Saturday, May 07, 2016

Bernie Sander's explains about overcoming poverty

Here is an email sent by Bernie Sanders. It is long, but is worth reading.

Sisters and Brothers -
In the United States today, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, 47 million Americans are living in poverty.
Almost 22 percent of American children are poor and we have the highest child poverty rate of almost any major country on earth.
Let’s be clear. Living in poverty doesn’t just mean you don’t have enough money to buy a big screen TV, a fancy laptop, or the latest iPhone. It goes much deeper than that.
Living in poverty means you are less likely to have a good grocery store in your community selling healthy food. Far too often it means you don’t know where your next meal is going to come from. Living in poverty means you are less likely to have access to a doctor, dentist or mental health care provider. It means you have less access to public transportation, which makes it harder to find a job. It means you are less likely to have access to child care.
In the United States of America, poverty is often a death sentence.
Yesterday, I spoke about poverty in McDowell County, West Virginia — one of the poorest counties in one of the poorest states in America. In 2014, over 35 percent of the residents in McDowell lived in poverty, including nearly half of the children. The roads are crumbling and only 6 percent of adults have a college education. Less than two-thirds have graduated high school. It has the lowest life expectancy for men in the entire nation. I hope you’ll watch part of my speech on poverty and share it with friends and family on social media.
Poverty is an issue we must address. In 2011, the American Journal of Public Health found that 130,000 people died in just one year alone as a result of poverty.
This is not an issue we can just sweep under the rug and hope it will go away. Because it won’t.
And when I talk about it being too late for establishment politics and economics, this is what I mean. When I talk about thinking big and outside the box, about rejecting incremental change, I am talking about the millions of Americans who live in poverty who have been tossed out, left behind, and abandoned by the rich and powerful. We need to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.
Here’s what we need to do:
  1. Rebuild our country’s crumbling infrastructure. A $1 trillion investment in our infrastructure will create at least 13 million jobs all over America - jobs that cannot be outsourced.
  2. We must rewrite our disastrous trade policies that enable corporate America to shut down plans in places like West Virginia and move them to Mexico, China, and other low-wage countries.
  3. We can create 1 million jobs for disadvantaged youths through legislation I introduced with Rep. John Conyers of Michigan.
  4. We need to increase the wages of at least 53 million American workers by raising the minimum wage from a starvation wage of $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour.
  5. At a time when women workers earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, we need to sign the Paycheck Fairness Act into law. Equal pay for equal work.
  6. We need to make health care a right for every man, woman, and child through a Medicare for All single-payer system.
  7. We need to treat drug addiction like a mental health issue, not a criminal issue.
  8. We need to ensure every worker in this country has at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, two weeks of paid vacation, and one week of paid sick days.
  9. We need to impose a tax on Wall Street to make public colleges and universities tuition free while substantially reducing student debt.
  10. At a time when half of older workers have no retirement savings, we’re not going to cut Social Security, we’re going to expand it so people can retire with dignity and respect.
No president can do all of these things alone. We need millions of Americans to begin to stand up and fight back and demand a government that represents all of us. That is the political revolution.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

Friday, May 06, 2016

An appropriate adjective

Bernie Sanders used an adjective to describe each of his campaign focus.

He is fighting against:

CORRUPT campaign finance system
RIGGED economy
BROKEN criminal justice system
GROTESQUE income inequality
CRUMBLING infrastructure

He is fighting for
Minimum wage of $15 per hour
Healthcare as a right
Tuition free college education
Paid maternity leave
Pay equity for women
The rich should pay their fair share of tax

Poor taxi service

I wanted to take a taxi from Chinatown to my office this afternoon. Most of the taxis had red signs, indicating that they are busy, hired or on call. A taxi with green sign came along. I signaled it to stop.

Driver - where are you going?
TKL - Upper Thomson Road
Driver - sorry. out of the way.

The taxi driver is either changing shift or have to pick up a family member from shopping or school.
I did not wait for the next taxi. I took the bus.

I get the impression that taxis are expensive and the standard of service is rather poor.

Another issue is - too many taxis are queuing for about 1 hour at the airport. Why are we so unproductive?

DBS - lack of common sense

When I pay salary to my employees using DBS internet banking, DBS asked me if they are all DBS accounts or some are not.

Apparently, if all are DBS accounts, the transfer can be made within one day. If any of the accounts are non-DBS, it will take 4 days.

Surely, DBS does not need to ask this question. They can check if the account is DBS or not, using the bank code.

Even if the accounts are mixed, the common sense approach is to transfer the money to DBS accounts within one day, and to non-DBS accounts within 4 days.

