Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Forum: Declare war on poverty, not meritocracy

No money

It is not fair to conclude that meritocracy creates structural inequality that can pull society apart (Find ways to balance capitalistic growth and socialist policies, by Dr Teoh Ren Shang, June 5).

Arguably, a system where people are rewarded according to their abilities and contributions to society is better than one in which everyone - regardless of his ability - gets equal reward.

It is the principles of meritocracy that help governments to establish a fair reward system.

The purpose of meritocracy is to unite people rather than divide them, and to motivate them to give their best.

It is not the inequality driven by meritocracy but, rather, the inequality driven by poverty that can pull society apart.

Being rich is not a zero-sum game between the haves and have-nots.

There are very many kind-hearted Singaporeans who are conscious of the sufferings of the poor in the community.

The spirit of giving back to society is becoming pronounced among many successful Singaporeans.

The Government, too, has invested many resources to break the poverty cycle.

Preventing inequality and family dysfunction driven by poverty from becoming entrenched is the joint social responsibility of the Government and well-to-do Singaporeans.

The war on poverty - rather than meritocracy - must continue until the misery it causes is removed.

S. Ratnakumar


App helps people learn to meditate, improves attention skills

David Ziegler, the lead author, a director of Neuroscope at the Univeristy of California, and his colleagues tested the new app called MediTrain, developed at Neuroscape, in a trial that included 59 volunteers aged 18 to 35. Participants were randomly assigned to use MediTrain or to a control group that used a different type of app, such as one that taught a foreign language.

Essentially, Ziegler said, the app works like a meditation coach. And a good coach, apparently. On the first day, participants could only focus for an average of 20 seconds. After 25 days of training, that rose to an average of six minutes.

After six weeks, all the volunteers were given tests that evaluated attention span and working memory. Not only did the MediTrain participants score 20% to 35% higher on those tests than the control group, Ziegler says, their scores also appeared to vary with the length of time they were able to meditate. In other words, those who could focus the longest on their breathing did best on the tests of attention and working memory.

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