SINGAPORE — While the U.S. unemployment rate “dropped” to 7.7 percent last month — a figure even The Washington Post acknowledged was due “…in large part because the labor force fell by 350,000…” — here in this modern and prosperous city-state of slightly more than 5 million people, unemployment is practically nonexistent.
A taxi driver tells me, “Everyone here works.” With unemployment at an astonishingly low 1.9 percent, he is nearly right.
In part, this is due to a work ethic that seems to be in the genes here. But there is something else at work that should astound Washington politicians struggling with expensive “entitlement” programs and with those who receive them.
The Economist wrote about it in a 2010 article. What contributes to Singapore’s prosperity and a vibrant economy that includes a stable currency and a rising stock market, it said, is this: “The state’s attitude can be simply put: being poor here is your own fault. Citizens are obliged to save for the future, rely on their families and not expect any handouts from the government unless they hit rock bottom.”
As a parent, this is my favorite part of the article: “The emphasis on family extends into old age: retired parents can sue children who fail to support them. In government circles, ‘welfare’ remains a dirty word…”