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Thursday, 9 October 2008

On Matters Of Economy

I dropped by Masterwordsmith's blog yesterday to find a rather interesting post on the subject of GREED. It was also about the global financial crisis.

Masterwordsmith's anonymous commenter is saying what I've been telling people for quite a while now. The rich are becoming richer and the poor have never been poorer. Heck, there is no middle class anymore.

What happened to the bell's curve of wealth distribution?

Some blame it on globalisation. Others on technology.

Technology has enabled us to travel faster, communicate through tele and video-conferences and email. It's ironic, really, because the more advanced our technology, the more we hurry and chase after time.

Globalisation, on the other hand, has opened up so many options and opportunities. But also many pitfalls.

After all, globalisation gave us China and India, the two most populated countries in the world, where human labour is vast and almost limitless. And of course, smaller Asian countries like Malaysia as well.

What Anonymous says about the situation is true. I just don't like the slant in which the rich are portrayed. You see, I'm a firm believer in capitalism. The harder you work, the more rewards you reap.

It sounds fair to me. Blaming them for all the ills of the world is not just unfair, it's naive and illogical.

Of course we do have the greedy businessmen whose life mantra is reduce cost, increase profit - under all circumstances.

This is why the Americans and Europeans move their factory and manufacturing operations to China - because labour is cheap.

This is why Americans and Europeans outsource their IT and customer service operations to India - because labour is cheap.

But this is at the expense of their own people. When they have no jobs, they rely on their government to provide for them. They get food stamps and dole. And to buy the necessities (and sometimes luxuries), so many rely on loans and credit cards.

In the last 5 years, even jobless and homeless people had their loans and credit limits approved in the USA, which of course led to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and subsequently, the collapse of so many financial institutions today.

Most of the jobs went to the cheap labour. In other words, us Asians.

Zewt happened to blog about life in his multinational company and their salary scheme. He said, "If you think working in a big foreign multinational company means you will get a fat pay; well, think again. Those getting the fat pay cheques are those sitting in the headquarters."

That's right.

So now you're bursting with righteous indignance against all those "rich people" who sit in their fancy offices, the ones so big you could get lost in them if you forget to bring your handheld GPS.

Not so fast.

We ARE part of the problem. We're willing to work for peanuts. We delude ourselves into thinking that if we work longer hours, we will get that promotion and a ticket to the paradise of careers.

We forget to take a breather and enjoy life before it's too late.


I took this picture on the way to Fraser's Hill last year. While driving up, I just had to stop and admire the breathtakingly spectacular view of that lake.

It's these simple moments that we miss in our pursuit of career, wealth and power.

By the time we realise what has passed us by, it is too late, and we're bitter - very much like Anonymous, who blames everything on rich people.

Life is fair though. If anyone has accumulated wealth through unethical means, it doesn't belong to him and he will lose it anyhow.

And in this coming economic downturn, I suspect there will be a reshuffle of wealth.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

you are wrong! life is never fair,it was never meant to be. as always, humans are indifferent towards the suffering of other humans.only Death changes that..so i welcome death.

Malaysian Tigress said...

anonymous...you got it wrong my dear...life IS fair...DEATH is the ultimate equalizer...for when we die, we bring not our wealth nor riches... no beauty queens, or caviar, champagne or mansions or comfortable beds...we bring only our deeds, our patience, our faith in GOD...that is something EVERYONE can have and can offer to HIM in exchange for the eternal bliss of seeing HIS Face in heaven...other than that, we all rot equally in the grave...the maggots eat us all, Donald Trumps, Iraqis, Americans, Somalis, Afghanis, Bushes, najibs, rosmahs...et al...you get the picture.

Life is but a test for the faithful and the believers...we did not come out here into this existence for nothing..look around you at His Beautifully and Perfectly, Precisely, Planned Creations which could not have come into being spontaneously...such is the exact calculation and precision of every single thing that exists in the universe.

we can choose NOT to be indifferent and help in the best way we can, but pain, suffering, joy,poverty, sickness, health...are all part of His trials.

It isnt all for nothing.

Yes, welcome death. Think of death often...because it brings us to our senses, that there is more life ahead than just this world.this world is only part of the journey.

So fret not, cry not for this world. Just do what you can to help. Strive for riches and wealth and perfection, so that you can give back to those who need it.

Then you will not be one of those indifferent people.

-naga- said...

It is a cycle, really.

In the 19th century, when most parts of Asia was still ruled by Europeans, Asians were beaming with life values and culture while the Europeans were crafty and cunning in exploiting the colonies. Asians were massively poor but Europeans were getting wealthier.

At the turn of the century, when few Asian religious scholars ventured to Europe and Americas to preach on these matters, Europeans and Americans were immediately hooked in an attempt to get away from all the industrialization, the Great Depression and the world wars.

