Saturday, September 21, 2019

Have an open mind towards democracy and communism

Quite often, I see comments in my Facebook page that reflected a narrow mind - anything to do with communism must be bad; democracy and free markets are good.

I wonder why are these people so dogmatic? Can you do some critical thinking before giving their views?

Improve productivity with better wages

I share this observation to show the importance of improving productivity by paying better wages to local workers. We should not ask for all work to be outsourced through the public tender.

WOTC - Should PMDs be banned from using the pavement?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 41% of the respondents want PMDs to be banned from using the pavement.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Will Lee siblings testify in court?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 31% of the respondents expect the Lee siblings to testify in court on the defamation suit taken by PM Lee against The Online Citizen. The other 69% expect other outcome.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Quora: China has purchased soybeans of 10 ship loads from America a few days ago. Is this a sign they wish to make a deal with the U.S.?

Y Sheen, former CEO Answered

The recent development is signaling potential deal.

Trump fired John Bolton, who has been the major force of implementing tough policy toward China. His policies are not working on China !

Right after firing, Trump extended tariff to Oct 15.

80% of the trade deal has been negotiated and agreed upon by both China and US.

The remaining 20% is the issue:

- US wants China to agree to abandon 2025 Plan, US shall be the sole technologies provider and China must stay at the low and mid stream manufacturing;

- US demands China to cut the state owned operation from 35% to 15%, and US must be allowed to have inspection on China side for the implementation of such compliances.

China has agreed to spend more money to buy US goods, mainly agricultural products, crude oil and natural gas.

China has informed US that China will NOT sign the remaining 20% which is soul selling agreement for China. China has the upper hand on many technologies fronts. State owned enterprises are playing the major role in China’s economy and taking care of own people for their medical and retirement.

US does not have any leverage to force China to agree upon the remaining 20%. So it is up to Trump to decide if US wants to sign the agreement or not.

WOTC - Should America help the protesters in Hong Kong

Wisdom of the Crowd: 93% of the participants in this survey said that America should not get involved with the protest in Hong Kong citing two reasons. The other 7% said that they should help the protesters.
See the breakdown of the votes in

Vote in wisdom of the crowd:

1. Your reaction - GCT failed to deliver the promised Swiss standard of living
2. What is the biggest failure for Lee HL
3. How will you watch the F1 this weekend?

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Quora: If China loses the trade war with the West, would it result in political instability within China?

Mas Miwa, Always interested, especially Asia answered.

You haven’t been keeping up. One of the reasons the US has economic stability is domestic consumption. China has been moving in that direction. It’s domestic consumption is now a larger part of its GDP than trade and growing.

“China’s economy today is driven by domestic consumption. In 11 of the 16 quarters since 2015, consumption has contributed more than 60% of GDP growth. In addition to becoming the world’s biggest market for online retail, the country now represents more than 30% of global market in luxury goods, automotive, consumer appliances, mobile phones, and spirits.”

For all the hubbub about the US-China trade war, trade is a fraction of China’s economy

If you’re hoping for political instability, won’t happen anytime soon. If anything, the US will have political and economic instability before China. Why do I say that? Several reasons.

First our national debt is climbing at over a $trillion a year and is forecasted to be over $ 29 trillion in 2025 if we don’t get a handle on it.

Federal debt of the U.S. - forecast 2018-2029

“In CBO’s projections, deficits remain large by historical standards, and federal debt grows to equal 93 percent of GDP by 2029. As the effects of fiscal stimulus wane, projected economic growth falls back below the historical average.”

The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2019 to 2029

Second, Trump has forced countries to band together to trade in currencies other than the dollar and to develop an alternate to SWIFT. If this succeeds, there is a good chance the value of the dollar will fall.

“The U.K., Germany, France, Russia and China have agreed to establish a special payments system to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran stemming from President Trump's unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, the Financial Times reports.”

EU, Russia and China reach payments deal to counter Trump's Iran move

Third, the Communist Party knows the only reason it has power is because the people view the government positively and headed in the right direction. If not, they know their ‘mandate of heaven’ is over.

