Wealth Finds a Haven in Singapore

Democracies have lost the knack for economic opportunity


It's probably not news to anybody who followed the soap opera over Eduardo Saverin's renunciation of U.S. citizenship or who knows that Jim Rogers decamped with his family from the land of the free, but Singapore has become a haven for wealth. The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating piece up on just why that is — why people are flocking to the city-state to maintain current fortunes or to make new ones. The Journal's Shibani Mahtani compares Singapore's magnetic attraction for wealth to the Gilded Age, and it's true New York City and London were once centers of wild and flamboyant prosperity just like the city-state is today. But the United States and United Kingdom of the 1880s were centers of increasing democracy and personal freedom in both the civil and economic spheres — certainly by contrast to the alternatives. By contrast, Singapore of today is known as a not-so-democratic state where civil liberties are kept in sharp check. That these qualities seem to be the draw should be of concern to anybody who thinks that free elections and open debate should offer a better path to the future than one-party rule.