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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Anything to breed, eh?



An excerpt from a Straits Times Shitty Times article on Mother's Day, 2008. My comments within the text of the article are enclosed in brackets [ ] and in red.


Love to love you baby

No money, no kids? I'm disconcerted when materialism creeps into what should be about matters of the heart.

Radha Basu, Senior Correspondent
The Sunday Times [The Straits Times]
May 11, 2008


We have one precious shot at living, so juggling career and kids and finding joy in the journey are just the way life should be.   ["Should be"? Says who? And to who?]

[ . . . ]

My kids make me feel rich in this land of millionaires — and often make me wonder why more women here are unwilling to give motherhood a shot.   [In other words, if you aren't a millionaire and desire to feel what it is like to be one — make babies. Engage loins, disconnect brain.]

Last week, Singapore gave itself a premature Mother's Day gift when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long announced that the total fertility rate (TFR) here has crept up to 1.29, its highest since 2002.

TRFs map how many children a woman can expect to have during her child-bearing years.

Richer countries traditionally have lower TFRs. But even after the recent good cheer, Singapore's rate languishes among the lowest in the world. The United States' Central Intelligence Agency puts it a few notches below most European countries — and more than 80 notches below the world's biggest economic powerhouse, the US.

Singapore is safe and cosmopolitan, school education is free, taxes are low and we have an abundant supply of affordable and efficient domestic help.   [This sort of efficient domestic help?]

While my friends in the West struggle to change diapers, juggle feeds, cook dinner, carve out a career and bond with their kids, I can leave the domestic drudgery to my helper Judith — who has over the past seven years become a part of my family — and concentrate just on kids and career.   [Here comes the retarded East-versus-West generalization again. As if Singapore represents the East. Such pomposity! As for Juidth: lucky you! Poor Judith!]

It's a luxury, I know, that few places in the world can afford.

The Government hopes the stork will soon make more frequent appearances here. It made public a study last week that showed more people want to have kids. But will the chasm between intent and reality be bridged? I am not sure.   [Anyone noticed that "government" is capitalized here? A mere typo, you thunk?]

Surveys after all are not always foolproof. Even as the government survey signalled the potential success of Singapore's pro-baby incentives, another smaller survey, this one by the National University of Singapore, yielded very different results.

While nearly seven in 10 married people interviewed said that Singapore's pro-baby incentives would raise the TFR here, less than three in 10 said these would affect their personal decision to have a child.

Both surveys put money as a big factor influencing married folk on how many children they should have, if any at all. I have met qualified women in well-paying jobs who dismiss the thought of having kids with a cavalier, "Not enough money, lah!"

Such comments are ironic, since Singapore already has one of the highest concentrations of wealthy households in the world.

In any case, I'm disconcerted when materialism creeps into arguments that should be essentially be about matters of the heart. My husband and I were not rich when we had Rhea. But we were young. And happy. And in love.   [So were Romeo and Juliet.]

Possibly the biggest obstacle to having kids is if you don't find the right partner. Singapore is full of intelligent and educated women who are single. Referring to them, Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew said last year that maybe their having children on their own was better than them not becoming mothers at all.   [In other words, out with morals when national interests are at stake. The same thing has happened with gambling, so why not babies?]

Perhaps it's time to destigmatise single motherhood.   [Nice try, but the contextual meaning here is "promote."]

[ . . . ]


(Basu, Radha.  "Love to love you baby".  The Straits Times [Singapore] 11 May 2008:  31)


One could have a field day deconstructing this  :-P

Regarding "this land of millionaires," Madam Basu should edify herself with the Gini Index:


Despite sporting a first-world GDP per capita of $29,000 -- second only to Japan in Asia -- Singapore has an income inequality profile more in line with third-world countries.

Singapore's Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, has worsened from 42.5 in 1998 to 47.2 in 2006, and is now in league with the Philippines (46.1) and Guatemala (48.3), and worse than China (44.7), data from Singapore's Household Survey and the World Bank show.

Other wealthy Asian nations such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan have more European-style Ginis of 24.9, 31.6 and 32.6.
         (De Clercq, Geert and Jacqueline Wong. "Singapore's economic boom widens income gap."  Reuters 9 Nov 2007.  13 May 2008 http://asia.news.yahoo.com/071109/3/3aof9.html )


One wonders if Carol John, 27, with her three children, "feel[s] rich in this land of millionaires."

If "matters of the heart" are all that matter in bringing forth a child into the world — and "materialism" has no place in it — then why quote the total fertility rate (TFR)?  Note that Madam Basu never explained what TFR has to do with a woman's personal choice to bear a child. Perhaps the correspondent is dimly aware that TFR ultimately leads back to materialism, albeit on the macro (national) scale?

Perhaps Madam Basu should be more disconcerted that the government has crept into the utilization of her womb? Or, perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise, given past social programs regarding an individual's kidneys, liver, heart, and corneas: "'No' to being a hangar queen. Part I," and "Part II.")






Postscript — awaiting re-verification.


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