Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hypocrisy

Alas, we cannot ignore the rampant spread of hypocrisy in our society where there are double and triple standards and everybody is lying through their teeth just so that they can outshout each other and shutting everybody up; they having the final say and the monopoly of the public voice.

The corruption of the nation starts with the corruption of the integrity of our national institutions by the elimination of their independent powers and condensing all powers of the nation in the hands of one man, both political and economic. This was done long ago but in our lifetime. What we see now is the secondary effects of that degeneration, where corruption is taken to be normal and only something much worse than corruption may be abhorred, maybe the loss of life?

Our nation has turned into a circus where everything is played for the media to display. There are no more men and women who are satisfied in speaking quietly ready to compromise. There is one-upmanship everywhere. The s--t has risen to the top and they all seem to be very proud of themselves.

What is now there for the nation?

Are we going to spend our time glued to the media for the information and no truth? Or do we turn inward to ourselves, contemplate and ignore reality?

It is clear that there is a political battle going on on a full scale in clear sight of everyone. The one who is very old feels that he has one last bit to do before he dies, so that he can have the last say and leave us with his s--t. There is one who is embattled by a series of bad judgements and bad advisers and who have really made a very bad situation much worse. We have olf soldiers of the last regime who feel that they must defend their old legacy and pile all the blames on the current one. There are the old opponents (not enemies) who have been play the devil's advocate for so long as the counter-party to the old regime and one should really not be surprised when the two sides synthesies to make the old as one (they are the same). There are the minorities who have been so marginalised from the mainstream that they have an existence of their own, and the use of the GST to weed them out is the last straw for the economy which will now see the bottom falling off. The new monopolies that have been created to become the pillars for the new economic policies have become so inefficient that they only way for them to pay divendends to the government is to raise the fees the general public must pay for the services they have monopolised. And these fat GLCs think they are clever.

Money corruption, although not honourable, is a product of an inefficient and cumbersome government machinery. But money corruption on a grand scale across the board is bad in many ways, first, in ruining hard work and productivity gains, and second, in ruining the currency as these corrupt money must somehow be stashed away overseas to avoid being caught and to protect themselves against a currency which by their very act have helped to weaken so systemically.

I do not admire the old guard who came out to warn about the weakness of the ringgit. Well, he should know what he was talking about because he had done it before. And the central bank is still dishing out the same old intervention measures. What's new?!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Neo-Liberalism & Post-Truth

It is now getting a bit confusion over the proper meaning of liberalism. In ordinary English, liberalism simply means being easy and without any hang-ups and that you allow others to do what they wish, while you carry on happily along with your own insignificant little life. Liberalism means absolute tolerance of yourself and of others, the fundamental tenet being probably that life is too short for each of us to hamper each other.

Now, if you were to mix the notion of liberalism with that amorphous idea of democracy, you would probably get the idea that you could do whatever you like to disrupt the current system of things because you feel that there is an injustice and a wrong somewhere and that you are the person to contribute to that correction, simply because you have the liberty and the instrument to do it.

So the liberal democrats in their yellow T-shirts congregated in the city centre to demonstrate their disgust with the current regime because the current regime has done something that is wrong morally and they wish the government of the day will simply just step down. The pro-regime red T-shirts exercising what they saw to be their equally justifiable right to counter-demonstrate in support of the government of the day.

We have also elsewhere losers in a presidential election stepping up into the streets and the limelight to shout into the faces of the winners that they did not agree with their values and what they had said during the very hot campaign and what the winners to step down so that the losers can take over because of their more liberal stance, all in the name of democracy.

What puzzles me is that what is the point of having a debate if we are all supposed to subscribe to the same views in the first place. I thought the diversity of ideas as a result of the challenging of the norm and the opportunity to speak the seemingly ridiculous has been the way forward of our current civilisation, a process which has carried us out of the dark ages and into the light of logic, deduction, experiments and all that comes under the term of creativity and innovation. Of course, we also learn from history that some of the greatest disruptors of obsolete conventions had to die for their realisations. So, the truth can be ugly and at times bloody.

