The thing about love

Face off

So, many of my friends and loved ones have paired off or are pairing off.

I’m happy for all of them. Unfortunately, not all of them are happy, and some want out.

In a case like this, what’s the best way to decide?

The conventional decision-making process utilises happiness to decide whether to stay or to go.

That’s not wrong, but the focus is – because it usually tends to be on: are you/am I happy with X?

I’ve come to realise – from both conversations and experience (recent and otherwise) – that this question needs to be reframed so that we address the more pertinent issue at hand – that of added value.

Because the thing about love is that it isn’t merely about value i.e. happiness with X; the thing about love is that it’s about added value i.e. how happy X makes us feel about ourselves.

Assuming ceteris paribus – i.e. we’ve cleaned up our act and sown all the wild oats we need to sow, we’ve let go of any issues or people that need to be let go of, etc. – the real question we should be asking ourselves is:

Does X make me more awesome than I already am?

I’ve seen it in the friends and loved ones who are happy, and I’ve felt it for myself too: a good partner is someone who explicitly supports you in becoming better than you already are.

And rightfully so – if being with someone constrains you; curtails your development as a human being; turns you into a shadow of your awesome self, then is that person really good for you?

It’s applicable to not just love, but at work and in friendships and family relationships too.

For as hard as it may be, all of us will need to cut the strings to relationships that are toxic or stunting at various points of time in our lives.

In making those decisions, we shouldn’t let past happiness or promises of future bliss cloud our vision.

What we should be doing, really, is focusing on the fundamental issue of how much X will be able to help us grow.

And if that growth is going to be minimal, negligible – or even negative – then I’d say you know the answer for what you need to do to be happy.

Three Ps to solve problem of weekend caregivers

Dear Madam/Sir,

I refer to the letter “Rest day exception for caregiver domestic workers?” (Dec 20).

All employees – domestic workers or otherwise – deserve a weekly day off (or more) to recharge and recuperate.

However, this creates a conundrum: when caregiving domestic workers are given a day off, no one else will tend to their care-receiving charges, such as wheelchair users or frail seniors.

Instead of doggedly demanding that caregiving domestic workers carry on working on their off days, let’s tackle this problem creatively.

I propose a solution with these three Ps:

  1. Part-time employment.
    A job market is created for part-time skilled caregivers who are willing and able to tend to care-receivers on weekends – so long as the remuneration is commensurate with market wages.

    So as not to penalise families with the increased financial burden, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social and Family Development can look into increasing the size and the scope of the monthly Foreign Domestic Worker Grant to cover this additional cost.

    Alternatively, affected families can be allowed to claim a Caregivers’ Relief.
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  3. Peer support.
    If there is a shortage of skilled care-givers, the Council for the Third Age can facilitate the provision of caregiver training to retirees.

    This allows actively aging seniors to be involved in taking care of their lesser-abled peers.
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  5. Pop-up weekend daycare centres for care-receivers.
    Temporary centralised facilities are set up in convenient locales around Singapore on weekends.

    Economies of scale will allow, say, three part-time caregivers to tend to about eight care-receivers. This also allows families to pay a lower caregiving fee since more families share the cost of paying for caregivers’ wages.

    The facilities can be located in void decks, for example, and be removed at the end of the day so that the spaces can be utilised for other purposes on weekdays.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Laremy LEE (Mr)

(Published as “Three-part solution for weekend caregiver issue” on 29 Dec 2012 in TODAY.)

Suggestion to improve BYOB programme

Dear Madam/Sir,

I refer to “Scheme saves 5 to 6 million plastic bags a year” (Oct 31).

As an ardent supporter of the Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) programme, I want to applaud NTUC FairPrice for implementing the Green Rewards Scheme.

It is the only existing scheme by supermarkets in Singapore that provides incentives to customers to use their own shopping bags.

I hope a similar scheme can be adopted by all retailers nationwide.

In light of this dream, I would like to suggest the implementation of an Enhanced BYOB Programme to all retailers for their consideration:

  1. FairPrice’s current practice is to provide a flat fee rebate i.e. S$0.10 off the total price of groceries for customers who bring their own bags and spend $10 or more.

    Retailers should consider a percentage pricing rebate instead i.e. 1% off the total price of groceries for customers who bring their own bags and spend $10 or more.

    This is because the amount spent on groceries and the number of bags used will generally rise in the same proportion.

    For example, if I were to spend S$39.90 on groceries, I would receive a S$0.40 rebate if I brought my own shopping bags.
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  3. If retailers were to adopt the above suggestion, they can offset any potential financial losses by concurrently implementing the converse i.e. a 1% grocery bill levy on consumers who use plastic bags.

    This will also provide a further incentive for consumers to use their own shopping bags; most consumers will baulk at the thought of subsidising another person’s grocery shopping.
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  5. Once we reach a stage where shopping bag usage is more popular than plastic bag usage, we can then revert to the S$0.10 token flat fee rebate.

    This is to continue to reward consumers who use shopping bags.

    However, the 1% grocery bill levy on consumers who use plastic bags must be maintained concurrently in order to sustain the disincentive for consumers to be environmentally unfriendly.

Plastic manufacturers need not be unduly concerned – consumers will still need to purchase plastic bags as bin liners.

Consumers also need not be unduly concerned – we can use the rebates from supermarkets to purchase our bin liners. This will allow us to appreciate the true cost of our activities on the environment.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Laremy LEE (Mr)

(Published as “A 1% Bring Your Own Bag rebate, instead of 10 cents?” on 5 Nov 2012 in TODAY.)