The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Singaporean Way Of Life: Money

Everything in Singapore has a price tag. Perhaps that is the inevitable consequence of adopting free market principles in all areas. Everything is determined to have a value - and so everything ends up with a price.

I have been here so long that I have half forgotten what used to be free in London, when I lived there: healthcare, education, Museums (when I was younger), were just the beginning of it. Many things seemed to be rights for all, and not something to be bought only if you could afford it. In Singapore, nothing is free, not even government services - and don't ever get sick (the hospital bill will make you sicker).

I have got used to it, however. I have also come to see the benefit of putting a price to everything: although everything has a price, one thing is much, much lower: central taxation. Government taxation on income starts at...wait for it...3.75 %. That is not a typo. Tax is THREE POINT SEVEN-FIVE %, at the base rate. This doesn't kick in until 20,000 dollars: below that, tax is zero. It works its way up as income rises, to reach a peak of 21%, for incomes in excess of 320,000 dollars. Then there is indirect taxation: presently a 5 % Goods and Services Tax, soon to rise to 7 %. All in all, however, it is a low tax burden - and many Singaporeans pay no income tax, at all, once thresholds and reliefs are taken into account.

The low tax regime even extends to the "afterlife". This, as a father of three, and a long-term thinker, I find attractive. I want to be able to leave my estate, whatever it might be, intact to my descendants. Anyone who is thinking clearly, and has dependants, would like to be able to do that. In Singapore, the Death Duties are rather different to that in the US (up to 55 %, there, I understand), and other developed nations like the UK (40 %). In Singapore, the first eight million dollars of property in an estate is ZERO-RATED. You pay no death duty at all. After that there is a five per cent duty to be paid. This means that Singaporeans and foreign residents can leave their estates largely intact to the following generations. This is a big draw to long-term thinkers who want to build something for their family - and might be one of the reasons that wealthy foreigners are drawn here.

Company taxes are low, too, at 20%. There are lower tax regimes - the so-called "tax havens", worldwide - but as developed countries go, Singapore's tax structure is quite friendly - with obvious benefits to the nation of inward investment.

So, in Singapore, everything has a price - but you just might have more of your money in your pocket to spend on things. It is not such a bad system, after all. Most people would prefer to have more of their money to spend, as they choose, than taxed away, and spent by others, without any power to decide how it is used. Here, at least, that choice applies, largely speaking.

This post is just an occasional glimpse at Singapore, that I will give, in addition to my usual genius/prodigy/gifted/education posts. Thanks.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:46 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huh. That is pretty eye opening. In America, I seem to be getting the worst of both worlds.

Here is an example tax bracket, that I'd say most of us fall into:

Bracket: 29,700 - 71,950

The tax is 4,090.00 plus 25% of anything over 29,700.

We do not have free health care. Well, OK, theres the County health clinic - but you have to wait three MONTHS for an appointment there.

Museums cost money, although many of them call it a donation and I guess you're not obligated to pay. Public school is free, and goes up until high school graduation, but does not include college.

Sales tax is 6.25% and they tax EVERYTHING. Of course, some things they tax far more than just 6.25%, like cigarettes. I think those are being taxed at like 200% or more.

Not to mention random ways of milking us of money, like the toll booths that they set up in order to finance the highways. Regardless of the fact that the highways are completed, the toll booths remain. They've even automated the payments with I-PASS, so Id say its a safe bet that they will be keeping the tollbooths indefinitely...

We do have stuff like welfare and food stamps for the poor... I'm still wondering what we're spending so much on.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for your perspective on America.

I can see what the UK spends its money on: welfare and healthcare are the major costs for central government. It is less easy to see for the US, with its more modest welfare burden. I would say the military machine is pretty expensive though.

Best of luck to you!

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you thinking about moving?

12:56 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am not presently thinking of moving. After all...where would we move to, that offers what we need?

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about something like ?

11:23 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for the tip. They have interesting distance learning options, as well...

If things don't work out where we are, then resources like the one you have indicated are very important alternatives: thanks for having the thoughtfulness to point them out.

Best wishes to you.

(I will keep an open mind about where we end up).

1:15 PM  

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