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Singapore government response to "The Economist: The stingy nanny"

Read on below for a response by the Singapore government to an article published on The Economist: The stingy nanny.
Singapore government response
Feb 17th 2010
From Economist.com

SIR — I refer to your article “The stingy nanny” of Feb 13th.

Each society has to decide for itself the appropriate balance between unconditional welfare and self-reliance. Singapore has concluded that we cannot afford European-style state welfare, not because of dogma, but because our circumstances are different. We face competition from some of the most vibrant economies in the world, we have no hinterland or natural resources of our own to fall back on, and our future depends on being a dynamic and self-reliant people who strive our utmost to excel and create wealth for ourselves, our families and our society. Each generation must earn and save enough for its entire life cycle.

Our approach is based on time-tested values of hard work, self-reliance, family responsibility and community support for those in need. While we avoid over-generous welfare handouts, we have substantial state subsidies for education, health care and public housing. These are major investments that uplift the skills, promote the health and increase the assets of all Singaporeans. The result has been high growth, low unemployment, high savings and the highest home-ownership rates in the world.

No society has ever succeeded in totally eradicating poverty, nor in eliminating inequality of incomes, not even Communist systems. A generous welfare state, despite its theoretical attractiveness, is not a panacea. Singapore’s system is by no means perfect, but it has produced real results for the vast majority of Singaporeans, and enabled even the poor to live with dignity and hope. The burden of proof is on its critics to demonstrate that their proposals will in fact work, and improve on what Singapore has achieved, given our socio-cultural fabric and economic circumstances.

Michael Eng Cheng Teo
High Commissioner for Singapore
London

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