by Augustine Low

There is an old story about Midas, a man who was given one wish. To Midas, riches was everything, so he wished that everything he touched would turn into gold.

Midas realised too late that the food and water he touched also turned into gold. He starved to death because he foolishly wished for the wrong thing.

Now if we switch Midas to Minister, we can unveil the picture of what’s happening in this country.

The one thing people often associate with this country is that we have the world’s highest-paid politicians.

This gives rise to the idea that money buys success. Pay the world’s highest salaries and you attract the best, the brightest, the most talented to run the country.

If only the formula for success were that simple.

If money can buy success and happiness, many countries wouldn’t be in dire straits, many rich and prominent families wouldn’t be so acrimoniously torn apart.

There is an unfortunate ripple effect to the idea that success can be bought with money.

Parents do whatever they can to get their child into a top school, and pay top dollar for tuition and enrichment. Their children grow up equating money with success and aim for a course of study that leads to a career that pays the most, and then as working adults, they inevitably measure success by the house and car and luxuries they own.

Life becomes one mad scramble after another for all the material comforts money can buy.

Couples are too busy making money, no time to make babies. They are not prepared for the sacrifices involved in raising children.

Human relationships are neglected and pursuits and ambitions in life that do not involve money-making are put on the backburner.

Families find themselves in debt because the cost of living and cost of home ownership keep going up.

The elderly work through their twilight years because they need to fend for themselves.

We can only fear that it will get worse with each passing day.

Is it a surprise that salaries cannot keep pace with tax and price hikes?

Is it any wonder that home and commercial rental has skyrocketed, and that we have the world’s most expensive pasar malam stall?

The people who are paid the world’s highest salaries to solve problems are:

• too busy growing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at any cost
• too obsessed with foreign talents as a quick fix
• too focused on concocting new ways to tax the people
• too engrossed with a family dispute
• too concerned with hoarding the country’s reserves and keeping the size of the reserves a secret
• too preoccupied with attracting super-rich foreigners to invest and take up citizenship
• too caught up with turning Singapore into a playground for the wealthiest of Asia and the rest of the world

Our Ministers of today are like the Midas of old.

They think that money and riches are everything, they foolishly wish for a pot of gold when they should be wishing for Singaporeans to be relieved of stresses and struggles in a pressure cooker society.

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