“The Mandate of Heaven or Tianming literally "the will of the sky" is a Chinese political and religious doctrine used since ancient times to justify the rule of the King or Emperor of China. According to this belief, heaven which embodies the natural order and will of the universe—bestows the mandate on a just ruler of China, the "Son of Heaven" of the "Celestial Empire". If a ruler was overthrown, this was interpreted as an indication that the ruler was unworthy, and had lost the mandate.”

Right now, Xi’s rating is very, very high.

How to reduce public transport fares

The govt wants to increase public transport fares to match the increase in operating expenses. The commuters are unhappy about the fare increases.

However, I have to say that the commuters are not acting in a reasonable way. Why do I say it?

Singapore companies should learn to be fair to customers

I do not like the way that many organizations do their business in Singapore. They abuse their monopolistic position to impose high cost to their customers and adopt questionable practices to place a ransom on their customers.

I like to share this example.

New issues for voting

1. Will the individual protesters be targeted by the HK or China govt?
2. The US govt is in gridlock and is dysfunctional
Give your vote in

WOTC - Hong Kong protest

Wisdom of the Crowd: 42% of the participants in this survey expect the HK govt and the protesters to come to an agreement soon. The other 58% expect different outcomes.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - US China trade war

Only 2% of the participants expect the US and China to end their trade war and roll back the tariffs by year end. The 98% were not optimistic and expect other outcomes.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wisdom of the Crowd

Does the PAP give citizenship to maintain the Chinese ratio at 76%

A non Chinese asked for my views about the perceived policy of the PAP to give citizenship to maintain the Chinese ratio in Singapore at 76%.

I do not know if this is a correct reflection of the PAP policy.

Here are my views.

Quora: Why can’t Mexico be the new China, given the cost advantages to cheap manufacturing and proximity to the US?

Neo YI, B.A. Economics, Nanchang University (2012) answered.

My brother married a Mexican girl last year and I stayed there for weeks.

My trip to Mexico is one of the best memories of my life. I was intoxicated by the ubiquitous art of Mexico.

But I also see the economic differences between Mexico and China.

I think the inequality between the rich and the poor is a problem. At a certain stage in the development of any society, the rich will begin to abandon the poor. So the security and infrastructure of the rich communities are good, while the poor communities are much worse than the rich communities because of the lack of help.

The Chinese government is working very hard to help the poor. The Chinese government has a precise poverty alleviation policy. Every member of the Communist Party is responsible for a poor family and helps them find ways to develop their careers and make money and become rich.

In Mexico, as in the United States, there are many police in rich places and there are no police in poor places. In turn, the more chaotic places in China, the more police forces the government will deploy to maintain law and order. In my hometown, a small, 300 000 population, underdeveloped town, there was no murder in 2018. As a matter of fact, I have a cousin who is a policeman. He is very upset because he can hardly come across a theft. It's hard for him to get promoted.

In China, the police are the most reliable people. But I was blackmailed by the police in Mexico.

The security and stability of the social environment are essential to economic development. If the Mexican government can tilt more social resources and policies towards the poor and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, there will certainly be better development.

But then again, Mexico is really beautiful. Mexicans are happy, unlike the Chinese, always worried about the future.

I miss my Mexican friends. Hope can be there again.

How to tax the rich

Paul Krugman wrote in New York Times - How to tax the rich.

Whether or not she becomes the Democratic nominee, Elizabeth Warren has brought something new to American politics; call it the charisma of wonkery. “Warren has a plan for that” has become a rallying cry for her supporters — and she has also impressed many serious policy experts with the sophistication of her proposals.

But can she pay for her plans? Leave aside Medicare for All, on which she has been cagily unspecific (and is very unlikely to happen even if a Democrat wins.) Many of the other Warren plans, for things like universal child care and enhanced Social Security, depend on raising money by taxing the wealthy.

