Angry Doctor

Thursday, April 08, 2010


There has been several letters to the ST Forum this week 'bashing' elites, in response to this article by Ms Sandra Leong.

Many of the anecdotes on the cluelessness of the 'elites' are pretty funny - angry doc's favourite is this one:

"A church-mate who lived in a landed property in District 10 - definitely not an RGS girl, and I venture to guess, not even a graduate - once, in all sincerity and innocence, prayed for all those who had to take public transport and live in HDB flats, for God to give them strength to bear these trials. "

Of course, there is no one agreed definition on what makes a person an elite, which makes it hard to discuss the issue intelligently. But what worries angry doc is an assumption that many people hold, exemplified by what Ms Leong wrote:

"... the pursuit of intellectual excellence to the exclusion of character or value excellence breeds an exclusionary attitude to the rest of society. Many of the products of our top schools forget they have to give back to the society that allowed them so many opportunities."

What is implied there is that people who are successful owe a debt to society, and that if they refuse to "give back" to society, there is something faulty with their character or values system.

But angry doc would like to ask: who in society is calling for this debt to be repaid? On whose behalf is Ms Leong calling for elites to "give back"? What makes us think that we are entitled to the time, effort, or the fruits of the labour of those in society who have succeeded?

"Opportunities", you say? Certainly most people could not have succeeded without the infrastructure which 'society' created (schools, roads, utilities, a civil service, industries), but does that entitle us to make demands on them? Did society create all these infrastructure so that these people could succeed, or did we do so because we wanted to utilise these infrastructures ourselves, so that we too could have a chance to succeed? Society may have provided the opportunities, but by claiming that we have a right to the fruits of their labour, we are dismissing the importance of the individual efforts which made the success of these people a reality - we are laying claims to the result of something which we did not give to. The opportunities were open to everyone, but we choose to ignore the 'debts' of those who did not succeed, and present an invoice to those who did and have something to "give back". Makes good economic sense, of course.

angry doc is not against people who feel that they want to contribute to society - certainly there is nothing to prevent them from doing to; society provides many avenues for them to do so. What puzzles angry doc is why some people feel the need to claim that others must do so too.

To conclude, angry doc would like to do some "Ayn Rand spouting", via youtube...

(For readers who are unfamiliar with "The Fountainhead", here is a succinct summary...)

Labels: ,