Operation Occupy Wall Street


#2481

This is like playing chess against someone who suddenly decides midway through the game that the pawns ought to be able to move like queens. I'm done.


#2482

Liking this post.

There are many problems with my government that reducing it to authoritarianism isn't going to be helpful, but the success of our healthcare system has less to do with the fact that our government is ingrained in controlling aspect of our lives, then the fact that it isn't held hostage by interest groups like the American government.

I can post this because my government said I could, because you know... control over the population.


#2483

Well, enacting laws at light-speed to target specific individuals and enforcing "ethnic quotas" in public housing to prevent minorities from holding representative office while constantly re-electing the same head of government doesn't exactly sound like a model democracy to me. Or is this part and parcel of modern democracy? Or am I misinformed?

Laws against homoesexuality, transgenderism (not to mention transsexuality) and the casual racism displayed towards Malays and Indians don't really inspire confidence either.


#2484

Another thing I've found about Singapore is that it destroys listening comprehension. If one says that Singapore's political system is more complicated than it is generally given credit for, someone invariably interprets that as a claim that Singapore is a "model democracy".

Singapore has some significant elements that I think are indeed classifiable as "democratic" in character -- such as constituency meetings. It has many other elements that are not at all democratic in character, like the PAP's control over electoral processes. It is, in other words, complicated. And it is complicated in a way that is not captured by dividing the political world into only two types: either "authoritarian" or "(model) democratic".


#2485

#2486

I'm not of the opinion that any Western nations particularly represent the democratic ideal, but that's likely because I have a somewhat utopian vision of democracy (based on the myths about our own democracies served by media, educational systems, etc) which most likely doesn't fit with the dirty reality of what governing and legislation actually entails. I doubt I'm alone in harbouring these misconceptions about what democracy actually means.

Singapore is a well-organized society. Let's put it at that. I'm glad I don't live there, but I can't fault it for being a very successful, well-implemented client state.


#2487

Client state? Client of whom? Do you mean city-state?


#2488

Singapore's government is generally considered Authoritarian Capitalism. And, yes, they definitely have strong authoritarian elements in their society. We're not talking about it being like Stalin's Soviet Union or something, of course, but they most definitely do have aspects of their government's control over civilians which would make most westerners cringe.

For instance, between 1994 and 1999, Singapore had the second highest per-capita execution rate in the world, second only to Turkmenistan. So, no... I don't think I'm really overestimating how authoritarian Singapore is.

In terms of how this would affect their implementation of a medical system, we can look at some of those examples of capital punishment, and then extrapolate how the impact on society would reduce the burden on their healthcare system.

Now, bear in mind here, I'm not saying that this is definitely the case. I am merely presenting the notion that it COULD be the case based on intuition, and that it would actually have to be demonstrated to not be the case before one could accept it as truth that the system could be implemented outside the authoritarian structure of the society.

First, drug trafficking has a (if I recall, mandatory) death penalty associated with it. This has actually resulted in a very low drug usage rate in Singapore. While certainly not how I would choose to deal with drug use by any stretch of the imagination, it has been effective at limiting the drug trade in that city-state. This would have an impact on the healthcare system by reducing the medical issues caused by illicit drug use, as well as the medical issues caused by crimes related to drug use.

Another example would be capital punishment for unlawful discharge of a firearm. By dramatically limiting the amount of firearms in the country, they limit the health issues caused by gunshot wounds. We can see a serious difference in these types of numbers, shown here. The Singapore has the second lowest number of per capita firearms murders in the world, second only to Hong Kong, with 0.02 firearms deaths per 100k population. Not only is this exceptionally low compared to the US with 2.97 per 100k, it's also way lower than even other countries like EU nations which far more restrictive gun lawns than the US. The next lowest is the UK with 0.12 per 100k, so 6 times as high as Singapore's.

Overall, Singapore has a very low crime rate compared to most places in the world. While crime certainly does not cause some huge chunk of the medical expenditures for a system, I would have to believe that it does in fact account for some non-zero amount of it. To support this, I present this source from the NIH. By reducing the rate of crimes leading to those types of injuries, you would reduce expenditures on the associated treatment, thus improving the efficiency of the medical system.

