I had a taxi ride one day and the driver, who is baby boomer in his late 50s, asked me if I knew what YOLO stood for. I said," Of course it stands for You Only Live Once". I was then treated to a hilarious conversation about how his philosophy in life is YOLO, and why he kept Vietnamese students as mistresses and his various sexual adventures in Thailand.
Fast forward a few months down the road, the Government instituted a one time transfer of tax proceeds from the tax paying public in 2013 to a group of seniors. This package is popularly known as the Pioneer Generation Package.
This package has been very well-received by the public, but I belong to a small minority that has issues with transferring wealth involuntarily from one generation to another.
a) Baby Boomers already benefited immensely from Singapore's growth.
Baby boomers did not need a degree to be gainfully employed. They presided over a period of time where you can buy a semi-detached home for $100,000 and sell it today for $2 million dollars. Many baby boomers still play a role in the workforce today. Many cling onto senior management roles without being proficient in English or Computing.
b) Baby Boomers were also young and foolish once.
Many baby boomers worked hard to build Singapore into what it is today. But like all generations, they were young and foolish once. Not all baby boomers took advantage of the economy to become successful in life.
Many were like Gen X and Gen Y and wasted their youth drinking and womanizing. Some subscribe to YOLO as a life philosophy.
When we use the term Pioneer, we can mislead ourselves into thinking that all of them are economic martyrs, well-deserving when some, maybe even a minority, are clearly not.
Those who lived their lives wisely can expect to spend their twilight years with loving children who can provide support in terms of money and services. This was our social compact prior to the 2011 elections - families look after themselves to create a society with low taxation and plenty of prosperity. i.e. Parents raise children well. Children then support parents at their old age with their money which was not eroded by excessive taxation when they were younger.
c) No colonial government took Baby Boomer's earnings to support their parents.
The equivalent of the Pioneer Generation Package is some colonial government taking taxes from Malaya and ensuring health care and welfare benefits for their ancestors. If such a transfer took place then perhaps it would be more comforting to accept this one time wealth transfer.
Correct me if I am wrong, the British were to busy running away from the Japanese to administer the island this way.
All in all, I'm not a big fan of the Pioneer Generation Package.
If it makes uncomfortable reading for you and I sound a little ungrateful, I apologise, I voted this government into Parliament but I was unpleasantly surprised by this sudden shift towards the political left.
But do understand that I'm not coming from an angle where I am disrespectful to my seniors, I do want to look after my parents in their old age and support them. But my parents are my own responsibility, they are not your responsibility and certainly not the responsibility of other tax payers of Singapore.
Generation X did not have it as easy with the economy as the boomers. To get decent jobs we need to be very highly trained and we certainly cannot afford a car or landed property even for the best amongst us. There was some increase in asset value, it pales in comparison with what the Boomers experienced.
We are sandwiched in the workplace between Baby Boomers and Generation Y. Baby boomers are not ready to give up the throne to us and globalization is rapidly destroying the middle class making it hard for us to make ends meet. Generation X also had to fight outsourcing and deal with the influx of foreign talent.
I shall leave the critique of Generation Y to the rest of the Internet. (YOLO !)
Generation X did not get it easy, we never even asked for work life balance when we were in our 20s. We want to look after our families. Please don't take money meant for our families to feed ALL families without qualification. Most of our seniors led productive lives, saved for their future, and had a low tax regime to support them while they are at it. No one took their money and forced them to support their seniors.
We really need to rethink the way we conduct the wealth transfers.
I am not asking that you give money to us Generation X.
I am asking that you trust us to look after our parents.
I am asking that you either let us keep our hard earned money or invest the money in infrastructure, defense or even educating the future generations.
We are Generation X.
Our time never came. It probably never will.