Monday, 26 December 2016

寻找(失落的)实体经济的感觉。


特兰普意外当选,英国脱欧意外胜出,甚至习近平提出的五大政策支柱,似乎说明人们在经济发展中,失去了感觉, 尤其是实体的亲身体验。

美国工人没有自豪感,白人中产阶级没有自豪感,英国乡土居民对环境没有感觉,但是对分担欧盟的财务责任却很有感觉。在中国,高房价,高消费也压得人民喘不过气来。

这种失落感,反映出人们急需寻找实际的感受,一种实体的经济,而不是虚无缥缈,没有实体的感觉。

特兰普要把制造业带回美国,搞国内基础建设,让美国人民有实体经济的感觉。

英国选民要独立自主权,不要受到欧盟的约束,回到“大英帝国”当家做主的实体感觉?

不论支持特兰普的美国选民还是支持脱欧的英国选民,他们是否能够如愿以偿,找回实体经济的感觉,现在言之过早。或许说,过去失落的实体经济是找不回了,但是,新的就业机会,新的工作,却要让他们有实体经济的感觉。对于大多数欧美日本的工人来说,有一份工作,在工作中有自豪感,然后努力工作,收入能够让他们过上中产阶级的生活,像80年代那样,这种感觉是他们向往的。这种实体经济的感觉是真实的。



(资本主义注重生产力和效率,机器设备,机器人将进一步被使用和取代人类,新的工作将产生,但是,数目,收入和质量会发生变化。因此,失去的旧工作,旧感觉,未必一定能够寻找回来。就像《联合早报》叫人找感觉那样,老一辈的读者,要找回《南洋商报》,《星洲日报》的感觉。而新的年轻读者不看早报,没有感觉。)




过去15年,中国加入世界贸易组织,成了世界工厂。这对欧美日本的工人来说,渐渐的就失去这种实体经济的感觉。工厂外移,工作消失了,往日的自豪感也跟着没了。中国的国家资本主义,一下子把整个经济的操作模式改变,因此,自由贸易,无限制的国际化,竟然对欧美先进国家不利,他们手中的绝对优势,快速的荡然无存。

现在,中国正面对“市场经济地位”的问题。欧盟观望,美日反对。无论如何,中国已经成了世界第二大经济体。而且,中国国内,在高度经济发展后,在贫富悬殊的背景下,人民也要求实体的经济体验。如果人们工作了几十年还是没有房子住,医药没有保障,老年没有依靠,他们就会失去耐性了。邓小平的“让一部分人先富起来”,总不能让人民一辈子在等待让其他人先富起来。

事实上,中国已经不把经济成长率当成一个指标。而是更加的注重实际的民生问题。在习近平的五大政策支柱中,其中社会政策要托底,要保障群众的基本生活。这就是实体经济的表现。

中國評論新聞:三個“五”——習近平供給側改革的頂層設計.png

资本主义的发展,不论是西方还是中国的那一套,往往都会造成很多虚虚实实的东西。金融业是虚还是实?实的部分,如实体的银行,金融公司,虚的网上交易,却不是人人感受到。当美国人,欧洲人看到国家动用这么多钱来解救金融危机中的银行,证券银行时,他们看到的是实际的媒体发布的援救数目字。他们担心的是自己的税务负担,而不是金融危机在他们看来虚虚的东西。

如果我们把特兰普的胜利和英国脱欧成功,简单的看成是“民粹”行为,而忽略了人们对实体经济的感受和感觉,那很可能就会出现误会,误判。即使2017年欧洲选举出现变数,也很可能是民生问题,实体经济的感受出问题。下面这个视频,或许能够让你进一步了解实体经济:





有关民生的实际感受,也可以从东亚文化,汉字文化圈看出不同国家地区人民的感觉。实体经济如果给人的感觉是正面的,就不会出现贪,苦,变,规,金等汉字,《君舟民水》的成语更是一针见血说出人民的心声。

2016年度汉字代表:
中国:(国内)规  (国际)变
台湾:苦
马来西亚:贪
新加坡:变
日本:金
韩国: 四字成语 《君舟民水》
”君舟民水“一词原见《荀子•哀公》篇,意思是古代的君主就像船,老百姓就像是水,水可以载舟,也可以覆舟,隐含的意思是老百姓可以扶持你做君主,也可以推翻君主。

“金”字中选的理由很多,包括今年在里约奥运,很多日本选手夺金牌、前东京都知事舛添要一因政治资金问题(政治与金钱)下台、美国大联盟日籍球星铃木一朗达成3000支安打纪录等登上“金字塔”、洗脑神曲“PPAP”的主唱人PIKO太郎身上穿着金色衣服等。
http://www.chinanews.com/gj/2016/12-12/8091359.shtml

Monday, 19 December 2016

The Feeling of WP Redundancy Insurance Proposal


The Workers’ Party has just proposed a redundancy insurance for Singapore workers.