However, maybe it is precisely because of the shortness of our time in this life and our ignorance of reality that we guard so vehemently our own little world with our own little truths or falsehoods whichever that give us our mental and material comfort that we are so ready to kill those who dare to destroy our sense of being.

In trying to protect our own vulnerable sense of our own little truths, we are therefore inclined to be swayed and we also work so hard to try to sway those of like-minds with emotive words that touch our hearts but which contain no substantive truth that emotional rant seems to be the instrument of the present and the future to create a world that only we and our like-minds are happy to inhabit. We are now in the world of post-truth, the new word in the Oxford Dictionary for now.

It is no more sufficient for anyone of us to speak our truth softly and gently. We are now required to shout and be heard above the crowds, the lonely crowds who live their atomic lives through the electronic handphones while ignoring those standing next to them. Post-Reality?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

EU Ideology

The European Union is an idea based on an ideology, not on some fundamental inalienable truth of nature that cannot be broken. As an ideology, it is a belief not a fact.

The EU argument is that you cannot have free movement of goods without free movement of people. Economic theory has nothing to prove this imperative. The idea of the free movement of goods among countries is that you do not have to have free movement of people in order to have full employment among trading nations. You can have investments in your own countries and then trade.

The free movement of people is another thing altogether. People had always been free to move around the world since time immemorial until the idea of nations cropped up which was as recent as the breakup of the British Empire in the last fifty years or so. What makes the current free movement of people so unmanageable is the age of information and mass travel so that instead of a trickling effect we get an avalanche which puts pressures on local councils to provide the necessary services.

(Malaysia has chosen to ignore the problems of immigration because they consider them to be foreign workers here for a temporary period only, when in fact they are all here for one whole generation with families and children.)

The mounting social pressures put an enormous strain on the government of the day especially when the economy is weak and unemployment is rising among the locals.

The free movement of people is a political ideal aimed at the creation of a unified broader federation of nations, as a political bloc so to speak. It has less force from an economic point of view. The central issue may simply be record-keeping of the movement of people. The solution may simply be administrative.

There is currently great vehemence against Brexit in the EU because there is real danger that the EU experiment may fail. Nations with successful cities are under tremendous social pressures. With the rise of unemployment, nations with good welfare systems may have to discriminate against newcomers so that the systems do not break down. There will be budgetary pressures and this is when the free movement of people becomes a real economic issue.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump Triumphs!

It would be wrong to say that not many imagined Trump would win the presidential elections. The results say that many did indeed thought so and voted for him!

It is only those who did not like him who could not imagine how he could be president. It is such self-delusion about one's own truth.

Then, of course, there were those who did think very early in the campaign that he could win - because he was saying all the right things, in their ears, about what is really wrong with their nation.

Of course, Trump can be faulted for being politically incorrect - but then, political correctness does seem to have a certain fashion trend about what is being correct. After all, correctness is a subjective value - and most often in the public space and mostly unlikely in one's own intimate privacy.

Trump's victory is at the same level of the new reality as Brexit. Both completely shakes the mindset of the mass media where everything is presumed to be business as usual.

But we are living in an unusual time, in a time of great turmoil and great strife by masses of people for mere survival, wars that are destroying entire cities and towns, and ordinary people are being crushed to their deaths or drowned as they try to run for the higher ground.

We are living in the aftermath of, as well as the continued money printing of quantitative easing, when trillions are sloshing around the global capital cities looking for real estate or that glittering metal called gold. Banks are waiting for implosion as they sit on over-inflated collaterals. In the meantime, subsidies are removed, austerity drive made, governments snatching purchasing power from the ordinary people, good jobs hard to find, wages unchanged at low rates, badly paid foreign workers being exploited by owners of capital in menial jobs in construction and restaurants.

So, the people look for a leader to change the status quo which benefits only the elite and they are elite because they have managed to borrow huge sums from banks at low costs to buy real estates which have been inflating out of all proportions in relation to the value they can benefit human welfare.

Trump promises the people that he will look after them, give them decent jobs, make their lives more meaningful again, help them cope with their daily lives, feed their families, and solves their own mundane little problems at home in their own background instead of trying to be a hero to the big big world.

