Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Market Assessment #2 : Three Singapore Hypocrisies


In my last article, I railed about how academics who have nice sinecures funded by tax-payers can label landlords parasites when, to me, collecting rental payouts can be seen as one attempt to replicate the same kind of financial security academics have. 

Apparently, I'm not done because there are a class of hypocrisies we see in a society where sanctimonious assholes praise or celebrate some acts and condemn other very similar manoeuvres. 

I suspect some acts are condoned because some perpetrators have more social or cultural capital. 

It's like if a poor man likes eating, he's labelled a glutton, but when a rich guy does it, he's a gourmet. 

Here are other hypocrisies I discovered :

a) You can receive advantages from early academic success, but living on investments made earlier in life makes you a rent-seeker

There's always a lot of angst over landlords who bought the property ago and now enjoying positive cash flow after paying off mortgages. If coming from academic scholars, this is highly hypocritical because many of these academics are flying high because of the stellar A-level results they had in the past. While it can be argued that scholars may have gotten high ratings in the public sector, they had a sexier project portfolio mix and a steeper CEP, but landlords also needed to maintain and hold onto their property and resist past the temptation to sell to enjoy the rents they have today. 

We pay property taxes above and beyond income tax, but we don't tax scholars for their sinecures.

b) Enrichment from buying Executive Condos is unjust, but assortative mating, which creates more inequality, is even encouraged.

There have been reports from salty people that folks like me who own executive condominiums are unjustly enriched because we see about $500,000 of capital gains since they bought their units five years ago. I'm happy to say that in this market bear, looking at the value of my EC is one of the few things that gives me joy beyond my CPF-SA account. So some policy adjustments will be made to nerf EC purchases and sales because it exacerbates inequality.

But no one has publicly admitted one of the primary causes of inequality is assortative mating, where people marry spouses who have the same educational qualifications. This gives a ridiculous advantage to their kids, who inherit higher IQs and greater social and economic status than their parents. I think there is a special hell for folks who tolerate assortative mating where doctors marry doctors and summa cum laude marry summa cum laude; some even go as far as to organise matchmaking events for folks with similar qualifications. 

I've publicly challenged policymakers to create situations where folks from Raffles marry someone from ITE. Why can't top software engineers marry ah lians? Why? 

You can code in LISP, but cannot communicate with an Ah Lian?

Next time someone ask me how much my training business contributes to income inequality, I ask them why their spouse is so educated? Why ITE cannot?

c) Inheriting wealth is bad, but inheriting a high IQ and conscientiousness is fine

Society is very upset at folks from the lucky sperm club. 

In many countries, inheritance taxes are quite large, and Singapore has done very well as a wealth hub because we don't have inheritance taxes, but there seems to be increasing rancour from leftist bastards who want to see inheritance taxes come back in Singapore.

This is unfair because we're missing out on the other half of folks from the lucky sperm club, folks who did not necessarily inherit wealth but the high IQs and conscientiousness from their assortatively mated parents. 

You can perform a thought experiment at the street level. 

It's actually accepted practice to pay thousands of dollars to tuition teachers to ramp up kid's grades, but if I save the thousands of dollars and invest it in a lump sum and transfer it to him on graduation, if he fails to enter university, the dividends would give a nice boost to his diploma starting salary in Singapore that may even be superior to graduate starting salaries. I've made public presentations on this matter, and parents always object to my alternative approach. 

At the end of the day, how do we interpret the root cause of these hypocrisies?

I think one useful approach understands that human beings form hierarchies and confer status to each other. Hierarchies themselves can be isolated from each other and are arranged in a hierarchy of their own. If the RI-High-IQ hierarchy is ascendant, they might mess with the ACS-High-Wealth hierarchy and maybe find ways to tax wealth but create privileges for the professional caste. If the opposing faction wins, taxes will be lowered, and more questions on paper generals will arise, and entrepreneurs will be celebrated. 

I don't come from an elite secondary school, I think that at the extremes, Singapore society is a compromise between the powerful RI and ACS factions embedded in elite society. 

Everybody else will have to accept being crushed for being forced into compromises. 

This is why Lawrence Wong is the Prince that was Promised. He comes from a non-elite school. 

Fortunately for us retail investors, the markets crash, affecting elites and peons alike. Had I not fled, portfolios built by my students would be seeing negative returns today.  It's clear from the data that inflation has not come under control in the US, so we should expect raises in early November. China's stubborn adherence to the zero covid policy is also bad news. 

Next month's inflation numbers will hint as to whether we will see s 50bps or 75bps rise in December. 

In the meantime, my war chest remains untouched.


1 comment:

  1. I suppose that elites who study and work hard getting rewarded, is working as designed, if unfair.