The model for that kind of policy is Obamacare, which dramatically expanded health insurance without either increasing the deficit or raising taxes on the middle class, relying instead on a surcharge that only affected a small number of high-income taxpayers. But Warren is proposing the equivalent of several Obamacares. Could proposals like her wealth tax actually collect enough to pay for all of that?

Even some Democratic-leaning economists have been skeptical. A few months ago Larry Summers and Natasha Sarin argued that the rich would manage to avoid or evade much of the Warren wealth tax, so that it would raise much less money than promised. (Tax avoidance means using legal loopholes to skirt taxes; tax evasion means breaking the law to hide income from the tax man. Both happen, a lot, in real life.)

But last week two of my go-to tax experts, NYU’s Lily Batchelder and David Kamin, released a detailed paper titled “Taxing the Rich: Issues and Options” that, to my mind, answers many of these objections.

Let’s be clear: Nobody serious claims that higher taxes on the rich would cripple the economy. That’s a zombie idea that has been refuted by evidence time and time again, kept alive only by the fact that billionaires lavishly reward people who push it. As Batchelder and Kamin say, there’s extensive evidence that higher taxes don’t even do much to deter either work or saving among the wealthy, in part because much of the .01 percent’s income comes from things like monopoly rents that aren’t determined by effort.

On the other hand, the wealthy are quite successful at avoiding taxes. The estate tax raises much less money than you might expect given how big modern fortunes are. Capital gains tax receipts are quite sensitive to the tax rate, suggesting that raising that rate wouldn’t generate a lot more revenue.

What Batchelder and Kamin argue, however, is that effectively taxing large fortunes isn’t impossible, or even that difficult. It only looks that way because our current tax system is riddled with loopholes. In particular, we tax income and wealth from different sources at very different rates, creating many opportunities for smart lawyers and accountants to make wealth disappear from high-tax categories and reappear elsewhere. Taxes without these loopholes, like Warren’s proposed 2 percent tax on large fortunes, would eliminate most of these tricks.

And here’s the thing: There’s a lot of money at the top. Batchelder and Kamin suggest that various taxes on the wealthy could yield several trillion dollars in revenue over the next decade, perhaps on the order of 2 percent of GDP. That’s not remotely enough to pay for Medicare for All, but it’s enough to pay for some substantial new programs, and it would have the additional benefit of gradually reducing the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a small elite.

So can we soak the rich? Yes, we can.

#HearMeOut - Stimulate the economy

What is an effective way to stimulate the economy in the light of the global downturn that is affecting Singapore? Read my view here.

#HearMeOut - Remove the dysfunctional policies

I describe the policies operated by PAP govt to be dysfunctional. It is causing harm and damage, in spite of its good intentions.

Read my views here.

Wisdom of the Crowd

1. How will new citizens vote at the general election?
2. How do you feel about the policy of the PAP govt towards new citizens?
3. Should undergraduates be taught the topics of dissent and protest?

Give your vote in

WOTC - Life for the elderly

Wisdom of the Crowd: 55% of the participants in the survey said that life is difficulty for the majority of the elderly as they have insufficient savings. 41% said that the majority are at the poverty level.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - How will angry voters votes?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 38% of the participants said that the PAP will suffer a drop of at least 15% at the general election. 24% said that the angry voters will not change their mind and will vote against PAP. The other 38% said that the angry voters will vote for PAP.
See the breakdown of the votes in

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Wisdom of the Crowd

1. Will America attack Iran in retaliation for the drone attack on the Saudi pipeline
2. Is the F1 racing good for Singapore?

Give your vote in

WOTC - Bleak future for young people

Wisdom of the Crowd: 98% said that the future is bleak for young people in Singapore due to the difficulty of getting well paying jobs.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Jobs for young people

Wisdom of the Crowd: 43% of the participants said that only a few young people are able to get good paying jobs and the majority have to struggle. Another 55% are less optimistic.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Monday, September 16, 2019

Make it more attractive for employers to employ locals

Singapore has a dysfunctional employment system. The workforce is 3.6 million of which 36% or 1.3 million are foreign workers.

