Wednesday, April 30, 2008

May Day, Mayday - Costs of Living

Well, what happens to the cost of living? Nothing much, it just get higher.

Commodities prices have risen sharply due to the fear; a fear of shortages. Typically, price rise will abate after two, or maybe by the third, cycles of harvest. This is because as prices rise, it pays to plant more of the lucrative crops given the similar plot of land.

However, this time around, the effect is deadlier as the cost push factors, like higher fuel and labour costs, were compounded by demand pull factors, that is, hoarding and massive buying, improved affordability of huge consumer nations like China and India; the fear of shortages!

Is there anything that can be done to lessen the impact of price rises? Nothing much too.

Some Governments try to alleviate and lessen the struggle to survive by assisting with a redistribution of income as income gap widens and a thinning purchasing power. This will lessen the pain and reduce the possibility of occurrence of social unrest as the saying goes "a hungry man is an angry man". This is not to suggest the implementation of some welfare schemes but that the man in the street can make a decent living and get on with their lives.

Most citizens are happy to get on with lives and live with what they can afford. Luxury is a relative term. The fact remains that the basic need must be met and luxury and ostentatious living are for people who wants, and is able and capable, to take the challenges of fast and fine living.

Higher costs of living is here to stay. Be ready to adapt and live within ones means. Happiness cannot be bought but it lives in our souls; you have a choice.

Of course, it is always helpful to have some help readily available but in the end, its "GOD helps those who help themselves".

I further guess the increased costs of living had made Singapore, and Singaporeans, a less tolerant society.

It is disturbing to read some recent headlines like "jail the drink drivers, cane them", "stiffer punishment for jaywalkers", "punish the errant smokers"; what has become of our society? Ungracious? Impatient? Or plain 'gun slinger' who shoots from the hips?

There are sufficient punishment, rules and Laws to keep the situation within allowable limits as no society, and no one, is perfect. I know for a fact that many smokers have cut down on smoking and some have given up, not because smoking is expensive, but because it is more inconvenient to find a place for a puff with the widening restriction on areas where smoking is allowed.

I am also aware that many who drinks opts for public transport than to drive as the enforcement of rules is evenly applied.

What about jaywalkers?

I am sure many of us treasure our lives and will not run into an oncoming traffic. By and large, the general public observe traffic rules and jaywalking is the exception rather than the norm.

Well, if anyone suggest zero tolerance for minor infringements, our society will evolve into one of elitist, selfish, self-serving lot; where the rule of the jungle applies!

The world tomorrow is not going to be a better nor easier place to live. Let us help our fellow citizens to inculcate better social manners through education and encouragement rather than to 'gun' them down everytime a minor infringement occurs.

Communal bonding, understanding and assistance will help brew a harmonious society; not one that punishes at the slightest error. Let us be economical in punishment and be generous with encouragement and education.

One last note - employment, unemployment or underemployment?

Jobs creation have increased and so has unemployment; isn't this contradicting? Well, again, not really!

There is a structural shift in employment patterns and the displaced workers may not be able to fit into a new or unrelated industry overnight. Training and re-training are just possibilities and that take time too.

Also, there is the challenge to accept lower expectation and status, not to mention lower salaries. Some choose to be contractual workers and live with being employed, or underemployment, whilst others shy away completely. The economy is dynamic and everchanging and it cannot, and will not, stop to wait for you to hop on the 'workers bandwagon'. Somehow, somewhere and someone will fill the vacancies; be it local or foreigners. Be ready to change and adapt.

No one owes you a living and no one will force you to take any jobs; you have a choice.

Correct me if I am wrong; I remember, in the old days, alot of Nantah and Poly graduates, and the (academically) lesser educated, go on to become entrepreneurs and are self-employed and they made it good. Why? It was because at that time, Singapore U graduates are in better demand in the employment market compared to them and they prove their worth by striking out. Be encouraged.

Make the move while you are able and capable to.

Rest if you must but never quit. Let us prod ourselves up, be self-motivated and be the best within our own abilities.

Above all be happy.

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