Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Rafflesia by any name stinks as a corpse

As the saying goes, "A rose by any name smells as sweet."

IMHO, the reverse is true. "A Rafflesia by any name stinks as a corpse."

Poverty exists in Canada. Click here for information from Canada Without Poverty. The cut-off is not known officially as the "Poverty Line" but "Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO)". Click here for the official definition of LICO from Statistics Canada. Or click here for the actual statistics -- ACCOUNTABLE, OPEN and TRANSPARENT for all to see.

Unlike a little red dot with officials who deny the existence of poverty, Canada makes no pretense that poverty exists in this first world nation.

Quote Chan Chun Sing (see online news article below), "other developed ones such as New Zealand and Canada also do not subscribe to official poverty lines."

Canada does not have a SINGLE official poverty line. This is because the reality is that the cost of living varies greatly from province-to-province, from community-to-community. Instead Canada defines a range of LICOs that "vary by family size and by size of community".

So what is the Singapore minister trying to say? Your guess is as good as mine. But as the adage goes, "The first step to solving a problem is to recognize that a problem exists." Thereafter, it is often useful to have a method to gauge/measure the success/effectiveness of a solution/policy -- regardless if the measure is called "Poverty Line" or "Low-Income Cut-Off".

[Extracted from The Straits Times - Singapolitics on 24-Oct-2013.]
Posted on Oct 23, 2013 5:03 PM Updated: Oct 23, 2013 5:03 PM


  1. That CB kia should not just use bits and pieces of information that suits him. This is the reason why a free press is needed.

    "There is no official “poverty line” in NZ as there is in other countries (e.g. USA) and no formal agreement about exactly how to measure poverty.

    There is general consensus however, that the strongest indicator of poverty is your level of income. There is also some consensus that an income level set at 60% of median household disposable income after housing costs is a reasonable level of income to protect people from the worst effects of poverty (e.g. this is the measure adopted by the Government’s Social Report)."


    "New Zealand does not have an official poverty measure. However, low-income thresholds or poverty lines can be used. The ‘fixed line’ measure anchors the poverty line in a reference year, then adjusts it each survey with the Consumer Price Index. The ‘moving line’ or ‘relative’ measure sets the poverty line as a proportion of the median income.

    The fixed line measure (60 percent of median income) adjusted for housing costs indicated 15 percent of the total population lived in poverty in 2010, the same as in 2009. This ended a decline in poverty started in 1994. Child poverty rates were 22 percent from 2007 to 2010, following major falls from 2001. According to the MSD this was due to improving employment, income-related rents and WFF. Poverty rates for older New Zealanders (7 percent) were lower in 2010 than for any other age group (13 percent for 25 to 64 year olds and 22 percent for dependent children)."

    1. Hi CK,

      Thanks for sharing. When something smells fishy, it's worth checking the underlying facts.

      Cheers, WD.

  2. The way I see it, the government will not define the poverty line, because if they did, it would open the door for the public to argument for setting minimum wage.

    Btw, I cannot find any information on how much the government spends annually on social services, specifically social welfare (safety net). I just realized that Singapore government does not publish an annual financial report of public spending, something equivalent to the Government of Canada Public Accounts.

    1. Hi Oblivious,

      Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments.

      > the government will not define the poverty line, because if they did, it would open the door for the public to argument for setting minimum wage.

      Yes, totally agree. Kristen Han puts is succinctly in her Yahoo! News Singapore article dated 24-Oct-2013 [bold added by me for emphasis]:
      "But once we have this line and are able to see ourselves not only in terms of who's the richest, but also who's the poorest, it would be remiss of the government and its citizens to not seek solutions."

      And Yawning Bread held similar opinions [bold added by me for emphasis]:
      "Undoubtedly, they are afraid that once an official poverty line is drawn, the ineffectiveness of existing social support becomes clearer, with at-risk numbers refusing to budge year after year. Public pressure to do more becomes hard to resist. Doing more, however, is not what the government wants."

      You're right that amount spent on social services in Singapore are not as openly available as similar figures in Canada. Bloggers like Yawning Bread, Leong Sze Hian, and The Heart Truths, often have to put in much effort to dig through news reports, parliamentary replies, etc, and combine/approximate some data from the Dept of Statistics to derive/approximate such figures. Which is why I emphasized how similar data is "ACCOUNTABLE, OPEN and TRANSPARENT" in Canada.

      Aren't you glad that we're in Canada?

      Cheers, WD.

    2. Thanks for attaching the relevant links to other bloggers on the same topic.

      And yes, I'm glad to be living in Canada where things are a lot more transparent and government is centrist, although some of my Canadian friends complain that the current Harper government is moving the pendulum a little too far (relative to the past) to the right. For example, the recent report that scientists are being muzzled by the Harper Government from talking about their research and results. Oh well, that a discussion for another day. :)