Sunday 12th February, 2006


Welfare systems far from M commerce

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MCOMMERCE and “Next Generation Marketing” are the new jargon that refer to the wireless world of hand held digital devices: laptops, interactive TV, I pods, and upscale cellular/mobile phones.

Instead of focussing on how to bring customers to a Web site for digital trade, their strategic focus is to bring the message directly to the point of need, ie to the customer, wherever he / she may be.

We may have seen the cable channel ads that bring prescriptions and other Medicare or Blue Cross health care benefits direct to the homes of patients, in developed countries. That is the service dimension of Social Insurance!

On the local scene, old age pensioners spend the better part of one hour waiting at the social welfare office to renew life certificates. These same citizens spend the better part of half day at Health offices waiting to see the doctor, and maybe the other half day, to get the prescription filled. That is the state of the nation!

Some say there is value in the socialising aspect for these citizens who choose to spend their time waiting on the benches. But, time is money!

Our menu of social insurances is decidedly “third world” and we are one notch ahead of the “fourth world” places, like Haiti and Afghanistan, torn with civil/political strife and corruption!

Premiums for social insurance are called contributions. They are compulsory for those who earn an income. In fact they are also compulsory for all employers who pay wages and salaries.

When an NIS contribution is deducted from the income of the worker, the employer has to add an additional amount of contribution (larger than what the worker contributes), to the figure. The sum of the two contributions, the total, is submitted to the National Insurance Board, by the 15th day of the next month.

If you include the health surcharge, this could add up to about $300 per person, per month.

Governments who seek to calculate how these contributions will match the claims/payments for morbidity, mortality and longevity, seem to have made terrible blunders. The fund (sum total of contributions) is generally inadequate to the task.

Social welfare is the financial responsibility of those who put themselves up for leadership in the political arena. But in truth, social welfare is confined to an old jargon category the “safety net” and seems to be last on the list.

In the present scheme of things, it is those who have a little wealth, or a little more than what they need for their own use, who must submit to the laws of conscience.

Frankly, governments will collapse, like an implosion, if those citizens who have a little more than they need, cease to help those who do not have.

This is one reason that citizens deserve the rrespect of governments. But average citizens seldom recognise that it is they who weild the power in the land, and not the so-called principals!

Those with the technical expertise: the actuaries, have a role to play in the social welfare system.

Developed country status is a financial statement of well-founded propriety! It is no buzz word and no cliche. Our aged citizens and social welfare systems are a long, long way, from M commerce and Next Generation Marketing.

But to compare oneself to others is to become vain or bitter, for always there will be better or worse than you—in the words of the old song Desiderata.

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