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Rising living cost, smart economy and a slew of martial arts. March 2, 2018

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, Economy, life challenges, Singapore.
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Karate isn’t my forte but I seem to be forced into the martial art of chopping expenses in a timely fashion. It’s a kind of adaptation and survival here. You either do chopping and trying to earn more to fit rising costs; or you get chopped and sunk into the sea of expenses. Sink or swim is now the game of survival in an urban setting where Infrastructural costs for futuristic and advanced digital economy is required.

Digital economy is the future. And I have to agree with it. But not all aspects of digital advancement technologies are beneficial — that’s another topic to delve into.

Now back to rising costs and my chopping board. I have doubts if these cost cutting measures is going to be useful because there is a base limit to look after. So that means you can’t choose chopping all the time. After the recent announcement of water tariff increments and the rise of GST in a few years’ time, we are given two years to prepare for the overall haul.


As usual I prepare ahead. This planing made me scrutinize all kinds of expenses.
Almost everything is raised in price: monthly maintenance fees, bills of all kinds like water and electricity, telco bills (raise by a heap over the decades), food prices, clothes and shoes (even when when you buy at sales, they are sometimes dearer than elsewhere in the world); food, materials, and all.

Limit non threatening items like shoes, bags and clothes unless they are skin the bottom line sales which happens a few times now and then. Slaughter the pigs in the rest of the dens, and leave money for healthy eating. Something no sane mind would cut if you think medical costs are now rising quite a bit here where insurance is now catching up to ease unaffordable gap.

Regardless, water has the most dreadful increment. It is a necessity that you cannot skip. I am wondering why can’t they increase tariff on all luxury goods, tobacco and liquor. They could do the prostitutes and gamblers in by increasing more taxes there. These are the non beneficial , non necessities items and services that society doesn’t need. In short, vices that should be punished heavily with taxes. But to increase necessities like water is hell to both the consumer like me and the businesses everywhere. Everything needs water. Even dead people need water. That rise means an overall pop up trend in prices across the board.

Not a fun swimming pool to play in.
Definitely not for those who have cars.

So karate is one form, maybe judo would be my next art—aka flipping lifestyle to fit rising costs. It’s probably a better way. Choosing a different system of living on the same piece of land may be a better. But I don’t know yet exactly the steps of doing it because there are other mitigating factors too.

Confined spaces with a now tempremental climate would be one to think of. Public transport in a terrorist threaten environment also means smart and well planned traveling is needed.

Then again, a cheerful disposition may well solve all the problems. A positive mindset with a smile usually do wonders as a start. And they cost nothing.

We live in a changing time and space where everything seems to be about money, power and looking advanced.

Advanced living and thinking isn’t about rising prices. It’s about rising quality intelligently without deteriorating value of money. Well, that’s my opinion.

Certain so-called advances may not be advances in the end. Doing simple chores with a sophisticated technology in certain contexts aren’t good ideas either. So these added expenses should not be considered.

Smart economy isn’t about adapting all the most sophisticated technologies but how clever one is in implementing them without technical glitches that runs too long to interfere with daily living. It’s unproductive and even dangerous.

A lot of considerations to think of, but I suppose I see how the people involved would do.

I think i stop here for my two cents for the day. —@Karen_Fu



Quick MRT thoughts on Prof Lim Chong Yah’s economic proposal. April 19, 2012

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, Economy.
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Broken MRTs have never been so common since its inception back in 1987. I was running away from the massive after office rush hour by having dinner at a shopping mall. When I was having dinner, I saw an elderly man in his 70s making his slow pace from table to table. When he came to my table, he politely asked me if he could clear my plate. I was looking on as I recalled the many senior citizens who have to work even when they are in their 70s and 80s. It is not a rare sight. One of the most memorable impression was an old lady who was clearly suffering from osteoporosis. She had a 90degree hunched back and had to clean the toilets at Raffles City. I told her to forget about drying the toilet floors and just quit the job. She told me she couldn’t because her middle aged son had trouble making ends meet. For some weird coincidence, she boarded the same MRT train as me later. I gave my seat up for her. And an Indian guy gave his seat up for me and we ended up sitting together. She talked a lot along the journey from HDB flat prices to jobs to her toilet chores at the shopping mall. It left a strong impact on me. 