All proposals have their pros and cons and are subject to debates and improvements.  

WP_Redundancy Insurance Proposal 2016_301116_v06.png


If our unemployment and underemployment levels remain low, as in the past, majority of Singaporeans may have no concern of this proposed redundancy insurance (RI) scheme.  However, if the employment situation worsens, like in 1985, more may show their concerns.  And hopefully, the PAP government can do another magic to reform the economy accordingly.     

What if the PAP government can’t do the magic? Then, who  knows what the outcome will be….

Even with more people showing concerns for short-term financial assistance proposed by WP, it does not mean voters will favour the oppositions.  

[The Issue of Marginal Increase]
Redundancy benefit, other short-term financial support or similar assistant scheme can be easily implemented during economic crisis. If there is a large scale unemployment, the PAP government can even draw on the reserve. At the end, voters still thank the PAP for their wonderful recovery job.   

As for normal case,  as indicated in the proposal, a range of 6,000 to 15,000 workers as indicated in the proposal will be affected. Majority of the workforce will not be affected. So, we are talking about the ‘marginal increase’.

This marginal increased redundancy workers will be benefited from the scheme. Will they make a big impact during elections?     

Singapore GINI coefficient index is always above 0.40. In 2015, it was 0.41. Will the RI scheme help to lower the inequality GINI index to below 0.40? Perhaps, there is no effect at all or a very small drop but still above 0.40.

So, who really cares about the RI scheme? A small group of people benefit from the insurance scheme but majority will not show any concern.

The irony in Singapore is schemes like RI scheme, disadvantaged benefit (e.g. the Paralympic), only affect small group of people. But the oppositions and social activists are campaigning very hard for social justice and equal society and they would like to see more schemes and better treatments extend to this marginal group.    

However, their efforts can only result to a very small marginal improvements, just like the case of GINI index.

In the PAP’s cost-benefit calculation, it is not a win-win situation. The important thing is to create jobs and not giving protection to redundant workers.  

Our Kiasu and kiasi mentality, through long-term PAP education, has developed into ‘Self-serving Bias’ and ‘Just World hypothesis’. Most likely, this mentality will make Singaporeans show no concern of WP proposal.

‘Self-serving Bias’

The PAP says there is no free lunch. For self-serving bias, it is a tendency to attribute our positive outcomes to internal causes and our negative outcomes to external causes . It seems so simple - if you do good, you say it was all you. If something bad happens, you find something external to wag your finger towards.

A self-serving bias is any cognitive or perceptual process that is distorted by the need to maintain and enhance self-esteem, or the tendency to perceive oneself in an overly favorable manner.[1] It is the belief that individuals tend to ascribe success to their own abilities and efforts, but ascribe failure to external factors.[2] When individuals reject the validity of negative feedback, focus on their strengths and achievements but overlook their faults and failures, or take more responsibility for their group's work than they give to other members, they are protecting the ego from threat and injury. These cognitive and perceptual tendencies perpetuate illusions and error, but they also serve the self's need for esteem
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-serving_bias

We believe if we work hard we will be rewarded. Our success is through our working hard or smart minds. We think of individual effort rather than group effort or environment support . However, when redundancy knocks at you, you blame the external factors. If you look at the MRT breakdowns, the detention of SAF vehicles in Hong Kong, all these are the results of external factors. We serve ourselves internally but when crisis or short-term financial difficulty arises, we don’t know what to do. We don’t know how to serve our ‘esteem’ need.    

‘Just World Hypothesis’

Another reason for no concern of WP proposal could be the ‘Just World Hypothesis’. We have a fair and equal employment system here, something must be wrong with you if you are made redundant - either you are not internally working hard, not upgrading skills, or have poor attitude.    

