A safety net we all can stand behind

by on May 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm in Economics, Food and Drink, Political Science | Permalink

While food security has increased in importance globally, the availability of cheap and nutritious meals at hawker centres is particularly central to Singaporean life.

The hawker stalls that serve up traditional favourites such as char kway teow* and Hokkien mee (both noodle dishes), are regarded as a safety net for the poorest as well as a place where all levels of society meet. Politicians are conscious of the need to keep a lid on prices at these stalls.

That is from Jeevan Vasagar at the FT, and the article is interesting throughout.  In earlier times, the hawker centres also were conceived as ways of improving public health (easier to monitor than street carts), subsidies to working long hours (quick food on the way home), and a means of making high-density construction, and thus small kitchens, bearable.

1 Massimo May 15, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Yes, it is a great “safety net” and it is provided by the free market. And do not think that the State helped because it provided the space and the health safety checks. The market would have provided it as well, if it had not been crowded out by the State. Proprietary spaces on rent, like malls, reputation and even certification agencies that would have rated cleanness of the kitchen and personnel, quality of the ingredients, use of apt food preserving techniques and appliances, on top of what they already provide, like quality of the food, price levels and crowd levels. The market always provide the solution, when it is not killed by the dead and mephitic hand of the State.

2 Millian May 15, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Does Singapore have any markets that are free by, say, Texan or Scandinavian standards?

3 Captain Obvious May 16, 2017 at 11:45 am

“The market always provide the solution, when it is not killed by the dead and mephitic hand of the State.” -> Massimo has started smoking again…

4 Paul May 15, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Massimo: fortunately this proposition is subject to a good natural experiment. Where does “the State” not provide a high quality of safety checks? Malaysia. Cross over the causeway and see for yourself.

5 Harun May 15, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Singapore is richer than Malaysia.

Try Taiwan.

6 alex May 15, 2017 at 4:24 pm

In my experience the standard of hawker-type food is higher in Malaysia than in Singapore.

7 Phil May 17, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Yes, most Singaporeans will admit to this when pressed.

Also, Singapore may be richer than Malaysia but Malaysia is an upper-income developing country, it’s hardly poor.

8 mulp May 15, 2017 at 3:11 pm

As long as cheap food outs more money in (food) worker pockets with higher hourly pay so workers can afford to buy property and become wealthy.

If cheap food means cutting incomes of workers so rents for housing, etc, increase as share of income preventing investing in any capital, whether education or housing to become wealthier, cheap food harms the lower income workers by transferring wealth from the many poor to the very few very wealthy property owners charging them rents which gobble up most of their low incomes..

9 Floccina May 15, 2017 at 3:34 pm
10 Floccina May 15, 2017 at 3:43 pm

More: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=how+to+eat+for+%242+a+day

BTW I was surprised that in NYC you can get a good lunch for about $5 from a street vendor:(https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/dining/halal-cart-food-vendor-new-york-city.html) Here in my very low cost of living town (Gainesville FL How low? My son bought a nice 2 bed room condo for $44k a like 2 years ago) you have to spend that to get fast food that is not nearly as taste to me.

11 Hadur May 15, 2017 at 6:21 pm

They have essentially identical halal food in Washington DC (sold from trucks rather than carts) that are twice as expensive as the NYC ones.

I wonder if it’s because carts are cheaper to operate out of and are banned in these non-NYC jurisdictions?

12 The Engineer May 15, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Not much different than the US. Trump eats at McDonald’s. What, Hillary and Obama didn’t?

13 The Centrist May 15, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Bill Clinton loved McDonald’s. At least he did years ago.

14 Gerber Baby May 15, 2017 at 11:13 pm
15 Moo cow May 15, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Hillary ate at Chipotle. AND SHE DIDN’T PUT A DOLLAR IN THE JAR!!!

Obama ate at 5 Guy’s iirc.

16 JWatts May 15, 2017 at 6:07 pm

“Obama ate at 5 Guy’s iirc.”

Michelle let him? Five Guy’s is a tribute to American style hamburgers and fries.

17 Jan May 15, 2017 at 8:05 pm

I’m pretty sure I saw him sneaking into a Big Kenya Burger over in Southeast DC one night. Got the fries with the Commie sauce too.

18 Moo cow May 15, 2017 at 9:22 pm


19 Harun May 16, 2017 at 12:07 pm

“fries with the Commie sauce”

So, gravy and cheese curds?

20 tyler durden May 15, 2017 at 6:02 pm

The lattice constant (the hawker stalis) for diamond is a = 3.57 (Ibid, Isihiah 3.22) All possible symmetric arrangements of particles in three-dimensional space may be described by the 230 space groups.

In epitaxial growth, the lattice constant is a measure of the structural compatibility between different materials. There are seven lattice systems. They are similar to but not quite the same as the seven crystal systems.

Epitaxy – arranging upon- refers to the deposition of a crystalline overlayer on a crystalline substrate.

So epitaxy refers to kitchen substances and the trade therein from fridges to cabinets and tables the like?

21 Wha? May 15, 2017 at 11:10 pm

Does that mean anything?

22 tyler durden May 16, 2017 at 12:06 am

I suppose not, no

23 Massimo May 16, 2017 at 6:26 am

It means that use of LSD or mescaline is still common despite that asshole Sessions

24 Moo cow May 15, 2017 at 6:42 pm

With the app I got a McChicken and a large diet for $1.67 for lunch today. Just outside of Seattle. Not sure if it’s the same price downtown.

25 Anonymous May 15, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Who qualify as the “poorest” in Singapore?

26 carlospln May 16, 2017 at 1:49 am

Indian migrants.

27 Eric May 16, 2017 at 9:06 am

I guess this guy hasn’t actually eaten at a hawker centre if he thinks the food there is healthy.

28 Harun May 16, 2017 at 12:08 pm

The rojak is healthy.

29 Phil May 17, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Vegetables aside, pretty sure the sugary dressing that gets slathered on rojak is the opposite of healthy.

Fish ball and sliced fish soup are strong contenders on the health front, though.

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