Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Modern Interpretation of "The Best is Yet To Be"

I am sorry if I'm a little bit late to the game as the fracas on ACS donations took place while I was preparing for my exams.

But first, a little background on myself.

I got fairly average grades for my PSLE but a 255 t-score could have landed me in most schools of my choice along Bukit Timah road so like most kids grew up in upper-middle class landed estates, I had a choice of getting into ACS.

And ACS was a natural choice. I was virtually monolingual, grew up with Ang Moh and Peranakan pals who studied in International schools, and I was a geek who's sole religion involved worshipping Cthulhu, Demogorgon and Asmodeus from my Dungeons and Dragons game manuals.

But two things led me to choose Swiss Cottage, a poorer but humbler school next door, instead.

The first was the ACS donation drive, which I really didn't want to be part of. The second were the church sessions, which was against my religion of Dungeons and Dragons. Between Gary Gygax and Jesus, I can only profess to one faith.

But as I got older, I began to regret some choices I made when I was 13 ( And unlike Gen-Y kids,  we Gen-X kids did choose our schools and professions without consulting our parents ). After all, you only begin to appreciate the accumulated wealth and power of the ACS Alumni as a full working adult.

I do sometimes ask myself how rich and wealthy I would be if I chose the school next door.

In one alternative universe, choosing ACS would have given me different values on spending and consumerism. Depending on which clique I joined, I could have become a materialistic creature of conspicuous comsumption, this blog would have been about luxury watches like Vacheron or Patek Phillipe instead.

In another universe, I could have kept my frugal values and employed the alumni to get into the best jobs in banking and finance. This blog would have articles on my latest frugal purchase using the dividends derived from my dividends - a luxury yacht.

Unlike the Flash in the DC Universe, we cannot create Flash Point moments and ask ourselves how would things turn out if we made a different choice. But we can channel focus our minds to create new insights, like Batman.

My Eureka moment is this :

The founders of ACS are geniuses who are centuries ahead of their time !

"The Best is Yet To Be" encapsulates the wisdom from modern economic thinking which would not even have been contemplated 2 years ago.

It puts everything Singapore elite schools do in the modern context.

Now follow my logic :

a) Everyone who goes to a school like ACS is concerned about how to preserve wealth over the generations. No matter what you seem to do, wealth inevitably fades after 3 generations. This is a primary problem of nepotistic succession.

b) Enter  a school which has a policy of enforcing or at least applying a lot of peer pressure to make students seek donations. The rich families will just write a cheque so would be unfazed by the requirement. The poorer families will do exactly what I did - find a school of similar standards and go somewhere else. Every school is a good school. Some good schools do not ask for donations.

c) The school which enforces donations eventually concentrates the richest scions of the dynastic families which builds close collegiate ties with each other. Bonds are built over rugby games and swimming competitions.

d) Now enter modern economic theory.

e) Thomas Piketty hypothesizes that (r > g). Investment returns trump return on human capital over time. Wealth inequality can only increase over time if Piketty is right. So dynastic families already have accumulated wealth and will use it to gain access to the better schools.

f) ACS becomes unstoppable. Rich families stick to it's brand and alumni, inadvertedly concentrating investment wealth to generate more income inequality between the haves and the have nots.

g) Ministry of Education makes it worse. If every school is a good school, then only the alumni will make a difference and distinguish the good schools from bad.

<< Reality stops here. What follows is my prediction on what will happen next >>

h) Soon, the smartest kids who figured out what I did start enrolling into the schools with the richest Alumni. The advantages of a wealthy alumni outweighs the hassle of donations.

i) Which is exactly what the dynastic families want. Superior intelligence in their descendants to perpetuate their wealth further.

j) Assortative mating will start to take place which has already widened the income gap further in countries like the US and the UK. ACS marries MGS. RI marries RGS.

k) Everything comes full circle. Unification of mind and wealth. Wealth can perpetuate for generations if it is powered by intelligence and conscientiousness. And the most intelligent and conscientious will be smart to enroll in a school with the richest alumni.

This is why "The Best is Yet to Be", the founders foresaw the events which would happen up till today and built a capitalistic superpower on this small island.

And the signs are already there...

Economic indicators with Singapore's wealth gap support this idea of mine.

In other parts of the Internet, some female bloggers would only date ACS boys.

I don't think I lost the game of life because I did not choose ACS. I do have great friends amongst them who are noble, generous and would never support widening income inequality.

But this is a valid concern about future generations of Singaporeans.

I hope my daughter will not be too late for the game. I can't choose my daughter but I can certainly choose my son-in-law.

No prizes for guessing which school gets first choice.


  1. hi christopher,

    just want to say that i enjoy reading your blog very much. all the posts are very witty and practical. love how you bring those textbook theories to life.

    keep it up!

    and may STI cross 3600 this year. hahaha.

  2. Thanks, I hope to post a few more articles over the week. Keep the interaction coming.

  3. sure no problem! been reading your blog posts all the way from the beginning.

    seems like you are a lot happier now despite being much busier. whats the secret?

  4. Gee ! I think a new post will answer your question !

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