Living beyond meansby Aung K Thein
MR HUSBAND and Mrs Wife were a couple running, like any other couple, the affairs of their family by mutual consent (one-party system). They have five children: Master Twelve, Master Ten, Miss Eight, Miss Seven and Master Four. Husband and Wife both work and earn reasonable amounts; Husband is working as a bank officer and Wife as a marketing executive in a small private company. The children all go to school. The family finances were within their income.
Wife becomes conscious that Husband is having more say in running the house and so she protests. After a week of arguing and sulking, they both decide that the one voted by the children will run the family for a term of one year to be followed by voting for the next term (multi-party democracy). The children were consulted and each of them saw opportunities for themselves. So many things the rich kids had which they didn’t — cannot even dream of — will now become real for them.
Husband and Wife now turn their attention to the children for getting their vote. They started by appealing to their sense of devotion and followed by various reasons why he or she is the best person to run the house. The children came up with various needs. Twelve and Ten wanted cycle and a laptop, Eight and Seven wanted new fancy dresses and make-ups and perfumes whilst Four wanted expensive toys. Husband and Wife promised all the children asked for. Using guile and extra promises Wife won the first voting. Having won the right to run the house Wife started to fulfil the promises made to the children. Meantime, prices of essentials went up and she found she could not manage to give all she had promised to the children within their family income. Now she brooded for some days and said to herself ‘what the heck! I’ll borrow from banks and from my parents’. So she borrowed from bank at the going interest rate and from her parents at interest free. Still she could not give all she promised and Ten, Eight and Seven were unhappy.
At the end of the year Husband, having lost the last time, was more liberal with his promises. The children, possessing instinctive intellect, lost no time assessing the situation and their demands increased. Eight was not happy to share a room with Seven and demanded separate rooms. Twelve and Ten had their own demands. Four more expensive toys, those he had seen in his richer friends’ houses. This time around Wife’s guile and promises fell short and Husband was voted to run the house. He has to change to a bigger house, to accommodate Eight and Seven separately, and found the family’s income short. He brooded for some time and after awhile said to himself, ‘I’ll borrow from bank and my own parents.’ So, he borrowed but still fell short of meeting all the promises he had made. This time Twelve and Seven were unhappy.
At the end of that year Husband and Wife again lost no time in appealing to the children. Now, Twelve, who was sharing a room with Ten, was unhappy and he wanted a separate room. Twelve, Ten, Eight and Seven each wanted a television to themselves. Four now wanted a bicycle. Wife, having learnt from her last year’s mistake, promises much more and is voted to run the house. Now the demands were more expensive, and what with rise in gasoline prices, etc. she fell well short. So the borrowing from bank and her parents became unavoidable and so she borrowed amounts bigger than before.
This system has been continuing for last ten years, at the end of which — new large house, expensive cars, etc — Husband and Wife find that the family owed 85 per cent of their annual income to the banks (external debt) and 70 per cent of their annual earnings to their parents (public debt). This year Wife has been voted to run the house and the demands have multiplied.
So you think now I am kidding! People cannot be that foolish!
Look up the ‘list of countries by external debt’ and ‘list of countries by public debt’ in Google.
Greece has just gone bust. It’s GDP, external and public debts were (in billion $) 305, 532 and 348 respectively.
Greece is not alone. Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy will be following soon.
Recently, a renowned economist from Germany aptly summed up the cause of the crisis: these countries have lived beyond their means.
The table below shows the financial statistics of the western countries (multi-party democracies).
Like Husband and Wife after ten years of multi-party democracy practice, all the
above countries are heavily in debt — debt to other countries and debt to their own citizens. They have been living beyond their means.
How will these countries ever achieve a balance of forex with their external debt? Not to speak of paying back the money borrowed from their own citizens.
Over the many years none of these countries has ever been able to give a balanced budget, i.e. expenditure equal to income and trade balance. Deficit budgeting has been the norm.