But common sense is lacking in Singapore. Sad.

Concern about privacy of NRIC

Dear Mr.Tan,
I am a big fan of you and read your blog regularly with great interest.

I noticed in one of your blog entry, titled "Confusing webform in IRAS", you have posted your tax ref. no. which I suppose is your NRIC no. My concern is by revealing your NRIC no., will it causes you any unnecessary troubles if anyone wanted to sabotaged you? I just hope that you're not harmed in anyway but I suggest u remove or mosaic your personal detail.

What is the problem about letting other people know my NRIC?
What can they do with this info?

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Pedestrian crossing in Jakarta and in Singapore

I saw an interesting pedestrian crossing in downtown Jakarta. The pedestrian light was red and there was a countdown showing when it will turn green. After that, the countdown showed when it would turn red.

The waiting time for the light to change was about 30 seconds. That was acceptable.

In contrast, the pedestrian light near my house in Yio Chu Kang Road was most unhelpful. After pressing for the light, I had to wait for a long time (perhaps 2 minutes) before the light turns green for pedestrians to cross. I often crossed the road when the light was still red, as there was no approaching vehicles.

After I crossed the road, the light turned green and the vehicles stopped for the "ghosts" to cross. This is ridiculous, but I accept it to be quite part of today's Singapore.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The American political system is corrupt

America used to be a model for democracy. A well organized system of elections. A constitution with separation of powers and checks and balances.

It turned out that their system of democracy is as corrupt as any third world country. Politicians rely on donations by the super rich and the corporations. In turn, they vote according to the dictates of their donors.

The public hold their political leaders in contempt. There is only a small number of notable exceptions - like Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders wins Indiana state primary

Sisters and Brothers -
Moments ago the news networks declared us the winner of yet another state - our 18th of the primary season: Indiana.
For the past several weeks, the corporate media has counted us out of this election. The political and financial establishment of this country have been vocal in their desire for us to go away. To get in line.
Today, the voters had another idea.
Every victory we earn is extraordinarily important for our political revolution. Not just because of the delegates we earn, but because each win and all the work that goes into that effort sends an unmistakable message to the establishment of this country that we will never stop fighting for the values we share. I say we keep fighting. Are you with me?
The next states up are West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon. They are all places we have a chance to do very well. I am in this fight through the Democratic convention. Thank you for standing with me.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Spend the four years to study relevant subjects

At the dental clinic, I met a new dental assistant who spoke with a Filipina accent,

TKL - How long have you worked in Singapore?
Asst - I just joined last month.
TKL - Did you go to college?
Asst - I have a degree in business.
TKL - Why do you become a dental assistant?
Asst - I like the work.

It is happening all over the world. Young people studied for the glamorous jobs - banking, finance, business.

But they end up doing the jobs that are available - dental assistant, hospital assistant, teaching.

It would have been better if they spent the four years in college studying for the jobs that they finally have to do. Why waste four years studying subjects that are not relevant?

The German apprenticeship system is better in teaching workers on the relevant skills. That is why the Germans are highly skilled and highly paid. They don't waste four years studying irrelevant subjects.

Given up on

I have given up on Today, I unsubscribed from their daily marketing email.

During the past few months, I bought several products from that website. I like the design of their website. They made it easy for customers to buy online. They do not require troublesome verification processes.

My problem with Lazada came when they sold me a product that was badly described  and was defective. They described the product as "Electric Cordless Drill" but it was actually battery operated. The compartment holding the drill bits cannot be opened.

The return process was a big hassle. They asked me to fill in a lot of details. The first transaction got lost. They did not pick up the item from my house.

I had to submit the lengthy details again. This time, they replied that the product was correctly described and refused to take it back. Although I gave them a telephone number, they did not call me back. (They claimed that they did, but it did not show on my mobile phone).  They do not provide a number for me to call them.

Finally, they agree to take back the product. It was another big hassle to arrange a date and time for the pickup. They asked me to state the date and time and then told me that it was not available. They sent a long email to apologize and assure me that they want to give good customer service.

They also told me that they will take 5 days to check if the product is really defective, before they refund the money to me.  The purchase amount was $15. They must have spend more than $15 on their processing.

In total, I sent back about 10 emails over this simple matter. I finally decided to unsubscribe to this website and not to place any more order with them.

Why am I telling this story? This website is built by Singaporeans. Recently, they sold the website to Alibaba for $1 billion dollar. They are successful.

But when it come to the refund process, they follow the typical Singaporean mindset - how to avoid responsibility, not able to tell what is big and small, wasting a lot of time on unimportant matters.