Many of the local workers have to work as taxi drivers and private car drivers or take up part time job because they are not able to get a full time job. Many employers prefer to employ foreign workers instead of local workers.

What is the problem and how can this be overcome?

WOTC - Minimum sum for health care

Wisdom of the Crowd: 66% of the participants disagreed with the current practice of setting aside a minimum sum for health care for two reasons. The other 33% considered that health care savings should have a high priority.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Date of general election

Wisdom of the Crowd: 46% of the participants expect the general election to be held in December 2019. The other 44% expect the date to be in 2020.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Wisdom of the Crowd.

1. What was the biggest blunder made by PAP govt?
2. If Lee KY was in charge, would have have allowed the large population increase?

Give your vote in

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Critical illness policy

Dear Mr. Tan

I am wondering if I should also buy policies for critical illness. To be honest, I am quite sceptical about insurers as I have seen my parents screwed by insurers. I have been approached also to buy so-called savings plans that provide cash payouts after a certain number of years.

However, the insurer uses the words “projected” and “illustrated” to cover itself. I am aware of people who have been disappointed when the actual payout is much lower than the projected figure.

I am aware that many insurers refuse to pay out for cancers that are detected at a very early stage, and the agent said that there are critical illness policies that cover early detection but that these have higher premiums.

Here is my video about critical illness policy

Your parents are among the many people who have been disappointed with insurers. They promise good coverage at the time of sale, but are not so good when it comes to claims.

We need a better way to deal with complaints

I generally support the process that is being recommended in this report.

The aim is to deal with complaints made by patients against doctors for ethical reasons.

I find that the disciplinary committee had dealt wrongly with a few past complaints. So a change is necessary.

I need to add that the general manner of handling complaints in many aspects of Singapore life has been rather poor. So, this problem is not unique to doctors.

We need to learn from other countries about how to deal with this problem. They have many years of good experience.

We have been very slow to learn from experience in Singapore under the PAP system of government.

Should I buy an integrated plan?

Dear Mr Tan,
I watched your video about the Integrated Shield plan and who should buy this plan. I am in my late 30s and am working in a company that has quite a decent medical insurance coverage for its employees. I have been putting my money in short-term endowment plans and as expected, the insurance agent is trying to persuade me to buy Integrated Shield plans and critical illness plans.

If my company provides good insurance coverage, isn't it unnecessary to get an Integrated Shield plan? On the other hand, I understand that Integrated Shield plans cover pre-hospitalization and post-hospitalization procedures, which are excluded from Medishield Life. I also understand that Integrated Shield plans provide more coverage for cancer treatment than Medishield Life.

There is no need for you to buy the Integrated plan. You are just wasting your money.
You are already covered under Medishield Life and your company's medical coverage.
The pre- and post-hospitalization coverage under the Integrated plan is subject to its limitations and may not be necessary.
While the integrated plan does provide some coverage that may be excluded from your current coverage, the cost of the coverage is likely to be higher than the real benefit that you can get.
I would certainly reject the integrated plan, if I were in your position.

Quora: Why is Huawei allowed to do business with U.S. companies again, only a few weeks after the ban? Is Huawei suddenly no longer a major threat to U.S. national security? Was the ban just a political show and economically unsustainable?

Jona Arkenson, Android PC Psychology Spirituality Health Philosophy Guru answered.

Yes, it's just a political stunt by Trump.

If you noticed Trump's patterns, he CREATES problems, and then REVERSES it.. thus making him look powerful and in control.. and also makes him look like a “hero”.

The “government shutdown” was nothing more than a political stunt.. using government workers as hostage so that he could get money for his border wall.. but he lost the battle and reopened the government, which people thanked him for doing so and he blamed the Democrats for the shutdown.
Trump's “zero tolerance policy” separated kids from their parents and locked them in cages.. only to have reverse the policy later and then bragged that he was the one that ended the policy, blaming it was the Democrat's policy.

