Saturday, January 07, 2012

Engineer makes living salvaging rubbish - may be a good thing.

I'm getting postings on this article with my name being tagged on them. I detect a strong tint of schadenfreude in those postings but I let you be the judge after you read this article.

Link to Article

Not all engineers succeed. We engineers know this.

Engineering knowledge has a very short half-life and many graduates find that whatever technical expertise they have become almost worthless upon graduation. Successful engineers use mathematical ability and logical reasoning to solve new technical problems at work and start to invest in management ability early. In my case, I built up some skills in investing to replace my earned income cash flow because, like this guy in the article, I will also be retrenched one day.

What I think that is really disturbing is that some people who read this article think that this is a fundamentally bad thing.

It may not necessarily be so.

Some of us really want a Singapore that has great social mobility. We will go all out to celebrate ITE and Polytechnic graduates for their commercial successes. We want a society where we can look up to people who turn from rags to riches. The problem is that for true social mobility to take place, the reverse must also hold true.

Some engineers will wind up picking garbage.

Some lawyers will go bankrupt.

Some doctors may end up begging on the streets. ( Ok, lah. No evidence of this yet. )

Somehow, we are not that willing to embrace the possibility of the opposite happening.

I developed a lot of respect for Koh after reading this article. He picks garbage to feed his family of 6, it's a damn honorable thing to do in a society where our Liberal Elites, poets and screenwriters are bitching about getting their handouts from the NAC reduced when all they do is create subversive works against the status quo.

Does Koh seek welfare and government handouts even if he's possibly a victim of globalization ?

He does not. He gets his hands dirty to feed his family. Somewhere else on this island, a PhD drives a cab to survive.

I am proud to call Koh a fellow engineering graduate from NUS.

[ If any reader has Koh's contact, I can link him up with the NTUC e2i. Mail me at I want to lend a hand. ]

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