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Econ 101 Does Not Only Justify Free Market Policies

In a recent Straits Times article, Benjamin Goh and Donald Low warned readers against the use of simplified economic theory in informing public policy. They point out that economic proposals such as free trade benefiting society and the minimum wage reducing employment may in fact simply be expressions of ‘the speaker’s ideology or dogma’, and…
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The Myth of Chinese Privilege Racism in Singapore

The Straits Times reported on Tuesday (29 Jan) that ‘race activist’ Sangeetha Thanapal was being investigated by the police for a Facebook post upon her return to Singapore this year. The post in question was from last April. It alleged that Singapore was a ‘terribly racist country’ where minorities are systematically marginalised. Are her claims…
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Political Freedom, Without Economic Freedom, Does Not Bring Growth

One of the most enduring questions in economics is what causes economies to grow. The full title of Adam Smith’s well-known treatise, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, clearly shows that the causes of prosperity were Smith’s primary concern. He concluded that free markets, the protection of private…
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What America Could Learn from Singapore’s Social Welfare System

A common libertarian view when it comes to welfare is that the role of the state should simply be restricted to providing a safety net. Such a basic net would guard society’s most economically vulnerable against falling through the cracks. Milton Friedman proposed a negative income tax as a way of encouraging the poor to…
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Nudging: Should We Be Wary of the Latest Fad in Behavioural Economics?

Behavioural economics has gained plenty of traction in the past few decades. The concept of ‘nudging’—popularised in the 2008 bestselling book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein—is well known in the political sphere and even to non-economic students. With Thaler being awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics and Sunstein…
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Stop Conflating Inequality With Poverty

The problem of inequality has often been considered to be one of the biggest social problems of our generation. Widespread concern about the great disparities of income and wealth have fueled anti-globalisation sentiments all around the world, and threaten to undermine the advances in trade, investment, and immigration we have seen. One key problem is that contemporary discussions of inequality…
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