Countries like China, India, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brazil, Mexico and other developing countries have taken over many of the fields of production these countries held monopolies until recently. Forty years back nobody believed that the developing countries could ever build a car even. The textile sector, where once European countries — especially Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands — dominated, has gone from them for ever. Korea, China, India and Brazil are challenging them in technological products. Production of cars, computers, chips, mobile, industrial machinery, high-tech process equipments, electronic equipments, etc have shifted to the east. Clothing is now produced entirely by the eastern countries. Technology is no longer a stranger to Asian, African and Latin American countries. High technology process plants, critical equipment for petrochemical and fertiliser plants, large civil constructions (bridges, skyscrapers) and electronic equipment are no longer the exclusive fields of the western countries. Korean, Chinese and Indian companies are competing with the western companies for high value prestigious projects in the Middle East. The IT sector in India has developed to the extent that, to remain competitive, western companies are obliged to outsource IT services from Indian companies like TCS, Infosys and Wipro. The turnover in outsourcing fetches India $78 billion. Samsung of Korea is competing with the best from the western world in mobile phones, semi-conductors and electronics.
How then will the western countries ever pay their external debts and achieve trade balance and balanced budget? One set of politicians and economists (the least trustworthy people in the world) tells us that the answer is to cut taxes to fuel growth whilst another set of politicians and economists say just the opposite. Politicians and economists have no answer because there is no such answer in the way businesses and international trade is presently conducted.
Let us look back into history. From the 17th to early 20th century, the western countries conquered, by force or by treachery and guile, and colonised countries in Asia and Africa. They had all the resources (oil, gas and raw materials) of these colonised countries for their taking peanut prices. Industries sprung up in Europe to process the raw resources taken from colonised countries into products which were then exported to those same countries from where the raw materials came at thousand-fold prices. Indians were forbidden to produce and consume salt that was there from the sea. Bengal produced all the jute of the world and Lancashire became the capital of jute. In America the European settlers killed the native people and claimed their land with all its resources. They raided African countries and enslaved the people and brought them to America to do work on the cotton fields at no charge. History is replete with atrocities committed by these western countries to gain control of the world’s resources.
After the end of World War II the western countries were obliged to give up their colonies. Resources of these countries were no longer available for their taking. Excepting, of course, the US where there were no longer sufficient numbers of the native peoples left alive. The US still had all the resources of North America for themselves. Then again the US’s coffers were filled with the gold brought over by the Jews, and also non-Jews, from Europe during the course of the war in Europe. By early nineties Europe and the US had grown to become large industrialised nations with strong economies. Industrial trade organisations that served their purpose were imposed on the whole world. Thus from early nineties till late nineties the western countries enjoyed monopoly in international trade. But when OPEC was formed and oil and gas rich countries started to nationalise these resources the economies of the western world start to hurt. Meantime, other countries, led by Korea, China, Taiwan, India, Brazil and to a lesser degree by Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Latin countries, had been working hard to industrialise and gain a fairer share of the international trade. Today the table has turned.
So, how will the western countries ever recover their lost glory, prosperity and power? Answer: get control of the world’s resources again — by hook or by crook!
What are the factors and means to achieve this? The factors they are looking forward are the following:
NO ONE can doubt the western world’s superiority in technology. These countries will continue producing people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc who will dominate the IT world. But the contribution of technological inventions and innovations will decline in respect to the GDP. Technological superiority will go some way, but not the whole way to solve their financial inequities.
MEDIA is a very powerful weapon to influence people’s perspectives. The western countries have always used the media to propagate news and idea to their benefit. A few days back, I was listening to a discussion on the BBC and the topic was on the European financial crisis and its impact on China. The analyst while giving his expert opinion elaborated that China’s growth would likely to slow down from previous nine percent to perhaps below eight per cent and that the middle and lower class people could be affected. The moderator of the programme then had the cheek to very slyly suggest whether this would lead to an uprising amongst the people. All the western media have always played on the listeners’ minds. Countries, which the western countries do not like, are accused of violating human rights. But did you know that the UK is preparing to pass into law where the government would monitor all your e-mails, telephone calls, etc? If China did that the whole western media would have taken up arms and indicted China for violating human liberties. Who has given the right for western countries to claim ‘international calls, international community’ to endorse their position?
FEW countries today are not influenced by the western world. However, some countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are entirely dependent. These countries buy billions of dollars worth of weapons and take up fantasy projects worth billions of dollars more where the chief financial beneficiaries are the western world. They have threatened Syria, an Islamic country like themselves, to give with financial and armed assistance to the opposition, a group of mercenaries promoted by the west.