According to the hypothesis, people have a strong desire or need to believe that the world is an orderly, predictable, and just place, where people get what they deserve. Such a belief plays an important function in our lives since in order to plan our lives or achieve our goals we need to assume that our actions will have predictable consequences. Moreover, when we encounter evidence suggesting that the world is not just, we quickly act to restore justice by helping the victim or we persuade ourselves that no injustice has occurred. We either lend assistance or we decide that the rape victim must have asked for it, the homeless person is simply lazy, the fallen star must be an adulterer. These attitudes are continually reinforced in the ubiquitous fairy tales, fables, comic books, cop shows and other morality tales of our culture, in which good is always rewarded and evil punished.
https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/the-just-world-theory/

The PAP has created an ‘orderly, predictable and just place’. There is nothing to worry if one is made redundant. The government has replacement plan, re-training and re-skilling policy, and even financial assistance. Through controlled media, this is the projected image for a ready government.  

Last night, a NTU staff spoke at 95.8 radio about a self-help story of a disadvantaged student. The staff emphasized so much of internal factors -self-serving bias. The student, despite of physical disadvantages, has to overcome many physical obstacles, environmental inconveniences etc, even his father has to resigned to help him to complete his study.  The story wants to stress the ‘internal factors of a hard working student’.  The story can be made perfect with first an apology from NTU by saying sorry for providing such an inconvenience study environment for disadvantaged students. The story emphasizes too much of ‘self-serving’ and internal factors.        

Singaporeans are in a state of ‘Self-serving Bias’ and ‘Just World hypothesis’. We believe in internal factors for success and strongly trust that the PAP has created a ‘Just World’.  

[The issue of Donald Trump and Brexit]

The PAP blame populist politics for the success of Donald Trump and Brexit. By saying that, it serves them well. In a ‘Just World’, the PAP, with a full control of internal factors, can generate success systematically. The PAP, therefore, suggests populist politics destroys ‘Self-serving bias’ and ‘Just World Hypothesis’ - the foundation of PAP implanted kiasu and kiasi mentality.

Populist politics can be left, right, center or either:

Academic definitions

Historically, academic definitions of populism vary, and people have often used the term in loose and inconsistent ways to reference appeals to "the people," demagogy, and "catch-all" politics. The term has also been used as a label for new parties whose classifications are unclear. A factor traditionally held to diminish the value of "populism" as a category has been that, as Margaret Canovan notes in her 1981 study Populism, populists rarely call themselves "populists" and usually reject the term when it is applied to them, differing in that regard from those identified as conservatives or socialists.[4]
…..
In the United States, populism has generally been associated with the left, whereas in European countries, populism is more associated with the right. In both, the central tenet of populism—that democracy should reflect the pure and undiluted will of the people—means it can sit easily with ideologies of both right and left. However, while leaders of populist movements in recent decades have claimed to be on either the left or the right of the political spectrum, there are also many populists who reject such classifications and claim not to be "left wing," "centrist" or "right wing."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populism#Political

Trump and Sanders - who is populist?
Isaac Chotiner: Do you see Trump as a populist?
Michael Kazin: Trump expresses one aspect of populism, which is anger at the establishment and various elites. He believes Americans have been betrayed by those elites. But the other side of populism is a sense of a moral people, people who’ve been betrayed for some reason and have a distinct identity, whether they are workers, farmers, or taxpayers. Whereas with Trump, I don’t really get much of a sense of who the people are. Of course journalists say he’s talking mostly to white working-class people, but he doesn’t say that. And that’s, in some ways, what’s missing in Bernie Sanders’ populism, too. He took up calls about the 99 percent and so forth, but you expect a socialist to talk about working people, and he doesn’t do that very much. That’s a very interesting absence from both left and right populism today.
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2016/02/is_donald_trump_a_populist.html

It is just a general statement. The PAP likes to use generalised statements to confuse Singaporeans the meaning of ‘Populist Politics’.  

Whether Donald Trump or Brexit, before voting, there were already substantial support for them - more than 40 or 45% national support.   

If they can gain additional 5-10% support through ‘marginal increase’ - conservative, traditional, anti-foreigners, anti-immigration, anti-establishment, …. They have a good chance to achieve their success.

We look at the marginal increase or decrease in the UK and US votings.
  • Obamacare: fail to generate marginal increase for the Democratic.
  • Benefit of EU: fail to generate marginal increase for Cameron.
  • Jobs: succeed to generate marginal increase for Trump and Leave Camp.
  • Sovereign states: succeed to generate marginal increase for Trump and Leave Camp.

