by Shihang

A hundred bucks isn’t bad. But.

Here is my essay on immigration. The abstract is below:


In this essay, I argue that the opportunities immigration brings depend on the direction our economy takes in the future. In my opinion, this involves a move to high knowledge-based industries, and in particular, creative industries. To best achieve this, I argue that we need to reduce our dependence on cheap low-skilled foreign labour and instead establish Singapore as a destination for creative and skilled talent. This is not simply a matter of building facilities and offering incentives. It requires a social change. Strong-handed social intervention by the government, and a slapdash national identity due to the patchwork nature of the politics of pragmatism have created an environment hostile towards ideas that challenge the status quo.

I also argue that the main challenges we face are related to the problem of density. One solution is to make each body in Singapore count for more. Another is for Singapore to develop systems with loads of spare capacity (to increase elasticity of supply). However, this comes at the cost of upkeep costs (with which HDB had a particularly bad experience during the Asian financial crisis). Ultimately, it may simply be that more packed streets are simply a price to pay for the benefits immigrants bring.

I conclude with the assertion that the immigration of skilled workers is desirable. First, I address the issues of greater density and argue that Singapore can look at other major cities who are addressing these issues. Second, I advance the position that the most crucial step to encouraging immigration of such workers is fostering a culture of innovation. One possible point of intervention through which we can do this is through universities, where a homogeneity of thought can be broken up, and people can be exposed to different knowledge and skill sets.