Economic Affairs

Why inequality, and not just poverty, matters to Singapore

It can be unfair and has a pernicious effect on society, worsening poverty and other problems

On June 1, Dr Yaron Brook, the chairman of the California-based Ayn Rand Institute, and Mr Don Watkins, a senior fellow at the same pro-free market think-tank, wrote an article in these pages titled Why Inequality Might Not Be Unfair, urging Singaporeans not to concern themselves with this issue.

Then, in response to pushback from readers in the Forum pages, Mr Justin Ong, the co-founder of an organisation called The Philosophy of Life, which hosted Dr Brook in Singapore, wrote a rejoinder, complaining that "many Singaporeans have mistakenly conflated poverty with inequality". The fight is with poverty, not inequality, he asserted.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2019, with the headline 'Why inequality matters'. Print Edition | Subscribe