This is only focusing on the most direct impacts of Singapore's authoritarian government, where they use capital punishment extremely liberally, in order to achieve dramatically reduced crime rates. But I would suspect that other aspects of their system have other less direct impacts. However, I think that the numbers presented above demonstrate that, contrary to your assertion, a clear link can be at least hypothesized between Singapore's authoritarian tendencies and an impact on the operational costs of their healthcare system.


#2489

Client state of Western business interests, mostly American and English banking and shipping. Would you prefer neo-colony? The point is that policy and taxation is determined by corporate rather than popular interests, and that those corporations are predominantly foreign.

Again, this isn't an insult or an attempt to put Singapore in a bad light. It's an observation of the conditions I experienced while I stayed there. Regulatory capture in the West leads to same outcome, but with more token recognition of the people as more than serfs to business, to maintain the dominant narrative of the enlightened, democratic West. The point is that Singapore was explicitly set up to be a corporate haven -- Western societies are slowly but surely moving towards the same form of social and economical organization.

In essence, Singapore represents the ideal that the Occupy movement protests. Like I said, it's a well-organized, highly functional and efficient society. But that comes at a price.


#2490

I'm not sure that's necessarily true. Singapore is certainly somewhat unique in its incorporation of corporations into the rest of its society, but I do not think that the government is nearly as beholden to those corporations as you make it out to be.

On the contrary, Singapore's government has extremely strict control over corporate interests in its country. They just tend to CHOOSE to control it in a non-stupid way, which ends up being very friendly to those corporations, while also resulting in a system which benefits the population of the country.

While part of me ideologically opposes some of the controls imposed by Singapore, such as mandatory savings, etc... I really cannot argue against its demonstrated effectiveness. However, I think a key element in Singapore's success with a system that includes so much government oversight is that they have one of the lowest levels of corruption in the world. They kinda got a philosopher king thing going on. The government has more control than I would generally trust a government with, but they seem to make pretty good, un-corrupt choices when exercising that control.


#2491

FFS, Timex, you're talking to people who actually live in Singapore, so maybe you should try listening to what they're saying instead of telling them what their life is like.

Also, if you're going to bring up gun violence and crime rates in this context, the onus is on you to prove that they're significant contributions to health care costs, not just assume that it has a "non-zero" impact, and pretend that somehow that's useful to the conversation.

If you want hand-waving about health care cost determinants, I'd be more inclined to look at nutritional issues, Singaporean culture is tied to their food culture in a pretty major way. But that has nothing to do with authoritarianism. I don't have any numbers to back that up, so I won't go any further than that. (BTW, I lived in Singapore for about 8 years, so I have some knowledge of the place, although I can't claim to have any particular insight to the health care system, and as an ex-pat, my political involvement was very limited).


#2492

I think we have slightly different perspectives on this. By now, I regard the US and the UK, along with parts of the EU (specifically France and Germany) as corporatist pseudo-fascist stagnocracies (ooh, coined a term) with highly entrenched elites who have devised very effective strategies for dominating public discourse via lobbying and media, with the intent of building down the state in favour of private enterprise.

(Bear in mind that when I say "fascist" I don't mean OMG BROWN SHIRTS AND DETENTION CAMPS, I mean in the sense that "fascism's goal [is] to promote the rule of people deemed innately superior while seeking to purge society of people deemed innately inferior", which I think is a fair assessment of austerity policy and the prevailing worship of entrepreneurship, business executives and wealth.)

Singapore is a step up from Western democracies in terms of corporatism, with the state serving more as a form of abstraction layer between corporate and public interest than as a representative entity in the ideal democratic sense. If you want to know more, read up on the Singaporean heads of state (and their predecessors -- a fairly short list). Their inextricable links to business interests should become clear.

Whether this is a bad thing or not depends on what you think about government and private enterprise. I'm not overly fond of the state, but I also think the ideals of party politics are more suited to maintaining sustainable, fair societies than the grotesquely simplistic business "ethic" of maximizing shareholder value at the expensive of other stakeholders that has grown into conventional wisdom since the 70s.

