Consider America's 99-weeks of unemployment benefits and the nearly 47 million people receiving food stamps. Even a suggestion that such benefits be cut prompts demonstrations, TV commercials from activists and political damage (recall Mitt Romney's "47 percent" remark). Reliance on government can -- and often does -- damage self-reliance. It is a reliance on self as a first resource and government as a last resort that not only improves individual lives, but national life.
Singapore appears to be a holdout in this Asian entitlement revolution. And why shouldn't it? As The Economist reports, "...government spending is only a fifth of GDP but schools and hospitals are among the best in the world."
Why would so many other Asian governments flirt with entitlement programs when economic growth has brought prosperity to so many who have never known it? Why not focus on more growth and a broadening of prosperity to even more?
Unfortunately, Singapore has at least one black mark. Its Ministry of Manpower estimates that it has more than 200,000 foreign maids. Yet it has no minimum wage policy. Many maids make as little as S$420 (US$337) to S$450 (US$360) a month. They should be treated better. And starting January 1 perhaps they will be. Beginning then, all new maid contracts will have to offer at least S$450 (US$360) and one day off a week. To treat these workers any less equitably would be a stain on the entire country.
That said, Asian nations should not be looking to the West's dubious entitlement programs; rather they should follow Singapore's example, which leads to independence from government and personal empowerment.