Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Founder of Nomad Capitalist and the world’s most sought-after expert on global citizenship.

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Obama should learn a lesson from Singapore on income inequality

Who could have predicted that last night’s State of the Union address by President Obama would be a rallying cry for more of the same populist dogma that seems to plague the west these days?

Hopefully, anybody.

Among the American president’s proposals are increasing the federal minimum wage 24% to $9 an hour, and to peg it to inflation. After all, we wouldn’t want the President’s voting bloc to feel like they’re suffering while he and Congress dilute the value of the US dollar with new entitlement spending, drone strikes and foreign wars, and the increasing police state.

Of course, somebody forgot to tell them that Singapore, arguably the freest economy in the world and home to the highest number of millionaires per capita, has no minimum wage, yet 25% more GDP purchasing power than the US. Meanwhile, their Gini coefficient, the measure of Obama’s dreaded income inequality, is similar to that of the US.

The big issue at play is what you already know: western politicians desperate to hang onto power will try anything to appeal to as broad a segment of the low-informed population as possible. Even worse, Obama’s plan underscores a wrongheaded vision the encourages low-paid work and discourages development with tax breaks, Earned Income Tax Credits, and political goodwill.

Politically manipulating the numbers won’t lift people out of poverty just like it hasn’t worked with anything else. It’s all about pandering for votes.

Make no mistake that Barack Obama is the latest and most visible world leader standing as a figurehead for economically unsound political ideology. Plenty of places in the world want to discourage your productivity and blame you for the plight of the less fortunate.

They say they support business but hate everything business stands for and make doing business difficult. They say they want to help lower wage earners yet they implement policies that keep them in poverty.

Listen to the American left and talk radio in particular and you’ll hear them mock those on the other side of the aisle who aspire to one day be rich. “You’ll never be rich”, hosts from Mike Malloy to Ed Schultz say.

That’s the anti-capitalist version of “hope”: hope you’re not the highest guy on the totem pole, because you’re not smart enough anyway, and we’ll give you the goodies from those who actually did become rich.

Of course, “rich” becomes adjustable based on whatever is politically expedient at the time. And perhaps eventually, they’ll be right, because the rich will have moved to Singapore.

I’m beating the drum more than usual recently because it’s so apparent that you have two choices in life and in business right now.

You can choose to live and do business in one of many places where politicians have you pegged as their ticket to stay in office and will use and manipulate you for that purpose. Or, you can find a place where your capital, your energy, and your drive is welcomed, cherished, and rewarded… where rising prices caused by government mismanagement aren’t blamed on you as governments seek to extract more money from you for their populist causes.

If you’re waiting for the day when it’s finally “enough”, I’d take another look at what’s being said by the rulers in your country and ask yourself if it isn’t already here.

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