Unfortunately after some 2-3 years, I am still ploughing myself. If  I had the ability to hire these old folks for a much higher pay and at far shorter hours, I would without hesitation. If I could really have it, old people should not work.

The cost of living is getting higher. I could dare say it has gone through the roof. Low income earners are making far too low. And when I read the proposal from Prof Lim Chong Yah, I applauded. Not only the old are working with meagre pay but so are those blue collar workers. In due course, everyone will get it in one way or the other. Cutting labour costs has its limits. How low can you go when living costs go up all the time? The law of economics can do up a certain point, often playing around with figures to solve problems. The ultimate is to feel the ground and hear what people are complaining about and act on it. Human factors have different permutation set of issues that contribute to those economics problems. We cannot plainly say we do this policy and that taxation, while insisting that wages must be kept low for businesses to survive. To me, it doesn’t make full sense. The way I see it is that if costs is the way to handle problems so firms don’t crash, then we are all screwed, as costs cannot go any lower. Falling to an unacceptable low point is as good as being unemployed. 

I hope Prof Lim’s proposal is taken in somehow. I think we need a flip. And a quick one too. — Karen Fu

A Lego Lesson. April 16, 2012

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, creativity, Economy, talent.
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Issues on global talent came as I was watching the video. There are clearly many British and American educated individuals in the video. If I were to shut my eyes up just listening to them, I would have thought they were natives. It can be a strange sight to see. But with the propagation of western colleges doing transnational education as well as an increased demand for overseas western education, many students are opting to learn abroad if they have the opportunity.

Many creative individuals appeared to bear a strong multicultural background. Just like the interviewee who is a Malaysian graduated from Harvard, a good number of well known people tend to also have a ‘Rojak’ (Malay word for a delicious mixed salad of fruit and vegetables) blood of Asian and caucasian mix. Either this, or they often come from a rich diversified experience of multiethnic cultures.

As I watched on, I cannot help but to compare with what Iskandar, where Legoland is, has to offer, I cannot help asking why Singapore could not have legoland and universal studios without the casinos. Iskandar is only a strait away from Singapore and they are blooming the area up with Eco diversity living waterfront houses apart with hi tech industries. My gut feeling is that many will be lured to the region. If they could create the kind of security like we have over here, they could easily attract many to their shores for investments.

Our recent debate on raising the minimum wage and wage freeze for top income earners focus on keeping the local economy sustainable. As far as I see it, focusing on costs alone will not see us through. Surely we need to raise salary only when productivity is good. But to deprive the lower income group earners by cutting manufacturing / service costs is just as bad, if not worse. Could we be more innovative in our course in economics without slashing pay of employees when the cost of living is getting to be uncontainable? Lego started off from a small cottage industry to a mega toy business that isn’t confined to just play value. It has also been used in even furniture and architectural structures out from their simple block unit. Why is it that we cannot replicate such creativity instead of drooling on cutting costs ? If the lower income blue collar get their wages so low that they can’t economically survive, be sure to expect high social costs in due course. To start off burning costs as a mantra, be also sure that middle income earners pay will be controlled and marked downwards too. In fact, this is happening as the global economy isn’t good and companies both big and small are trying to slash wages paid to employees.

Often I feel we need a good flip. When things don’t get better, then it is high time we skip it and try something new. What maybe a soft skill may turn out big. We dont need to follow what most people do. The time when you start seeing many entering the same field, that’s the time you should be thinking of another emerging field.

There are many ways of leveraging what we don’t have. Our forefathers have done it. Why is it our generation seems to be talking backwards? We have the brains and the talent here but I think many are underutilized. If you were creative, what would you do? If I have the chance, I would flip it. — Karen Fu

Addition 17-4-2012 from my own quoted comment on Facebook : Cost cutting is not the way to go. Quality and innovation is. When you start to focus on the money alone, the result is you missed the innovation. Finally both firm and employees loose really — Karen Fu