But from mid-20th century till now, us Asians were trying to be like them. Most Asian countries got independence after the world wars and it was all a race in getting a slice of the economic pie. In this race, family values and culture were forgotten/abandoned for so-called career, skills, status and other what-not. Asians have more billionaires now and the whole Asian economy together is much bigger than Europe and Americas combined.

But all this at what cost? Failed marriages, divorces, etc all in the name of "career". Right now Asians have the highest divorce rate in the whole world.

So one might argue life is not fair and mean, but really, life is in perfect balance. It just depends how you look at it.

If you have the perfect career with a fat paycheck and you think life is all good to come, think again. On the other hand, if you're the sort of person who lives life like there is no tomorrow, well think again. Maybe someday "tomorrow" will arrive and by then it could be too late.

masterwordsmith said...

Hi Crankster,

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your insightful reaction to the comment Anonymous left in my blog.

Without sounding like an ageist, I truly wish that there are more young people like you around who think far beyond what the human eye can see.

Personally, despite the leaps of progress and technological advancement man has achieved in the last fifty years, I do not think that the world has become a better place. On the contrary, I opine that we are sliding backwards in so many facets of our daily living.

While capitalism is good in some ways, we must remember that with it, comes the power play where the bourgeousie will use ways and means to subjugate the proletariat in order to have the lowest average price in production. While minimal government intervention in a capitalist economy can trigger diligence and hard work (where like what you said, the harder you work, the more rewards you reap)...there exists certain inequalities in life which work to the advantage of the have's against the have-nots.

In some ways, it may seem illogical that the rich can wreck such economic havoc in the world today but I believe that to a large extent, the government and financial institutions concerned failed to use the reins of monetary and fiscal policies to prevent the escalation of materialism to the extent that the rationalization of production with the aim of maximizing efficiency and productivity also led to the alienation of man to their work and ultimately identity and moral values of life in this world.

Devoid of that element of humanity, the pursuit of wealth brought with it the evils of globalisation. With power in the hands of a a group of greedy entrepreneurs, the problem cascaded from developed countries to developing countries so the disparity between the rich and poor has never been as stark as it is now.

And outsourcing has bred greed and more greed (take a look at what has happened to China and the lack of principles and morals in production and construction with the recent controversies)while the populace of rich nations stagger in unemployment and credit problems.

To a large extent, we have ourselves to blame if we allow ourselves to be victims. But why so? Simple. Greed. Greed for money, luxuries, material good and amnesia about the true meaning of life.

Sadly, with the advent of internet, E-bay etc, consumer taste has changed to such an extent that in the pursuit for material possessions as a passport to status and acceptance, man seems to have lost the meaning and purpose of their existence.

Frankly, I believe that what we see today in the financial meltdown is the precursor of a depression and recession that is totally unprecedented.

I cannot blame Anonymous for his/her indignant anger and for taking umbrage to the trail of financial disasters for this time round, you are right - there will be a reshuffle of wealth,

No matter what happens, I believe we must never lose sight of what we have and the importance of stopping to smell the roses or to appreciate the beautiful handiwork of God's creation around us like what you did en route to Fraser's Hill.

Indeed life is short. But with our existence, we can make our lives count and then life can be beautiful. We should not adopt a fatalistic view to merely welcome death as a means of escape from the rigors of modern day living. I believe that there are many out there who are NOT indifferent to the suffering of others...perhaps they may not be that expressive - because they are suffering themselves, too much inside.

There is a purpose for all that is happening....we just have to unravel the layers of lies that shield our eyes from seeing life as it is meant to be seen.

It is up to us to make our lives count. You matter.We matter.

*P.S. for this verbal diarrhoea.

masterwordsmith said...

sorry..

I meant :

P.S. Apologies for my verbal diarrhoea....This old lady here is fast losing her vision from too much reading ;)

Cheers!

zewt said...

the harder you work... the more you reap... i dont think it works that way. in this real world... it's all abotu perception and how to get others to work for u... that's capitalism.

walla said...

How quaint. Awhile back i was just thinking of writing something here that i had seen many years ago in a small thai town one evening, and i came up only to find that anon 2108 had written what he had written. (forgive my grammar, grey cells dying).

You know how even stray dogs would know when not to trifle with traffic. Yet that night, one sat right in the middle of that road and refused to budge. I haven't changed my conclusion then. It wanted to die.

Yet if poverty and suffering teach us anything for those who have gone through it and for those who are going through it still, it's the lesson of something else which overturns one's expectation of symmetry. Two days ago they announced this year's physics nobel goes to three, one of whom had thought ahead of his time forty eight years ago on an abstruse phenomenon in nature - broken symmetry in elementary particles. The Unseen One it appears is not only left-handed but also clever enough to break parity in antimatter so as to save matter, otherwise those particles would annihilate, including that mysterious fella called Higgs which gives all of us the thing called mass. And out of broken symmetry that nobelist managed to unify three of the four fundamental forces of the universe. Of course if he had achieved the unification of all four, Hale Berry will appear instantly before me. And then i would be doing something else instead of confusing even me right this minute.