The US domination of global politics came out of WWI and WWII with the rise of the defence industry made possible by the seigniorage that can be enjoyed out of the US dollar becoming the reserve currency and the unplugging of the US dollar from gold in 1973. The US has become fat by the printing of money which has also in the last thirty years brought up the rise of China and India.

Brexit is a real cry for change by the UK and for loosening of the tie with continental Europe. The EU was a product of WWII and libertarian politics which imagined itself as another US. But the EU is a group of old nations which the old educated elites of former colonies are conditioned to love with nostalgia. But ancient civilisations are waking up after long periods of hibernation to become the ultra-new nations. It is this new reality that the UK and the US are waking up as well.

In part, Trump is a necessary evil. He may not be the best president of the US, but he is also a game-changer which means that you should not expect things to be the same as before.

While the media is screaming uncertainty, what they should be looking forward to is new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things. The world is throwing away old ideas and embracing earth-shaking new ways forward.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Identity

Our sense of identity is what keeps all of us sane in this world of constant change. This sense of identity is the constant that is inside us which tells us who we are and how we can relate to each other.

Knowing oneself is the ultimate in self-development. Each of us tries to find out who we really are, what makes us at one with ourselves and at peace with ourselves.

This is important after all the indoctrination which we are all being subjected to since we were born. We are all taught from young the necessary skills of how to survive our immediate environment and the environment we may meet. The farmers tell their children how to farm their own plot of land, the fishermen how to fish in the coast just off their villages, the shopkeepers how to charge a few cents above costs, the coffee shopkeepers how to make coffee and soft boiled eggs, and so on. School masters teach their pupils how to read and write and count in order to be able to communicate with the rest of the world through books and how to deal with three-dimensional materials in a meticulous fashion.

Each creates a sense of identity that is immediate and local, familial and communal and parochial. There is nothing wrong with this. First you know who your parents are, then your relationships and friends and other people you come in daily contact with. Each does at a different job to complement those of others. Each tries to resolve a different problem facing the community in which they live, in order that everybody shall live happily with the least of the inconveniences of the mundane.

The competition for survival, which is the hallmark of modern life, calls for effort by each and everyone to increase each of our own capacities to produce and provide in order that more can be consumed by those who are less fortunate. The increase in efforts is required of all; if only one person makes the effort, he can only give but not receive in kind. But the reality is that everyone is gifted differently and what often happens in small local communities is that those who have will help out those who are unable to help themselves.

The sense of identity can of course be generalised in order to embrace more and more universal and even cosmic concepts. The king of a community calls for a sense of the identity of the state, and the king of a country calls for the sense of identity of the nation, and the president of a federation calls for a sense of the identity of the federation of different entities each of which may have little commonality with other of the composite. The head of an organisation calls for a sense of identity of a cosmic union with a principle or a principal, appealing to very ordinary and sometimes ignorant but simple people who merely wanted a sense of identity belonging to a family of sorts. The whole idea is that everybody in the group is the same in one or some ways, but not entirely.

When a sub-group within a group defines itself different and deserving of special privileges, then this is a demand for entitlement which the rest of the grouping must pay. This sets a lope-sided group which can only grow in a deformed manner and not rounded. The day when the special sub-group sees itself to be at one with the rest of the group will that group be set on the path to advancement.

It is inevitable that the history of society can be properly seen in generational terms. Each generation makes its own mark in society. Unfortunately for us, ours is marked by an insecure person who wants to reshape the world to please himself. But god will one day save us from him and we once again be free to be ourselves. We may be too old by then, but hopefully the children we are bringing up with close the wound for the whole nation.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Brexit: What Now

The battle was neck to neck with a difference of a million votes which means the country is split right down the middle: for every one voted Leave, there is one voted Remain, well, almost.

The Brexit referendum on 23 June therefore has been most divisive and there is a need for the nation to heal. But this is going to take some work because even the two major political parties are split. The Cameron/Osbourne camp is not happy with the Johnson/Gove camp. The Corbyn camp is not happy with the Hilary Benn camp.

