When you are a month plus away from hitting 23 (damn) you start to think about your more immediate concerns like a job and stuff. I am at the last stage of my education. Graduate in 3-4 years and move on to a good job. But this rat race is something so difficult to shake off and I wonder if it’ll ever be gone.
The central problem to this is comparable to communism and capitalism, and the fact that there is no stable mixed solution. The so called ‘mixed’ solution is a point constantly sliding between the two depending on the mood and sentiments of the ground.
I am not so sure if I want to remain in Singapore. This place is getting really highly saturated with over 5 million people in this little island. Geography explains spatial movements and one of the factors is over population. True we might not have hit the limit yet (I wonder how many storeys the tallest HDB building would have then) but people on the ground are starting to feel the squeeze.
That is just a superficial concern for the non-claustro centric. But things just get worse (if you’re the ground) or better (if you’re higher up the leadership ladder) when you look at education and jobs. The free market economy works on greed – what is termed as covetousness, a sin maybe but still the basic building block of every advancing economy.
That’s the issue isn’t it? If you want to be the best you need a country of likeminded people, striving to be better than others. You need competition, call it healthy competition, etc. Healthy for the economy but not really for your personal health. So that is how the rat race starts. Be better, study harder, work harder, work longer hours, outsmart, out-think, out-maneuver and before you know it, damn the best years of your life just flew past and you are staring at retirement (and then death).
Take it on the flipside, it is even more dire. No reward for being better, no competition, everything is back to the bare minimum level of accepted living conditions. Err, cough, communism. (But hey, life is on a much slower pace and there’s more space to relax)
The common solution is to run the country on a free market model and intervene to help the bottom-most group. In Singapore, we modify it a bit and encourage working by helping out those who are working from the bottom most strata. But as with every system, this is far from perfect. What we have bred is a bunch of elites who see the rest as leechers.
The funny thing is you can’t blame them. They have put in thousands of hours (and cash) into education and their careers. They get taxed and income is redistributed with the poor. Won’t they feel like they got leeched? They are not the government, they are the upper class who won’t really care about the rest of the country bar themselves and their families and it is perfectly understandable why they do so.
On the hindsight, the poor did not have the opportunities nor the means to attain such dizzying levels of income. It is not fair to them. So how do you fix this?
You don’t. Life is not fair, equality is an ideal, if not a joke.
In the long run, the problem will either boil over or the country would just adapt to change. Those less interested in the rat race and more interested in the non-dollars-and-cents measurement of the quality of life would move out of Singapore.
The highly competitive will stay and the competition level will reach to grand new heights / insanely retarded heights (depending on who you are). Bottom line, Singapore will continue to rise as a stunning ASEAN country in any category that can be measured with dollars and cents.
The goal of Singapore was set in stone way back. The Singapore story was that ‘our forefathers worked (extremely) hard to build what Singapore is today’. The story implied in my view is ‘you better do the same (and better) to keep Singapore moving up the ladder, of course benefits will trickle down as well’
If that’s your kind of thing, Singapore is the place for you.
If not, you’d be thinking along my lines and wondering if this miracle island is really a haven for you.
Everything balances automatically in the end.