the job of a lawmaker and another full-time job, to be expected to be an angel as well, and be under public scrutiny all the time.

It is no fun to be a "yes-man" and not to have personal views except to parrot the official party line, whether you are blue or white. So, when a sympathetic and attractive member of the opposite sex paid some attention and lent a listening ear, it is easy to give way and have some enjoyment.

Looking at the ratio of white and  blue in our Parliament, and the pressures and opportunities available to the lawmakers, there may be more to come. Who knows?

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