INTERNET is the most powerful tool by which the western world is influencing the minds of the peoples of the other countries. Facebook, twitter, blogging and its like, are hijacking the minds of the younger generations to the western way of thinking.
Religion and race
RELIGION is and has always been used by the western countries to subdue other people and countries and lands. The Pilgrim Fathers sailed to America and indulged in genocide that led almost to the extinction of the Native American people. They went to Australia and took away the lands from the aborigines. Till today the Australian constitution says that an aborigine is not fit and therefore not entitled to own land. Wherever the white conquerors went, so too did Christian priests, and took away the native’s lands in exchange for the bible.
The Middle East, with all its vast resources of oil and gas, is of immense interest to the western countries. Whoever controls this area controls the energy supply to the world. Today the US and the UK are using the divide in Muslim religion in Sunni and Shia sects to become the masters of this area. They have already divided Iraq into Sunni, Shia and Kurds and this country will always be in perpetual strife with the US as the puppeteer pulling the strings. The oil and gas resources are, of course, under their control. Now Syria, where the population is largely Sunni but ruled by Shia, is the target and their puppets, Saudi Arabia and UAE, are their collaborators. If they succeed then the whole region, including Lebanon, will be fighting sectarian wars. Iran cannot be allowed to possess nuclear arms, even though Israel has so, because then it will become a regional power. In that case Saudi Arabia and the UAE will have to bow to their strength and the western countries hold on the regions resources will be constrained.
Whilst the western world is fighting so-called Islamic terrorism they are using Islamic extremist minorities in other countries to ferment insurgencies. In China the Muslims in Xinjiang are encouraged to call for a separate state. Christians in China are encouraged and helped to become dissidents. Buddhists in Tibet are encouraged to call for freedom of Tibet. In all these cases, the western world is covertly giving a helping hand. They are supporting terrorists in the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar.
The western countries imposing religious politics is of particular significance. This is the richest region in terms of oil and gas. Iran is an obstacle and the western countries can never gain complete control of the region if Iran has nuclear power. A nuclear-armed Iran would be different proposition to conquer than Iraq. The reason given by them for banning Iran from having nuclear arms is that nuclear arms in Iran’s hands would be dangerous to the region; implying Iran would not hesitate to use it on its neighbours to subdue the whole region. Then there are the paranoid Jews. I beseech your patience to digress a bit here.
• Who fought two world wars?
• Who enslaved people of other countries?
• Who introduce apartheid?
• Who annihilated (committed genocide) on the American natives?
• Who caused the famine in 1977-78 in India when ‘at the pain of imprisonment of private relief donations that potentially interfered with the market fixing of grain price’
• Who massacred thousands of people in the Sepoy Mutiny?
• Remember the Calcutta ‘Black Hole’?
• Who forbade from aborigines from owning land in their own country?
• Who perpetuated the ‘holocaust’?
• Who fought the ‘Opium War’ to allow the Chinese to consume opium to their full? Why forbid cocaine and other drugs from free trade now?
• Who called Gandhi ‘half-naked fakir’?
The list of atrocities and forced occupations by these western countries goes on and on. Remember the present white generation are progenies of the barbarians who committed all the crimes above and much, much more.
WHENEVER and wherever there is an internal strife in a country the western world have never been shy from supporting one the other of the parties where its interest is more.
THE US dollar has been, still is and will remain so for a long time, the currency of international trade. The US has never been shy to use this strength in international trade to manipulate the exchange rates to its favour. The US has the power to print more dollars which is officially the international trading currency.
Organisations like UN and WTO
THESE organisations are puppets who echo the master’s voice. The western countries have always used these organisations to serve their purpose all of the time. Who or what authority has the UN to say what countries can have or cannot have such and such weapons? Who gave the UN to sanctify all the atrocities committed by the western countries? Where was the UN when the western countries attacked and captured Iraq? That wasn’t a war. A war is fought between two countries with similar armed strength. Ban Ki-moon is merely a puppet singing to western tunes.
Aung K Thein, a mechanical engineer by training, is currently director of a business house.
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