Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Channel 8 Rant : Why be a Good man when you can be a Great man !

A Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog.

I've been silent this new year prior to writing this article because I don't really have any mind-blowing content today having initially wanted to talk about elitism, hubris and exclusivity of law schools but that's only useful for a small segment of my readership and not really consistent with the festive mood this week.

And then, a couple of minutes ago, a good friend sent me this link to this awesome rant about being a Good Man in Singapore.

You can follow it here.

I must say that Ch 8 programming will be quite good if it can channel the frustrations of the Singapore heartlander. So let's hope that Mediacorp keeps up the good work !

This link has Ch 8 actor Jeremy Chan talking about what it takes to be a good man in Singapore. Upon reflection, Jeremy Chan comes to the conclusion that life is too short and meaningless to be a good man in Singapore.

I think Jeremy Chan's character is, by design,  too smart for his own good.

I'm going to offer an alternative for readers and propose the path of the "Great Man". Someone who can lead a superior life compared a Good man. If Friedrich Nietzche has his Ubermensch, at least readers of this blog has the idea of a Great Man which is derived from Jeremy Chan's idea of a Good man.

a) A Great Man makes $3,300 as a graduate and that's not counting overtime.

In the video clip, Jeremy claims that a good degree produces a salary of $3,000. The actual number is around $3,300 based on actual statistics of local graduates, this $300 difference can be critical when we look at the savings component later on.

b) A Great man minimises his non-discretionary expenses because they do not define him as a person.

The video does not accurately portray the spending of a great man who actively optimises his expenses. While it is correct that Great man eats at hawker centres or food courts and spends about $6-$7 a meal, transport can be capped at $120 using a transport concession pass for adults so that's at least another $180 of savings every month.

c) A Great Man saves his increments, bonuses and overtime.

Jeremy Chan's character then misses two important components of salary of a man in his 20s and 30s. Firstly, that some graduates do get overtime pay (more if some young worker actually gives tuition on weekends ). Secondly, a graduate gets bonuses. And thirdly, a graduate worth his salt can get 8-12% increments for at least the first 5 years of his working life.

With these three components, a Great man can learn a thing or two from the Budget babe who can achieve $30,000 savings perhaps during the second year of work.

d) A Great Man can invest his savings creating wealth which snow balls.

I keep harping about $300,000 portfolio yielding 8%, but suppose this Great Man invests it in equities, he can expect about 8.5% on average over the long term, this means that the following year, his investments can further defray $2550 of his expenses. If he spends $1,500 per month, this will defray close to 15% of his annual expenses the following year, which let's him save even more money after that.

e) A Great Man constantly upgrades himself.

Between doing overtime and giving tuition, the great man will eventually realise that his skills are really fading fast even as he is gainfully employed sometime in Year 5. There will be opportunities to find jobs which pay a huge premium for someone with the right skills. A Great Man will then making tactical moves to obtain these skills which will be a lot cheaper to achieve these days than during my time. These days, the government gives $500 Skills Future credits and Coursera and Udacity has drastically lowered the bar for anyone wishing to obtain new and marketable tech skills.

For me during the bad old days, there were the CFA and MSCE IT certifications but these days it can be the Data Science Specialisation from John Hopkins or the highly marketable INSEAD MBA.

f) The Great Man pushes family formation and dating all the way to the back of the queue.

Between managing a career, moonlighting, and upgrading skills constantly, something has to give because the Great Man is not a Superman.

What the great man gives up is early family formation and dating.

The optimal approach to dating has always been the solution to the secretary problem developed by computer scientists. If the Great Man gives himself 15 years to settle down starting from age 25, he does not have to commit seriously to a relationship until he is 31 (1/e or 37% of his 15 years duration).

g) What does the Great Man do to entertain himself ?

Does all work and no play makes the Great Man a dull boy ?

Here's the politically incorrect nub of the issue - for fun, the Great Man does exactly the same thing as any other men. When social scientists studied unemployed men without degree qualifications, 18-30 hours of computer gaming a week leads to a life of unusually high personal satisfaction. There is nothing preventing a Great Man from doing what simply works to keep himself entertained.

Just resist the temptation of buying virtual goods.

The only difference is that a Great Man should hang out with other Great men and never game while upgrading priorities have yet been met.

h) So what is not guaranteed when you do become a Great Man ?

Carrie Wong is not a guaranteed reward for a Great Man.

You might need to become a Ridiculously Unreasonable and Successful Man for that.

Explaining how to become one is the job for a different kind of blogger.


  1. Hi Christopher,

    I think what you are describing is probably what I would also describe as a high quality men. And as I have now come to believe, high quality men always get high quality women, in any country. High quality women (and men) have choices, low quality men (women) have none or much lesser choice.

    Being a 好男人 does not guarantee one is a high quality man. and since most of his rant (imo) is about the "average" Singapore man trying to get a "presumably" high quality girlfriend ( or getting his dose of "vitamin P"?), thats just not going to work out.

    There are really quite a number Singaporean men in their mid 30s (just 10% of this particular age group would probably do A LOT of damage) who know how to take care of themselves and portray a certain level of success, adequately to pick up women (who ranks from "rather" hot to hot) in their mid 20s to early 30s

    Its all about having options, the "good" (average/ simple?) really just have to "suck thumb" or up his game (which would probably take up the first 10+ years of his time".

    Oh, by then he would become one of the Singaporean men in their mid 30s who know how to take care of themselves and portray a certain level of success and other younger men need to suck thumb again, and the cycle continue...

  2. I really think it's not so bad once you have a local degree because the numbers are really stacked towards your advantage. But all good things take time because compounding needs a while for it to take effect.

    Also, I doubt younger men in their 20-30s really suck thumb as portrayed in the video clip. There are so many entertainment options for them these days the bigger fear is that they enjoy it so much, they become rich single men in their 40s who will never trade away their freedom for marriage ( Although why anyone would do that in front of Carrie Wong is another mystery to me )

    Portrayal of success is also a sophisticated game with rules which evade logical analysis.

    I still dress really badly.

    In my 20s, I was labelled a badly dressed hobo who is a junior engineering exec. In my early 30s, women in French school ( fashion capital) said that I must be damn confident to wear shorts everywhere I go and started being interested in talking to me.

    That's why I think all men need to push dating and family formation to the back of the queue and focus singularly on money.

  3. Point F for the win. Ain't no time for dating and all when I've yet to hit the mark for my career. There's also postgraduate education "leveraging up" as well.

    In contrast, I've seen some of my male friends who has completely espoused the romanticism of marriage and the notion of settling down, even if their finances are not in order. I'm not sure about them, but that is not something I would do. (Maybe I should blog about the differences between how they view their love life and how I view mine)

  4. Please put up an article. I really benefitted from your PSEA write-up btw.

    15WW put up a very convincing argument for the Romanticism school in the talk we last gave.

    I think it's interesting to review the argument from the other side.

    There are huge benefits from an early HDB purchase.

  5. Indeed, no need to rush into marriage or dating because men age like wine and women, like milk. And as the man gets older he realises that a lot of women are more trouble than they are worth. Then the myth that women and men need each other to complete their lives is dispelled. Like you said there are so many entertainment options and I foresee Singapore's men following in the footsteps of Japan's herbivore men.

  6. I think it's good to review the counter arguments because some dudes like me end up raising a toddler in my 40s whereas my dad already has a primary school going kid during his time.