Anyway, where was i (old lah), He wants us to live. Including Umno, it seems. But remind me to have a word with Him whether socialism isn't really that irrelevant in today's corporate capitalistic crappy world. Live, because tomorrow will be a better world. Shit, that's the title of a canton pop gangster movie starring chow yuenfatt. Of course, everyone knows chow started as a waiter, like bruce willis. But that's life. And if instead of going up with fame and fortune, they had gone down with no-fame and no-fortune, then, well, symmetry would be retained. But they didn't, so again you see, symmetry is broken.

Life's not like those toy periscopes that you look in when small and see beautiful kaleidoscopic patterns, symmetrical to a fault. I's don't dot, and T's don't cross all the time. Things ain't fair close to ninety six point five percent of the time. Hey, those actuaries will tell you so.

And you know why? It's because He's constantly reminding us that there are some things which fame and fortune cannot buy. And then again there are some things which take time to come (or go)- even as time itself peters out like fine sand dripping between the fingers. You see, His constant silent message is this:

'don't hook yourself to anything of this world, and everything will come to pass, leaving as residue what is really important for your life'.

Including Hale Berry, one asks whimpily? Shut up and eat your porridge, the Answer shoots back. Ok, Boss.

Now where was i again? Oh, i wanted to say that apart from those highflying headhunters, the people who can tell you fairly accurately what salary you are drawing once you tell them which post you hold in an MNC are those customer relations officers in places like Citi if and when you go to open an account (10 bucks ;P). They hint in a semicurious way ah would you be drawing xxxxx? And so on. Another way to find out is from your monthly epf contribution. Divide by the percentage and you get the salary.

Of course if one is a ceo of a small but successful company, something above 40k pm is peanuts. But by and large in MNCs, sub-ceo senior management should be in that range plus perks. In some cases, especially when there's a director-type package, the perks translate to seven digit cashable shares. Of course if share prices drop, so too amortizable wealth. But below the few high-pressured, up-or-out, buck-stops-at-your-butt, posts, the hoi-polloi below draw peanuts. Even when they are roasted, the peanuts remain uncooked. Do you know the unspoken criteria for compensation in an MNC? Let me tell you. It's based on tax exposure.

So if those grassroots and support staff had worked forty years, they get one gratuity (maybe a year at last pay which at best would be ten percent above local market norm), plus of course a gold watch (tagheuer lookalike) plus a dinner, and they walk out to their inflation-sliced epf which will be expended at today's rate when they reach 58 whereupon they dole, if in sweden, or wither away, if in some emerging market, or hope for the best if there's some genetic support. And that's if your neighbourly khazanah has not already spent your retirement fund buying some indon bank or mobile operator. (Haha) (<-try laughing with a scowl).

The young don't think this because they're not taught to think this. If there's such a topic in Kemahiran Hidup (a school subject, i believe), they will all grow up....and join the opposition the first thing they do upon reaching voting age.

So what does all that cozy mnc top-tier wealth translate to? Starbucks, wifi, nice home, a movie a week and one big-cylinder car in this carbonized world. Plus relief from financial worries add on have-toothbrush-will-travel mobility. And you get candlelight dinners as and when you like too. And maybe a nice hobby like investing in fine art. And of course golf. After settling the family up steadily, the gameplan is to keep good health and not to make mistakes, and that includes locking your chauffeured limousine if someone by the curb just looks at it and you think he's looking at you (HK 2006, a small city with eighty thousand multimillionaires). That sort of mental caginesss. In paradoxical payment for a carefree lifestyle.

So back to where we are. Which is? I already forget. We are not competitive, despite some of those ranking measures. We are sliding. Whether it's counter service or whatever r&d out there, it's so jurassic compared to what's really out there where it counts. We are back to basic commodities and if not for oil, we would all be washed up in 1999.

You know we're not competitive. It's not about making the things we make. It's about the drive to make the things we don't that matters. The drive is not there. And that's all about broken symmetry too. I had such a thirst for knowledge (any field you name). When you thirst for something you haven't yet got, the motor drives itself. I can now declare i have clickable access to all the knowledge in the english language that's webified. All. But something has happened. The thirst and the taste for knowledge has completely disappeared. So the saying is true, that apart from not having something, the greatest tragedy is to have it.

Which comes back to the message above, innit?

Is it true Hale Berry wants another baby?

Shut up, and go to sleep.

Yes, Boss.

shar101 said...