Since I have no faith in the current political system to effect meaningful change, I'm staying out of partisanship and focusing on building a business and an IP portfolio. That seems to be the best strategy for accruing power and influence in the coming years, not choosing between practically indistinguishable political parties and casting a token vote every now and then.


#2493

Are you actually disputing any of the facts that I presented? Which I actually backed up with concrete evidence? I mean, Christ, the fact that someone lives in Singapore doesn't mean that stuff isn't true. From 1994-1999, Singapore had the second highest rate of criminal executions in the world. It doesn't matter if someone lives in Singapore, this is established fact. I'm not presenting anecdotal evidence, I'm presenting statistical facts.

Also, while I removed it because I didn't think it was particularly relevant, I've actually known and worked with folks who have lived in Singapore their entire lives. I may be traveling there in the next few months. Again, not really relevant since I presented concrete facts rather than anecdotes, but hey, apparently its required.

Also, if you're going to bring up gun violence and crime rates in this context, the onus is on you to prove that they're significant contributions to health care costs, not just assume that it has a "non-zero" impact, and pretend that somehow that's useful to the conversation.

Did you even read the sources I provided?

One of my links contained an NIH study, where they broke down the annual costs of gunshot treatments in the US. Is that study somehow insufficient to illustrate... the impact of firearms in terms of cost to the medical system?

Again, not speaking anecdotally here. I presented a number of sources backing up exactly what I was saying.

Sorry if I'm coming off as a little harsh, but I'm feeling kind of annoyed at this response... If I present arguments based on personal experience, I get railed on for presenting anecdotes.. But in this case, I present hard data about the issues and folks yell at me for not having anecdotal experience to back it up.


#2494

Timex I would think by now you would have realized that its not what is said around here or how it is stated or backed by facts that matters most. It is who says it that is most important to people attacking or not.


#2495

I'm not interested in crying about people being mean to me, or hanging myself on a cross. I merely added that last part as something of an apology if I came off as snarky or insulting.

Also, I thought you had me on ignore for insulting retarded people, Brett?


#2496

I did not know that an ignore list can never change. But its nice to know that you never do Timex.


#2497

I'm just teasing you a little, but I honestly wouldn't have expected you to bother removing me from ignore.


#2498

I may have been a little harsh as well. I get a little touchy when Singapore comes up, because a lot of people say a lot of things about it without any kind of context.

I think the issue about executions is a little bit of a sideshow, and more an oddity of the severity of enforced penalties rather than evidence of the kind of widespread oppression that might usually be associated with a statistic like that. Which is not to say that there isn't political repression, etc. of a sort in Singapore, but I don't think execution rate is representative of that per se.

From what I can tell, the NIH study seems to include medical costs and lost wages, so I don't know exactly how that breaks down, and what the overall impact is on health care costs of lost wages, although it may be listed in the report. More importantly, it gives cost numbers, but doesn't specify what percent of total health care costs that comprises, and how that affects availability, etc.

From what I can tell, the report establishes that there is a mechanism by which gun control can influence health care costs. But it doesn't have anything to say about the significance of that cost. To simply assume that this is a significant factor vs. all the other differences between the US and Singapore seems completely unfounded to me. Some of the more obvious differences being a purely urban popualtion, and matters of nutrition, etc. So, I don't dispute the study itself, but rather how much it really informs the argument vis a vis Singapore.


#2499

Just to be clear, I'm not disparaging Singapore at all. The folks I know who live there are all quite happy, and everyone I've ever met who traveled there always says it's great (except for the heat and humidity, but everything's got the AC blasting, so it's kind of like Atlanta).

Despite being quite at odds with my own libertarian views, I absolutely must admit that Singapore's system works.

My point here has mainly been that I don't think you can cut out parts of the Singapore system, and choose which elements you feel like implementing, and expect it to function the same as Singapore's overall system. I don't think it's the case that you can just take, for instance, the welfare system.. but not bother to implement authoritarian controls like requirements for citizens to save.

