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General Paper Essay Outline : We are too greedy for our own good. Is this reflective of your society ?

Q) We are too greedy for our own good. Is this reflective of your society ? (MI Prelim 2014)

warning handle with care

Note that these are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.


Interpretations : Greed refers to the desire to own and consume to the point that we take far more than what we truly need or to the point when we take at the expense of someone else’s well-being

Stand : There are some segments of society who demonstrate greed and consequently cause harm. In fact, the detrimental effects of greed have actually led to counter-measures to keep it in check.

Point 1 : Greed builds a bubble that grows and grows, waiting to burst. In land-scarce Singapore, an exorbitant premium is placed on land.
Landlords are king and can increase rental rates for residents or business owners to enrich themselves, and even to such a point that the tenant or business gets squeezed and is forced to move out or close down altogether.
Such greed forms the underpinnings of an unsustainable bubble.
When the property sector gets overheated, meaning costs are unbearably high, Singapore loses its draw as an affordable enough place for foreign talent to move to.
Another outcome is that businesses are compelled to shrink, retrench staff or keep them underemployed to reduce labour costs.
In addition, small and medium local enterprises that do not have the deep pockets of large transnational corporations are especially vulnerable, thus suggesting that greed takes its toll on the spirit of enterprise of the local people.
In any case, anything that affects employment almost immediately affects the people’s confidence to consume which then contributes to the downward spiral in the economy.
This is what greed leads to, and this is indeed too much for our own good.

Point 2 : Is the government greedy or has it become a convenient scapegoat ? It certainly seems easy to assert the former claim, rather than the latter, because…—(add possible reasons here)—
However, there is a need to examine the extent of harm that has resulted from such actions.
There is also a need to examine the arguments justifying the government actions that are identified as acts of greed.
Case in point : CPF matters – greed or preparation for the future ?
Case in point : No minimum wage – greed or staying economically competitive ?

Point 3 : The harm of greed lies in the negative values that are perpetuated in society.
wastefulness = loss of money, harm to environment, not knowing how to find comfort in non-material things
manipulation, dishonesty = wanting the satisfaction of maximising benefits given by others (even though such desperate moves are not needed)
excessive competition = more stress, reluctant to cooperate, distrust
uncontented with what we already have = unhappiness
elitism = the desire for exclusivity
calculativeness = as opposed to altruism (doing things for no reward)

Point 4 : Greed in Sg society can be seen as a response. What are the triggers ? Change the trigger, so the response also changes.
– more help for middle income families, or the ‘sandwiched generation’
– ‘Every school is a good school’
– the growth of social enterprises
– property cooling measures
– the growth of volunteer groups doing good, promoting compassion & sharing = showing society another way of being and living

Conclusion : The problem of greed is evident in Singapore and its effects are palpable. However, different actions are being done so that greed does not get out of hand. Singapore still has some way to go but there is hope that positive aspects such as ambition and fair competition can be nurtured but other damaging values or attitudes are inhibited.


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