Welfarism a slippery slope

Mr Olli Muurainen's letter ("Pitfalls of excessive welfare in Nordic model"; March 26) is a cautious reminder that Singapore should tread carefully on the issue of handouts.

Handouts effect changes in people's circumstances that will wear off as they get used to getting it and expect more in the next round.

The idea that redistribution would help spur growth has long attracted adherents.

But the focus of social programmes should be education, training and acquiring skills.

Welfare can also lead to abuse by those who have created an unnecessary dependence on it.

When payments continue for several years, a person's skills and understanding of proper workplace behaviour are likely to deteriorate.

In addition, children who see their parents receiving handouts instead of working at a traditional job grow up with a distorted sense of what their options for the future will be, and, thus, run the risk of requiring assistance when they start their own families.

Welfare is the easiest way to destroy self-reliance, and this is the trap that some Western countries fell into when economic growth was robust and compassion was believed to be always affordable.

An entrenched welfare system is difficult to dismantle once people get used to a system of subsidised living.

By some people receiving money without working for it, taxpayers will have to pay for those who do not work.

Welfarism is a slippery slope that Singapore has to take care to avoid.

Francis Cheng