This is in response to Gary's stimulating comment in my previous entry. I have to create a new entry 'cos long-winded me wrote too much (as usual) and the comment box refused to accept it. So here goes:
Sacred cows are figments of our imagination.They exist in both our minds and in the minds of our policy-makers. Slaughtering sacred cows is extremely difficult because although their time has come no one dares to wield the knife. Everyone is afraid of ghosts, of consequences. And since they've served us so well before, we're going to keep on preserving them because once they're gone, what would suffice to replace them?
The way forward is for everyone to realise that the term 'sacred cow' only describes a method that once resulted in success, hence the mistaken belief that it will continue to bring us success no matter what. Whoever told us to slaughter our sacred cows recognised that new times require new methods, but I believe we were just as guilty of holding on to them too tightly to want to see them go. The paper chase, the rat race, the 5'C's, the materialism and petty jealousies, they're all our own creation. They arose out of the opportunities that once gave us skilled jobs and commensurate prosperity, and the belief that we deserved what we earned because we worked hard for it. Nothing wrong there, but it made us selfish -- equating poverty with laziness or cannot-make-it-ness or otherwise not-one-of-us-ness. Meritocratic policy may have been the starting point, but our mindsets turned it into the monster that it is today.
So is it with our so-called 'OB' markers. What do we really have to do to be guilty of crossing an OB marker? You'd have to be a clear threat to civil society before anybody starts taking notice of you. Anyone who threatens not the leadership itself but society's trust in the legally elected leadership, or attempts to fragment our society to gain support for their cause can expect action to be taken against them. But for us normal, ordinary citizens who lead normal workaday lives, what could we possibly do so wrong that could result in detention or exile?
The electon 'threats'? The cajoling? They're just rhetoric, empty words from a parent to a rebellious child throwing a tantrum. We have to get away from this relationship as quickly as possible because it's toxic to both of us.
If our society is going to grow up, we have to stop defining our relationship with our Government as parent-child. While we persist with this view, it doesn't matter who makes up the ruling party. PAP or Opposition, we're simply replacing one parent for another, and we'll be just as dissatisfied and disillusioned with the outcome either way. As long as we expect the Government to do everything for us (which basically means let the good times roll) and not take responsibility for ourselves, for our own situations, in our own circumstances, and bloody well HELP one another in times of need, we're setting expectations that NO government could ever fulfil.
It is heartening to see that we are indeed growing up. We've reached our rebellious teenage years where we chafe at Authority and think that our almighty Parent is suppressing us and curtailing our pocket-money and personal freedoms. Believe me, the government wants us to grow up as quickly as possible and be less of a dependent (i.e., pest) and more of a working partner. The government's current drive is active citizenry, where we finally come out of our individual, darkened little bedrooms (with signs on the door that say "Private: Keep Out") and recognise that we have family huddling around the living room. That's our community. Whomever they are, how many there are, it is our job to look after one another, and not entirely the Government's.
So what do we need a government for? As far as possible, it provides the necessary but normally unprofitable public works for us to enjoy, maintains the integrity of our sovereignity within the global community, ensures that we can define a common identity for ourselves, upholds justice and public trust within our borders, maintains peace among our peoples, that sort of thing. These are the really big things that we can't do on our own, but we work with our elected representatives to bring about.
Governments deal with generalities, not specifics. Micromanagement is what a government is worst at. The faster we learn to wipe our butts for oursleves, the faster the government can get it's nose out of our business and get back to doing its real job, leaving us to lead our lives the way we want... together.