HOWEVER, the case in Singapore is so much different. There is a lack of substantial support for the oppositions - below 40%. It diminishes the potential gain from marginal increase. For example, another 5-10% swing, even with the wrongly named PAP ‘populist politics’, the oppositions in Singapore may gain nothing. The case of Trump and Brexit is a different issue.       

[A beautiful proposal but not enough]

Hence, the WP RI scheme is a beautiful proposal. It generates marginal increase of interest for social justice, fair and equal society. It provides a short-term financial assistance to needy workers and their families. Technically, it is subject to improvements as experts are needed to add more inputs.

However, few Singaporeans will show concerns for such a scheme.    

In the past 50 years, Singaporeans who voice out for social justice, democracy, individual rights, freedom of speech, are subject to all kinds of ‘populist’ or ‘anti-populist’ politics treatments - ISA, defamation, now even extend to social media.

The WP proposal is just another moderate way of such expression.

If it gains popularity, the PAP can then bad name it as ‘populist politics’. The PAP can also absorb it into their programs as another fulfillment of the ‘populist politics’ demand.

However, with ‘self-serving bias’ and ‘just world hypothesis’ mentality, Singaporeans will still prefer the PAP type of ‘populist politics’. The PAP can be a party of left, right, and center and implements policies according to ‘populist politics’ demand. In Chinese, we call it ‘eat all’ party (大小通吃).

In such a ‘eat all populist politics’ situation, should the oppositions come with alternative proposals?

Yes.     

There will be a time the marginal increase becomes absolute increase. The ‘eat all’ situation will change to a fair competition.  And the PAP can no longer manipulate and have monopoly control of the ‘populist politics’.

It is a matter of time but with a question mark of when.  But the oppositions must keep on trying and coming with new alternative proposals. Perhaps, there is one that can generate a populism. 

Sunday, 11 December 2016

不再分发免费中文报,是啥意思?



IMG_20161202_100454.jpg
从《我报》到《MyPaper》代表了始乱终弃的价值观。

从12月起,免费分发中文报的时代在新加坡已经结束。《我报》这份免费的中英文报正式走入历史。这意味着什么?

  • #免费的中文报继续,会直接影响联合早报的销路?
  • #年轻读者不看中文报,即使免费也没人阅读?
  • #人民行动党不需要免费中文报传递信息,现有中文媒体和广播已经能够满足这个需求?
  • #相对于英文报的影响力,其他语文报纸的影响力,已经式微,边缘化?免费中文报变成多余产品?
  • #从商业考虑,《今日报》的英文报老二地位,威胁报业控股的营收?因此,有必要利用《新报》来抗衡?

IMG_20161207_111355.jpg
《新报》对抗《今日报》显现华文的边缘化。

新加坡媒体是一个受到保护和控制的行业。人民行动党政府,可以很容易的保护媒体,通过保障出版权、广播权,甚至让报纸、媒体公司发展产业投资来增加收入;又或者大量增加官方津贴,来维持媒体的生存和发展。

因此,如果免费分发中文报能够起到一定的政治宣传目的和作用,即使是亏本,报业控股也是可以继续亏本下去。反正,只要为行动党服务,回报是一定有的。更何况报业控股的大股东也不会有什么意见,大家都明白这个游戏规则,又何必为这些小钱而烦恼呢!

难不成,新加坡会找不到媒体人来为免费中文报工作吗?新加坡的中文文字工作者,只是足够供应给三家中文报吗?这当然是不太可能,即使真的如此,我们大可引进人才?

免费中文报,大可停办三、四年。甚至也可以永久性停办。反正,未来三、四年也不会出现大选。明年的总统选举,大局基本上已经安排好了,不论有选举还是直通车,应该不会出现什么变数。所以,报纸媒体的功用,大致也是如此。或许说,为何报业控股在今年可以裁员,甚至未来两、三年都可以裁员。反正,没有选举宣传的大任务在身,精简一下,让股东高兴一下也好。

行动党也可以借这段时间来考虑免费中文报的功用。同样一笔钱,放在网络上,社交媒体上,甚至直接派送到家、上门宣传可能比免费中文报来的更加有效?

事实上,老一辈习惯阅读中文报的人,还是会付费阅读中文报,而不阅读报纸的人,依然不会花钱买报纸。新加坡本地人读者人数,大致如此,边际效应接近零。

《我报》从单语的中文报,演变成中英双语的《MyPaper》,再发展到今天的单语的英文报《thenewpaper》,这里面的变化,代表了什么?华文功用的式微、消失?在行动党眼中,这是现实的考虑吗?还是,商业考量?还是。。。

或许,这就是行动党衡量华文,华族传统价值的写照?

