The construction of a proper building can take anywhere from 2 to 4 years at normal speed. It involves the laying of the foundations, of reinforcing the foundations with iron bars and concrete, of piling up of stone one upon another to build up the structure among other things. The whole process is slow and takes time. But the completed product can weather storms or even earthquakes. On the other hand, sandcastles can be built quickly, even if we scale the time down to proportions. There is no need for foundations, and the only material needed is pure sand. Yet the slightest wave of the sea or the drops of the rain could wear it down quickly.
Singapore is a developed country, with the main bulk of our income coming from services – our port and our financial services. Due to Singapore’s extremely good geographical advantage, our seaport is one of the busiest in the world. It can be said to be one of the pillars of our economy. Singapore is also a financial hub – I shall not say more here. Along with a combination of other services, our service industry contributes 70.95% of our GDP. Due to a lack of land, we only have 0.03% of our GDP coming from agriculture.
Russia is a developing country with a very low GDP. Since 2014, the West has sanctioned Russia in an attempt to cut it off from the world and to crush it. Yet in 2022, 8 years after the sanctions, not only did Russia not die, it was able to launch a war against Ukraine and scare the West into toeing the line.
Can Singapore survive 8 years of sanction? No. We will die. This is no fault of Singapore. Singapore is too small. Earning as much as we can via services is something I agree with the Government 100%. But it does not change one question: Does the basis of your success lie on solid ground?
What is the foundation upon which a country is built on? Food for survival, production to keep the country running, science to tech-up and money to flourish. With food the citizens can survive, only then will they have the capacity to produce things to make life better, and to level up in their technology for progress as a society or civilisation. Money does not come right at the end, but follows each and every stage of society’s progress, snowballing in size the more the country advances.
With the bounty of the land and the sea we have food. With energy we power up the modern day machineries. Many countries in Africa cannot develop well because the basic survival need of food is not fulfilled. North Korea used to be advanced, until the sanctions cut off its supply of oil, crippling its industries.
To measure a country’s output, we often use the GDP system. The GDP measures the value of goods and services produced, and hence is a quick way to measure the output. But this method of measurement is critically flawed. If Russia produces 1000 tonnes of food worth $300,000, and a soccer match in England generated 4 million GBP in ticket sales, then in this example the GDP of England is higher than Russia, which means that the output of England is higher than Russia.
For those who do not understand the above chart, wheat is sold in lots of 100 bushels. 1 bushel of wheat = 60 pounds (note that different food commodities have different weight per bushel). A price of 814.90 USD above for 100 bushels of wheat = 8.149 USD per bushel = 0.30 USD per kg (60 pounds = 27.2155 kg).
0.30 USD per kg = 300 USD per tonne = 300,000 USD per 1000 tonne.
We now determine that using the GDP system, a soccer match in UK produces more output than Russia producing 1000 tonnes of wheat, which can feed many people. Does this make sense to you?
Yes entertainment is also a need of society. The value which entertainment brings cannot be quantified, and this is the best we can do. I do not have any better alternative to the GDP system, but take note that as of today, it is Russia which has a far lesser GDP threatening the rest of Europe, whose combined GDP and consequently paper output and paper wealth stands far above Russia.
In the pursuit of GDP and wealth, it is often easy to forget the basics. With the basics (agriculture), the country does not go fast, but it goes steady. With a mindless pursuit of the tertiary sector (eg service industry), the money comes in quick. But without food and energy security, all that fanciful sandcastles you built will be washed away easily and in no time. Do not think that the black market involves only the syndicates and individuals within a country. It involves countries on the international platform as well. When it comes down to it, the black market can wipe out the wealth of a country easily, clearing off decades of hard work and savings faster than they can imagine.
On the individual level, what is your success built on? In times of storm, are you able to continue having an income?