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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Dear Thomas Friedman: Serious In Singapore, But So What?

Abstracted From
Harvard Political Review
By Alastair Su — February 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm


Last month, Thomas Friedman wrote a glowing account of governance in Singapore. This, I believe, isn’t the first time Friedman has written positively of the nanny state; given the sorry state of U.S. government nowadays, the prospect of Singaporean-style authoritarianism does appear to be a reasonable alternative — except it’s not.....

     "America never would or should copy Singapore’s less-than-free politics. But Singapore has something to teach us about ‘attitude’ – about taking governing seriously and thinking strategically." .....

     "For America, the state is weak but the society is strong. Using its elaborate system of checks and balances, the whole project of American democracy is to try and limit the state’s power as much as possible."

     "In Singapore, it’s the polar opposite. The state is leviathan, intimately involved in directing every sphere of society. Singapore’s citizens willingly concede their political power, trusting the state to deliver economic success on their behalf." .....

     "The second concerns the use of monetary incentives in the public service. If you want to understand pragmatism in Singapore, look at the payroll of our public servants. The top 30 most handsomely paid politicians in the world all come from Singapore; and even though Obama governs a country with 60 times as many people than Singapore, he is paid about 10% of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (2008 figures) salary.".....

     "Again, I won’t go into whether I think this is reasonable (consider, for example, the size of our politicians’ paychecks with the fact that Singapore’s gini-coefficient ranks one of the highest in the world). My basic point is that this comprises a vital part of Singapore’s political infrastructure, and it thus has no applications for America.".....

"a vital part of Singapore’s political infrastructure, and it thus has no applications for America.".....

"Because America can’t learn from Singapore, it simply shouldn’t.".....

Read the full article at : Harvard Political Review.

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