Letter to the Forum Page of Straits Times on 17th Feb 2015
LAST Saturday’s articles (“Dying shouldn’t be so brutal” and “Rise of the frugal economy”) draw attention to two important issues that we need to address – the reality of death and money, for they affect our approach to health care.
Firstly, we need to come to terms with our mortality. It has been said that it is better to die a meaningful death than to live a meaningless life. Facing death will help us to make better and more informed decisions about medical care and avoid futile treatments that may add years to our lives but diminishe the quality of our remaining life.
As the writer Ira Byock rightly pointed out, there is a lot we can do to make the process of dying safer as the end of life approaches, whether death is welcomed or feared. We can also improve the quality of life, as well as extending survival and saving money.
Secondly, we need to change our attitude towards money. In the second article’s writers Navi Radjou and Jaideep Prabhu have drawn attention to a very important truth – a self-organising frugal economy could generate millions of dollars in value and create millions of jobs.
As they pointed out, the Internet, mobile technologies and social media have eliminated the intangible costs associated with search, bargaining, decision-making, and enforcement in many sectors. We also need to recognise the very important difference between a welfare state and a cooperative society.
In a welfare state, taxes are collected from the rich to help the poor. In a cooperative society, rich and poor pool their financial resources for the common good. When everyone gives their “small change” to make a big change in our nation, there will be more than enough to provide basic, essential and universal medical care, as well as to reduce the cost of education, transport and other essential services.
We need to encourage our citizens to pay their taxes as an expression of gratitude for the opportunities for them to earn their living. Taxes should not be seen as a burden, but as a responsibility for those of us who are doing well to ensure that their fellow citizens are well taken care of.
We urgently need to transform our selfish and competitive society into a cooperative and compassionate nation.