This political mess is the source of the uncertainty over the consequences of the vote to leave the EU. The uncertainty is that no one at the moment is deciding how the UK should leave the EU. The people are uncertain. The businesses are uncertain. The European Parliament is uncertain.

In this uncertainty, the first instinct of the financial markets is to sell. There is no point holding to your portfolio and waiting for the uncertainty to be resolved. It is better to get out and wait. If you want to get out, it is better to be the first the get out than to the last to do so. This is why the financial markets are selling down.

Is Brexit bad for the UK economy?

In the first place, the world economy including the European economy is already in bad shape before the referendum as a result of the consolidation that is taking place in China which some have forecast that it would take five to ten years for the consolidation to be completed and a recovery engineering with a new framework for domestic-oriented growth in China. US is on the verge of a recovery and the Fed has been trying to raise US interest rates and end the quantitative easing which has so far been creating perverse flows in the global economy.

The major perversion of financial flows in the global economy has been the putting of financial resources in the hands of extremists who now have access to heavy weapons. It is this war that is creating the flood of refugees who are fleeing for their lives and in search of greener pastures that is disrupting the peaceful and happy life of the Europeans. The refugees want to enjoy the lifestyle of the English, French and Germans.

Presumably what Brexit will do first is to put a stop to this uncontrolled immigration into the UK, and in its place will be a process of processing and approval. Other thing else will adjust.

Whether Brexit means a complete withdrawal of the UK from the common market is another point to be argued. Nobody wants to do less trade; it will be silly for the EU if it wants to be punitive in the hope of discouraging other EU components to leave.

No doubt there will be investments which would have come into the UK before Brexit and which may want to rethink, mainly because of the uncertainty surrounding the terms of the departure rather than the unhealthiness of the UK economy which probably is no worse than other European economies. Investments that are already in the UK should have no further push to get out.

Certainly, there are many serious to be discuss between the UK and the EU parliament. It will be a long process of at least five years to sought out all the details, although the main details can be framed within two years. This is when political cohesion in the UK politics is crucial.

I expect the financial markets to recover soon after all the sellers who wanted to sell have sold their position. Then they will start looking at the bright side. By then, 18 months ?, Brexit may be a happy word on the lips of ordinary people.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Muhammad Ali

What has a boxer got to do with economics?

Muhammad Ali just died aged 74. He won the heavyweight championship for boxing for three times. He made a lot of money for the boxing industry and the world media. He gave the world enjoyment of his skills and talents, although he and his fellow craftmen and women have had to suffer for their art.

He called himself the greatest. He knew his game and he predicted the outcome. Wouldn't he be entitled to say what he knew without being labeled as boastful. He got to where he was by being himself and on top of that lots of hard work and coaching from his teachers, and be willing to listen to them. He had humbled himself to be taught.

But to the rest of the world, he only wanted us to know that we were not like him. He stood at the apex of his sport, and he bashed everybody down. He had something to show the world what made him different from the rest. It would be incredible that armchair critics knew exactly how he thought in order to be who he had proven himself to be. The only thing that armchair critics could say must be some innocuous remarks which reflected their limited view of life as a non-greatest.

The greatest practitioner of his art is a person who is driven by an inner demon to perfect his art in spite of his own personal imperfection. He sees imperfection in himself, in others and in the world around him. He pushes himself on his lonely journey on the stony road of labour and hope to the summit which no one has any idea what that may be. He stops when his energies fail him and where he has stopped people applaud him for what he has achieved even if that may be the highest point in the world. He has got to the realm of existence where others have no been to before.

To be the greatest is the greatest that anyone can imagine for himself. He has the right to declare that to himself and to the world. The only danger for him is not that he will not push himself further but others will be jealous and will want to stop him from continuing to proclaim himself. The many forms of empowerment that people exert today are nothing but self-proclaimations, and many are high ideals. But to be able to physically demonstrate and establish that superiority of one's own physical and mental prowess and exert it cannot be a wrong or a boast. It is a truth spoken ahead of occurrence.

Muhammad Ali was the greatest, and probably is.