I hope that the entrepreneurs who set up this website pay attention to this refund process. They can destroy their business if they continue to irrigate their customers.

Get rid of the "don't care less" attitude

I changed to bus 162 at Yio Chu Kang Interchange. The LTA app showed the arrival time of the next two buses to be 19 min and 34 min.

I guessed that one bus will arrive after 4 mins, and that this bus is not showing in the LTA app because its tracking device is not working.

I was right. A bus did arrive after 5 mins. This bus was not recognized by the LTA app. I had encountered this issue before. I suspect that it is the same bus.

This reflects the "don't care less" attitude that is reflective of LHL's regime. If LHL or his minister paid attention, they would have asked LTA to ensure that the buses run on schedule. LTA could run an automatic script in the database to identify the buses that are "missing".

If nobody cares, they will not know that this bus has been missing in their app for a few months!

There is no need for me to give feedback to LTA or SBS. In the past, they don't act on feedback anyway. They follow the bad example of LHL and his ministers.

I hope that the voters in Bukit Batok vote for change, and send someone to Parliament who is able to pay attention and don't follow the "don't care less" attitude of LHL's regime.

Monday, May 02, 2016

The folly of paying less taxes

Many voters who support the Republicans in America are quite stupid. Their politicians promised them that they will cut taxes for the middle income families. They fall for the line.

These families do not realize that they save $5,000 in taxes but the high income earners save 10 to 100 times of this amount.

As the government does not collect sufficient tax revenue, they have to cut back on health, education, welfare and public services. The middle income families have to pay charges for these services. They end up paying several times more than the taxes that they "saved".

The middle income families fall for this trick presented to them by the politicians who look after the interest of the super rich.

Many working families in Singapore also fall for the same trick. They think that it is a good idea to pay less tax, but did not realize that they have to pay more for public services.

Bernie Sanders has a credible and convincing message to the super delegates

Bernie Sanders is remarkable. Even at this stage of the campaign, when he is trailing Hillary Clinton by 45% to 55%, he has a credible and convincing message to the super delegates of the Democratic Party.

To be fair, Bernie Sanders is clearly the stronger candidate. He is able to attract the votes of the young people and the independents. These voters are not allowed to vote in the closed primary elections that are held in many states.

Bernie Sander win by a landslide in the states which operate an open system where young voters and independents are allowed to register and vote on the same day.

These voter who will make a big difference in the general election.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Misleading message from AsiaOne

I received an email quite regularly from AsiaOne (from SPH) that keeps saying "Wall Street plunges".

Initially, I was surprised, - Why does Wall Street keep plunging so many times. Later, I realized that this is just a banner for the email.

AsiaOne should remember that they are a news website, and not a marketing company. They should not confuse their readers with this kind of misleading message.

Why can't Starhub check the SIM card?

When I travel overseas, I insert a local SIM card in my mobile phone. When I returned to Singapore, I insert the Starhub SIM card back. There was no connection for a long time. At first, I thought that the reception was bad in the airport, but there was still no connection outside of the airport.

After a lot of trouble trying to locate the problem, I found that I have to give a setting to indicate if my SIM card is a prepaid card or a postpaid card. Without this setting, the SIM card refused to work.

I do not know why Starhub needed this setting. Surely, they will know from the SIM card if it is a prepaid or a postpaid card. I also do not know why they did not ask for it directly. Instead, I get a "no connection".

This is an idiotic design from Starhub.

Happy Roam from Starhub

Starhub advertised a Happy Roam service. It allows the customer to buy a 1G data plan for as low as $5 in several overseas countries. Strangely, they offer it only to their prepaid customers. It is not available to postpaid customers.

I do not understand why Starhub treats its postpaid customers so badly. Surely, they can offer the Happy Roam to the postpaid customers as well?

Perhaps this is one way for Starhub to squeeze its customers who will lose the balance of the prepaid card, if it is not fully consumed. If this is the reason, then I feel very sad for Singapore to have this kind of people running our big corporations!

Idiotic design from Starhub

When I travel overseas, I insert a local SIM card in my mobile phone. When I returned to Singapore, I insert the Starhub SIM card back. There was no connection for a long time. At first, I thought that the reception was bad in the airport, but there was still no connection outside of the airport.

After a lot of trouble trying to locate the problem, I found that I have to give a setting to indicate if my SIM card is a prepaid card or a postpaid card. Without this setting, the SIM card refused to work.

I do not know why Starhub needed this setting. Surely, they will know from the SIM card if it is a prepaid or a postpaid card. I also do not know why they did not ask for it directly. Instead, I get a "no connection".

This is an idiotic design from Starhub.

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