Just putting this out there, without commentary for now:
“You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you’ll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again… my asset values will disappear, my apartments will be worth a fraction of what they were, my ministers’ jobs will be in peril, their security will be at risk and their women will become maids in other people’s countries, foreign workers. I cannot have that!” ― Lee Kuan Yew, justifying million-dollar pay hike for Singapore ministers
“Ok, so we get slower growth. Is that so bad? Well, one reason it’s bad in practice is that other countries might not agree to slow down with us. If you’re content to develop new technologies at a slower rate than the rest of the world, what happens is that you don’t invent anything at all. Anything you might discover has already been invented elsewhere. And the only thing you can offer in return is raw materials and cheap labor. Once you sink that low, other countries can do whatever they like with you: install puppet governments, siphon off your best workers, use your women as prostitutes, dump their toxic waste on your territory– all the things we do to poor countries now. The only defense is to isolate yourself, as communist countries did in the twentieth century. But the problem then is, you have to become a police state to enforce it.” – Paul Graham, on inequality and risk
Paul Graham does mention Singapore in one of his essays:
“Another country I could see wanting to have a silicon valley is China. But I doubt they could do it yet either. China still seems to be a police state, and although present rulers seem enlightened compared to the last, even enlightened despotism can probably only get you part way toward being a great economic power.
It can get you factories for building things designed elsewhere. Can it get you the designers, though? Can imagination flourish where people can’t criticize the government? Imagination means having odd ideas, and it’s hard to have odd ideas about technology without also having odd ideas about politics. And in any case, many technical ideas do have political implications. So if you squash dissent, the back pressure will propagate into technical fields.
Singapore would face a similar problem. Singapore seems very aware of the importance of encouraging startups. But while energetic government intervention may be able to make a port run efficiently, it can’t coax startups into existence. A state that bans chewing gum has a long way to go before it could create a San Francisco.
Do you need a San Francisco? Might there not be an alternate route to innovation that goes through obedience and cooperation instead of individualism? Possibly, but I’d bet not. Most imaginative people seem to share a certain prickly independence, whenever and wherever they lived. You see it in Diogenes telling Alexander to get out of his light and two thousand years later in Feynman breaking into safes at Los Alamos. Imaginative people don’t want to follow or lead. They’re most productive when everyone gets to do what they want.”
Interesting. Also see Guy Kawasaki’s points.