Poverty, regarding social or political aspects, and

Poverty, which is defined as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money” (Merriam-Webster), is what some may call an inevitable consequence of the world we live in. This large scale issue which continues to rise in relevance, currently faces more than 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty with less than $1.25 a day (Do Something).

As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, the topic on inequality becomes highly debated. Is income inequality necessary for the growth of a country? Inequality has for long been associated with your own level of happiness. It is proven that people in less equal societies are more likely to have trust issues between each other, less likely to participate regarding social or political aspects, and more so, less likely to maintain a happy state (Equality Trust).

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As with many other debated topics, on one hand, there appear to perspectives supporting the claim that income inequality is necessary for countries to prosper while others seem to go against the claim. Despite having debated for the motion stating that income inequality is necessary for growth, I have come to understand through the course of the debate the negative effects which income inequality has on the development of a country. The social system, meritocracy, in which people’s success in life depend “primarily on their talents, abilities, and effort” (ThoughtCo), is clearly used in order for individuals to better ourselves as we strive and compete for top grades, approvals to the best universities and receiving scholarships. For a fast-developing country like Singapore, it is necessary to have such a system, ensuring that everyone works hard rather than depending on their reputation. I have often experienced this form of thinking as it is engrained in the educational system in Singapore and having lived there for 8 years, it is something I have been taught since I was young. This pillar of national identity in Singapore, has recently received criticism due to its association with elitism. The global city has become obsessed with “a war for talent” (The Washington Post).

Singaporean politician, Goh Chok Tong mentioned in a speech he delivered at the 2013 Gryphon Award Dinner that “for Singapore in particular, a meritocratic system, while not perfect, is the best means to maximise the potential and harness the talents of our people.” (United Youth Journalists). To some extent, I agree with what Mr.Tong expressed, however on the other hand, I am reminded of the disabled and those who are not born into a wealthy enough family to support them in receiving a good education. Competing alongside the more fortunate, makes it an unfair play. I believe an education raises the chances of one have a secured, successful and bright future. Furthermore, the intense atmosphere which seems to appear because of this system, could isolate ones from being more outgoing as their focus is on nothing besides the academic aspect. As I mentioned in my debate, in terms of psychology, it is reasonable to make the descriptive claim that people are primarily motivated and willing to work harder by the possibility of gain and glory.

Individual’s’ earnings are directly related to their productivity.Although I can see where Singapore is coming from, expressing that higher ranking positions would be more appropriate slots for those who are the most talented, skillful and determined individuals, I am also able to see the contrary side to this debate. Singapore’s perspective of income inequality being necessary for growth, contradicts Nordic countries who have in times when the gap between lower class and upper class expands further in developed countries, the Scandinavian region has stayed a ‘role model for economic opportunity and equality’ (Investopedia). An analysis released in 2014 by OECD – the organisation of economic co-operation – suggested that income inequality has a negative and statistically significant impact on medium-term growth. Redistribution through taxes and benefits is used as a direct policy tool by government has proven to generate inefficiencies. Countries who keep income inequality to a minimum are growing much faster as opposed to those countries with rising inequality.

Regarding the Nordic Model, services funded by taxpayers are offered including free education and healthcare. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurr√≠a, revealed “countries that promote equal opportunity for all from an early age are those that will grow and prosper” (OECD), which is precisely what these Scandinavian countries are doing. I found it intriguing to hear the organization believed a lack of investment in education by the poor is one of the biggest factors which causes inequality to harm growth. I was able to empathise greatly with the mentioned global perspective since having grown up in an international environment, I have had the privilege to sustain a good education in which UWC has allowed to become more socially aware of world. In agreement with the organization’s perspective, I also believe that narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor can be done by investing more into education. Additionally, coming from Denmark, makes me somewhat proud knowing the resources being promoted to all.

¬†Overall, my personal perspective on the topic of income inequality and its necessity for a country’s growth, is an effective way to have individuals who strive for the very best yet on the other hand, encouraging equal opportunities within countries is also necessary to ensure the development of a country is not limited. In order to keep society fair and allow it to grow financially, we must find a good balance between perfect equality and perfect inequality. In regards to my perspective on the issue, my understanding of the debate topic have changed in light of the local and global perspectives which seemed to appear after having researched into income inequality. Concerning the meritocratic system which Singapore follows, there is potential in excluding a percentage of the population, which I don’t believe is the most ideal option. I must admit, meritocracy is reasonable as it aims to bring out the best in everyone, teaching the lesson that the more you do, the better off you are. With that being said, having gotten a broader understanding on the nordic system, has to an extent has led me to withhold a capitalist view. This change in perspective has been majorly based on the realisation of the influences I have had in life, regarding the fact that I originate from Denmark and furthermore the faiths I was introduced to by my family.

Denmark, along with many other Nordic nations have embraced work incentives, staying immune to the rising income inequality. In fact, a newly-released Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study has revealed that Denmark has the lowest rate of inequality among all OECD nations. I argued under the debate that assistant vice president, Thomas Alexander Garrett, at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank believed that income inequality is “a by-product of a functioning capitalist society” however, I’m not sure I agree with this expression to the same extent as I did before the debate. Though I still concur with the statement I expressed in the debate that income inequality acts as a catalyst, driving individuals to be truly passionate as well as highly hardworking and motivated, I now also hold the perspective that offering the mentioned top-quality services, will allow countries to give more equal opportunities. Philanthropy plays an important role in building stronger local communities by helping “close the gap” and tackling inequality is vital in supporting people’s contribution to the nation. Although a step in the right direction, anti-poverty programmes will not be enough to solve inequality. The issue cannot possibly be fixed overnight but it would be ideal if countries could reach a well-functioning balance between the Nordic system and Singapore’s meritocracy view on income inequality.


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