And really, I'm not even going so far as to say that the system cannot possibly work in a western society.. I'm merely saying that the potential for a link between the authoritarian nature of the the government, and medical costs, is high enough that it would need to at least be examined before one could assume that no link exists.

Finally, I think perhaps the term "authoritarian" may be somewhat loaded. In western society, it's often considered a derogatory term, associated with states like the USSR or Nazi Germany. Within the context of this conversation, I'm using it in a more sanitized form, where I'm really just meaning that the government has more control over the lives of its citizens. This is not, in itself, bad. As I've already admitted, Singapore does a pretty good job (I think due to their extremely low corruption).

Now, regarding your actual post:

I think the issue about executions is a little bit of a sideshow, and more an oddity of the severity of enforced penalties rather than evidence of the kind of widespread oppression that might usually be associated with a statistic like that.

I actually agree with this. But, again, my use of the term authoritarian isn't meant as a derogatory term. But such strict, capital enforcement of a good number of crimes is authoritarian in nature.

This is not to say that it's bad. Based on the crime statistics, it seems to be exceptionally effective. Also, the alternative (imprisonment) isn't really feasible given the nation's small size.

I would also tend to agree that a key part of Singapore's success in this area stems directly from the lack of leeway that judges are given when it comes to handing out sentences for many of these crimes. If you are caught trafficking drugs in Singapore, it's not that you MAY be executed... you know that, if convicted, you are guaranteed to be executed. That type of absolute knowledge of what is going to happen has a concrete impact on human cognition and response. It, to an extent, reduces the ability to rationalize away the potential consequences and fool ourselves into thinking it won't be so bad.

This is kind of another example though of how the entirety of the system is important. In the US, we have capital punishment, but it doesn't have nearly the impact on reducing crime that it has had in Singapore. A potential reason is that it's far less likely that you will be executed for anything in the US, despite the chance existing. Thus, it doesn't have the same effect as a deterant. It may be the case that, for capital punishment, it's only effective if you do it mercilessly with mandatory sentences for certain crimes... otherwise, don't have capital punishment at all, because it doesn't serve the purpose for which it's intended.

From what I can tell, the NIH study seems to include medical costs and lost wages, so I don't know exactly how that breaks down, and what the overall impact is on health care costs of lost wages, although it may be listed in the report. More importantly, it gives cost numbers, but doesn't specify what percent of total health care costs that comprises, and how that affects availability, etc.

I think they break it down so that you can see exact portions going to medical costs alone. However, from the perspective of this discussion, I don't think the exact breakdown matters.

What the paper illustrates is that gunshot injuries (even those not associated with crimes) carry a significant cost associated with them that society must pay. Even if that cost is not paid directly by the government in the form of subsidized healthcare, it's still being paid for by the society, and thus will negatively impact the efficiency of the government's system (ie, someone may lose wages as a result of the injury, and then as a result become more dependent on the government providing some service to them... or will pay less money to the government in the form of taxation). None of this takes place in a vacuum.

Thus, I think that there is likely some linkage between Singapore's strict gun control laws and the efficiency of their system, because they have effectively reduced the associated cost to their society which would come with increased gun crime. That money can be used more effectively by their society for other things.

Again, I'm not usually in favor of things like gun control. But in this case, I'm actually suggesting that Singapore provides a good example of a very tangible case study of it working to achieve exactly the desired results.

To simply assume that this is a significant factor vs. all the other differences between the US and Singapore seems completely unfounded to me.

Again, I think we're in agreement here that the other difference likely contribute even more to why it likely couldn't be applied, as is, to the US.

However, those other differences (The largest difference is likely the massive difference in population size) were less easily quantified that the ones I presented here. For this, I was able to point to specific legal differences, and show specific costs associated with those differences. I think that the numbers I presented showed that this cost was large enough to be considered non-trivial, and thus large enough to merit examination before automatically discounting it as unimportant when considering whether Singapore's system could work somewhere like the US (that is, without implementing those changes to our legal system, which is always a possibility).


#2500

Nope. The issue is, again, that you simply cannot expect a city-state's healthcare system to scale to a larger country.