Geez, doesn't anybody 'economize' on the length of their comments anymore and have shorter ones.. so we can have more time to do other important stuff.. like smelling the roses.. click onto the next blog posting.. or something?

Hmmm.. Halle's having another baby? Who's the daddy?

Patricia said...

Thank you, Shar 101 - everyone's so se-ri-ous here lah! Really ah, Halle is having another baby, ah ?hahaha

Crankster, sorry lah. But all this talk of rich lah, poor lah - very the depressing to someone on too much piriton and nursing a flu!

Cool pix of the way up to Frazer's ;)

Pat

zewt said...

and on yes... i cant wait for the wealth reshuffle to happen... that's what this recession is all about.

Malaysian Tigress said...

closet bomber shar101...you are so right...hehehe...but crankster seems to get really great comments (not including mine lah)...nice to read...

Ok I am smelling something now after my walk...like underarm odor...gonna take a bath and smell like a rose...

(how intellectual and bernas my comment)

Anonymous said...

Once a fortune teller told me this, 'If you have a mountain of gold balanced at the apex, make sure you have people to support it. Otherwise, it will come rolling down and crushing you.' The wisdom is simple. If you have wealth, share it and spread it. Otherwise, the pyramid will tilt and the base will revolt. I agreed that anon is bitter. Even if living isn't fair, death is certainly fair. Like you said, enjoy lah small little things around you. Go hug someone today. ;)
smoothtongue 9

Malaysian Tigress said...

Crankster...bila nak makan tosei ah?

shar101 said...

Folks,

Actually, kudos to 'C' for getting intellectual discourse from her readers.

Compared to crap elsewhere.

"Judge a person's intellect when creating wealth, the person's wisdom when spreading it".

Hmmm.. Malaysian Tigress, only one other blogger calls me a closet bomber. Are you one and the same?

Malaysian Tigress said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
-naga- said...

"Geez, doesn't anybody 'economize' on the length of their comments anymore and have shorter ones.."

LOL.. sigh.. what to do.. all these while no freedom to speech in this country.. I can only talk (type really..) like this on blogs.. :(

Anonymous said...

a foolish woman you are tigress,experiences makes a human wise not age...you brought god into your simply view ,a quantum variable into a complex equation which answer lie in the matter of assumptions.but again ,words are cheap, cheaper than naive faith,perhaps?

Malaysian Tigress said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Malaysian Tigress said...

Anon,

God is the Master of all Complexities.

We only have..."complexes".

God fits into every equation.

Without Him, none would exist in the first and we wouldnt be here trying to figure out what the hell everything meant.

Faith IS cheap meh...no need to be rich to have it....hehehe

Nah...naive? Naive are those who believe they are smarter than the Creator Himself and can make sense of everything using their limited human faculties.

Malaysian Tigress said...

(and I say that in the nicest way...)

Crankster said...

Whoa! I leave this blog for a while and see what happens?! :) There's so much to dive into, that I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony!

Malaysian tigress, breakfast coming up soon. I'm still a little overwhelmed with work and I need the weekends to recuperate!

Anyway, since I've resigned and don't have a new job on the horizon, I'll have oodles of time on my hands.

Great comments, people. I feel very lucky to have attracted the intellectuals of the blogosphere. I really love reading what you guys have to say. (and Shar101 can't stay off them, either!)

I will respond to them in various posts and comments.

Mr. X said...

New Polls on UMNO: -
1. Should Members of Barisan Nasional converge to form a Single MULTIRACIAL Party?
2. Who do you want as the new Youth Chief for UMNO?
3. Who do you want as the new Deputy President for UMNO?
HERE - http://thexblogs.blogspot.com/

Patricia said...

Awwww, I want in on breakfast, too!

No fair you play favourites, Cranky!

Pat

Crankster said...

LOL. We both live in the Setiawangsa constituency. And I used to go jogging at a hill near her house.

Crankster said...

But feel free to join us if you're in the vicinity.

Greenbottle said...

i have a friend. has a big bungalow, a wife and great children. in short a fairly good life.

one day he complained to me. i wish i just have a simple life. just have a simple girl, who doesn't care about anything...no make ups, or craving for branded hand bags or shoes...i wish i just live in a hut somewhere...and then i lost contact with him for several years

one day i received an sms message from a girl. she complained about my old friend...turned out my old friend has been screwing her for a while and she was his OP (a simple girl). he wanted to do the right thing so he took her as a second wife. but life wasn't interesting anymore...so they have fights all the time ...

so what's the point of all this?...i am not sure. i'm a bit stupid but i think there's a lesson there somewhere...

Malaysian Tigress said...

greenbottle...maybe the lesson is "just be grateful with what you have"?

latoksuap said...

If life is fair;

you wouldn't talk of "ISA", this and that. bla bla bla....

Fair= fairy tales !