Category Archives: Book Reviews

Twilight of the Elites?

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy

Hayes made an excellent argument why meritocracy is not working in America now. The Elite has found new ways to protect their offspring from dropping out of their group, by employing extensive networks of tutors, coaches and personal connections to make sure their children will join prestigious schools that will lead to them joining prestigious colleges. Opportunity for the poor to climb to the top is becoming scarce. This is very much like the situation in Singapore. The Elite is becoming out of touch with how normal people lives and cannot understand their problems, although they are supposed to represent us. In turn there is erosion of trust in all the major institutions.

Interestingly the solution Hayes proposes is to decrease inequality, the opposite of meritocracy. This is similar to Stiglitz’s proposal on his book.

Singapore is run with the principle of meritocracy. Doctors like me must be considered as part of the “winning” group. Interestingly the same kind of problems described by Hayes is also happening in Singapore. The government is now aware of this erosion of trust and is changing its stance to have more “inclusive” (read; non-meritocratic) growth.

A must read for anyone who is concerned about competition in society.

The Magic of Singapore Healthcare

Myth Or Magic - The Singapore Healthcare System

The Singapore Healthcare is generally admired to be of high quality at ridiculously low cost. Singapore spends 4% of her GDP as compared to 17% in America, with better outcomes. In the Undercover Economist, Tim Harford had openly admired the healthcare system of Singapore back in 2008:

Recently, some opinion leaders had explored learning from the Singapore system:

I am a doctor in Singapore and am proud of our system.

However, people who advocate learning from the Singapore system would do well to read Dr Jeremy Lim’s Myth or Magic: the Singapore Healthcare System. He detailed what the government had to do to make our healthcare system so efficient. A lot of government intervention is required. The government controls the whole system, including the supply, the demand and the prices. Then the free market is allowed to function for the efficiency.

Whether this system can be replicated elsewhere is not something I can answer. Readers of this book can decide whether this is possible.