. . . and it works.
I just go back from a week in Singapore (and being on the plane – hence the 3:00am blogging). Singapore is better than here by virtually any reasonable metric.
The same party has been in power for the last 40+ years – since independence. The party is viewed favorably by 86% of the population – a stable number over this period.
The city is beautiful. All the roads were well maintained, well lit, and well decorated (with perfectly spaced and perfectly groomed trees). The city is the cleanest you will see. It’s also the safest you will find. My first cabbie told me it was safe. He said you could walk any where in the city at any time of day or night. I asked him if he would really let his wife or daughter walk around any neighborhood at 4:00am. He looked confused and then said "of course."
Their highest tax bracket is 20%, but 20% of your income must be saved in a private account. The account can be used to purchase stock or a house and it can also be used for medical expenses, otherwise, it’s for retirement.
The government carefully manages virtually everything, from the number of cars on the road (permits to buy cars are auctioned) to the price of alcohol (high to discourage drunks). The government is starting to relax the ban on gambling, but the country as a whole has a very conservative outlook (my first tour guide said that there were a couple places where they were allowing table dancing – and then she blushed, deeply). I didn’t see a single homeless person or street performer. I spent a big chunk of one day walking around the city and no one spoke to me besides people whom I initiated contact with – it was surreal and wonderful.
I can’t see how any can argue that giving up the right to chew gum isn’t worthwhile, if in exchange you get a beautiful, orderly, safe, and efficient city AND a big reduction in the amount you have to pay for taxes.