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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Economics for simple people

You'd notice them if you just happened to walk down the city on an average working day. Like a cheap Xeroxed copy that walked out of GQ, in a shirt that looks more expensive than it really is, in matching pants and a bold power tie, they strut down looking like the air around them breathes fresh when they are choking down on the same smog that we are killing ourselves with.

Well, to each his own, and to be a participant in this rat race one becomes a rat. I don't fancy the whole pretentiousness of it all, hell, I don't even fancy the word fancy, but what're you gonna do, right? I'm not saying its wrong, either, or bad, or incorrect. There's no incorrect choice in life because these are the choices you make, and you live with it. You probably sense some anti-conformity messages brewing within but you are probably wrong, this is not about people and what they do with their lives, its about what people do with their lives and why they go in that direction. Its what I call economics for simple people.

If you're like me, well, at least 47% of me, you probably don't know or couldn't care less about economics, which, I would in turn stand up and applaud your carefree mentality to worldly issues. But for the rest of us economics matters, and I'm not saying you should enroll in Economics 101, or get one of those bright yellow for Dummies books (are they still in fashion?), since you're going to fall asleep reading it anyway. I don't consider myself a very good sample for simple people either. So if you are reading this far you know one of three things, I'm not a simple person, I don't know anything about economics, and yet I'm writing an article on economics.

Back to our cheap Mr.Xerox. Just look around, there's Xerox1 to 20 all around you, some are wearing a 10k Tag Carrera because they think it gives them more character, while the others are spending a quarter of their salaries at Starbucks trying to look like very important emails have to be sent sipping on their lattes. Is this a sign of a good economy? Neither they, nor I provide a very good sample size.

Try the average guy with a family to support, and multiple loan repayments. These are the master jugglers trying to raise your kids right, keep everyone happy and deal with the ever changing economy. Look at them, and you have a good idea if we're doing well, or we're merely scraping by. Essentials are getting pricier by the day, and if you're the type that deals with stuff that's affected by the exchange rate you'd know what I'm talking about.

Sure, the Dollar is down to its lowest point in years but our share market isn't the best performing amongst other asian countries, which has seen a sharp rise because their currency became stronger due to the weaker Dollar. We're supposed to be able to do better than this, but we aren't, things continue to get more expensive, but yet our basic salaries remain at a flatline. This is the same sentiment shared by a lot of people.

I suppose for most of us we are thankful that we aren't really suffering from this. We are scraping by, yes, but we aren't suffering from scurvy. But if you're doing business, being thankful has its limits, and when you are nearing that limit, being thankful just doesn't quite cut it. You become less competitive, your exports drop because your prices are higher. You have probably heard that its cheaper to set up a factory in Vietnam with less red tape than it is to set up one here and hire local workers. People here want a higher pay for less work, and we are right to ask for what we deserve. But at the cost of your competitive edge, are you willing to sacrifice your ten thousand dollar lifestyle for long term business?

The real question is why do we even have to choose? There is a breakdown in the system, consumers won't know it yet. Consumers like Mr.Xerox because their multinational workplace buffers them from the real economics that affect simple people, and the fact that simple people drive the real economics that directly affects them in return. Nobody wants to really work long and hard to get what they want anymore simply because there is no reward factor attached to it.

But imagine one day if nobody wants you to work long and hard anymore, simply because someone somewhere else can do what you don't want to do at one third the cost, then you will understand the economics of simple people.