Saturday, 3 December 2016

A Conspiracy Allowing A Total SAF Withdrawal From Taiwan?


Could the recent seizure of Singapore Armed Forces infantry vehicles be a conspiracy between Singapore and China? The aim is to find excuse to a total withdrawal of SAF training in Taiwan.  

I wish this is the case.

However, it seems not the case.

Singapore side wants to keep the old ties and refuses to give up the old friendship. We even ask Hong Kong Customs for reasons that result to the detention. It seems Singapore does not want to take part in this conspiracy. We have also no intention to withdraw SAF trainings in Taiwan.

Domestically, Singapore government wants to project herself as a victim and at the same time, to defend our position as a trusted middleman - ‘Singapore has a long record of being an honest broker, good friend and constructive collaborator’. #1

The PAP government is telling Singaporeans we have done no wrong and we are doing the same old practice of bringing back military equipment from Taiwan, using commercial shippers. In some ways, the government is trying to divide the country again. She wants support from Singaporeans in time of crisis because as an honest broker Singapore cannot be wrong. Those Singaporeans who question and double about the reasons given by the PAP government are anti-Singapore.

In 1997, late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew had to make an apology for describing Johor State as a place  “notorious for shootings, muggings and car-jackings.”

Lee Kuan Yew: an apology


The furore caused by Mr Lee's comments was remarkable in a region that makes a virtue of being tactful to the point of coyness about neighbouring countries and their leaders. There were demonstrations in Malaysia in which protesters called Mr Lee “senile” and a “bloody idiot”. Newspapers broadened the attack to Singaporeans as a whole, for their “pride and arrogance”, and contributors to Internet discussion groups threatened to “reclaim the little dot” of Singapore.
http://www.economist.com/node/145759

Ask yourself if there were no apology and a war broke out between Singapore and Malaysia then, what would you do? Support the government or question the government.

The recent SAF infantry vehicles incident is different from the LKY apology. However, the government has the duty to protect the safety of SAF soldiers in Taiwan. With new Democratic Progressive Party government, man-made and self-made new external and internal shocks have emerged in Taiwan. And Chinese Air Force is making round trip cycling Taiwan. The irony is DPP is very different from the nationalists KMT. Is DPP an old friend? Or is DPP considering the PAP an old friend?

In a pragmatic way, as practical as the PAP, we have other options for SAF trainings. A total SAF withdrawal from Taiwan is a workable solution. But it seems the PAP government is using this as another ‘patriot’  exercise.

This is not a groundless conspiracy theory. It can be a win-win for both China and Singapore.   

So far, the responses from Singapore government is very inflexible and sometimes even not so diplomatic. The discussion between APL-the shipper and Hong Kong Customs is just the front.  Perhaps, it is just to satisfy Singaporeans for domestic political purpose.

If we read the newspaper reports, it seems our foreign affairs and diplomats have little Chinese wisdom.

Maybe they should look at Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and how he reacts when Donald Trump was declared the winner of the US Presidential Election.  

君子豹变.png

Interestingly, Shinzō Abe uses the Chinese wisdom of Yijing (Hexagram 49) to explain the situation of TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) in parliament. He also immediately arranged and flyed to New York to meet Donald Trump. When asked if TPP is not workable, what would he do? His reply is Japan may have to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).   

‘君子豹变’ is from Hexagram 49:
Above 6: The noble one changes like a leopard, small men shed the skin of the face. To set things right: pitfall. Settling-down determination: auspicious.
(http://www.yijing.nl/i_ching/hex_49-64/hex_e_49.htm)

The purpose of the Abe-Trump meeting in New York is Abe tried to convince Trump to change his mind on TPP. He hopes Trump can be a gentleman (noble one changes like a leopard) and agrees to support TPP. However, if you understand Yi-jing, there is also a possible of further change (bian gua 变卦).  This is why Abe said Japan may have to join RCEP.  If you can not convince others to change, then you have to change.
 
Abe may not fully understand Yijing and Chinese wisdom. But he is willing to change, from TPP to RCEP when Trump says no to TPP.  

The situation among China-Singapore, China-Taiwan, and Singapore-Taiwan has changed a lot. Is the PAP government ready for the change and the new reality?    

#1
http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/putting-terrex-issue-in-perspective