The Prosperity Problem


What does the government of a country which has reached most of its economic and social goals do further for its people ?

How does a government address the problems which come as an aftermath of prosperity ?

How does a government satisfy what appear to others as too much of a demand from a satiated populace ?

These are some of the problems and issues which arise in a country like Singapore or Hong Kong (to a certain extent), which have already comfortably crossed a GDP per capita of USD 50,000. Singapore’s economic output is not much lower than that of its large neighbour, though its population is only one-sixth. It is one of the top 10 most prosperous countries in the world today. Its wealth is not based on natural resources like some of the countries in the top 10. It is a result of serious planning and very hard work.

Of course, an inflexion point is reached some day which challenges the planners. Both in economic and social terms. And, that is the situation in Singapore.

While the citizens are wealthy enough to afford housing (the home ownership is probably the highest in the world) and other things necessary to lead a very comfortable life, the challenge is for the government to handle increased expectations of the people.

People who have reached this kind of prosperity also want the society to be more refined, culturally advanced and provide a mechanism for airing their wishes so that the government could hear them and provide solutions.

While such mechanisms are available in Singapore, and the government seems to be listening, people seem to be having short fuses and getting disenchanted on small things like the traffic and the immigrant crowds.

I believe that growth and prosperity are not entirely problem-free and people have to accept there will be some attendant issues which are obvious for most countries around the world. The government here fully understands these problems and is trying to address the same. But traffic is the result of more cars or more people trying to use public services. People have to accept there will be some delays……..other nations and people will die for what is considered normal livelihood in Singapore.

I see that the sensitivity of folks is becoming high and worse at public places, indicating a mild intolerance to others. This should not develop into a discrimination or anger at others. I see people do not follow the queues while boarding the MRT and sometimes one get pushed in or out of the train. People are becoming impatient…….

I don’t think it is government’s entire responsibility to fix such problems – people should take ownership and address these issues via forums available to them.

Food for thought…….

Cheers

Vijay Srinivasan
15th June 2013

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