Trump was constantly threatening Iran for no reason.. cancelled the Iran nuclear deal and then called for a strike on Iran.. only to have cancelled it last minute, trying to make himself look like a “peace maker”.

Trump kept bragging that he's close with Kim Jong Un.. first called him “little rocket man”.. then the two of them became friends.. when Kim Jong Un and Trump met up to negotiate deals regarding lifting sanctions, Trump backed down and cancelled it… resulting in Kim Jong Un in continuing nuclear tests and making threats to bomb Guam which has significantly lost money from tourism as a result.

Trump's China trade war was nothing more than a DISASTER.. thousands of American workers and farmers were hurt by it, about to file for bankruptcy.. and then Trump steps in and BAILS THEM OUT using $16 BILLION dollars of taxpayer’s money to fix them.. once again, making him look like a “hero" saving the day and then blaming others for it.

And now we see Trump doing it again.. all to “show off” how powerful he is. Stopping Huawei which has become one of the biggest and most successful mobile phone company in the world.. it feeds his ego, knowing he can stop a big company from growing and causing “false problems” that weren't even problems to begin with.. fake conflict and then becomes a conflict solver.. or a false hero saving the day.. his supporters even chanted “Nobel” and wanted Trump to get the Nobel Peace Prize, thinking he was a hero and a peace maker by ending tensions with North Korea, however Trump is not realizing killer dictator Kim Jong Un is strategically playing him like a fiddle and Trump is only doing it for photo ops while Kim Jong Un gets benefits to continue his reign of terror. It's nothing more than a stunt.

Trump is also embarrassed that he LOST the CHINA TRADE WAR terribly, and the people suffering the most from this war are his own supporters which are now bankrupt because China stopped buying from them.. this was his way of showing false power over China. Trump knows NOTHING about business and has filed for so many bankruptcies.. and he's banned from loaning money from US banks due to his poor credit and inability to pay it back.

All of Trump's businesses were a failure and he's causing nothing but problems for people and himself.

My comment - the writer obviously does not like Trump.

Quora: What do the Chinese think about Trump and his trade war against China?

J Adams, lives in China (2015-present) Answered

I live in Guangzhou, what I sees is that most people don’t buy US goods any more. It used to be that everyone wanted goods made in the US and US brands. It wasn’t long ago that the iPhone was the number one brand cell phone here and GM was selling more cars in China that everywhere else combined. You could go to the Metro (grocery store) and buy American chicken and beef. American beer was very popular among the young and me too.

Today Chinese citizens are boycotting US brands, even knowing the brand is made in China. In stores US products have completely disappeared from the shelves, first meat and produce, now consumer goods. What Trump has done is alienated 1.4 billion consumers. It has also hurt me, the American products I could easily get before are no longer available, so I am having to switch to European brands. Not very smart on Trump’s part, but, he doesn’t seem to care!

Wisdom of the Crowd

How do you describe the performance of the current term of the PAP government
Give your vote in

WOTC: Election boundary committee

Wisdom of the Crowd: 52% of the participants find that the chair of the committee to draw the election boundary to fail the impartiality test, as he is the secretary to the prime minister. Another 41% object to the committee for other reasons. 7% support the composition of the committee.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Support TOC on the defamation case

Wisdom of the Crowd: 95% of the participants will give moral or financial support to The Online Citizen in their refusal to take down the article that PM Lee is suing them for.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Private property of a public body?

I was surprised to read a sign in the Yio Chu Kang swimming pool that states - "This pool is the private property of the Singapore Sports Council .... ".
Hello, what does this mean? The SSC is a public body, right? Do they own private property? If so, who can use their private property?
Is the private property reserved for their board members, or their staff? Surely, the swimming pool can be used by members of the public, subject to payment of an entrance fee for the purpose of upkeep of the premises?
Does this mean that there are "public" properties owned by SSC that are different from their "private" properties?
Somehow, I get the feeling that the elites who are in charge have a sense of entitlement.
What say you?

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