Not many political discussions make it to my blog, but I think this one is worth blogging about since this actually sparked off a long discussion on Facebook.

Wife’s friend said the problem is not with how CPF works but with Singaporeans not knowing how to age gracefully. I totally agree with this.

There are many opinions on whether CPF is a good or bad system. Some say it is good because it forces Singaporeans to save and controls their spending during retirement, some say it’s bad because the lower income will have no CPF to start with and they are left to die, some conspiracy theories say we don’t really know if CPF even has enough money to pay out with our aging population.

Nevermind the speculation. Let me talk about retirement.

Retirement is a common misconception that most of us have; most people expect to work till the so-called retirement age and then all of a sudden they retire and stop working. This is the very reason why some of you have your old folks telling you things like “(they) have fed you for the past 20 years, it’s time for you to pay back.”

I’m not against filial piety, but expecting your child to feed you through your retirement isn’t the right mentality either. A lot of people I’ve seen suffer precisely because of their warped idea of this ancient Chinese virtue – their parents decided that it’s time to retire because their children are now working and that they should be given a (hefty) monthly allowance so they can go and play mahjong, visit the casino, buy alcohol and smoke weed when their children have just barely started with their career and are still paying off their study loans. Is this right?

People say that they worry for their future generations – that they will not be able to afford a flat, keep up with the education system and adapt to the rising costs of living in Singapore. If we continue to have such a mentality living dollar-to-dollar, spending all our money saying that we live only once, and hoping our children will one day make tonnes of money and turn you into a full-time Tai Tai, how are we helping our children ourselves by doing this to them, let alone allow our government to help us?

I empathize with the people who are not poor by choice but poor by circumstance, but I have seen too many people poor by choice, i.e. they don’t know how to save, spend all their earnings, refuse to work, or just gamble their money away. These are the very people who just blatantly pick any topic and blame the government for their current poor state.

Get this right guys – no government can solve this problem. If for example Singapore ceases the CPF system and start feeding and caring for these people who are “poor by choice” then the tax payers will have to bear the high taxes – typically in excess of 30% as seen by most developed nations with such schemes. Or if for example we have a minimum wage scheme, people will become unemployed as they are priced out of their value (thanks Prof Ben – insightful discussion).

If you have worked hard for your money and you pay 30% tax just to feed these people, will you be angry?

By then you think we’ll still find $3 chicken rice or $0.90 coffee in Singapore when wages and taxes are so high?

For the middle sandwich class, every one of us should fend for ourselves and plan our so-called retirement which does not necessarily mean to stop working and play mahjong all day long but to continue doing something we love/enjoy as we age and hopefully (and very likely) make decent money during the process.

For the lower income group – I’m talking about those who can’t even afford to read this article folks. If you have fucking Internet access, you are not POOR – I believe the government is there to help. Go and seek aid.

The retirement concept is dead folks. Don’t rely on your CPF.

FYI – just in case you are wondering, I am pretty party neutral. I don’t like the high minister pay, neither am I a Kate Spade fan. I’m not exactly pleased with the increase in CPF contribution rates either since I think it does little for our so-called retirement. I also do think a fair amount of minority party making some noise would help keep the majority ruling party on their feet. Overall, Singapore is still a very safe country and I appreciate that.